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Cybercriminals laundered $8.6 billion worth of cryptocurrency in 2021, up 30% from 2020, according to a recent report by blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis. Money laundering simply refers to the practice of converting money that was obtained through criminal means, such as gun smuggling, drug dealing, etc., and making it appear that it came from legitimate business activity.

The report titled: ‘2022 Crypto Crime Report’ notes that since 2017, more than $33 billion in cryptocurrency has been laundered, with most of the laundered money moving to cryptocurrency exchanges. The study reveals that dark web sales or profits from ransomware attacks are always derived from cryptocurrencies rather than fiat currency, contributing significantly to the increase.

At least 17 percent of the $8.6 billion laundered went to decentralized finance apps, Chainalysis said. DeFi is an alternative financial ecosystem where consumers transfer, trade, borrow and lend cryptocurrencies, independent of traditional financial institutions and regulatory structures that have been built around banking.

Meanwhile, mining pools (a group of cryptocurrency miners who combine their computational resources into a network to strengthen the probability of finding a cryptocurrency), hedge exchanges, and mixers (a practice where you send your money to an anonymous service and, if they mean well, they’ll send you someone else’s tainted coins), also saw substantial increases in the value received from illicit addresses, according to the report.

The report adds: “The wallet addresses associated with the theft sent just under half of their stolen funds, or more than $750 million in total crypto, to DeFi.”

Furthermore, Chainalysis in its recent report revealed that scammers stole more than $14 billion in cryptocurrency from victims in 2021, up 79 percent from the $7.8 billion in 2020. As of early 2022, Chainalysis said that addresses illicit companies already have more than $10 billion worth of cryptocurrencies. , with the majority of this held by wallets associated with cryptocurrency theft.

In another December report, Chainalysis revealed that at least 36 per cent of victims lost more than $2.8 billion (approximately Rs 280 crore) in ‘carpet pulling’ cases. A rug pull is a malicious move in the cryptocurrency industry where cryptocurrency developers abandon a project and run away with investor funds. In total, crypto scams are up 81 percent this year from 2020, led by rug pulls, the company said in a blog post.


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