Cryptocurrency thefts by hacking of trading platforms have reached 927 million USD in the first nine months of the year, representing an increase of nearly 250% from 2017, according to a report by the US cyber-security company CipherTrace. The report, which analyzes criminal activity and money laundering in the digital currency market, also shows steady growth in smaller thefts between 20 million USD and 60 million USD, which amounted to 173 million USD in the third quarter.
The digital currencies stolen from exchanges in 2017 totaled only 266 million USD, shows the report of CipherTrace.
The popularity of Bitcoin and the appearance of over 1,600 other digital currencies have attracted more hackers in the cryptocurrency area, increasing the possibilities for crime and fraud.
“The regulators are still lagging behind for a few years, because only a few countries have actually enforced robust anti-money laundering laws”, said the CEO of CipherTrace, David Jevans. He is also Chairman of the Anti-Phishing Working Group, a global organization that aims to help resolve cybercrime.
According to him, criminal transactions are likely to be 50% more than the ones traced in the report. For example, CipherTrace has information about stolen cryptography worth over 60 million USD, which is not mentioned in the document.
The data also show that the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchanges in countries with weak money laundering regulations have been used to launder 2.5 billion USD of Bitcoin since 2009. For the purpose of the report, the top 20 cryptocurrency exchanges were analyzed.
CipherTrace does not specify the names of the cryptocurrency exchanges. Secured money has been included in transactions that the company has managed to monitor directly and identify them as criminal or highly suspicious.
The cryptocurrency exchanges were also used to buy 236,979 Bitcoin worth nearly 1.5 billion USD at current prices.
“All cryptocurrency exchanges receive revenues from money laundering. There is no way to stop them”, said David Jevans. “And the reason is that we often learn about criminal activity after it has already happened. So there is no way to know in real time. We can know in 80-90% of the time, but it is impossible to know 100%”, added he.