In 2019, scammers earned $4.3 billion via crypto-related crimes attacking cryptocurrency exchanges, crypto investors and ordinary users, the research finds.

CipherTrace, cybersecurity company, compiled a report on combating money laundering. One of the chapters is devoted to direct thefts, frauds and other types of misappropriation of funds owned by crypto users or stored on crypto trading platforms. Since the beginning of 2019, crimes related to cryptocurrencies brought scammers $4.3 billion.

According to the report, since the beginning of 2019, hackers managed to steal $480 million from crypto-exchanges. Only in the 1st quarter of 2019, hackers withdrew more than $124 million from crypto-trading platforms.

Bitcoin remains the most popular cryptocurrency among cybercriminals. They continue using it for illegal acquisition of drugs, weapons and purchase of stolen banking personal data.

“The results show that privacy coins are barely used in dark markets and at dark vendor sites (e.g. only 4% of instances involve Monero (XMR). Instead, Bitcoin remains the coin of the realm in this shady world, with BTC used in 76% of dark market cases and ETC used in only 7% of instances,” cites The CoinTelegraph.

Ransomware viruses in 98% of registered cases require a ransom in bitcoins, and only in 1% of cases extort ETH.

The largest fraudulent scheme in 2019 was PlusToken, a Chinese Ponzi scheme which alone led to a loss of $2.9 billion in cryptocurrencies. On 27 June, PlusToken crypto wallet suddenly stopped working. At the end of June, the Ethereum address of PlusToken alone stored more than 781,000 ETH ($234 million). PlusToken also supported other cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, XRP, Doge, and Dash. PlusToken called itself an international decentralized crypto project created by a team of developers from South Korea. The website claimed that the project uses technologies developed by Samsung, and the PlusToken team works in a research laboratory in Seoul. But according to some signs, the crypto wallet was created by a Chinese company located in Jiaxing. In March 2019, Chinese police raided PlusToken offices in Hunan due to fraud allegations. The head of the Chinese office of PlusToken Chen Bo was on the wanted list in China since then. On 29 June, six Chinese citizens, including a man named Chen Bo, were arrested on suspicion of participating in an Internet scam on Vanuatu Island at the request of the Chinese authorities.