A new report from blockchain forensics firm CipherTrace claims that cryptocurrency theft has increased in 2019, when compared with similar theft in 2018. According to Reuters, which obtained the report, the rise in stolen cryptocurrency was due to the increase in money moving through digital currency exchanges and more large incidents of theft.
CipherTrace CEO Dave Jevans told Reuters:
“The 150% increase in crypto theft and fraud reflects how criminals are adapting for bigger and better scores.
Criminals chase money and the money is right here and ripe for the taking. Little attacks are often easy to defend against, but targeted attacks are far more lucrative.”
Between January and the end of September, thieves reportedly stole as much as $4.4. billion. As Reuters notes, that represents a more than 150 percent increase above 2018’s $1.7 billion total. That total was driven in large part by two major incidents: the alleged PlusToken Ponzi scheme that defrauded customers of about $2.9 billion, and the loss of $195 million in the wake of the QuadrigaCX incident.
Jevans emphasized that there was a steady increase in crimes of the multimillion dollar variety, even if those two large incidents are excluded from consideration. He also suggested that many smaller thefts go unreported as businesses and authorities focus on larger threats.
However, the company did note a two-year low in scams and thefts during the third quarter of 2019. Still, the criminals do appear to be learning from previous mistakes by exercising more patience to avoid early detection:
“Today’s attackers are patient and willing to spend more time waiting for a payout. Not only have we seen more and more $100 million thefts and scams, those responsible are acting carefully, only cashing out small amounts to stay under the radar.”