According to a new report, cryptocurrency-related scams weighed in at $7.7 billion in 2022. This might have been the year cryptocurrency officially went mainstream: Coinbase was listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) became nigh-ubiquitous, and Bitcoin was made legal tender in El Salvador. But a Chainalysis report showed that Wall Street, crypto enthusiasts, and El Salvador’s government weren’t the only groups to benefit in 2021. So did cryptocurrency scammers.
The company published a preview of its 2022 Crypto Crime Report on Thursday focused specifically on cryptocurrency-related scams throughout 2021. Chainalysis said in the preview report that scammers made off with a record $7.7 billion worth of cryptocurrency this year—which means that “scams were once again the largest form of cryptocurrency-based crime by transaction volume” in 2021.
“As the largest form of cryptocurrency-based crime and one uniquely targeted toward new users,” Chainalysis said, “scamming poses one of the biggest threats to cryptocurrency’s continued adoption.”
The company said the $7.7 billion worth of cryptocurrency stolen by scammers in 2021 was an 81 percent increase over the amount stolen in 2020. That’s because in 2020, “scamming activity dropped significantly compared to 2019, in large part due to the absence of any large-scale Ponzi schemes,” Chainalysis said. (Although some have argued that cryptocurrency is by its very nature a Ponzi scheme unto itself.)