Cryptocurrencies: the rise of money laundering in 2022

Never before has so much money been laundered in cryptocurrencies as in 2022. This is the discovery of Chainalysis, which analyzes the data passing through blockchains. Last year, $23.8 billion passed through the drums of cryptocurrency wallets, mixers and exchanges as a result of cybercriminal activity. This is 68% more than in 2021.

Half of these funds ended up on centralized trading floors for the purpose of converting into fiat currency. But decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols are increasingly used in the process, and this is especially true (57%) when it comes to stolen cryptocurrencies after hacks (which can themselves take place in DeFi protocols). Chainalysis explains that DeFi mining is not liquid enough and therefore it is necessary for cybercriminals to trade it for other more liquid assets.

“Mixers”, primarily used by ransomware authors.

68% of the funds that passed through the exchanges were located on five sites, which reflects the high concentration of illegal activities in the hands of specialized money laundering services that have accounts on these sites. As a result, four deposit addresses received illegal funds worth $1.1 billion, according to Chainalysis. And 21 deposit addresses accounted for 50% of the ransomware funds converted into fiat currency.

Ransomware authors generally prefer to use mixers and illegal services to cover their tracks. The use of these mixers (which act as a sort of mixers and then redistributors of cryptocurrencies) by cybercriminals increased in 2022 while their legal use decreased. Last year, $1.9 billion of dirty money passed through these services.

The report also shows that more and more funds are being channeled through laundering schemes that are not well-established, such as centralized exchanges or mixers available to all. They then use private messages or services available on the dark web.

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