Breaking News
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your experience. Save up to 40% More details

Crypto Crimes Tripling Year on Year: But Is it all Doom and Gloom?

CryptocurrencyJul 03, 2021 08:00AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
Crypto Crimes Tripling Year on Year: But Is it all Doom and Gloom?

  • The rising crime rate is centered in the U.S, but England and Australia are also facing issues.
  • The ransomware epidemic has fueled much of the increase.
  • Criminal gangs use privacy-focused Altcoins like Monero for their lack of regulatory oversight.
  • Actual crime rates may not be accurately reflected in statistics.

The recent high-profile bust of a multi-million ransomware gang in Ukraine is a silver lining on a very dark cloud; cryptocurrency crime has increased approximately 300% per year since 2017, according to a recent study by data aggregation site Crypto Head.

Why is Crime Drawn to Cryptocurrencies?

Ransomware, a primary contributor to the surge in crime rate, prefers cryptocurrency to traditional means of large-scale extortion due to its anonymity, convenience, and lack of central governing body oversight.

Nicholas Weaver, a senior staff researcher at the University of Berkeley, has stated that, because of banking and wire-transfer regulations, “cryptocurrencies are the only tool left for ransomware purveyors.” As a result, privacy-focused coins such as Monero have become a particular favorite of hacker groups.

Beyond ransomware, the spectre of crime has been haunting decentralized finance for years. In 2018, for instance, Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, found that billions of pounds were being laundered through cryptocurrencies in Europe alone.

The Effects of Crypto Crime

The actual rate of crime may even be higher than statistics suggest.

As Crypto Head’s study notes, the novelty of cryptocurrency means that some victims may not fully understand the crimes in question, or where to report them. In America, the SEC, CFTC, and the IRS all “assert regulatory control over cryptocurrency,” but each of them only do so “under certain circumstances,” Thus compounding the issue.

Cryptocurrency crime is set to have a lasting impact for years to come.

Michael Phelan, the head of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, stated in April that the increased difficulty in tracking down illegal cryptocurrency transactions would drain resources from intelligence agencies. Similarly, UK banks may soon need to allocate extra funds to cover potential losses on high-risk crypto assets.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

On the Flipside

  • Criminals are only a minority of total crypto users.
  • Independent firms like CipherTrace are working to track and counter crypto crime.
  • Law enforcement agencies are growing more adept at countering digital crime.
  • Criminal gangs which move into cryptocurrency from cash are easier to track.

Despite the rise of ransomware, criminals make up a tiny minority of users. A 2018 report from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies found that illegal activity made up less than 1% of all transactions and was dropping year on year. A competing study by Oxford Law made in the same year came out to a much higher percentage of 44% — but only around Bitcoin, not across the cryptocurrency spectrum.

Industry Leaders Speak out

Many high-profile individuals in the crypto scene have spoken out against its perceived links to crime.

Earlier this month, Hunter Horsley, CEO of index fund Bitwise Asset Management, stated simply that “Bitcoin is bad for crime.” Arguing “that criminals are getting smarter that crypto is a pretty poor tool for them.” Horsley pointed to statistics from cybersecurity firm Chainalysis, which demonstrated a sharp reduction in crypto crimes between 2019 and 2020.

Similarly, tech analysis firm CipherTrace, which offers services designed to counter crypto crime, has noted a sharp decline in the theft of digital assets, which has instead been replaced by a minor boom in fraud. The use of cryptocurrency for criminal activity has been increasingly geographically centralized. CipherTrace identified “more than 72,000 unique Iranian IP addresses,” centered around Tehran, which were implicated in illegal transactions.

End of the Wild West?

Law enforcement agencies like the U.S. Justice Department are growing adept at categorizing, analysing, and prosecuting cryptocurrency crimes. Late last year, the Department released an 80+ page report detailing a ‘cryptocurrency enforcement framework’ focused on the ability to seize virtual assets and take down websites.

Crypto is also increasingly being used to catch criminals, rather than aid them.

In 2019, human trafficker Ignacio Santoyo was tracked down and arrested after Mexican law enforcement tracked his group’s bitcoin transactions. The arrest happened in the wake of a law that required cryptocurrency trading platforms to report transfers valued at more than 56,000 pesos, similar to requirements of traditional banks.

Unlike with the use of untrackable cash payments typically employed by human trafficking groups, the new law made it possible for the Unidad de Inteligencia Financiera (Financial Intelligence Unit) to track Santoyo down.

This article was submitted by Cihat Jan Yilmaz. If you want YOUR article to be published on DailyCoin, please send us your submissions to!


Join to get the flipside of crypto

Upgrade your inbox and get our DailyCoin editors’ picks 1x a week delivered straight to your inbox.

[contact-form-7] You can always unsubscribe with just 1 click.

Continue reading on DailyCoin

Crypto Crimes Tripling Year on Year: But Is it all Doom and Gloom?

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email