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Crypto Crime Topped $10 Billion in 2021: Report

More than $7 billion of that total was stolen through insider theft and rug pulls.

Crypto Crime Topped $10 Billion in 2021: Report
Shutterstock photo by Beto Chagas

Key Takeaways

  • ImmuneFi reported that $10.2 billion in theft and frauds affected the crypto industry over the course of 2021.
  • $7.55 billion was stolen via insider rug pulls, while $2.66 billion was stolen via outside hacks targeting various platforms.
  • Similar studies from Chainalysis and Elliptic support those numbers.

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DeFi security firm ImmuneFi has published a report suggesting that $10.2 billion was stolen through crypto attacks last year. The report corroborates other similar reports released in recent weeks.

$7.5 Billion Was Stolen by Insiders

ImmuneFi surveyed various incidents and determined that a total of $10.2 billion was stolen over the course of 2021.

The funds were stolen via two main methods: outside attacks due to platform vulnerabilities and alleged insider fraud.

$7.55 billion was stolen in a few major incidents of alleged insider fraud, primarily involving rug pulls from project founders. ImmuneFi drew attention to Africrypt, a South African exchange that saw its founders vanish with $3.5 billion in June. It also observed $2 billion stolen from the Turkish exchange Thodex.

The firm also highlighted three rug pulls from Binance Smart Chain projects: Meerkat Finance, whose founders stole $31 million; Popcornswap, whose founders stole $2.1 million; and finally the infamous Squid Game token, whose founders stole $12 million.

Over $2 Billion Was Stolen Via Hacks

Another $2.66 billion was stolen through vulnerabilities that left various platforms open to outside attacks and thefts.

In this category, the losses were distributed between over 130 attacks. Notable attacks targeted Venus Network, Bitmart, Cream Finance, Finiko, BadgerDAO, and BXH. Each of those projects saw $100 million to $200 million stolen from its holdings.

ImmuneFi noted that Poly Network, which had $613 million stolen from it in June, had most of those funds returned to it.

Other Reports Confirm Figures

Chainalysis reported similar figures this week. It suggested that $14 billion of illicit crypto funds were moved last year, though it omitted some incidents that ImmuneFi included while also covering extra categories such as ransomware and darknet markets.

This week’s report also comes months after a similar report from the crypto analytics firm Elliptic. That report suggested that $10.5 billion was stolen through DeFi attacks in 2021.

ImmuneFi also reported that $3.8 billion to $4.38 billion was stolen in 2020, suggesting that crypto crime rose significantly over the course of 2021 compared to the previous year. However, also according to Chainalysis, given the increase in number of transactions over 2021, the proportion of transactions representing illicit activity was only 0.15%, a decline from 2020, despite the rise in real numbers.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned BTC, ETH, and other cryptocurrencies.

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