Crypto crime declines in first-half: Chainalysis

Crypto crime experienced a decline in the first half of 2023, according to blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis.
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However, the volume of payments to ransomware attackers saw a significant surge during the same period. This trend is occurring despite the gradual rise in cryptocurrency prices throughout the year, which has helped in the recovery from the series of high-profile crypto firm bankruptcies in 2022.

Chainalysis reported that illicit inflows of cryptocurrencies to various illegal services, including darknet markets, ransomware actors, malware, scams, fraud shops, and child abuse material, reached $2.8 billion in the first six months of 2023. This figure represents a notable 65 percent decrease compared to the $8 billion observed during the same period in the previous year.

However, it is important to note that the above statistics do not incorporate transactions involving entities subject to global sanctions. In January, Chainalysis stated that 44 percent of the record-high $20.1 billion worth of crypto crime in 2022 was associated with transactions related to sanctioned entities.

While revenue from scams decreased, defying the historical trend of increased susceptibility to scams during times of rising prices, Chainalysis highlighted a rise in the number of people falling for impersonation scams. Impersonation scams involve fraudsters pretending to be law enforcement officers or other authority figures to extort money.

Chainalysis also revealed that crypto payments to ransomware attackers amounted to $449.1 million in the first half of 2023, representing an increase of $175.8 million compared to the same period in the previous year. If this upward trajectory persists, ransomware attackers will have their second most successful year on record.

Additionally, Chainalysis noted a resurgence in big game hunting, which refers to ransomware attackers targeting large organizations with significant financial resources. Furthermore, the number of small-scale ransomware attacks has also grown, according to the analytics firm.

Overall, the analysis indicates a decline in crypto crime during the first half of 2023, with reduced inflows to illicit services and a decrease in revenue from scams. However, the increase in payments to ransomware attackers, particularly through impersonation scams, highlights ongoing challenges in combating this form of cybercrime.