• Norwegian authorities, in collaboration with the FBI and DOJ, have seized $6 million from the Axie Infinity heist.
• The North Korean hacker group Lazarus was behind the heist.
• The US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned crypto mixer Blender.io for laundering proceeds from the attack.
Norway Seizes Crypto Worth $6 Million From Axie Infinity Heist
Norwegian authorities, in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), have allegedly seized about $6 million that was stolen in last year’s Axie Infinity heist. According to Norway’s Økokrim, this is „the biggest crypto seizure Norwegian police have ever made.“
Hackers Behind Heist
The hackers responsible for the attack against Axie Infinity and Sky Mavis, who developed a non-fungible token (NFT)-based online video game, are believed to be from North Korean hacker group Lazarus. Immediately after the attack, a large-scale and sophisticated money laundering operation began according to Økokrim.
In May last year, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned crypto mixer Blender.io for its involvement in laundering proceeds from the hack as it processed over $20.5 million in illicit funds stemming from it .
Collaboration Between Nations
In order to seize these funds, cooperation between nations was necessary as First State Attorney Marianne Bender explained: “We work with FBI specialists on tracking cryptocurrency… Such cooperation between countries means that we as a society stand stronger in the fight against digital, profit-motivated crime.“
This seizure sets an important precedent for international law enforcement working together to combat digital crime by recovering stolen funds through collaboration between different nations‘ authorities and agencies such as OFAC and FBI .