Companies like Blender.io exist simply to help criminals or the paranoid to hide their cryptocurrency transactions. They don’t provide any service that the average person would normally go seeking out, but then again these aren’t usual times. This kind of activity is not something the fed would ignore in traditional US Currency, but once North Korea allegedly got involved all that changed for Blender.
For their alleged role in the $620 million Axie Infinity heist, North Korea netted over $20.5 million, and Blender was instrumental in “indiscriminately” helping them to launder the money. This kind of money in crypto or any other currency will obviously attract attention, and now the Fed wants to cut NK out of their crypto and they want to send a message about crypto laundering. By opting to completely block Blender property in the US (or controlled by US residents), as well as blocking out US-linked transactions, as well as any entities where blocked people have majority control.
Blocks create audit trails, so blocking sanctioned entities from trading their shares will help stem the time of illegal crypto into the market to be washed with clean or at least cleaner crypto. This is all a result of Axie Infinity’s heist conducted by Lazarus Group according to charges filed. Lazarus Group has frequently been linked to North Korea within the realms of cybercrime, and cyberwarfare campaigns. The tiny hermit nation has also been investigated for its involvement in hacking banks as well as crypto investors as a means to avoid international sanctions and fund their nuclear programs.
The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control did not sit idly by while this happened either. They used this time to identify four digital wallets Lazarus was used for laundering the rest of the Axie Infinity crypto. Then they loaded all of it into a “getaway” wallet. This kind of step is one not usually seen when launching these kinds of sanctions, so this is a big step to returning the crypto to its rightful owner. Getting people their property returned is exactly what this agency specializes in.
While normal crypto users don’t have anything to worry about here, it sends a strong message to the global community that they don’t want to play around like this with US or US assets. It also tells American crypto holders that they will investigate and persecute for working with state-backed hackers. They don’t want to see foreign governments interfering with the marketplace, or making it even more corrupted than it already is.
On the heels of this news as well as the recent push for a higher rate by the Fed, investors started getting cold feet in the marketplace, and another great sell-off began. Much like the stock market right now, crypto is running a lot based on fear of what the Fed might do. People are turtling up with their investments and waiting for the bad times to pass. The problem is we still have two more years of Biden left, and there is no guarantee he’ll be replaced, so the bad times may persist.
This is one of the beautiful things for your basic crypto investors, they get the coins, hold them off the exchanges (where they are safer), and wait for the market to become right to spend them or sell them. As we go along this trek, we see that there are many other ways to invest this money, and the people investing in crypto are aware of the risks, and how volatile it can be as a currency. They accept these risks and embrace them. This kind of speculation investing pulled us out of the great depression, and it could help avoid a second one.