Bitcoin accounted for just 19% of illicit crypto activity in 2022: TRM Labs

Quick Take

  • The dominance of Bitcoin in crypto crimes has significantly decreased from 97% in 2016 to just 19% in 2022, according to a TRM Labs report.
  • The report identified a shift towards other blockchains such as Ethereum, Tron, and Binance Smart Chain, with criminals employing tactics like “chain-hopping.”

Illicit activities involving cryptocurrency are diversifying, with Bitcoin being used in only 19% of these cases. This is according to a report released today by TRM Labs, a blockchain intelligence firm that works with law enforcement agencies.

In 2016, Bitcoin accounted for a staggering 97% of the total illicit crypto volume, demonstrating its previous dominance. This figure has since decreased significantly, with Bitcoin now representing just 19% of all illicit crypto activities in 2022.

The rise of multi-chain crime

The report titled "Illicit Crypto Ecosystem Report" revealed a significant shift in criminal behavior, marked by a diversification towards other chains such as Ethereum, Tron, and Binance Smart Chain. Tactics like “chain-hopping” — the act of moving crypto assets between different chains — was also noted by TRM as an increasingly used method by criminals to launder stolen crypto assets and evade detection.

“The shift away from the Bitcoin blockchain towards other blockchains and tactics underscores the importance of our mission to build the industry’s most comprehensive map of illicit financial flows on-chain,” said Esteban Castaño, co-founder and CEO of TRM Labs.

The report further specified that overall, approximately $7.8 billion was funneled into various crypto-related fraud schemes in 2022. Roughly $2 billion was stolen through hacks on cross-chain bridges, mechanisms that enable the transfer of cryptocurrency between different blockchains.

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