Crypto criminals are rising crypto whales owning $11bn worth of illicit cryptocurrencies in 2021

February 21, 2022

By Sharan Kaur Phillora

Crypto criminals, who steal funds from crypto enterprises through various means, are increasingly becoming the biggest holders of these currencies.

Here is what we know:

  • Cryptocurrencies have made criminals richer and in 2021, criminals held $11 billion worth of funds with known illicit sources, compared to just $3 billion at the end of 2020, a new report has revealed.
  • According to another report by Chainalysis cryptocurrency holdings among cybercriminals saw a massive surge in 2021, rising from around $3 billion in 2020 to over $11 billion in 2021.
  • In this, the biggest source of funds among criminals happens to be stolen funds, which contributed to $9.8 billion (or 83%) of all crypto holdings with criminals in 2021, the report said. The company identified these users as whales who received 10 to 25% of their crypto funds from illicit addresses, amounting to holdings of over $25 billion (~ ₹1.87 lakh crore) in crypto tokens.
  • Overall, Chainalysis has identified 4,068 criminal whales holding over $25 billion worth of cryptocurrency. In total, 1,333 criminal whales received between 25 percent and 90 percent of all funds from illicit addresses. “Illicit funds received by criminal whales also come from more varied sources than the funds making up overall criminal balances,” the report added.
  • In January 2022, blockchain security firm CertiK stated that stolen cryptocurrencies crossed $1 billion in 2021, led by coding discrepancies on DeFi platforms. Chainalysis’ report shows that attackers have clearly exploited this the most.
  • However, law enforcement agency data underlines recoveries such as $2.3 million from the Colonial Pipeline hackers in the USA in July 2021, $3.5 billion by the US Internal Revenue Service, and the London Metropolitan Police Service’s recovery of $180 million.

About the author

Sharan Kaur Phillora’s thirst for knowledge has led her to study many different subjects, including NFTs and Blockchain technology – two emerging technologies that will change how we interact with each other in the future. When she isn’t exploring a new idea or concept, she enjoys reading literary masterpieces

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