US Government recovers $30M in Stolen Cryptocurrency from North Korean hackers

Hackers stole more than $600 million from Axie Infinity earlier this year.

The US government was able to successfully recover around $30 million in stolen cryptocurrency from online video game Axie Infinity in March, according to an announcement from crypto analytics firm Chainalysis on Thursday. The firm said it worked with the FBI and private investigators to retrieve the stolen money, which was laundered through privacy mixer Tornado Cash.

Lazarus Group is the name of the North Korean hacking entity tied to multiple cryptocurrency thefts over recent years.

The $30 million recovered is merely a fraction of the equivalent total of more than $600 million that the FBI said the North Korean hackers originally stole from Sky Mavis, a company having an office in Vietnam and created a popular video game that allows users to earn digital money. However, the seizure is still a breakthrough for law enforcement, and investigators are actively trying to retrieve as much as they can of the remaining loot, according to Chainalysis senior director of investigations Erin Plante.

Plante said, “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.”

Sky Mavis co-founder Aleksander Leonard Larsen said, “The money has been frozen by [law enforcement]. No funds returned as of yet and we expect it to take time until the community gets the funds back. Note also that all user funds have been reimbursed.”

For investigators, acting quickly after a hack happens is very crucial in trying to recover stolen money that the attackers attempt to launder through cryptocurrency accounts. The FBI continues to appeal to victims to share information on those accounts immediately after a hack is discovered, in order to increase the chances of retrieving back stolen funds.

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