- Blender.io has been sanctioned by the United States Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
- . Blender was used to process millions in criminal earnings for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK)
- Axie Infinity is the latest example of DPRK criminal actions, such as cyber-enabled heists from cryptocurrency exchanges and financial institutions
Blender.io (Blender) is a digital currency mixer that runs on the Bitcoin blockchain and obfuscates the origin, destination, and counterparties of unlawful transactions. Blender accepts a variety of transactions and combines them before sending them to their final destinations. While the stated objective is to increase anonymity, criminal actors frequently employ mixers like Blender. Since its inception in 2017, Blender has assisted in the movement of over $500 million in Bitcoin. Blender was used to process approximately $20.5 million in criminal earnings for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) Axie Infinity theft.
Blender has been sanctioned by the United States Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). On March 23, 2022, the Lazarus Group, a DPRK state-sponsored cyber hacking group, perpetrated the world’s largest virtual currency heist to date, stealing nearly $620 million from a blockchain project linked to the online game Axie Infinity. Over $20.5 million of the illicit proceeds were processed using Blender.
As a result of sanction, all property and interests in property of Blender will be blocked and will have to be reported to OFAC. Further, sanctions will also be applicable on other firms linked to Blender.
The DPRK has resorted to criminal actions, such as cyber-enabled heists from cryptocurrency exchanges and financial institutions, to earn revenue for its unlawful weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile programmes, in response to tough US and UN sanctions.
The Department of Treasury is also updating the SDN List to identify more virtual currency addresses used by the Lazarus Group to launder illegal proceeds. The Lazarus Group was sanctioned by OFAC in 2019. The sanction was imposed by Executive Order, and Lazarus was designated as a government-controlled agency with ties to the DPRK’s top intelligence unit, Reconnaissance General Bureau.
While most virtual currency activity is legal, mixers, peer-to-peer exchangers, darknet markets, and exchanges can be used for illegal activities, such as sanction evasion. Heists, ransomware schemes, and other cybercrimes are all examples of this. In collaboration with other US departments and agencies, the Department of Treasury is using its authority to disrupt financial nodes linked to criminal payments and cyber-attacks.
Staff Galactik Views