Crypto crime hits new all-time high

The transaction volume with cryptocurrencies increased by 567 percent last year, but criminals also increasingly benefited from the trend.

Last year, there was more crime in the cryptocurrency space than ever before. Illegal actors received $14 billion during the year. As recently as 2020, that figure had been $7.8 billion. That's according to a survey by U.S.-based blockchain data platform Chainalysis.

Money generated through theft rose 516 percent to $3.2 billion in 2021. Meanwhile, revenue generated by fraud increased 82 percent to $7.8 billion. According to Chainalysis, two types of fraud were particularly damaging: firstly, so-called Ponzi schemes. These are fraudulent snowball systems. Second, there are so-called "rug pulls": in this scam, which translates to "carpet pull," fraudsters render crypto coins worthless by draining their liquidity, causing investors to lose a lot of money. The rest of the money was siphoned off by criminal schemes in the following areas: "malware", terrorist financing, sanctions, "ransomware", "cybercriminal administrator", "fraud store", darknet token, child abuse material.

However, crime has not increased as extremely as the volume of crypto transactions. Among cryptocurrencies studied by Chainalysis, total transaction volume increased to $15.8 trillion in 2021. This represents a 567 percent increase over 2020, while the increase in the illicit sector was 79 percent. That's still an extreme increase. However, the study authors believe this divergence is probably the "biggest surprise" of the survey.


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