Cybercriminals laundered $8.6 billion worth of cryptocurrency in 2021, Chainalysis reported. That represents a 30% increase in money laundering activity from 2020.
Cybercriminals have laundered over $33 billion worth of cryptocurrency since 2017, Chainalysis estimated. The biggest part of these funds has moved to centralized exchanges over time.
Such an increase is unsurprising given the significant growth of both legitimate and illicit cryptocurrency activity in 2021, Chainalysis stated.
Money laundering refers to the process of concealing the origin of illegally obtained money by transferring it to legal businesses.
According to Chainalysis, around 17% of $8.6 billion laundered went to decentralized finance applications instead of centralized exchanges, up from 2% in the previous year.
Mining pools, high-risk exchanges, and mixers also saw substantial increases in value received from illicit addresses as well, the Chainalysis report says. Mixers combine potentially identifiable or tainted cryptocurrency funds with others, so as to conceal the trail to the fund's original source.
According to Chainalysis, addresses associated with theft sent just under half of their stolen funds to DeFi platforms — over $750 million worth of cryptocurrency in total.
Chainalysis explained that $8.6 billion laundered account for funds derived from cryptocurrency crime.
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