Cryptocurrency Crime Shifting from Bitcoin to Stablecoins
According to Tara Annison, former head of technical crypto advisory at Elliptic, crime in the Web3 space is transitioning from Bitcoin (BTC) to stablecoins, while ponzi schemes remain a major issue. Annison shared her insights on the prevalence of digital asset-related crime during a presentation at the EthCC conference in Paris.
As the cryptocurrency industry has matured, criminals have shifted away from Bitcoin and towards dollar-denominated assets, such as USD Coin (USDC). These assets are more accessible and can be laundered through decentralized exchanges (DEXs). The emergence of DeFi protocols, mixing services, and stablecoins have also created new opportunities for criminals to exploit.
The development of the metaverse and Web3 has also had an impact on the crypto space, with the Voyager Crypto Update, WLuna Crypto, VGX Crypto, UNFI Crypto, WAX Crypto, VVS Crypto, and Metaverse vs. Web3 all contributing to new criminal avenues.
Crypto-Related Crimes and Scams
Circle’s centralized issuers provide a silver lining from a law enforcement point of view as they are able to freeze specific USDC tokens before criminals can “off ramp out of the asset” into fiat through DEXs or centralized exchanges.
Ponzi and pyramid schemes, which have stolen $7.8 billion from victims, remain a problem in the crypto sector. Criminals are also using more advanced methods such as chain swapping and asset swapping to launder funds. Annison revealed that $1.2 billion stolen from DEXs eventually ends up on centralized exchanges.
Fortunately, the bear market has made the sector less appealing for cybercriminals, resulting in a 46% decrease in scams compared to the previous year. WLuna Crypto, Voyager Crypto Update, UNFI Crypto, VVS Crypto, VGX Crypto, and WAX Crypto are all examples of crypto assets that have been impacted by the bear market.
Cryptocurrencies and Illicit Activities
Annison discussed the increasing use of cryptocurrencies to bypass sanctions and finance terrorist activities, noting TRON and USDT as popular assets for unlawful activities.
The development of metaverse experiences has also made the space a target for criminal actors. Examples of such crimes include phishing attacks, NFT theft, wallet tainting, and augmented reality hacks.
Annison highlighted the current reality of criminal activity in the sector, which necessitates greater security measures to protect users and combat illegal activities.
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