A while ago, the United States Treasury office opened an investigation on two Iranian ransomware facilitators. Just recently, they published the cryptocurrency wallet addresses of the perps and warned the public about about transacting with this facilitators. Anyone who does any business with them will be subject to secondary sanctions.
According to the report from the OFAC, two individuals who are based in Iran – Mohammad Ghorbaniyan and Ali Khorashadizadeh aided in exchanging BTC ransomware payments that were obtained by a malicious hacker who is also based in Iran. Both men are designated for the following:
Sponsoring, materializing, or providing any form of technological, material, or technical support to the SamSam ransomware attacks. Two associated Bitcoin wallet addresses have been identified by the OFAC. Both addresses processed about 6,000 to 7,000 Bitcoin (BTC) transactions across forty exchanges. Even if the price of Bitcoin is current down, the total USD equivalent of the money they stole would be $25 million.
Bitcoin (BTC) Price Today – BTC / USD
According to the United States Department of Justice, the two actors infected more than 200 networks with SamSam ransomware. Their attacks were in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom in 2015. During the attack, a hospital in Indiana lost all its IT networks and had to pay the ransom to protect their patients.
Social Media Reacts To The US Sanction On Bitcoin Addresses
Shortly after the announcement was published, different people on social media started making comments about it. One user, Marco Santori, with the handle said @msantoriESQ said:
“This is the first time in history the United States government is placing a sanction on Bitcoin Addresses. The United States Department of treasury via the office of the foreign Asset Control (OFAC), took a historic step by adding two Bitcoin addresses to the already existing list of sanctioned parties.”
Even if OFAC has been handling similar issues in the past, this is the first time it is sanctioning BTC addresses. According to the OFAC, these addresses have are designated to individuals. They must comply with its obligations whether or not their transactions are in digital currency or fiat money.
In Iran, the financial and property interests of individuals are subject to OFAC sanctions. So, citizens of the United States are not allowed to deal with them. The actions by OFAC and the Treasury are part of a wider round of sanctions by the United States that target Iran in a bid to blunt broad spectrum of malign activities in Iran and compel a change in behavior.
A warning issued by Sigal Mandelker of the United States Treasury is as follows:
“The Treasury will pursue Iran and other regimes that are rogue and try to exploit weaknesses in CFT safeguards, cyber security and digital currencies for personal gain to the detriment of innocent people.”
The overall goal is to protect the interest of unsuspecting citizens and curb the activities of cybercriminals thus providing a safer digital environment for everyone.