Axie Infinity's Stolen Funds Continue to be Laundered Despite US Sanctions

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Axie Infinity's Stolen Funds Continue to Be Laundered Despite US Sanctions

John Dave Rossel
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Highlights
Lazarus Group, a group of North Korean hackers, remains unstoppable and continues to launder the funds stolen from Axie Infinity's Ronin Bridge.
Despite the wallet address being added to the US Treasury Department’s sanctions list, it remains operational and is laundering stolen funds through Tornado Cash.
Binance was able to recover $5.8 million USD worth of stolen funds and has frozen it to prevent unsolicited transactions.

Despite being penalized, the Lazarus group, a group of North Korean hackers, continues to launder the funds stolen from Axie Infinity’s Ronin Bridge. Despite the crypto wallet being added to the United States (US) Treasury Department’s sanctions list, the wallet continues to remain operational and is laundering the stolen funds through an Ethereum based privacy solution (also known as Coin Mixers). According to a report from the Washington Post, the wallet address has been sanctioned by the US Treasury Department but transactions can still be processed due to incomplete compliance by cryptocurrency companies like Tether and Center Consortium. Fortunately, Binance was able to recover around $5.8 million USD worth of stolen funds and has frozen it to prevent unsolicited transactions.

North Korean Hacker group behind Axie Infinity crypto heist remains unstoppable despite US sanctions

When the investigation into the Ronin Network breach, on 23rd March, revealed the culprit behind the money heist, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) took immediate actions to prevent the funds from being transferred to other accounts. The address tied to the Lazarus Group was added to a sanctions list where it would be monitored to prevent further casualties.

However, an unexpected turn of events occurred as the address remained operational and the hacker group kept laundering the stolen funds through a popular coin-mixer, Tornado Cash. According to a report from CoinDesk, in just 24 hours, the cybercriminals had sent nearly 3,000 Ethereum ($80.3 million USD) worth of cryptocurrency.

Coin Mixers are software companies that serve as middlemen between parties looking to send or receive cryptocurrencies. These transactions are often private and become untraceable once a transaction is complete.

As the investigation regarding the crypto hackers continues, Sky Mavis, the developer behind Axie Infinity, in partnership with Binance, has raised around $150 million USD to reimburse the stolen funds. However, it may take some time before all of the stolen funds can be recovered.

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John is a mobile esports writer for AFK Gaming that specializes in Wild Rift and Mobile Legends, whilst also maintaining an overview of the Free Fire, COD Mobile and PUBG Mobile esports scenes.