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North Korea’s Lazarus Group Blamed for $60 Million Heist from Crypto Casino Stake.com

A cyberattack on the Australia-based cryptocurrency casino Stake.com, co-founded by Ed Craven, a member of the Financial Review Young Rich List, has been attributed to a notorious North Korean hacking group. In the early hours of Tuesday, thieves made off with $41.3 million from Stake.com’s Ethereum hot wallet. Stake.com promptly collaborated with law enforcement agencies to address the situation, media reports said.

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has now officially linked the attack to the infamous Lazarus Group, also known as APT38, a hacking organization with ties to the North Korean government.

The FBI disclosed in a statement on Friday that “DPRK cyber actors” (referring to North Korean actors) moved the stolen funds across various blockchain networks, including Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain (BSC), and Polygon, from Stake.com.

The FBI’s statement further revealed, “These same DPRK actors are also responsible for several other high-profile international virtual currency heists. In 2023 alone, DPRK cyber actors have stolen more than $US200 million. This amount includes, but is not limited to, approximately $US60 million of virtual currency from Alphapo and CoinsPaid on or about July 22, 2023, and approximately US$100 million of virtual currency from Atomic Wallet on or about June 2, 2023.”

Chainalysis, a blockchain analysis firm, reported that hackers stole $3.8 billion from cryptocurrency businesses in the previous year, including a significant heist of $775.7 million in October. The Lazarus Group, a North Korean cybercrime syndicate, was linked to $1.7 billion of cryptocurrency theft in 2022. This cybercrime activity plays a substantial role in North Korea’s economy, with experts suggesting that the stolen funds are likely used to finance the nation’s nuclear weapons programs.

Stake.com, co-founded by Ed Craven and American Bijan Tehrani, operates primarily from Melbourne but is not available to Australian users due to local regulations prohibiting online casinos. Despite this, the platform has grown to become one of the world’s largest online casinos, gaining prominence through high-profile partnerships with celebrities like rapper Drake and soccer star Sergio Aguero. It also signed sponsorship deals with Formula 1 team Alfa Romeo and became a significant partner of the English Premier League club Everton.

According to financial reports, Stake.com reported gross gaming revenue of $2.5 billion in 2022.

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