Treasury sanctions virtual currency mixer Blender for money laundering

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May 6, 2022 | CYBERSCOOP

The Treasury Department said Friday it has sanctioned, a so-called virtual currency mixer which Treasury alleges that the North Korean government uses to pay for its hacking program and to launder stolen virtual currency.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) at Treasury issued the sanctions, alleging that on March 23 the North Korean state-sponsored cyber hackers known as the Lazarus Group stole a record-setting $620 million from a blockchain project linked to the Pokemon-inspired blockchain game Axie Infinity.

Blender was used to process more than $20.5 million of the $620 million, which a Treasury Department press release alleged is being used to finance North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.

Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said the sanctions are the first for a virtual currency mixer. Blender operates on the Bitcoin blockchain. The Treasury Department press release said it “indiscriminately facilitates illicit transactions by obfuscating their origin, destination” and more.

Blender, one of the most popular mixers in the cybercrime underground, intermingles many transactions before transmitting them to their ultimate destinations, ostensibly for privacy reasons, the press release

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