Last Updated: September 8, 2023

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) confirmed previous assumptions that North Korea’s Lazarus Group carried out the $41-million exploit of the gambling platform Stake.com on September 4. The funds were stolen from hot wallets associated with Ethereum, Polygon, and Binance Smart Chain (BSC).

In a press statement, the investigation agency released a list of over 30 virtual currency addresses where the North Korean bad actors transferred the funds. It also warned public and private businesses to remain vigilant against transactions directly with or derived from these virtual currency addresses.

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The Heist

Stake.com, a Curaçao-headquartered casino and sports betting platform that allows players to use cryptocurrency, admitted the heist in a tweet on September 4.
“Three hours ago, unauthorized tx’s were made from Stake’s ETH/BSC hot wallets. We are investigating and will get the wallets up as soon as they’re completely re-secured,” it said, adding that the user funds are safe.

The same day, Stake.com posted another tweet, saying the issue had been remediated.

“All services have resumed! Deposits & withdrawals are processing instantly for all currencies. We apologize for any inconvenience. 🙏”

The incident first came to light when blockchain security company Cyvers alerted that it noticed a suspicious withdrawal of $16 million worth of Ethereum from Stake.com. The subsequent investigation by blockchain investigator ZachXBT disclosed that $25.6 million on BSC and Polygon were also drained from Stake’s hot wallets.

Lazarus Group

The Lazarus Group, also known as APT 38, has been a sanctioned organization since 2019. As per The U.S. Department of Treasury (DoT)’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Lazarus Group is a wing under North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), the country’s official intelligence organization.

Recently, DoT sanctioned three individuals for helping the Lazarus Group convert stolen cryptocurrencies to fiat. These individuals are two over-the-counter (OTC) traders based in China and Hong Kong. A third individual recently relocated to China and worked for the Korea Kwangson Banking Corp.