Blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis found that cryptocurrency-related crimes were down by more than 53 percent last year and that crypto-related crime activity was just 0.34% of the transaction volume or $10 billion worth of transfers.
This is still much lower than the criminal activity figures reported in 2019, which accounted for 2.1 percent ($21.4 billion) of all cryptocurrency transactions.
However, the Chainlaysis team expects the percentage of illegal crime to increase last year since certain addresses remain undisclosed. Particularly those linked to the PlusToken fraud that swindled $6 billion out of 715,000 victims.
In addition, researchers have been able to track the types of crime associated with last year’s illegal crypto transactions. Unlike in 2019, when scams dominated criminal activity, ransomware accounted for 7.1% of all funds received by criminal addresses in 2020. It was reported to be under $350 million in cryptocurrencies. The Chainalysis team considered the statistic troubling because it reflects a rise of 311 per cent over 2019.
The team further explained:
“No other category of cryptocurrency-based crime rose so dramatically in 2020, as Covid-prompted work-from-home measures opened up new vulnerabilities for many organizations.”
In addition, Chainalysis further said that ransomware estimates could be higher due to underreporting. They believed that the overall ransomware payment figures for 2020 will increase with the discovery of “more addresses associated with different strains,” especially in the last few months of 2020.
In Q4 last year, cybersecurity firm Check Point found that “an exceptional number of Israeli companies” reported Bitcoin ransomware attacks and that “several large corporations” experienced a full-blown attack with ransomware named Pay2Key.
Although in the US, many private and government businesses, colleges and hospitals have been casualties of bitcoin ransomware attacks in 2020.
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