Feb 15, 2023

Exchanges Freeze $1.4M of Crypto Linked to North Korea’s Lazarus Group

Cryptocurrency exchanges Binance and Huobi have once again taken action against illicit activity, this time freezing accounts linked to the notorious North Korean Lazarus Group. The group was behind the $100 million Harmony Horizon bridge hack last June, and the exchanges were able to freeze $1.4 million of the stolen crypto.

The investigation was led by blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, which shared the news in a report released on Feb. 14. The firm did not specify what coins or tokens were frozen.

Elliptic explained that it passed on the intelligence to Binance and Houbi, who then acted swiftly to freeze the Lazarus Group-linked accounts. The stolen funds had remained dormant until recently, when Elliptic investigators began to see them funneled through complex chains of transactions to exchanges. By promptly notifying the platforms of the illicit deposits, they were able to suspend the accounts and freeze the funds.

The Lazarus Group had attempted to break the transaction trail back to the original theft by using the now-United States OFAC-sanctioned privacy mixer Tornado Cash. However, Elliptic investigators were able to trace the entirety of the stolen funds sent through the mixer.

Simone Maini, CEO of Elliptic, suggested that the events showed the industry was taking on the responsibility to prevent money laundering and stop crypto from becoming a “haven” for illicit activity.

This isn’t the first time Binance and Huobi have cooperated on the matter. On Jan. 16, the two platforms managed to freeze and recover 121 Bitcoin (BTC) worth $2.5 million linked to the Harmony attack.

The recovery was, however, only a fraction of the $63.5 million laundered over that weekend, according to crypto sleuth ZachXBT. The funds were funneled through Ethereum-based privacy protocol Railgun before being sent off to three different exchanges.

Recent efforts from Elliptic revealed that Lazarus Group has laundered about $100 million in Bitcoin through “Sinbad,” a re-launch of the now OFAC-sanctioned privacy mixer Blender.

The Lazarus Group is believed to be one of the biggest crypto threats in the world, with estimates from Elliptic suggesting they have stolen well over $2 billion in crypto since they shifted their focus to the industry in 2017.

In order to protect investors and prevent money laundering, crypto exchanges have to remain vigilant and continue to cooperate with blockchain analytics firms like Elliptic. By freezing accounts linked to the Lazarus Group, Binance and Huobi have once again demonstrated their commitment to the security of the web3 space.

The Harmony bridge hack is a reminder of the importance of NFT promotion and marketing. NFTs are digital assets that are becoming increasingly popular in the crypto world, and it is important for exchanges and NFT marketing agencies to be aware of the potential risks of selling NFTs on their platforms.

Twitter NFT marketing is an effective way to promote NFTs, but exchanges and NFT marketing agencies must be aware of the potential for money laundering and other illicit activities. A web3 agency can help to ensure that NFTs are promoted in a safe and secure manner, and that any transactions are closely monitored.

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