US Seizes $30M from Axie Infinity Hackers with Help from Chainalysis

The US has recovered $30 million from North Korean hacker group “Lazarus Group”, which Treasury officials linked to the $625 million Axie Infinity exploit in April.
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Quick

  • The US has seized $30 million from North Korea’s Lazarus Group.
  • The hacker group was liked to the $625 million Axie Infinity exploit by US officials in April.
  • Chaninalysis said on Thursday it played role in the recovery of the funds alongside other crypto organisations.

The US has seized $30 million from the North Korean hacker organisation “Lazarus Group” also known as “Hidden Cobra”. US Treasury officials in April linked the group to the $625 million Axie Infinity exploit.

Announcing the seizure in a blog post on September 8, Chainalysis said it helped US law enforcement in the recovery process, assisted by other crypto organisations. The crypto analytics firm estimates that Noth Korean-based hacker groups have stolen at least $1 billion from Defi protocols in 2022 by exploiting cross-chain bridges.

Writing in the blog post, Erin Plante, Senior Director of Investigations at Chainalysis said she had the privilege of sharing some good news on stage at AxieCon. 

“With the help of law enforcement and leading organizations in the cryptocurrency industry, more than $30 million worth of cryptocurrency stolen by North Korean-linked hackers has been seized. This marks the first time ever that cryptocurrency stolen by a North Korean hacking group has been seized, and we’re confident it won’t be the last,” she wrote.

The Axie Infinity hack is the second largest cyber exploit to date according to Rekt Database, which also shows that more than $60 billion has been stolen in various online incidences (including non-crypto), while about $2.3 billion has been recovered.

In late March, Sky Mavis the organisation behind Axie Infinity discovered that its cross-chain bridging protocol Ronin had been exploited with hackers stealing 173,600 Ether (ETH) and 25.5 million USD Coins, valued at $625 million at the time.

Barely two weeks later, the US linked notorious North Korean hacker unit Lazarus Group with the exploit, with more details about how they lured an unsuspecting employee via a fake LinkedIn job offer emerging later.

In May, the US Treasury sanctioned crypto mixer Blender after linking it to laundering the money stolen from Axie Infinity. The department has recently sanctioned another crypto mixing platform Tornado Cash, again due to claims it laundered a majority of money stolen through NFT scams.

Several web3 startups have launched solutions to try to reduce crypto exploits with Chainalysis’ crypto intelligence solutions helping in the latest process.

According to the company, Chainalysis utilised “advanced tracing techniques to follow stolen funds to cash out points and liaising with law enforcement and industry players to quickly freeze funds.”

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