According to a report by blockchain data firm Chainalysis, the most lucrative crime was theft: 93% of funds in criminals’ crypto wallets were made up of stolen coins for a value of 9,800 million dollars.
With this, we must add the upward trend that the cryptocurrency market had in 2021. While cybercriminals were earning crypto from their illegal activities, the coins they already held were also made more valuable by this.
Although it has currently plummeted in recent months, The value of the most popular coins made a big jump from the end of 2020 to the end of 2021.
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Just to give an example of the two best-known cryptocurrencies, bitcoin ended 2021 at just over $47,000, while in 2022 it only reached $29,000. On the other hand, ethereum ended 2021 with a price of around $3,700, compared to $737 in 2020.
The report also notes that they seemed motivated to liquidate their ill-gotten funds much faster in 2021 than in previous years. And it is not for less. Compared to the rest of the years you’ve run the account, criminals held funds for 75% less time on average.
Law enforcement agencies have not stood idly by, but have accessed those wallets and confiscated the crypto they contain. Throughout 2021, we saw law enforcement take away funds allegedly linked to ransomware groups or Ponzi scheme promoters.
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And in just two months of 2022, we’ve seen even more activity: the UK seized some NFTs, and the US Department of Justice got its hands on $3.6 billion of Bitcoin that were stolen during the Bitfinex hack.
Cybercriminals don’t have it so easy anymore. Chainalysis claims that ransomware operators were the fastest to get rid of them, holding onto funds for an average of 65 days in 2021, versus the historical average of 468 days.
Even deep web market operators, who previously averaged 1,252 days, only held funds for just over 250 days. Fraudsters and fraudsters fell somewhere in the middle, holding funds for an average of more than 100 days in 2021.