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The European nation of Norway has seized close to $6 million in crypto funds from Lazarus, a digital currency hacking group stationed in the Asian country of North Korea.
Norway Is Garnering a Few Accolades
This is allegedly a new record set by any region. Norway has taken back around $5.8 million in digital funds at press time. The money stems from an early 2022 hack initiated by Lazarus on the crypto gaming platform Axie Infinity. At the time, more than $625 million in digital asset monies were stolen from the company.
It is alleged that North Korea has long been stealing digital currency to fund its ever-growing nuclear program. The country has denied any allegations that it has been involved in crypto theft.
In any case, when one compares $5.8 million to $625 million, things don’t look particularly stellar. This is but a drop in the bucket of what is easily a very large sum. However, it has been extremely difficult in the past to take digital money back from crypto thieves, much less those trained and endorsed by officials in the North Korean government, and for this, Norway is getting a pat on the back right now.
The nation’s senior public prosecutor Marianne Bender commented in a recent statement:
This is money that can be used to finance the North Korean regime and their nuclear weapons program.
The company behind Axie Infinity is called Sky Mavis. The enterprise is based in Vietnam, but it’s founder – Aleksander Larsen – is of Norwegian descent. While he’s not offering comments on the situation at this time, he did issue a public tweet thanking police in his native country for doing all they could to get the money back and for showing such promise in the retrieval of the funds.
He also issued gratitude to Binance – the world’s largest and most popular digital currency exchange – for assisting Norwegian law enforcement agents. A spokesperson for Binance responded with:
When we learn of bad actors on our platform, we intervene and take appropriate action including freezing funds and working with law enforcement to return funds to their rightful owner(s).
North Korea’s Been at This for Some Time
It has been stated for many years that North Korea has long been in the habit of trying to make off with illicit crypto funds. Thus far, the nation has targeted areas in Asia, Europe, and North America.
Recently, a new report was published suggesting that North Korea has made off with more than $1 billion in crypto funds thus far. In addition, the U.S. has set sanctions in place against various mixers that the nation allegedly uses to hide the sources of its stolen funds. These mixers are utilized to launder funds and prevent prying eyes from seeing where they originated from.