Cybercriminals laundered $8.6 billion worth of cryptocurrency in 2021, according to a report by Chainalysis Inc.
In the report titled “The 2022 Crypto Crime Report,” the blockchain data firm revealed that crypto-based crime hit a new high in 2021, with criminal accounts receiving $14 billion in the year.
He said: “Overall, based on the amount of cryptocurrency sent from illicit addresses to addresses hosted by services, cybercriminals laundered $8.6 billion worth of cryptocurrency in 2021.
“This represents a 30% increase in money laundering activity compared to 2020, although such an increase is not surprising given the significant growth in legitimate and illicit cryptocurrency activity in 2021.
“We should also note that these figures only take into account funds derived from “native cryptocurrency” crime, i.e. cybercriminal activities such as darknet market sales or cyber attacks. ransomware in which profits are almost always derived from cryptocurrency rather than fiat currency.
“It is more difficult to measure how much fiat currency derived from offline crime – traditional drug trafficking, for example – is converted into cryptocurrency to be laundered. However, we know this happens anecdotally. , and later in this section provide a case study by showing an example.
According to the firm, cybercriminals have now laundered more than $33 billion worth of cryptocurrency since 2017, with most of that total going through centralized exchanges.
He added that money laundering accounted for around 0.05% of all cryptocurrency trading volume in 2021.
He said: “Money laundering is a blight on all forms of economic value transfer, and the biggest difference between fiat money laundering and cryptocurrency-based money laundering is that it is easy to trace how criminals move cryptocurrency between wallets and services in their efforts to convert their funds into cash.
“Bitcoin money laundering activity is by far the least concentrated. The top 20 money laundering deposit addresses receive only 19% of all Bitcoin sent from illicit addresses, compared to 57% for stablecoins, 63% for Ethereum and 68% for altcoins.
According to Chainalysis, the total volume of cryptocurrency transactions increased by 567% in 2021 to reach $15.8 billion in 2021.
He said the $14 billion worth of illicit activity in the crypto ecosystem was a huge problem, as the criminal misuse of digital currency would discourage continued adoption, increase the likelihood of government restrictions, and victimize innocent people in the whole world.
He said stolen funds and scams were the two categories of crypto crimes that grew over the year, with scam revenue growing 82% in 2021 to $7.8 billion. He added that he identified around $602 million in ransomware payouts in 2021.
He said: “The average ransomware payout size was over $118,000 in 2021 compared to $88,000 in 2020 and $25,000 in 2019. Large payouts such as the record $40 million received by Phoenix Cryptolocker spurred this record high in average payout size.
“One of the reasons for the increase in ransom sizes is that ransomware attackers are focused on carrying out highly targeted attacks against large organizations.”
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