Norwegian Authorities Recover Crypto Worth $5.9M From Axie Infinity Hack

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Key takeaways:

  • The money confiscated will be used to pay back the harmed customers and stop North Korea from funding its nuclear weapons program.
  • According to the economic crime unit, it was the largest crypto haul ever made by Norwegian law enforcement.

Authorities in Norway claim to have seized roughly $6 million taken in the Axie Infinity theft last year in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) and the FBI. Norway’s Okokrim declared, “It is the biggest crypto seizure Norwegian police have ever made.”

In a press release issued on February 16 by Norway’s National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (Okokrim), it was revealed that $5.85 million worth of stolen cryptocurrencies connected to the March 2022 Axie Infinity Ronin Bridge hack had been seized by authorities. Senior Public Prosecutor Marianne Bender claims:

“Okokrim is good at following the trail of money. This case shows that we also have a great capacity to follow the money on the blockchain, even if the criminals use advanced methods.”

Bender claims that Okokrim collaborated with FBI agents and the U.S. DoJ to follow the trail of digital assets taken. She stated:

“This is money that can support North Korea and their nuclear weapons program. It has therefore been important to track the cryptocurrency and try to stop the money when they try to withdraw it in physical value.” 

Once the Ronin network validators were taken advantage of, an attack was launched against Axie Infinity in March of last year. At the time, a $620 million deficit was recorded. The four Ronin Validators owned by Sky Mavis and a separate validator operated by Axie DAO were both taken under control by the attacker, according to Sky Mavis.

Sky Mavis, the designer of the Axie Infinity game and the Ronin Bridge, will be informed of the seizure, according to the police, to guarantee that the affected users will feasibly receive the most money back. Following a total user reimbursement of 117,600 Ether and 25.5 million USD Coin from its creators and outside investment from Binance in June 2022, Axie Infinity reopened its Ronin bridge. The Axie DAO Treasury was the owner of the remaining 56,000 stolen ETH, which is why it is still uncollateralized while Sky Mavis “works with law enforcement to recover the funds.”

The North Korean hacker collective Lazarus is suspected by the FBI of being responsible for the robbery. Immediately following the attack, the hackers launched a complex and extensive money-laundering operation, according to Okokrim.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury sanctioned the cryptocurrency mixer in May of last year. According to the Treasury Department, the Blender processed over $20.5 million in illegal earnings throughout the laundering process for North Korea’s Axie Infinity crime.

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