Crypto Money Laundering Surged 30% in 2021

Daniel Attoe
Daniel Attoe

Updated · Feb 21, 2022

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Cybercriminals laundered $8.6 billion worth of cryptocurrencies in 2021, a 30% rise from the previous year.

The Data

A new report by prominent blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis indicates that online fraud using cryptocurrencies grew significantly in 2021. According to data released on Wednesday, cybercriminals laundered over $8.6 billion in cryptocurrency last year. That’s 30% higher than the $6.6 billion from 2020.

Findings showed that, in total, criminals have laundered more than $33 billion in crypto assets since 2017. 

To arrive at its results, Chainalysis tracked crypto-wallets operated by: 

Still Only a Fraction 

While the reported figures represent a huge sum, they pale in comparison to those generated from fiat currency-focused laundering. According to the UN Office of Drugs and Crime, cybercriminals laundered between $800 billion to $2 trillion in fiat money

The UN estimates that the total value in money laundered globally each year accounts for 2% - 5% of the global GDP. On the other hand, only about 0.05% of total cryptocurrency transactions result in laundering.

DeFi Now Taking Center Stage

Traditionally, most of the laundered crypto assets move to centralized crypto exchanges. However, 2021 saw a sharp increase in the funds received by decentralized exchange platforms. 

Last year, DeFi platforms received up to 17% of the illegally obtained crypto assets. That’s up from 2% in the previous year. That translates to a whopping 1,964% rise.

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Daniel Attoe

Daniel Attoe

Daniel is an Economics grad who fell in love with tech. His love for books and reading pushed him into picking up the pen - and keyboard. Also a data analyst, he's taking that leap into data science and machine learning. When not writing or studying, chances are that you'll catch him watching football or face-deep in an epic fantasy novel.

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