Chainalysis’ upcoming 2021 Crypto Crime Report highlights a significant drop in cryptocurrency related crimes, while highlighting scams, Darknet activity and ransomware attacks in the last year.
The research firm released an excerpt of its 2021 Crypto Crime Report that will be published in February which gives an overview of its findings of the past year’s crypto-related crime and statistics. A major takeaway from the excerpt is the sharp drop off in crime in comparison to years past.
As the report notes criminal activity accounted for just over 2% of the total cryptocurrency transaction volume in 2019 and valued at around $21.4 bln. This fell by more than half in 2020, with criminal activity accounting for just 0.34% of transaction volume – valued at $10 bln. Chainalysis also notes that overall economic activity in the cryptocurrency space nearly tripled between 2019 and 2020 which must be factored into the share of criminal activity in terms of transaction volume.
Breaking down the major contributors – Ransomware stands out in 2020
The report indicates that scams still remain the most lucrative form of cryptocurrency-related criminal activity, accounting for 54% of criminal activity in 2020 valued at $2.6bln. Once again this is a major drop in comparison to the amount of funds stolen through scams in 2019. Chainalysis make note of the PlusToken Ponzi scheme which accounted for $2bln worth of cryptocurrency stolen from victims in 2019, which was a major contributor for the 2019 tally.
Darknet markets were the second biggest cash-cow for criminals in the crypto space, having scalped around $1.7 bln from victims in 2020, which was an increase from the $1.3bln in value garnered in 2019.
As Chainalysis notes, ransomware was one of the major stories of the cryptocurrency-based crime in 2020. While ransomware may only have resulted in $350mln worth of cryptocurrency being extorted from victims, the value is a 311% increase from the metric taken in 2019.
The firm notes that ransomware’s massive increase in funds stolen was the most prolific crypto-related crime in terms of its growth and attributes this to work-from-home and shelter in place measures due to the Covid-19 pandemic which provided new avenues for criminals to prey on unwitting individuals and organizations.