Hackers with links to the Chinese government stole at least $20 million in American COVID-19 relief benefits, according to the Secret Service unit that handles pandemic relief fraud.
Secret Service officials identified the hacking group APT41, based in Chengdu and is also known by the name Wicked Panda, as a "notable player" in many of the hundreds of ongoing investigations into COVID-19 relief fraud. The Secret Service describes APT41 as a "Chinese state-sponsored, cyber threat group that is highly adept at conducting espionage missions and financial crimes for personal gain."
Over 2,000 accounts associated with APT41 were identified in the investigation into COVID-19 relief fraud, as were over 40,000 financial transactions. The Secret Service managed to recover about half of the $20 million stolen by the group.
Roy Dotson, national pandemic fraud recovery coordinator for the Secret Service, told NBC News that "it would be crazy to think this group didn’t target all 50 states."
Ambassador Nathaniel Fick, who leads the State Department’s Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy, told NBC News that "the United States is target No. 1, because we are competitor No. 1. It’s a really comprehensive, multidecade, well-considered, well-resourced, well-planned, well-executed strategy."
Theodore Bunker ✉
Theodore Bunker, a Newsmax writer, has more than a decade covering news, media, and politics.
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