The Sinbad cryptocurrency mixing service has been sanctioned by the US government in an effort to restrict the money laundering abilities of the North Korean Lazarus group.
The Lazarus group, a cybercriminal enterprise sponsored by the North Korean regime, is responsible for a number of malicious cyber attacks, including the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack, and the 2022 Horizon Bridge attack that saw $100 million stolen.
Cryptocurrency mixers are used for money laundering by cyber criminals, and allow people to ‘mix’ their deposited cryptocurrency between a number of virtual wallets in order to obscure its source.
Lazarus funds DPRK weapons of mass destruction
According to a press statement released by the US Department of the Treasury, “Due to the pressure of robust U.S. 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.”
Crypto mixing sites like Sinbad generate revenue by taking commission on deposited cryptocurrencies, and are “used by cybercriminals to obfuscate transactions linked to malign activities such as sanctions evasion, drug trafficking, the purchase of child sexual abuse materials, and additional illicit sales on darknet marketplaces."
According to the US Treasury Department, funds seized by Lazarus in a number of recent high-profile attacks were ‘mixed’ using the Sinbad service. This is not the first crypto mixing site to be targeted by similar sanctions, with the Blender.io site previously used by the Lazarus group being similarly seized by the US treasury in 2022.
The Sinbad site now displays a message that states, “"This service has been seized as part of a coordinated law-enforcement action between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Financial Intelligence and Investigation Service (FIOD), and the National Bureau of Investigation taken against the Sinbad.io cryptocurrency mixing service."
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Benedict Collins is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Pro covering privacy and security. Before settling into journalism he worked as a Livestream Production Manager, covering games in the National Ice Hockey League for 5 years and contributing heavily to the advancement of livestreaming within the league. Benedict is mainly focused on security issues such as phishing, malware, and cyber criminal activity, but he also likes to draw on his knowledge of geopolitics and international relations to understand the motives and consequences of state-sponsored cyber attacks.
He has a MA in Security, Intelligence and Diplomacy, alongside a BA in Politics with Journalism, both from the University of Buckingham. His masters dissertation, titled 'Arms sales as a foreign policy tool,' argues that the export of weapon systems has been an integral part of the diplomatic toolkit used by the US, Russia and China since 1945. Benedict has also written about NATO's role in the era of hybrid warfare, the influence of interest groups on US foreign policy, and how reputational insecurity can contribute to the misuse of intelligence.
Outside of work Ben follows many sports; most notably ice hockey and rugby. When not running or climbing, Ben can most often be found deep in the shrubbery of a pub garden.