New research shows the impact of the bitcoin explosion last year on the overall amount of cryptocurrency linked to illegal activity. Cybercriminals’ crypto assets grew from $3 billion at the end of 2017 to $11 billion by the end of 2021, according to a new analysis. An increase in unlawful cybercrime income, as well as an increase in the value of cryptocurrencies, are both associated with the precipitous surge.
The most profitable crime was theft
Chainalysis, a blockchain data firm located in the United States, published the information in a study. The Verge first uncovered the research, which found that stealing or theft was the most lucrative crime. A total of $9.8 billion was taken from digital wallets as a result of criminal operations.
The overall criminal activity-related money amounted to 93% of the entire sum. Scams accounted for $192 million of the remaining $448 million in darknet market money. There were $66 million in fraudulent transactions and $30 million in ransomware-related losses.
Chainalysis also states in a blog post about the results that a total of 4,068 criminal whales have over $25 billion in cryptocurrencies, obtained from a variety of illegal sources. It’s strange because the amount doesn’t equal the perpetrators’ entire crypto assets in 2021, as previously stated.
Then then, Chainalysis characterises illicit whale accounts in a different way. A bitcoin whale is a person or entity with a personal digital asset portfolio worth more than $1 million. If a whale account receives more than 10% of its money from unlawful addresses, Chainalysis qualifies it as a criminal whale. Consequently, the criminal whales’ $25 million in crypto assets are not equal to the $11 billion in criminal balance that will exist in 2021.
Ransomware operators lost their money
Another significant pattern was shown by the study. This year, crooks were trying to liquidate their ill-gotten gains more quickly than in the previous year. At least 75 per cent of all categories, the research states, “average holding periods are at least 75 per cent less than the all-time statistics.” Most ransomware operators, for example, lost all their money within 65 days on average.
Global law enforcement organisations may be to blame for a drop in detention duration, according to research cited in the paper Recently, a number of similar cases have come to light. Bitfinex’s theft in 2016 led to the recovery of $3.6 billion in bitcoin by the US Department of Justice recently. As part of its investigation into an alleged VAT fraud scheme worth £1.4 million, the UK tax authorities confiscated three NFTs earlier this week.
It is now evident that cryptocurrencies are no longer a safe refuge for fraudsters. However, when compared to alternative asset possibilities, they continue to show a rising preference for it. It is yet to be seen if law enforcement forces can keep up with the rapid increase of the population.