Here’s How Most Criminal Crypto Whales Obtain Their Fortune, According to Chainalysis


New data from market intelligence firm Chainalysis reveals how most criminal crypto whales amassed their illicit riches.

In a new report, the market analytics company notes that criminal crypto whales are growing their balance sheets overwhelmingly by stealing funds, but also from darknet transactions, scams, fraudulent shops and ransomware.

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“Two things stand out most: The first is the huge increase in criminal balances in 2021 – at year’s end, criminals held $11 billion worth of funds with known illicit sources, compared to just $3 billion at the end of 2020. The second is how much stolen funds dominate.

As of the end of 2021, stolen funds account for 93% of all criminal balances at $9.8 billion. Darknet market funds are next at $448 million, followed by scams at $192 million, fraud shops at $66 million, and ransomware at $30 million.”

Chainalysis finds that the total amount of crypto assets held by criminal whales has reached $25 billion worth of digital assets, meaning criminal whales comprise 3.7% of all deep-pocketed investors.

“Overall, Chainalysis has identified 4,068 criminal whales holding over $25 billion worth of cryptocurrency. Criminal whales represent 3.7% of all cryptocurrency whales – that is, private wallets holding over $1 million worth of cryptocurrency.”

The crypto research firm also highlights the increasing speed at which criminal whales are liquidating their assets, particularly those who use ransomware.

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“What really stands out is how much holding times have decreased across the board, as the 2021 average holding times are at least 75% shorter than the all-time figures in all categories.

Ransomware operators, in particular, exemplify this trend, as they now hold funds on average for just 65 days before liquidating. This may be a response to the mounting law enforcement pressure ransomware attackers face.”

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Featured Image: Shutterstock/prodigital art/Natalia Siiatovskaia




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