Blockchain data platform Chainalysis has released a new report on cryptocurrency crime trends, finding that $14 billion in cryptocurrency was sent to illicit addresses in 2021, nearly double the figure seen in 2020.
Chainalysis data shows that about $2.2 billion was outright stolen from DeFi protocols in 2021. As of 2022, Chainalysis estimated that illicit addresses currently hold at least $10 billion worth of cryptocurrency, with most held by wallets implicated in cryptocurrency theft, darknet markets and scams.
Digging deeper into the figures, Chainalysis researchers found that cybercriminals brought in 82% more in revenue from scamming last year, raking in $7.8 billion in cryptocurrency from victims. Within that $7.8 billion, Chainalysis discovered $2.8 billion that came from a scam they call “rug pulls.” In these scams, developers create seemingly legitimate cryptocurrency projects before stealing investor money and disappearing.
The $2.8 billion doesn’t even take into account the user losses associated with the plummeting value of fake DeFi tokens and only counts the investor funding that was taken. Almost all of the $2.8 billion stolen in 2021 came from Thodex, a fraudulent centralized exchange that tanked when the CEO stopped users from withdrawing funds and disappeared. Chainalysis tracked several other DeFi projects that