How U.S. Adversaries Are Using Cryptocurrency to Evade Sanctions

A man uses his smartphone in front of portraits of the late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung, left, and Kim Jong Il, right, in Pyongyang, May 5, 2015 (AP photo by Wong Maye-E).
A man uses his smartphone in front of portraits of the late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung, left, and Kim Jong Il, right, in Pyongyang, May 5, 2015 (AP photo by Wong Maye-E).
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Before his arrest, Virgil Griffith had a reputation as a “cult hacker,” a “tech-world enfant terrible.” A 2008 profile in The New York Times Magazine, published when he was 25, called him the “Internet Man of Mystery,” and cast him as “a troublemaker … A twerp. And a magnet for tech-world groupies,” drinking White Russians and “revel[ing] in the attention of his female fans.” Griffith had become notorious the year before, when he launched WikiScanner, a website that used IP address databases to expose the anonymous editors of Wikipedia entries. The site’s release brought on a wave of news coverage, […]

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