Analysis firm Chainalysis estimates that illegal transactions account for no more than 0.15% of total cryptocurrency use. (Photo: 123RF)
London: Cryptocurrency transactions linked to criminal activity hit a new record in 2021 and have nearly doubled year-over-year despite their share of shrinking in a growing market.
In 2021, the equivalent of 14,000 million dollars passed through addresses linked to illicit activities, compared to 7.800 million in 2020, estimates the analysis firm Chainalysis this Thursday.
But these numbers don’t tell the whole story. The use of cryptocurrencies has grown at a rate never seen before, ”notes the study, with transactions worth $ 15.8 trillion in 2021, a staggering 567% increase over the previous year.
The firm specializing in the study of blockchain transactions, the technology behind bitcoin, and the vast majority of cryptocurrencies, therefore, estimates that illegal transactions now account for only 0.15% of total cryptocurrency use.
In detail, scams alone account for $ 7.8 billion, with the rise in particular of “carpet pulls” costing investors $ 2.8 billion.
The latter buy a new cryptocurrency, which increases its price, but its creators sell in bulk at the higher price, causing the price to collapse before disappearing.
One particularly publicized example, a cryptocurrency called “Squidcoin” had seen its price increase tenfold in the wake of the hit Netflix series “Squid Game,” before seeing its price collapse within days of its inception.
Regulators are increasingly looking at the cryptocurrency market, which the police of US markets have repeatedly called “the wild west.”
“An encouraging development in the fight against cryptocurrency crime is the increasing ability of law enforcement agencies to directly seize illegally obtained assets,” notes Chainalysis.
Thus, in June, the US authorities had directly recovered the equivalent of 2.3 million dollars in bitcoins of the 4.4 million that the oil company Colonial Pipeline had paid to hackers.
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