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Thieves and scammers move their bitcoins faster and faster, study finds

The funds in bitcoins (BTC) obtained illicitly are less and less time in the hands of the thieves, scammers or hackers who receive them. While in 2015, these people could keep the bitcoins received in these activities for up to a year, now they do not wait even for a month, according to a study by Crystal Blockchain.

Says the study, published on 23 of February, that during the past year “crypto-criminals tried to withdraw stolen and fraudulent assets at a rate 13 times faster than five years ago.”

This radical change in the rate in which criminals dispose of their bitcoins is largely due to the fact that cryptocurrencies have become increasingly popular . For this reason, this type of crime is to a greater extent under the scrutiny of various organizations, in addition to the growing group of tracking tools that currently exists.

Average time of about 28 days to move funds from criminal activities. Source: Crystal Blockchain.

In addition to the clear reduction in the retention time of funds, the research notes a trend that is also increasing: criminals are opting for more and more of “jumps” or use of intermediary addresses for the movements of their funds, seeking to clean the trail of stolen money .

The researchers found that these criminals “tend to use additional transactions with unknown intermediate addresses before attempting to interact with a exchange , in what we see as an attempt to obfuscate the stolen funds. ”

As an example of this, we can cite the case of KuCoin, a exchange which managed to recover all the stolen funds from its platform (about USD 285 million). As this would be much more difficult on a decentralized platform, that very fact justifies the increasing use of DEX ( exchanges decentralized) to hide the trail of stolen funds.

These movements that try to dirty the trail also include an increase in popularity for coin mixing tools . And finally, the funds mostly end up in exchanges without verification of personal data or compliance with regulations against money laundering (AML) or very poor Know Your Customer (KYC), concludes the analysis.

Most crime funds go through mixers or exchanges without data verification. Source: Crystal Blockchain.

This supports the finding of a report reviewed in CriptoNoticias in February, according to which money laundering with bitcoins has been increasingly centralized in exchanges or addresses of providers that are dedicated to the obfuscation of illicit funds.

Illegal Bitcoins are less and less common

The Crystal Blockchain report envisions that in the future the mechanisms To launder funds from crimes will become more and more complex, taking into account the amount of existing tracking services that are also being perfected over time.

In addition to the Crystal Blockchain itself, the ecosystem of trackers Blockchains are growing more and more, with providers such as Chainalysis or Elliptic even paying attention to cryptocurrencies focused on privacy, such as Zcash.

However, and despite the effort to perfect the techniques to launder bitcoins coming from some crime, studies by firms such as Chainalysis indicate that less than 1% of the value moved with BTC is associated with some type of crime , this newspaper reported in mid-February.

Crystal Blockchain’s own report concludes that tools to track and study movements in blockchains are essential to make the industry “as secure as possible for everyone involved.” Chainalysis, for its part, has already considered that the absence of adequate tools facilitates scams with BTC .


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