Cryptocurrency theft is on the rise. The current figure stands at a staggering $927 million in the first nine months of the year, an increase of about 250 percent from the preceding year. This is one of many insights contained in a new research report compiled by U.S.-based cybersecurity firm, CipherTrace which was released on Wednesday October 10.
The report, which highlights criminal activity and money laundering in the digital currency market, also suggests a continuous increase in the number and dimension of thefts in the $20-60 million range, reaching a total of $173 million in the third quarter.
An earlier report from the same source puts the total of digital currency theft for 2017 at $266 million. With widening prospects for bitcoin markets and over 1,600 other digital coins springing up, hackers are finding the cryptocurrency market more attractive.
Speaking to Reuters, CipherTrace Group CEO Dave Jevans, who also doubles as the chairman of the Anti-Phishing Working, a global organization that aims to help solve cyber-crime said:
Regulators are still a couple of years behind because there are only a few countries that have really applied strong anti-money laundering laws
Exchanges Enabling Criminals
Jevans also talked about the possibility of the actual number of criminal transactions being almost double the number traced for the report, adding that CipherTrace is aware of about $60 million in unreported cryptocurrency thefts.
Top cryptocurrency exchanges from countries with weak anti laundering regulations and institutions have aided the laundering of $2.5 billion worth of bitcoins since 2009 as revealed by the report. The report was based on data obtained from the top 20 virtual currency exchanges by volume. CipherTrace did not however mention these exchange platforms. The report reveals that these exchanges have been used to criminally purchase 236,979 BTC, currently worth approximately $1.5 billion.
Jevans also hinted it would be difficult to stop the exchanges from laundering money as they are beneficiaries. Moreover most criminal activity only becomes known after the fact, and real-time or advance knowledge is possible but not always.