US Authorities Sanction Cryptocurrency Mixer for Link to North Korea

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US Authorities Sanction Cryptocurrency Mixer for Link to North Korea For Hannah Perez

OFAC sanctioned a cryptocurrency blender for the first time: Blender. He said he made it easy for Lazarus hackers to launder more than $20 million of the funds stolen in the Ronin attack.


The United States Department of the Treasury has added a cryptocurrency mixer to its list of sanctioned entities for alleged links to North Korean hackers.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned this Friday, a cryptocurrency mixer service that obfuscates the origin and destination of transactions. In a releasethe government agency said the protocol is used by North Korea to “support your malicious cyber activities” and laundering of stolen cryptocurrencies.

The “black list” of the Treasury, which refers to “specially designated citizens“, was updated to include various domains of the websites of Blender. A large number of cryptocurrency addresses were also added.

blender for the blacklist

Specifically, the OFAC statement noted that the group of hackers Lazarus Groupwhich US authorities allege is funded by the government of the Republic of North Korea (DPRK), used blender to launder some of the funds stolen in a recent attack on Ronin Networkthe popular game network Axie Infinity.

The agency said the Hackers used the service to process more than $20 million of the nearly $620 million stolen from ronin. He also claimed that blender has facilitated the transfer of more than 500 million dollars in Bitcoin since its launch in 2017, noting that it has been involved in several ransomware attacks.

While the purported purpose is to increase privacy, blenders like Blender are commonly used by illicit actors. Blender has helped transfer more than [USD]$500 million worth of Bitcoin since its inception in 2017. Blender was used in the laundering process for the DPRK’s Axie Infinity heist, processing over [USD]$20.5 million in ill-gotten gains.

As it explains Crypto Briefingthe digital currency mixers like blender they help users preserve their privacy by moving assets to obfuscate their transaction history. They typically work by grouping transactions together and sending them to new addresses, allowing users to withdraw their crypto to a new address.”clean“.

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However, due to their ability to obfuscate cryptocurrency movements, they are often used by hackers to mask their addresses when laundering ill-gotten funds.

An unprecedented penalty

The sanction marks a precedent as it is the first time that the US federal agency has included a cryptocurrency mixer on its blacklist. “Today, for the first time, [el] Treasury Sanctions Virtual Currency Mixer”, assured the assistant secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E. Nelson, in the statement.

In addition to the blender, OFAC also updated its list of sanctioned entities to include 58 digital currency addresses. In particular, 46 addresses of Bitcoin and 12 addresses Etheras it collects CoinDesk. All addresses of Bitcoin were linked to blenderwhile ETH addresses were tied to the pool Lazarus.

OFAC has already sanctioned several addresses linked to the attack on roninas well as Lazarus himself since 2019. Last month, the Treasury Department confirmed a connection between the North Korean hacker group with the exploit to the network of axie. At that time he also added an ETH address linked to the hack to his blacklist.

Although OFAC only sanctioned blender this Friday, other cryptocurrency mixing services like TornadoCash have also been involved in laundering funds stolen from ronin. A preliminary report from the firm Elliptical estimated that about 20% of the cryptocurrencies stolen in that attack were sent to TornadoCash. The mixing protocol ensured soon after that he was working alongside chain analysis to block addresses sanctioned by OFAC.

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Article by Hannah Estefanía Pérez / DailyBitcoin

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