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U.S. Agency Links North Korea Crime Ring to $540 Million Axie Infinity Crypto Hack

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The Axie Infinity game was launched in 2018.

Crypto analytics firm Elliptic estimates that about 18% of the funds stolen in the Axie hack, roughly $97 million, has been laundered through various channels.

Credit: Sky Mavis/REUTERS

U.S. law enforcement linked the Lazarus Group, an online crime syndicate connected to the North Korean government, to the $540 million hack of the online game Axie Infinity last month.

The theft, infiltrating the network upon which the game is run, was one of the largest in the 13-year history of cryptocurrencies. The perpetrators stole 173,600 ether and 25.5 million of the stablecoin USD Coin, or USDC, worth about $540 million at the time of the attack.

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control maintains a database of sanctioned groups that are illegal to do business with. On Thursday, the agency updated sanctions to say that the Lazarus Group is the owner of the cryptocurrency address that was used in the hack.

The North Korean government has increasingly relied on illicit activities including cybercrime to generate revenue for its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic-missile programs, a Treasury spokesperson said. The Axie-hack wallet was discovered through a joint investigation of the Treasury Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

From The Wall Street Journal
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