Business

Ed Drake

‘True cost’ of crypto crime reaches $1.2B in Q1 2019

Losses attributed to crypto crime could total as much as $1.2 billion in the first quarter of 2019, according to the findings of a damning report into cryptocurrency fraud published today.

In its Q1 2019 Cryptocurrency Anti-Money Laundering Report, cryptocurrency intelligence firm CipherTrace has detailed the many and varied scams, hacks and thefts to have plagued the cryptocurrency community so far this year, calculating the total funds lost to criminal behavior.

The total is made up of some $356 million lost from exchanges in the first quarter, and the $850 million lost in the Bitfinex scandal. Of the $356 million, $195 million was attributed to QuadrigaCX.

Intriguingly, the report connects QuadrigaCX and Bitfinex through Panama-based payment processor Crypto Capital, which is reported to be at the heart of the Bitfinex affair.

In light of the findings, which the firm concedes could even be worse than feared, CipherTrace expects a global tightening in the regulatory environment for crypto firms in the coming months.

It noted, “These thefts only represent the losses that are visible…A tsunami of tough new global anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terror financing (CTF) regulations will roll over the crypto landscape in the coming year.”

The report highlights the problem of a lack of regulation in cross-border crypto transactions, which it describes as a growing regulatory blindspot.

“An analysis of 164 million BTC transactions revealed that cross-border payments from U.S. exchanges to offshore exchanges increased from 45% from the twelve months ending Q1 2017 to 66% in the twelve months ending Q1 2019,” according to CipherTrace analysts.

Perhaps most notable from the report is the sheer scale of criminality around cryptocurrency, and particularly Bitcoin Core (BTC). CipherTrace CEO Dave Jevans described the findings as a “wake-up call” for the sector.

“Although this report punctuates some of the negative occurrences within the crypto ecosystem, it is important to view these illuminations as markers for improvement. This is the wake-up call crypto needs. Cryptocurrency is maturing, and that means having a few growing pains. Once we identify problems, we can find solutions. Crypto currency projects must grow up before they can move forward,” Jevans said.

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