Illicit decentralised finance (DeFi) transactions rose over the last three years, as stated by a Chainalysis blog. According to the blog, the rise was seen primarily in two areas such as theft of funds through hacking and abuse of DeFi protocols for money laundering.
Insights from the blog stated that DeFi protocols started trending since the beginning of 2021 and reached its highest levels in the Q1 of 2022, due to the hacks of the Ronin Bridge and Wormhole Network. DeFi protocols accounted for an ever-growing share of all stolen funds since the beginning of 2020, and lost the majority of funds in 2021. As of May 1, 2022, DeFi protocols accounted for 97% of the $1.68 billion worth of cryptocurrency stolen in 2022.
The blog’s data stated that much of the cryptocurrency stolen from DeFi protocols went to hacking groups associated with the North Korean government, especially in 2022. Additionally, in 2022, North Korean hackers have stolen $840 million based on the hacks of DeFi protocols. Reportedly, the stolen cryptocurrency is used by the North Korean government to support the country’s development of weapons of mass destruction. In 2021, North Korean based Lazarus group used several DeFi protocols to launder funds after stealing more than $91 million worth of cryptocurrency from a centralised exchange. So far in 2022, DeFI protocols have received 69% of funds sent from addresses associated with criminal activity, compared to 19% in 2021.
As per the report, wash traders in the NFT marketplace ended up losing money due to gas fees while the successful ones artificially inflated their NFTs’ value and sold them to unsuspecting users. Chainalysis cited an example of two wash trading wallets for its Chainalysis Crypto Crime Report, 2022, that generated transaction volume of over 650,000 wrapped ether (wETH). The wallets made over 106 million reward tokens worth over $185.5 million, while starting with initial funding of 705.6 ether. Gas fees on the wash trades totaled to $114.6 million.
(With insights from the Chainalysis Blog)