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The Volume of Illegal Cryptocurrency Transactions Decreased by 39% in 2023

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Photo: The Volume of Illegal Cryptocurrency Transactions Decreased by 39% in 2023. Source: Pixabay
Photo: The Volume of Illegal Cryptocurrency Transactions Decreased by 39% in 2023. Source: Pixabay

In 2023, the total amount of digital assets stolen by hackers and used in illegal transactions amounted to only $24.2 billion, a 39% decrease compared to 2022, as reported by Chainalysis research.

Experts calculated that in 2023, only 0.34% of all crypto transactions were suspicious and could be linked to cryptocurrency theft, fraud, money laundering, or other illicit activities. In 2022, this figure was around 0.42% of cryptocurrency transactions, while in 2019 it was as high as 1.29%. This indicates that with the implementation of cryptocurrency market regulations in most countries, using this type of asset for illegal operations is becoming increasingly challenging.

Analysts also noted a shift in the types of assets used in crypto crimes. For the second consecutive year, approximately 60% of fraudulent transactions were conducted using stablecoins (digital coins pegged to the value of regular currencies such as the US dollar or British pound), while in 2023, the popularity of Bitcoin, used in 25% of cases, increased.

Analysts found that cybercriminals prefer specific assets for various types of fraud and illegal operations. For instance, trading on the dark web or ransom demands through ransomware programs almost always occur using Bitcoin. Stablecoins are often used for transactions between platforms and entities subject to sanctions, as well as for executing fraudulent schemes. Ethereum is more commonly targeted in theft incidents involving security breaches.

Overall, in 2023, cryptocurrencies were primarily used for money laundering, amounting to $22.3 billion. There were also 231 security breach incidents related to blockchain projects, resulting in approximately $1.7 billion stolen in cryptocurrency. Additionally, fraudsters acquired assets worth around $1.1 billion using ransomware programs.

It's worth noting that on February 14, The Gaze reported that the total value of all bitcoins in the world reached the astronomical mark of $1 trillion for the first time since 2021. The so-called "rally" or rapid increase in the value of Bitcoin resumed in November 2023 amid expectations that the US Securities and Exchange Commission would effectively allow trading of this digital asset on traditional exchanges. Eventually, this happened in January of this year. Overall, in 2023, Bitcoin grew by more than 150%, and in the first one and a half months of the current year, it appreciated by more than 21%.

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