Yesterday, a rather shocking cryptocurrency anti-money laundering report was released by the crypto analytics company CipherTrace. This report states that around $1.7 billion worth of cryptocurrency was obtained illegally in 2018. What’s more surprising is that crypto hacks happened three times more than in 2017. No wonder institutional investors don’t want to put big money into the crypto industry yet.
Crypto Hacks Worth $1.7 Billion
Of the total stolen in 2018, over $950 million was from cryptocurrency exchanges. This is 3.6 times more than what was stolen from exchanges in 2017. The rest of the funds ($725 million) from the crypto hacks happened from things such as Ponzi schemes, exit schemes, and fraudulent ICOs.
These schemes may only be higher in volume because of the overwhelming amount of money that flooded the cryptocurrency market in 2017. By December 2017, the total cryptocurrency market was worth well over $550 billion—hitting over $800 billion in the second week of January.
This amount of money flooding into the system likely intrigued hackers and saw cryptocurrency exchanges as easy targets. ICOs were also huge money makers in 2017, and start-up companies were receiving millions in funding for just an idea. On top of pump and dumps, hackers built their own fraudulent ICOs and once funding was completed, shut down the entire website and ran.
Now, it seems investors are treading lightly in the cryptocurrency space and rightfully so. According to CipherTrace’s report, most of the crypto hacks occurred in Q1 and Q2 of 2018. The market was worth significantly less in Q3 and Q4 of 2018—making it not as appealing for hackers. At the time of writing, the total cryptocurrency market is worth just over $115 billion.
It remains unknown at this time what will need to be in place to make institutional investors comfortable investing in digital currencies. For now, they can invest in Bitcoin Futures and ETFs—if they ever become available.
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