According to risk management company Elliptic, the cryptocurrency mixer known as Blender, which was blacklisted by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the United States Department of the Treasury in May, was “very likely” relaunched as Sinbad. Blender was blacklisted in May.
Elliptic said in a report dated February 13 that the results of its investigation into Sinbad revealed that the cryptocurrency mixer was most likely a rebranding of Blender and that “the same person or group responsible for it” was involved. The company claims that Sinbad was the mastermind behind the laundering of about 100 million dollars worth of Bitcoin (BTC) on behalf of the North Korean hacker outfit Lazarus.
Elliptic reported that after United States authorities cracked down on cryptocurrency mixers (as OFAC did with Tornado Cash in August and Blender in May), Lazarus hackers used Sinbad to launder some of the funds from their attack on Horizon Bridge in January, which resulted in a loss of one hundred million dollars. A blockchain investigation of wallets believed to be associated with the operator of Blender also revealed that $22 million worth of cryptocurrency was given to Sinbad, in addition to additional payments being sent to persons who promoted the mixer.
According to Elliptic, “the on-chain pattern of activity is fairly similar for both mixers.” This includes the precise features of transactions as well as the utilization of other services in order to conceal the mixers’ activities. “The operation of the Sinbad mixer is comparable to that of the Blender mixer in a number of respects, including the use of ten-digit mixer codes, guarantee letters signed by the service address, and a transaction delay of no more than seven days,”
Elliptic has a theory that the people behind Sinbad may have renamed after the closure of Blender in order to “earn confidence from users.” In addition, OFAC may be considering issuing penalties against the cryptocurrency mixer. Already the United States Treasury Department is being challenged in court on the penalties it imposed on Tornado Cash.
Lazarus is suspected to being behind a number of significant assaults in the cryptocurrency field, one of which being a breach of Axie Infinity’s Ronin Bridge in March that resulted in a loss of $620 million. The government of South Korea has followed suit and implemented its own set of penalties on North Korean businesses connected to the theft of cryptocurrencies.