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4% of crypto whales are criminals and own $25 billion worth of cryptocurrency

4% of crypto whales are criminals and own $25 billion worth of cryptocurrency

The relationship between cryptocurrencies and criminal activity has been highlighted in recent times. Recent events like the apprehension of the Bitnifex hack couple

New data from blockchain research firm, Chainalysis, shows that 4,068 cryptocurrency accounts belong to criminal whales (roughly 4% of all crypto whales) 

These whale accounts are hodling more than $25 billion worth of cryptocurrency among them.

A whale is a crypto investor that holds a large amount of a particular cryptocurrency. 

Chainalysis classifies criminal whales as any private wallet that holds more than $1 million worth of crypto with over 10% of the funds received from illegal addresses tied to activity such as fraud and malware.

The result was extracted from the “Criminal Balances” section of their “Crypto Crime Report,” which monitored criminal activity on the blockchain from 2021 and early 2022. 

The detailed report also touched on topics such as malware, darknet markets, ransomware and non-fungible token-related crime.

According to the report, “Overall, Chainalysis has identified 4,068 criminal whales holding over $25 billion worth of cryptocurrency. 

Criminal whales represent 3.7% of all cryptocurrency whales, that is, private wallets holding over $1 million worth of cryptocurrency.”

The data revealed that 1,374 whales have received between 10% and 25% of their balance from illegal sources, while 1,361 had between 90% and 100%. 

Those with balances between 25% and 90% of illicit funds totalled 1,333 criminal whales.

The report also concluded that the biggest source of these nefarious funds was the darknet. 

“Whereas stolen funds dominate overall criminal balances, darknet markets are the biggest source of illicit funds sent to criminal whales, followed by scams second and stolen funds third,” the report


As for illicit transaction activity, the report showed that criminal addresses received more than $14 billion in 2021, marking a whopping 79% increase compared to the $7.8 million seen in 2020.

The bulk of the $14 billion figure last year was attributed to scamming, which increased by 82% year-over-year to account for $7.8 billion. 

See Also

Decentralized Finance (DeFi) rug pulls were a key source of scamming at $2.8 billion.

Theft also went up by 516% to account for $3.2 billion worth of illicit transaction activity, with the DeFi sector once again being an area of concern.

Chainalysis’ report also had some positive results about the crypto community. 

The report showed that all transaction volume in the United States Dollar in 2021 was a total of about $15.8 trillion, with illicit addresses accounting for a tiny 0.15% of that figure, down from 0.34% which was recorded the year before.

Commenting on this, the report read, “Crime is becoming a smaller and smaller part of the cryptocurrency ecosystem. 

Law enforcement’s ability to combat crypto-based crime is also evolving. We’ve seen several examples of this throughout 2021, from the CFC filing charges against several investment scams to the FBI’s takedown of the prolific REvil ransomware strain to OFAC’s sanctioning of Suex and Chatex.”

The cryptocurrency industry has been vilified for enabling financial crime and money laundering practices but it is not unusual for new financial technology to be used by criminals. 

Considering the percentage of goods which it can do for legal businesses and individuals around the world, it would be a disservice to ban it because of a few criminals.

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