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New Dawn: Treasury Dept. Levies Bitcoin Address Sanctions

New Dawn: Treasury Dept. Levies Bitcoin Address Sanctions

November 29, 2018 by William Peaster

In an unprecedented enforcement action, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has levied bitcoin address sanctions in a crackdown against facilitators of bitcoin-to-rial ransomware rackets in Iran. The sanctions mark the first time specific crypto addresses have essentially been “outlawed” by America’s USD minters. 

Also read: Cryptoeconomy Winter? Fed Warns of Market ‘Shocks,’ De-Risking

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Whether Its Bitcoin, Rials, or Chuck E. Cheese Tokens, the Treasury Will Flex Its Might

On November 28th, the U.S. Treasury, specifically the department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), announced the sanctioning of two Iranian individuals and their associated bitcoin addresses.

The duo, Mohammad Ghorbaniyan and Ali Khorashadizadeh, had facilitated bitcoin-to-rial exchanges for the Iranian hackers behind the SamSam ransomware, at times resorting to U.S. cryptocurrency platforms to do so.

Who says Bitcoin isn't useful? These Iranians used it to collect payments from the SamSam ransomware attacks and then illegally move it between Iranian banks and Bitcoin exchanges around the world. — Nathaniel Popper (@nathanielpopper) November 28, 2018

The rial is Iran’s domestic currency. The Treasury is the principal revenue manager for the U.S. government and is responsible for enforcing federal finance laws, USD printing and minting, tax collection, and more.

SamSam’s creators, whose software hijacked victims’ computers until a bitcoin ransom was paid, turned to Ghorbaniyan and Khorashadizadeh to convert BTC to rials. How long that arrangement was in place wasn’t immediately clear.

Not bitcoin, nor distance, nor scope will stop the Treasury from flexing its muscle if it feels it needs to.

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