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United States Treasury Dept. Sanctions Two Iranians Involved in BTC Ransomware

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The U.S. Treasury Department has reprimanded two Iranians who are supposedly involved in Bitcoin (BTC) ransomware scheme SamSam.

The Treasury made this matter official in a press release.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has taken steps against two Iranian individuals, Ali Khorashadizadeh and Mohammad Ghorbaniyan, who are charged with exchanging Bitcoin into Iranian rials (IRR).

This is the first time that Bitcoin addresses have been attributed to “designated individuals” on the OFAC’s sanctions list.

The report stated that SamSam ransomware penetrates into companies’ computer networks, letting the criminals take over administrator rights to demand a ransom in Bitcoin in exchange for regained network access by users. The ransomware has compromised a number of firms, government agencies, universities, and hospitals, targeting over 200 victims.

OFEC has identified two crypto addresses linked to the alleged Iran-based criminals, with 7,000 transactions in Bitcoin and an estimated 6,000 BTC transferred since 2013, the report indicated.

While Khorashadizadeh and Ghorbaniyan are supposedly responsible for the exchange of crypto and the deposits of rials into Iranian banks, the ransomware scheme also has two Iranian players that functioned as hackers and have been compromising multiple data networks with SamSam in the U.S., the United Kingdom, and Canada since 2015.

A few months earlier, it was reported that SamSam creators were making around $300,000 per month, and “nobody [could] work out who they are.” According to research offered by cybersecurity firm Sophos, SamSam has gathered about $6 million since apparently being launched in 2015.

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