December 7, 2023

A representation of the virtual cryptocurrency Bitcoin is seen in this picture illustration taken June 14, 2021. REUTERS/Edgar Su/Illustration/File Photo

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NEW YORK, Jan 6 (Reuters) – Cryptocurrency-linked crime surged to a record high last year in terms of value, with illegal addresses receiving $14 billion in digital currencies, up 79% from $7.8 billion in 2020, according to a blog from blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis released on Thursday.

As of early 2022, Chainalysis said illicit addresses already hold over $10 billion worth of cryptocurrencies, with the majority of this held by wallets associated with crypto theft.

Illicit addresses are defined as wallets tied to criminal activities such as ransomware, Ponzi schemes and scams.

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That said, illicit activities’ share of total crypto transaction volume remained low at just 0.15% in 2021. Total transaction volume surged to $15.8 trillion last year, up more than 550% from 2020 levels.

Chainalysis, however, said the 0.15% figure could still rise as the firm identifies more addresses tied to illegal transactions and incorporates that into the total volume.

In its last crypto crime report, Chainalysis had said that 0.34% of 2020’s crypto transactions was associated with illegal activity. That number has now been raised to 0.62%.

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