The United States on Friday “for the first time” imposed financial sanctions on a “cryptocurrency mixer”, a sophisticated service accused in this case of involvement in “harmful cyber activities” and the laundering of virtual money by Korea North.
This “mixer”, Blender.io, is accused by the US Treasury of being linked in part to the “largest cryptocurrency heist” in the world, the theft of $ 620 million at the end of March attributed by the US authorities to a group of Pyongyang-linked hackers.
“Virtual currency mixers that promote illegal transactions pose a threat to the national security of the United States,” Undersecretary of the Treasury Brian Nelson said in a statement.
“We are taking action against North Korea’s illegal financial activities and will not leave the thefts supported by this state and its money launderers unaddressed,” he warned.
US federal police in mid-April accused the Lazarus Group and APT38, hackers “associated” with the reclusive East Asian regime, of being responsible for the theft of $620 million in ethereum that followed the hack. Axie Infinity video game at the end of March. The Ronin network, used for this online game, had been the victim of one of the biggest computer attacks involving cryptocurrencies.
Axie Infinity is a blockchain-based game, a decentralized digital ledger that cannot be changed. It allows you to earn money in the form of NFTs, digital tokens.
According to the US Treasury, Blender was used in laundering more than $20.5 million of the $620 million stolen.
Blender, which is also the English name for a kitchen blender, is a service that facilitates the laundering of funds extorted by hackers “by muddying the waters on their origin, destination and counterparties”, according to the Treasury.
“Under cover of increased discretion”, it “mixes together” the various transactions it receives before “transmitting them to their final recipients”, and is therefore “often used” by outlaws , adds the US Department of Finance, which points out that Blender has helped transfer more than $500 million in Bitcoin since its inception in 2017.