US Treasury Department sanctions Blender.io over laundering proceeds of Axie Infinity hack

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The Ronin Network’s hack was ranked as one of the largest in the decentralized finance (DeFi) sector. The threat actors behind the hack made away with over $600M worth of cryptocurrencies. The US Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has issued an announcement saying that Blernder.io, a cryptocurrency mixer, has been sanctioned for laundering the money stolen during this hack.

US Treasury sanctions Blender.io

The hack on the Ronin Network was attributed to a North Korean hacking group. The Lazarus Group is a state-sponsored hacking organization in North Korea, and it has been behind some of the largest hacks across different industries.

Brian Nelson, the Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, commented on the development, saying, “Today, for the first time ever, US  Treasury is sanctioning a virtual currency mixer. We are taking action against illicit financial activity by the DPRK and will now allow state-sponsored thievery and its money laundering enables to go unanswered.”

Property belonging to Blender.io in the United States or owned by people residing in the United States has been frozen, and it should be surrendered to OFAC. OFAC said that Blender.io laundered $20.5M out of the money stolen from the Ronin Network. OFACX added that Blender.io was also linked with laundering money for Russian threat actor groups such as Trickbot, Ryuk, Conti and more.

Lazarus Group linked to the hack

As aforementioned, North Korea’s Lazarus Group was associated with this hack on the Ronin Network. Before this hack, the United Nations had issued a report saying that North Korea was using stolen cryptocurrency to fund its missile testing program. The Lazarus Group was reported to be behind this hack in mid-April following an investigation by OFAC.

The US Treasury has also imposed sanctions on the four wallet addresses belonging to the Lazarus Group. These wallet addresses were used to transfer the stolen funds, and they have now been included in the List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons.

The Ronin Network was hacked on March 23. However, the breach was detected a week after it happened. The bridge was exploited through the Sky Mavis game developer. Sky Mavis has since reimbursed users of the stolen cryptocurrency. The game developer secured $150M funding from some of the leading players in the crypto space, including Binance. Binance also recovered $5.8M from the hackers.

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