US Treasury Department’s OFAC Links Multiple Bitcoin Wallets to Ransomware Ordeal in Iran

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has announced today, November 28, that it would be soon adding the crypto addresses of two Iran residents named Mohammad Ghorbaniyan and Ali Khorashadizadeh.

These two Iran residents were added to the black list of the OFAC because their Bitcoin addressed were directly linked to a ransomware case that happened recently. Therefore, the two men have been added to the Specially Designated Nationals list with Bitcoin addresses, something that did not happen before.

They will have their addresses linked to their personal information on the blacklist. Any U. S. citizen is prohibited from from sending any money to these two people via fiat currency or via their Bitcoin address.

Sigal Mandelker, the Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence of the United States, has affirmed that now the department is focused on solving the ransomware plot by targeting the digital exchanges that may have indirectly helped the criminal actors in their crimes.

According to him, they are publishing the digital currency addresses of these people as an effort to identify these criminals and to pursue Iran and other “rogue regimes” that will use cryptocurrencies and their lack of regulation to exploit breaches in the system.

The Ransomware Case

The main reason why these two men were added to the blacklist of the government is that they are directly linked with the SamSam ransomware, which has hit over 200 victims in the last years. The ransomware targets institutions and have hit universities, hospitals and large private and public agencies and corporations lately.

Basically, the malware stole all the information from the people at the institution and locked it away. They had to use Bitcoin (BTC) to pay it, then.

According to reports from the government, the duo was able to convert more than 7,000 BTC which was largely paid as ransom. They turned the money into Iranian rial and deposited it into Iranian banks. They used over 40 exchanges to launder the money, including some that were based in the United States.

The government seems to be pretty mad at these criminals as people who send any funds to them may be subject to be cut from the U. S. financial system entirely.

Mandelker, following the U. S. stance of attacking Iran, has affirmed that as the country “becomes increasingly isolated and desperate” for USD, all exchanges have to harden their services against these illicit schemes.

The attitude shows that the U. S. government is increasingly set on curbing any criminal who thinks they will not be discovered using Bitcoin.

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