They transferred the funds to various individuals and entities in different countries crypto wallets. Since then, a massive investigation has been carried out by the FBI, the DoJ, and Norwegian authorities, resulting in the capture of the stolen funds.
On Thursday, Økokrim, the top anti-corruption agency in Norway, announced that it had confiscated $6 million from the stolen money with the FBI’s help.
Norway and FBI Retrieve Some Stolen Funds
Norway’s National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime, Økokrim, declared that it had taken possession of 60 million Kroner (about $5.8M) in digital currencies. These crypto assets are allegedly associated with the harm to Sky Mavis, the creators of the Non-Fungible Token (NFT)-based online video game, Axie Infinity.
The Norwegian agency stated that in partnership with the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), it had obtained nearly NOK 60 million in cryptocurrency, making it the largest crypto confiscation by Norwegian police to date.
Marianne Bender, the First State Attorney, commented that collaboration between countries and the FBI specialists in tracing cryptocurrency strengthens society in combating digital offenses motivated by gain. Nonetheless, Økokrim did not disclose specifics about the confiscation.
North Korea’s Lazarus Group And The Axie Infinity Hackers
Axie Infinity is a blockchain-based game that allows players to breed, battle, and digitally trade creatures called Axies. It is one of the most popular digital collectible gaming platforms, and its recent hack has shaken the entire cryptocurrency industry.
In March of last year, the Ronin network validators of Axie Infinity suffered an attack that resulted in reported losses of $620 million. Sky Mavis reported that the perpetrator gained control of their four Ronin validators and another validator run by the Axie DAO.
Subsequent investigations by the FBI concluded that the North Korean hacker group, Lazarus, was responsible for the robbery. Quickly after the attack, Økokrim unveiled that the hackers had embarked on a colossal and intricate money laundering operation.
In May 2022, OFAC, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, levied sanctions on the cryptocurrency mixer Blender.io. The Treasury Department stated that the mixer was laundering over $20.5 million of funds stolen from North Korea’s Axie Infinity.
According to the agency, the seized funds were transferred to a secure account in Norway> They are now to be returned to their rightful owners. The authorities are still investigating, and they anticipate making more arrests soon.
While the Axie Infinity hack was a significant blow to the cryptocurrency industry, the recent success of the investigation and the seizure of the stolen funds is a reminder that law enforcement is committed to fighting cybercriminals and will continue to do so.
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