As per CipherTrace’s recent blockchain report, this year is also observably on track to become the second-highest year in history for crimes related to cryptocurrencies. The blockchain analysis dictates that almost $1.4 billion have already been lost due to several crypto-related thefts within the first five months of 2020. If the trend does continue, 2020 will be the second most damaging year for the crypto industry, only behind the total $4.5 billion of 2019.
Fraudulent activities make up most of the recorded crypto-related thefts within the first six months of 2019. It equates to about 1.3 billion, which is 98% of the total siphoned funds. CipherTrace’s report says that the large portion of it can be attributed to WoToken, the purportedly Ponzi stratagem that is responsible for siphoning multi billion dollars. Furthermore, a particular operator whose name has been associated with another alleged Ponzi scheme, PlusToken, has reportedly pocketed a $1 billion in crypto, according to CipherTrace.
Other noteworthy illicit activities that jerked up the adverse numbers are hacks, exploits, abundant exit scams, and insolvencies. Examples of these are the insolvency by the crypto firm FCoin which contributed $130 million, the ”exit scam” of EOS Ecosystem, a digital asset holder, which added $50 million, and the crypto scheme in China that managed to siphon $11 million from various investors in a span of just three weeks.
That being said, what’s most saddening is the fact that the large portion of the stolen figures came from criminals taking advantage of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Criminals are incorporating the COVID-19 situation within their illicit activities
CipherTrace has also identified several scam activities this year that involve email campaigns posing as official coronavirus restoration groups to lobby personal information and solicit payments in crypto form. These criminals mimicked entities such as the Red Cross, World Health Organization (WHO), and more.
Several other COVID-19-related applications and websites have since reported the presence of virus trackers on smartphones, which allows criminals to conveniently install ransomware within several user devices in which they may use to importune payment in crypto in order for the user to regain access to his or her original files.
Fresh darknet markets have also since popped up requesting payment in crypto for various COVID-19 diagnostics, supposed cures, vaccines, and personal protective gear (PPE).