March 29, 2024

Scams again emerged as the dominant form of cryptocurrency-based crime by transaction volume, a preview of Chainalysis’ Crypto Crime Report revealed.

This year’s crypto scam revenue topped $7.7 billion, up 81% compared to 2020, according to the blockchain data platform.

Crypto scams in 2021

Compared to 2020, this year’s crypto scam revenue increased substantially, although still not topping the all-time high reached in 2019.

Total yearly crypto value received by scammers
Source: Chainalysis

The report singled out the Finiko Ponzi scheme, which targeted Russian speakers throughout Eastern Europe, taking in more than $1.1 billion from victims in 2021.

“While total scam revenue increased significantly in 2021, it stayed flat if we remove rug pulls and limit our analysis to investment scams–even with the emergence of Finiko,” read the report.

According to Chainalysis, this indicates that there were fewer individual scam victims, while the average amount taken from each victim increased.

The report also noted that scammers’ money laundering strategies remained unchanged, compared to previous years, since most crypto sent from scam addresses ended up at mainstream exchanges.

Destination of founds leaving investment scam addresses
Source: Chainalysis

The emergence of rug pulls

In 2021, rug pulls plagued the DeFi ecosystem, and netted over $2.8 billion worth of crypto from victims.

Rug pull is a fairly new type of exit scam–typically orchestrated by project insiders, who drain the funds from the liquidity pool–causing the token’s price crash.

They accounted for 37% of all…

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