The Federal government placed sanctions last week on two Iranians they accuse of exchanging cryptocurrency generated from victims of ransomware for Iranian cash.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said last week that the two men’s identities are the product of an investigation into the SamSam ransomware scheme, of which the government has identified at least 200 victims. Per investigators, over 7,000 transactions occurred through the men’s bitcoin accounts, totaling millions of dollars.
The ransomware in question has been uploaded to the networks of several corporations, hospitals, universities, and government agencies via vulnerabilities in the networks’ security. Upon infection, the program assumes administrator rights to the network and locks out the network’s owners, promising to release control of the network only after the payment of a hefty ransom of cybercurrency.
OFAC alleges that the two men received the cybercurrency tendered by victims, which totaled up to BTC6,000, which is worth several million U.S. dollars, and exchanged it for Iranian currency that they deposited in Iranian banks.
In addition to facing OFAC sanctions for the alleged extortion activities, the two men were also indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice over the above-described activity, which they say has gone on since 2015.
As a result of the OFAC sanctions, the two men are legally barred from exercising ownership rights in any property within the jurisdiction of the United States. Additionally, U.S. citizens are forbidden from conducting business with either of the men.
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