Crypto Crime Trends for 2022David Chung
In a preview of their 2022 Crypto Crime Report, Chainalysis published a blog with the jarring finding that cryptocurrency-based crime reached an all-time high in 2021. Known or suspected illicit addresses received 14 billion dollars during 2021, an increase of over 6 billion dollars from 2020. 2019 saw 11.7 billion dollars in cryptocurrency transactions. Total cryptocurrency transaction volume grew to 15.8 trillion dollars in 2021, according to an analysis by the company, an increase of over 500% from 2020.
As a share of cryptocurrency crime, the analysis finds that the increase of cybercriminals using crypto was just a 79% increase, a surprisingly low number. As a percentage of all cryptocurrency transaction volume that they’ve tracked from 2017 to present, illicit activity has never been lower. They expect this figure to rise as it has in previous years, for example in 2020, the initial report had illicit activity related to cryptocurrency at .34% of transaction volume and updated it to .62% of transaction volume upon further investigation and sorting.
The growth of two types of crime increased the most, crimes related to DeFi. Revenue from scamming increased 82% in 2021 to 7.8 billion dollars’ worth of stolen cryptocurrency. More than 2.8 billion dollars of this total, came from rug pulls, a new scam type where developers build seemingly legitimate cryptocurrency projects before taking investor money and disappearing. Cryptocurrency theft grew even more than revenue scamming. 3.2 billion dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency was stolen in 2021, representing a 516% increase compared to 2020. This acceleration of DeFi related thefts was also identified in their 2020 report. Overall, DeFi protocols saw the most growth in usage for money laundering, at a staggering increase of 1,964%.
The blog from Chainalysis detailing these scams and other number crunching performed by Chainalysis can be found at: https://blog.chainalysis.com/reports/2022-crypto-crime-report-introduction/