Atomic Wallet hackers turn to OFAC-sanctioned Garantex: Elliptic

Atomic Wallet hackers turn to OFAC-sanctioned Garantex: Elliptic

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Illicit funds obtained from the $35 million Atomic Wallet hack are on the move again, with Russia-based sanctioned crypto exchange Garantex reportedly becoming the latest to come into contact with the hacked crypto.

On June 13, blockchain security and compliance firm Elliptic updated the situation regarding the stolen funds from Atomic Wallet. It alleges that the North Korean hacker collective, the Lazarus Group – believed to be behind the attack – has used Russia-based sanctioned crypto exchange Garantex to launder the loot.

In a Twitter post, the firm said that there was a significant and successful community effort between Elliptic and many exchange partners to freeze the stolen cryptocurrencies. However, Lazarus has now found other means to exchange its assets for Bitcoin (BTC).

The US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Garantex and the Russian dark web marketplace Hydra in April 2022.

Garantex was founded in late 2019 and was originally registered in Estonia before moving most of its operations to Moscow, the Treasury Department noted At the time.

“Analysis of known Garantex transactions shows that more than $100 million in transactions are associated with illicit actors and dark web markets,” it added.

Earlier this month, Cointelegraph reported that ill-gotten gains were being funneled through the sinbad.io mixera service frequently used by the Lazarus Group.

Elliptic added that funds withdrawn from Garantex by hackers continue to be obfuscated through the Sinbad.io mixer.

The Treasury Department also sanctioned Blender.io (the older version of Sinbad.io) in May 2022, warning that North Korea was using the service to “support their malicious cyber activities and money laundering of stolen virtual currency.” .

Related: OFAC Sanctions OTC Traders Who Converted Cryptocurrencies for North Korea’s Lazarus Group

On June 3, several Atomic Wallet user accounts were engagedresulting in losses of up to $35 million in digital assets.

Five days later, Atomic stated that it had hired blockchain security and analyst firm Chainalysis as a lead incident investigator. Cointelegraph reached out to Chainalysis for an update on the investigation, but a spokesperson said they could not comment on the Atomic Wallet case.

The notorious North Korean hacking collective has been linked to several major cryptographic vulnerabilities in the past year, including the Harmony Bridge hack and the Ronin Bridge hack.

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