Bitcoin’s Share in Illicit Finance Fell 97% in 2022: TRM Labs Report

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A new report by TRM Labs found that criminals favored cross-chain assets over Bitcoin (BTC) for terrorist financing and other crimes in 2022.

According to the new report, Bitcoin’s use in criminal activities fell 97% from 2016 to under one-fifth in 2022.

New Report Finds Bitcoin Use in Terrorist Financing Rose 78%

Bitcoin spending only accounted for under 10% of sales on darknet marketplaces last year. Russian marketplaces accounted for 80% of the $1.4 billion spent on the darknet. Darknet marketplaces traffic illegal goods, stolen financial information, and exploitative materials related to minors.

Scammers promise customers unlawful material involving children but disappear after receiving funds. TRM Labs’ report counted about two-thirds of crypto transfers was sent to scam addresses.

According to a 2022 International Monetary Fund Report, higher crypto usage is empirically linked to territories with higher perceived corruption and weak capital controls. Bitcoin’s use in terror financing rose 78% in 2022, compared to Tether, whose use rose by 240%.

Assets on the TRON blockchain largely replaced Bitcoin’s share in terrorist financing.

Tether Use in Terrorist Financing Grew Three Times More Than Bitcoin in 2022 | Source: TRM Labs

Criminals in Syria have recently started looking at decentralized exchanges’ potential for terrorist financing.

In 2022, the US Department of Justice accused two Chinese officials of trying to bribe US officials with $61,000 in Bitcoin to steal classified documents.

ATMs Still Feature in Money Laundering, Report Finds

In March 2023, New York authorities accused a man of converting a percentage of the $1 billion he laundered through a government relief program. He used the rest to start his own crypto ATM business.

Click here for a rundown of the best Bitcoin exchanges.

Other criminals deposited criminal funds into several ATMs to buy cryptocurrencies they then sent to a single address. They later transferred the funds to a crypto exchange.

While crypto ATMs are common ways to disguise the flow of illegal funds, several operators have joined the Cryptocurrency Cooperative Alliance, supporting high levels of compliance with anti-money laundering standards.

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