Perhaps crypto criminals aren’t as smart as they think they are.
According to blockchain investigations firm Chainanalysis, the bulk of cryptocurrency money laundering schemes take place across a surprisingly small section of the internet, which seems like a sure way to get caught.
As pointed out by ZDNet, a report from Chainanalysis shows merely 270 blockchain addresses responsible for a significant 55% of criminal-related cryptocurrency laundering.
The criminal activity covered by the report ranges from online scams, ransomware attacks, and purchases made via dark web vendors exchanging illegal goods.
There’s a lot of money changing hands here, too, with 75% of criminal-related cryptocurrency totalling a cool $1.7 billion.
If you’re curious as to why criminals turn to cryptocurrency for money laundering, this Forbes article from a few years ago serves as a decent primer. Essentially, the decentralised and anonymous nature of blockchain transactions makes it appealing for illegal activities.
One strange thing about Chainanalysis’ report is that you’d think the people doing the dodgy deals online would diversify where they use their money to make it tricky to track.
The fact that such a small amount of blockchain addresses is used for a large percentage of exchanges is positive, according to the investigations firm.
This is because authorities can take down many criminals by specifically targeting the crypto operators they use the most.
A bunch of law enforcement officers huddled around computers taking down illegal cryptocurrency operations doesn’t sound quite as exciting as the cop procedurals on TV, but it’s clear it’s serious business with the money at stake.
Next time people think of putting money into crime, maybe they should buy stonks instead.
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Chris is an award-nominated writer based in Adelaide who specialises in covering video games and technology. He loves Donkey Kong Country, sport, and cats. The Last Jedi is the best one, no questions asked.