Chainalysis reports that almost one million Bitcoin is currently being held by dark web criminals and scammers.
The exact amount of BTC held by such criminals is actually 891,781 BTC. This amount of Bitcoin is worth US$9.75 billion [AUS$13.62 billion], at the time of writing.
Dark web Bitcoin breakdown
According to Chainalysis, the Bitcoin held by such criminals is broken down into four groups: darknet markets, scams, stolen funds, and other illicit activities. The current analysis says there is a total of 585,208 BTC in darknet markets, 98,616 BTC in scams, 204,644 BTC in stolen funds, and 3,313 BTC in other illicit activities.
This amount of the world’s foremost cryptocurrency sounds staggering, but it should be noted that there are 18.44 million bitcoins in circulation at the present time. However, this does mean that 4.8% of all BTC in circulation is being held at the moment by criminals.
Such a statistic would appear to lend a little bit of credence to the criticism often leveled at cryptocurrencies that they are mainly used for illegal things. However, Chainalysis reports that only a mere 0.32% of all Bitcoin transactions are for illicit reasons.
Exchanges play a part
In an interesting twist, cryptocurrency exchanges are part of the criminal ecosystem when it comes to all this dark web crypto. Exchanges are the first choice for criminals when it comes to laundering their ill-gotten gains.
“The recent Twitter scandal where handles of celebrities were hacked offering to double people’s bitcoins showed the hackers moved the money straight to the exchanges. They left a wide enough trail for people to zero in on their identities, if interested,” says Industry Leaders Magazine.
The most recent 7-day average analysis by Chainalysis shows that darknet markets laundered US$3.47 million [AUS$2.85 million] through exchanges, compared to just US$437,886 [AUS$612,598] for mixers and US$204,434 [AUS$286,001] for other services.
Scams laundered an average of US$2.7 million [AUS$3.78 million] through exchanges. This is in comparison to only US$252,078 [AUS$352,654] for mixers and US$58,833 [AUS$82,306] for other services. Stolen funds sent US$122,845 [AUS$171,858] to exchanges, US$4,843 [AUS$6,775] to mixers, and US$3,483 [AUS$4,872] to other services.
As for other illicit services, it sent US$359,778 [AUS$503,325] to exchanges, US$4,220 [AUS$5,903] to mixers, and US$7,954 [AUS$11,127] to other services.
It seems that cryptocurrency exchanges may need to beef up their know-your-customer and anti-money laundering procedures.
Featured image courtesy of Aaron Olson/Pixabay