US Treasury Adds Crypto Addresses Of Iranian Cybercriminals To Sanctions List

Crime, News | November 30, 2018 By:

The US Department of the Treasury‘s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has included cybercriminals’ crypto addresses to its Special Designated Nationals (SDNs) list, which marked the first time such addresses have been added to the list.

In March of this year, the treasury department updated its FAQ on sanctions compliance and hinted that the OFAC may add digital currency addresses to the sanctions list “to alert the public” to specific property associated with a blacklisted person.

According to a November 28 announcement, OFAC added the crypto addresses of two Iranian individuals – Ali Khorashadizadeh and Mohammad Ghorbaniyan – to its SDNs list, which includes “individuals and companies owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, targeted countries.” The Iranian nationals reportedly helped exchange bitcoin ransom payments into Iranian rial on behalf of Iranian malicious cyber actors involved with the “SamSam” ransomware scheme. The scheme allegedly hit more than 200 victims, extorting more than $6 million in ransom and causing economic damage totaling more than $30 million.

“Since 2013, Khorashadizadeh and Ghorbaniyanhave used these two digital currency addresses to process over 7,000 transactions, to interact with over 40 exchangers—including some US-based exchangers—and to send approximately 6,000 bitcoin worth millions of USD, some of which involved bitcoin derived from SamSam ransomware.” the report said.

Said Sigal Mandelker, the Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said that they are publishing digital currency addresses to identify illicit actors operating in the digital currency space. He added that the treasury department will aggressively pursue Iran and other rogue regimes attempting to exploit digital currencies and weaknesses in cyber and Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) safeguards to further their nefarious objectives.

“As Iran becomes increasingly isolated and desperate for access to US dollars, it is vital that virtual currency exchanges, peer-to-peer exchangers, and other providers of digital currency services harden their networks against these illicit schemes,” stated Mandelker.