Crypto crime was the highest — and lowest — ever in 2021: Chainalysis

New data from the blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis shows the highs and lows of crime-related cryptocurrency transactions across 2021. 

The volume of crime-related crypto transactions hit a record high at $14 billion in 2021, up 79% since 2020. But since the number of cryptocurrency transactions grew 567% that same year, crime-related activity comprised 0.15% of all cryptocurrency transactions — the lowest that rate has been since 2017. 

Chainalysis concludes that the growth rate for legitimate crypto transactions far exceeds crime-related ones, chafing against the persisting belief that cryptocurrency is primarily used for criminal activity. 

Crypto scams and funds stolen in decentralized finance were the biggest areas of crypto-related crime in 2021. Victims lost $7.8 billion worth of crypto due to scams – a yearly increase of 82% in 2021. Of the $3.2 billion worth of crypto stolen that same year 72% of it came from decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols, according to Chainalysis

The firm notes that its data for crypto-related crime is likely to increase as it retroactively identifies illicit transactions.