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Crypto Criminals Have Stolen Around $4 Billion this Year, Almost Double 2018 Figures

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crypto thieves
crypto thieves

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Despite several increases to security measures, cryptocurrency thefts and frauds have still been able to thrive in 2019. That was the topic of discussion at the Cryptocurrency Anti-Money Laundering Report for Q3 2019, an outline of the criminal offenses which have occurred across the crypto market this year. Published by blockchain security firm CipherTrace, the report showed that all through this year, the total volume of crypto-related theft and fraud have led to losses amounting ring to about $4.4 billion.

The report looked into 120 of the most popular crypto exchanges, which ensure compliance with Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) standards. Analyzing crypto crime trends, the report showed that there was a reduction in the total number of crypto crimes in Q3, with payouts to criminals reaching two-year lows.

“This quarter, cybercriminals stole $6.5 million from cryptocurrency exchanges, while insiders bilked cryptocurrency users out of $9 million in exit scams and Ponzi schemes. This total of $15.5 million represents the smallest number of cryptocurrency crimes of any quarter in the past several years,” the report read.

However, on a holistic level, this year has seen more losses to crypto criminals than last year. As of this time last year, losses to crypto criminals amounted to just $1.7 billion. 

Crypto Thieves Made Serious Bank This Year 

The numbers recorded so far have also eclipsed expectations of CipherTrace researchers. In their report for Q1 2019, researchers reported that scams and thefts had already resulted in a loss of $356 million across all crypto exchanges. They further estimated that crimes would reach a $1 billion peg by the end of the year. December is still just around the corner, and the losses recorder has already quadrupled that.

The new report highlights two major scams in 2019. The PlusToken scheme, which led to $2.9 billion in losses. This precedes the disastrous QuadrigaCX problem, where the death of its CEO led to $295 million in crypto being locked away for good.

While the report didn’t detail the methods that have been most prominently used by criminals, some of the high-profile cases so far have involved ransomware, cryptojacking, and other malware designed to milk the victims of their crypto assets. The use of malicious code has skyrocketed significantly this year, as hackers have become more innovative and targeted in their approach to hitting their victims and taking their money.

Law Enforcement Steps Up 

However, there have also been some significant wins for the good guys in 2019 as well. Thanks to the progress made in asset tracking and analysis, law enforcement has been able to stop some criminal activities dead in its tracks. In May, Europol and law enforcement agencies across several countries were able to shut down the Wall Street Market, a platform that was known at the time as the second-largest criminal marketplace on the Dark Web. 

Several petty criminals and operators of fraud schemes have also been caught, but while the progress is laudable, this CipherTrace report goes to show that much work still needs to be down t keep pace with hackers and thieves.

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