A new report shows that over half a billion dollars were laundered by crypto criminals through a service called RenBridge.
According to a recent study conducted by Elliptic, a company specializing in blockchain analytics, criminals have utilized the cross-chain bridge RenBridge to launder more than $540 million in illicitly obtained cryptocurrency since 2020.
Ransomware payments of $153 million are included in that amount, indicating that hackers use RenBridge when they breach into business networks and demand ransom payments from the organizations to regain access to their data. According to Elliptic, RenBridge played a significant role as a facilitator for ransomware groups with ties to Russia.
David Carlisle, vice president of policy and regulatory affairs for Elliptic, told CNBC that these cross-chain bridges are actually a bit of a gift and a curse at the moment. They assist in extending the crypto market in the same manner that so many other successful crypto products do by providing users with additional options for crypto transactions.
He added that:
“The flipside is they’re effectively ungoverned and so very vulnerable to hacks, or to being used in crimes like money laundering.”
Elliptic believes that North Korea was the culprit behind the theft of other cryptocurrencies that were laundered via RenBridge. The Conti cybercrime gang, which is responsible for a recent cyberattack on the Costa Rican government that resulted in the declaration of a national state of emergency, also made use of the platform. According to the findings of Elliptic’s study, Conti has used RenBridge to launder more than 53 million dollars.
RenBridge is an open protocol, which means that it does not function with a CEO, CFO, or any other controlling leader. As a result, it is an ideal solution for those who are looking to launder stolen crypto.
Recall that Treasury Department blacklisted Tornado Cash on Monday after finding the service responsible for laundering digital assets worth more than $7 billion since 2019.