Scammers grabbed $7.7 billion worth of cryptocurrency in 2021
According to blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis, cryptocurrency based scammers and cybercriminals stole $7.7 billion worth of cryptocurrency from victims in 2021. Chainalysis reports that the 2021 figures represent an 81% increase in losses when compared to 2020. Some of the losses were attributed to a single scheme in which cybercriminals stole $1.1 billion from organizations and individuals in Russia and Ukraine. Chainalysis also reported that the number of deposits to scam addresses fell from 10.7 million in 2020 to 4.1 million in 2021. This could mean less scams overall, however, victims are losing more money per scam.
Chainalysis explained that a major source of cryptocurrency losses in 2021 were due to a scam called a “rug pull,’ where developers of a new cryptocurrency flee and take supporters’ funds with them. These types of scams accounted for roughly 37% of all cryptocurrency scam revenue in 2021 or $2.8 billion in funds. The characteristics of scam networks are also evolving, as the number of active financial scams rose from 2,052 in 2020 to 3,300 in 2021 but their lifespans have decreased from 500 in 2016 to just 70 in 2021. Regulators and law enforcement may be developing more effective tools in taking these types of scams down before they impact more individuals or cybercriminals may be more aware of the risks of running a money-stealing scam.