U.S. Treasury Sanctions Coin Mixer Allegedly Used by North Korean Hackers To Process Over $20,000,000 in Crypto


The US government is continuing to crack down on illicit crypto activity by targeting a website that it says obfuscates transaction data.

In a new press release, the U.S. Department of the Treasury says the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is sanctioning Blender.io, a service OFAC claims the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) uses to launder illicit crypto gains obtained through hacking activity.

Citing a March 23rd theft from the Axie Infinity (AXS) network for over $600 million in which Blender was used to process $20.5 million of the stolen funds, the move is the latest effort of the Biden administration to clamp down on malicious actors in the cryptocurrency space.

Back in late April, the Treasury sanctioned three Ethereum (ETH) wallets associated with the Lazarus Group, which the DPRK is said to employ for hacking and money laundering purposes.

Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson says of the new sanctions,

“Today, for the first time ever, Treasury is sanctioning a virtual currency mixer. Virtual currency mixers that assist illicit transactions pose a threat to US 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.”

Virtual currency mixers combine the data from multiple crypto-related transactions in order to obscure information connected to the sender and receiver. The government alleges that in addition to DPRK, Russian-linked ransomware groups also utilize Blender’s services.

According to the press release, all of Blender’s properties located inside the United States are blocked and must be reported to the OFAC. In addition, US persons must report any Blender holdings to the OFAC.

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