The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the FBI has recovered over $30 million in cryptocurrency stolen by North Korean hackers earlier this year. It’s only a fraction of the $540 million stolen, but it’s something.
The Axie Infinity recovery represents a shift in law enforcement’s ability to trace funds through a web of so-called crypto addresses, the virtual accounts where cryptocurrencies are stored. These addresses can be created quickly without them being linked to a cryptocurrency company that could freeze the funds.
In its effort to mask the stolen crypto, Lazarus Group used more than 12,000 different addresses, according to Chainalysis. Unlike bank transactions that happen through private networks, movement between crypto accounts is visible to the world on the blockchain.
Advanced blockchain-monitoring tools and cooperation from centralized crypto exchanges enabled the FBI to trace the crypto to where Lazarus Group tried to cash out, investigators said.
The money was laundered through the Tornado Cash mixer.