Norway Recovers $5.9 Million Out of Axie Infinity Loot From Notorious 'Lazarus Group'

Norwegian Police, on Thursday, broke history after successfully recovering over NOK 60 million from the hands of Axie Infinity hackers.

Økokrim, the Norwegian central unit responsible for investigating and persecuting economic and environmental crime, made this disclosure on their official Twitter handle, adding that the NOK 60,000,000—currently valued at $5.86 million—is one of the biggest cash recovery ever made by the unit.

In response to the success, First State Attorney Marie Bender added that “Økokrim are good at following the money” and “the case shows that we have a great capacity to follow the money on blockchain, even if the criminals use advanced methods.”

The intelligence unit added it had worked closely with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) in solving the hacking case, which is believed to have been perpetrated by the dreaded North Korean hackers group Lazarus.

According to a recent Chainalysis report, Lazarus was significantly responsible for over 45% of the total cryptocurrency hacks in 2022, gathering $1.7 billion towards the development of government-sponsored nuclear programs.

Eleven months ago, news of a massive hack on the popular Web3 game Axie Infinity broke out across the crypto community. Hackers had gained access to private keys of individuals making away close to NOK 5 Billion worth of cryptocurrencies ($489 million) and inflicting massive losses on Sky Mavis, the Vietnam-based company behind the game.

Over 750 Norwegians had assets on Axie Infinity and may have been affected by the hack, prompting the regulatory body to swing into action in May 2022. Norway has continued to see an increase in crypto adoption, with over 10% of the adult population owning one form of crypto. Bitcoin and Ethereum topped the list of the most held asset, with over 67% having BTC in their wallet and 42% having Ethereum. 

Over the last three years, Axie Infinity remained one of Web3’s most popular play-to-earn games, attracting close to 2.8 million monthly players in January 2022 and racking up to $4.26 Billion in NFT sales. While its in-game token, $AXS, has continued to record slow progress in the journey back to its November 2021 ATH, the monthly player counts are on a downward spiral, with users falling almost 50% below the one million mark. 

Økokrim had pledged to work together with Sky Mavis to recompense affected victims.

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