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US Sanctions Cryptocurrency Mixer Sinbad for Aiding North Korean Hackers

US Treasury sanctions Sinbad, saying the cryptocurrency mixer is laundering funds for North Korean hacking group Lazarus.

The US Department of the Treasury on Wednesday announced sanctions against cryptocurrency mixer Sinbad, for laundering stolen cryptocurrency for the North Korean state-sponsored hacking group Lazarus.

Sinbad, the Treasury says, is the preferred mixing service for Lazarus, and is responsible for laundering millions of dollars in stolen cryptocurrency for the nation state threat actor.

Operating on the Bitcoin blockchain, the mixer obfuscates the origin, destination, and counterparties of illicit transactions, and is believed to be a successor to the Blender.io mixer, which was previously sanctioned for aiding Lazarus.

Sinbad, the Treasury says, also obfuscates transactions linked to other malicious activities, including sanctions evasion, drug trafficking, and illicit sales on dark web marketplaces.

According to the US, Sinbad was involved in laundering a “significant portion” of the $100 million in cryptocurrency stolen from Atomic Wallet in June 2023, of the $620 million stolen from Axie Infinity in March 2022, and of the $100 million stolen in June 2022 from Horizon Bridge.

“The Lazarus Group has operated for more than ten years and is believed to have stolen over $2 billion worth of digital assets across multiple thefts. Due to the pressure of robust US and United Nations sanctions, the DPRK has resorted to using illicit tactics, such as heists perpetrated by the Lazarus Group, to generate revenue for its unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs,” the US says.

Lazarus is believed to have stolen more than $377 million worth of cryptocurrency this year alone, in attacks targeting Atomic Wallet, Alphapo, CoinEx, CoinsPaid, and Stake.com.

Last year, the US also sanctioned Tornado Cash for providing mixing services to Lazarus.

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Related: US Sanctions Russian National for Helping Ransomware Groups Launder Money

Related: US, UK Sanction More Members of Trickbot Russian Cybercrime Group

Related: US Sanctions North Korean University for Training Hackers

Related: UN Experts: North Korean Hackers Stole Record Virtual Assets

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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