The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has added three Ethereum addresses to its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN). OFAC claims the ether addresses are controlled by the Lazarus Group, a North Korea-linked cybercriminal organization.
The Lazarus Group behind Axie Infinity Heist
OFAC of the U.S. Department of the Treasury has added three Ethereum addresses allegedly linked to the Lazarus Group cybercrime group to its SDN list. The increase in addresses comes weeks after U.S. authorities accused the Lazarus Group and North Korean hackers of being behind the $620 million Axie Infinity heist.
As previously reported by Bitcoin.com News, after reports of the hack emerged, the U.S. government claimed the cybercriminal group was part of the hacking group that spearheaded the Ronin Bridge attack, which resulted in the theft of more than 173,000 Ethereum tokens. Additionally, prior to the department’s latest update, Ethereum mixing project Tornado Cash revealed that it was blocking OFAC-approved addresses from using mixers.
North Korea sanctions evasion
In a statement posted on Twitter on April 22, the U.S. Treasury Department said blocking access to funds at designated addresses would deprive North Korea of a vital source of revenue for sanctions-evading North Korea. The statement explained:
OFAC adds 3 virtual currency wallet addresses to the Lazarus Group’s SDN list.Korea [North Korea] It has been relying on illicit activities such as cybercrime to generate revenue while trying to evade U.S. and U.N. sanctions.
While U.S. authorities insist the blockade will prevent North Korea from using stolen cryptocurrencies, an earlier report from Bitcoin.com News suggests that cybercriminals are still able to move funds by simply transferring funds to unapproved ether addresses funds.
Meanwhile, in addition to directly blocking the three Ethereum addresses, the U.S. Treasury Department’s statement also warned against transactions with these addresses. Those who did so would be targeted by U.S. sanctions, the statement suggested.
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