Chinese hackers stole millions worth of U.S. COVID relief money, Secret Service says

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FILE PHOTO: Man holds laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him in this illustration picture

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Chinese hackers have stolen tens of millions of dollars worth of U.S. COVID relief benefits since 2020, the Secret Service said on Monday.

The Secret Service declined to provide any additional details but confirmed a report by NBC News that said the Chinese hacking team that is reportedly responsible is known within the security research community as APT41 or Winnti.

APT41 is a prolific cybercriminal group that had conducted a mix of government-backed cyber intrusions and financially motivated data breaches, according to experts.

Several members of the hacking group were indicted in 2019 and 2020 by the U.S. Justice Department for spying on over 100 companies, including software development companies, telecommunications providers, social media firms, and video game developers.

“Regrettably, the Chinese Communist Party has chosen a different path of making China safe for cybercriminals so long as they attack computers outside China and steal intellectual property helpful to China,” former Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said at the time.

China’s Embassy in Washington said in a statement that China has always “firmly opposed and cracked down on all forms of cyber theft and hacking,” and that it opposed the “groundless accusations” against the country on cyber security.

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(Reporting by Christopher Bing and Michael Martina; Editing by Sandra Maler and Chizu Nomiyama)

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