September 29, 2022

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Aleksander Leonard Larsen

The FBI seized more than 300 million Norwegian kroner – the Norwegian Alexander Company still lacks billions

– It was too much mental pressure to be in. You wake up one day and your entire life’s work is in jeopardy.

This is what Alexander Leonard Larsen from Tromsø told NRK.

Larsen is one of five founders of Sky Mavis, where he is currently the COO.

Became known in March Sky Mavis’ crypto game Axie Infinity has been hit on a massive scale, with hackers stealing nearly NOK 5.6 billion in cryptocurrency.

750 Norwegian agents had accounts in the game when the attack occurred, and Ecocrime is supposed in May It should be said that these Norwegian accounts run between 40 and 50 million NOK.

The theft has been referred to as the “largest crypto theft” of all time.

“It’s so brutal that the company had so much money the day before so we could do exactly what we wanted — only to not know the next day if the company was still going or not,” he says.

Larsen now confirms to NRK that the FBI has seized $30 million, which means at today’s dollar exchange rate just under 310 million Norwegian kroner.

The entire Sky Mavis management team gathered in Norway last week. Here COO Alexander Leonard Larsen with Managing Director Trung Nguyen (C) and Technical Director Viet Anh Ho.

Photo: Marius Christensen/NRK

Today, Larsen owns about 4.7 percent in the company, which in October last year should have corresponded to a value of NOK 1.3 billion.

Ecocrime: – Current Threat

Sky Mavis crypto theft remains a priority investigation into Okokrim.

They are working closely with the FBI in tracking dividends, and say they will continue this active tracking in the future.

– The Okocream team monitors the money laundering process daily and does everything in its power to stop it and find out who is behind it Money launderingsays Okocream’s first attorney general, Marian Bender, to NRK.

Marian Bender

Okocream’s first prosecutor, Marian Bender, said the perpetrators were running a large-scale money laundering operation.

Photo: Kai Rune Kvitstein / NRK

In April, the FBI reported that it was Hackers from the Lazarus group and North Korean APT38 who were behind the theft.

Økokrim still refers to piracy as a “current threat” on its website, and the call to contact Okokrim remains the first to come up on the organization’s website.

That’s four months after the hacking appeared.

Larsen reviews Sky Mavis' Axie Infinity crypto game.

CRYPTOS GAMES: Several hundred Norwegian users may have valuables worth several million kroner stolen after malicious hackers attacked a network linked to Axie Infinity.

Photo: Gunnar Brathammer/NRK

The perpetrators are running a large-scale money laundering operation of the 5 billion that has been stolen, as they try to hide the profits they are laundering, but also to make profits in the physical world, says Bender.

Cost to clients

Sky Mavis chose to return the lost funds to their customers shortly after the hack. This is the money they consider wasted.

We chose to do it out of free will, because it gave us the greatest chance of achieving greater success. We rely heavily on the trust of our players. However, it was hard to see the number we were guilty of increasing from day to day. It worked, but only. It was a “life saver,” Larsen says with a smile.

We really thought all along the money wouldn’t come back – at least not at first. We see everything we get as a reward.


NRK
explain

What is cryptocurrency?

Go to

Cryptocurrency is a digital currency

Funds can only be found on the Internet. So, wherever you are in the world, you can settle in a single digital currency without intermediaries.

Cryptocurrencies are not controlled by banks

Cryptocurrency is decentralized and encrypted. In theory, no one controls it. This often means that the exchange rate for this type of currency is very unstable. Thus it can increase the likelihood of a higher return on your investment, but it also increases the risk of your significant loss.

What is a blockchain?

The reason that “nobody” controls the cryptocurrency is the technology it uses, which is called “blockchain”. A blockchain is a form of database, where data is stored not just in one place, but with everyone in the network. The technology allows network participants to approve transactions without the consent of a third party.

There are thousands of different cryptocurrencies

Among the largest are Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Ripple. The currency is bought through the so-called cryptocurrency exchanges, the number of which gradually began to be in a few.

What is it used for?

Cryptocurrency is used to a greater extent as an investment and speculative object rather than as a means of payment that was its original purpose.

Creating more coins (coin units) is called mining

Mining is the process by which transaction “blocks” are verified, and new units are released. If you have “mined” or mined a virtual currency such as bitcoin, you must report it on your tax return.

The process requires huge amounts of computing power

If Bitcoin were a country, it would be 58th in the world in terms of energy consumption. To mine bitcoin, thousands of powerful computers are used. This has led to a lot of climate criticism because a lot of extraction uses coal energy as an energy source, which is the most damaging form of fossil energy to the climate.

They can return money to customers after a particularly successful 2021. Axie Infinity alone brought in over NOK 11 billion that year.

AXIE INFINITY: Økokrim launched an investigation into the theft of cryptocurrency worth NOK 5 billion in an attack against the game Axie Infinity in March.
Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB

– I’m very proud that we made it through. These are large sums, so they were undoubtedly life-threatening for the company. That we’re going to be sitting on the other side today with so many staff and players is really unheard of.

Launching a new collaboration

Today, the company has 185 employees. They have a main office in Vietnam, but also some smaller offices in Norway, San Francisco, and Germany. One of their games had 2.7 million daily users before the company chose to replace it with a new game coming in a few weeks.

Of course, it also helps that the FBI has now seized a large percentage of theft proceeds.

– It’s great to see that the wind is starting to spin. 30 million dollars is a lot. Larsen says everything helps.

And the wind was already starting to turn towards the company. Earlier in September, they announced, among other things, that they had started a collaboration with Google. After the hack, the company felt compelled to beef up security “in every possible way”.

We became close partners with Google last year, but things took time. The fact that we are now approved by one of the largest companies in the world sends an important signal to the world that we are on our way back.

Larsen believes that in the future, Sky Mavis must learn to live with the danger that criminals will make life difficult for them.

I find it hard sometimes to relax. It’s hard to be completely sure, but we try to cover all the holes. This industry is so new that there is a lot of risk no matter what you do. We have to accept that.

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