One of North Korea's Favorite Crypto Mixers Is Back, Laundering $100M
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One of North Korea's Favorite Crypto Mixers Is Back, Laundering $100M, the first crypto mixing service hit by U.S. sanctions appears to have relaunched under the name Sinbad, a newcomer that gained a lot of Lazarus Group business quickly.

One of North Korea's Favorite Crypto Mixers Is Back, Laundering $100M

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The mixing service Blender, which was hit with U.S. sanctions before Tornado Cash, has been resurrected under the name Sinbad, according to crypto intelligence firm Elliptic.

And it has already laundered $100 million of the $1.7 billion North Korea is believed to have stolen in a series of hacks on major crypto projects, notably the $620 million hack of Axie Infinity's Ronin Network bridge.

A small mixing service that is quickly getting big, Sinbad is "highly likely to be a rebrand of Blender, with the same individual or group responsible for it," Elliptic said.

Despite its small size and having been launched in October, Sinbad managed to quickly attract tens of millions of dollars in transactions from accounts believed to be part of North Korea's Lazarus Group.

Which is fairly remarkable for a custodial mixer, "as the operator has full control over the cryptoassets deposited within it," Elliptic said.


Elliptic gave a list of reasons for its belief that Sinbad is a rebrand of Blender.

First off, a pre-launch Sinbad "service" address received what appeared to be a test transaction from a wallet thought to be controlled by Blender's operator. Following that $22 million in early transactions came from that wallet.

And, funds used to pay for Sinbad marketing and promotion came from that Blender-linked wallet.

Beyond that there are a number of similarities in how the site is run, the techniques it uses, and even "the structure of both services' websites, as well as in their use of language and naming conventions," Elliptic said.

Elliptic predicted that more OFAC sanctions could be coming.

Sanctions Mixed was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on May 6, after being used to launder $20.5 million from the Ronin bridge hack..

While it was the first such use of sanctions, the Blender sanctions weren't all that controversial, as it was an operator-run business, and many businesses have been sanctioned over the years.

The same can't be said of Tornado Cash, a fully DAO-run project that became the first-even example of OFAC sanctioning computer code, which heretofore had been considered writing — and thus Constitutionally protected speech. It was blamed for laundering $455 million hacked by Lazarus Group

That controversy redoubled when a coder who had launched but since left the project was arrested in The Netherlands, where he is awaiting trial without bail. The arrest was the first time a DeFi developer had been charged with a crime — money laundering in this case — based on the project's actions as a DAO.

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