Chainalysis, a blockchain analytics firm, estimates that the entire value of cryptocurrencies laundered will reach $8.6 billion in 2021. This is a 30% increase over 2020. However, the company indicates that such a rise is somewhat expected—particularly given the asset class’s exponential growth.
Chainalysis said in its most recent study that cryptocurrency cybercriminals share a common objective: to transfer their “ill-gotten funds to a provider that can safely hide them from authorities and eventually convert them to cash.”
The company claimed that while the market expanded rapidly in 2021, criminal activity involving bitcoin and altcoins also increased significantly. In 2020, criminals laundered $6.6 billion in digital assets; by 2021, that figure had risen to $8.6 billion.
Nearly 17% of the $8.6 billion went to DeFi apps, and in 2020, this percentage was only 2%. The report added that more funds from illegal addresses also went to mining pools, high-risk exchanges and cryptocurrency mixers.
According to Chainalysis, these numbers include just funds derived from “cryptocurrency-related crimes.” These include darknet market trade and ransomware attacks. The firm indicated:
It is more difficult to measure the amount of fiat currency earned from offline crimes – such as traditional drug trafficking – that is transformed into cryptocurrency for the purpose of laundering.
Last year, the primary type of cryptocurrency crime was still theft and fraud. Almost half of the stolen funds to the DeFi application were sent by wallets related to the robbery, and in total, they moved digital assets worth more than $750 million.
Darknet trading, terrorist financing, and ransomware were among the most prevalent forms of crime in 2021. As with scammers, crooks in these areas funnelled most of their funds through centralised platforms.