US Treasury Imposes Sanctions on North Korean Crypto Mixer

The Treasury has issued the first ban on Blender.io, a digital asset mixer.

The US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has imposed new penalties against Blender.io, a cryptocurrency mixer used by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Coin Mixer is sanctioned by OFAC.

North Korean hackers had utilized Blender to launder digital assets and carry out state-sponsored cyber attacks, according to the official news release.

The website is said to have been involved in the high-profile security breach on Axie Infinity's Ronin Bridge, handling over $20.5 million of the $620 million in criminal revenues. Since its beginning five years ago, it has also handled the movement of more than $500 million in Bitcoin.

Brian E. Nelson, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, remarked,

“Today, for the first time ever, Treasury is sanctioning a virtual currency mixer. Virtual currency mixers that assist illicit transactions pose a threat to U.S. national security interests. We are taking action against illicit financial activity by the DPRK and will not allow state-sponsored thievery and its money-laundering enablers to go unanswered.”

Hackers Supported by North Korea

The latest development comes two weeks after the FBI released a statement claiming that the cyber actors APT38, also known as Lazarus Group, were behind the Ronin Bridge attack and were linked to the DPRK.

Several Ether addresses linked to the attack had been sanctioned by OFAC. Trickbot, Conti, Ryuk, Sodinokibi, and Gandcrab were among the Russian-linked ransomware organizations discovered throughout the study.

The US think tank Center for a New American Security (CNAS) had warned before the Ronin attack that the Pyongyang-led cybercrime organization will "continue to alter its cybercrime tactics" to target financial and digital asset companies. In 2020, the Lazarus Group allegedly stole $300 million in cryptocurrency from the Singapore-based exchange KuCoin.

According to Chainalysis, North Korean cyber hackers stole approximately $400 million worth of cryptocurrency in 2021 alone. After hacking cryptocurrency exchanges and investment organizations, the malicious actors gathered the proceeds.

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