ST. LOUIS – Federal agents in the FBI St. Louis Office say they’ve disrupted a scheme that North Korea has been using to raise money for its ballistic missile and weapons of mass destruction programs.

“North Korea has been making IT workers available by obfuscating their identities and then having American companies hire them, with the vast majority of those wages not going to the workers but instead to fund these programs,” said Jay Greenberg, FBI St. Louis Division Special Agent in Charge.

The FBI has seized a number of domains that were being used as part of the scheme. Now, a splash screen is on display instead.

Authorities also seized $1.5 million in funds.

“More likely or not, if you are hiring IT workers for mobile application development or specific software development at point of need and don’t have a robust process to ensure who they are, more than likely you might have some of these North Korean IT workers on your contractor payroll,” Greenberg said.

Federal officials recommend companies see or interact with workers on camera or in person.

Scott Baucum, vice president for special compliance with Bayer, commended the federal government and the public and private sectors for working together to identify the risks, ranging from theft of intellectual property, data, and funds.

“If you’re in high technology, you need to be paying attention to these kinds of threats; you may be a target,” Baucum said.

“Cyber is a team sport,” Greenberg said. “With all our cases, they sometimes start in the private sector, and a company like Scott’s will make us aware of something happening or we get a lead from a member of the federal government, or we get a lead from a member of a foreign government. Or there are software analytics that alert us to a new scheme going on.”