In the rapidly evolving sphere of blockchain technology, illicit activities are morphing to keep pace. With its groundbreaking analytics solutions, Elliptic leads the charge in unmasking these nefarious deeds. The firm recently unveiled its 2023 edition of the defining analysis, ‘The State of Cross-chain Crime’. This report sheds light on an alarming trend where malefactors launder illicit or high-risk funds through cross-chain and cross-asset channels.
The Escalating Tide of Crypto Misdeeds
In the report’s 2022 edition, Elliptic pinpointed a disturbing $4.1 billion of tainted or high-risk funds. It was channeled through decentralized exchanges, cross-chain bridges, and coin swap services up until July 2022. The forecast then was a rise to $6.5 billion by the close of 2023 and an astounding $10.5 billion by 2025. Yet, the findings reveal that by July 2023, a whopping $7 billion has already been funneled through these cross-chain and cross-asset services, surpassing previous projections.
The report highlights the infamous Lazarus Group, associated with North Korean hackers, as the linchpin in cross-chain criminal activities. This rogue group has been implicated in laundering an eye-watering sum of $900 million, marking it as a significant player in cross-chain malfeasance.
With a fresh lens provided by newly honed research methodologies, this analysis digs deeper into the cross-chain crime quagmire. Between July 2022 and July 2023, an additional $2.7 billion was laundered through cross-chain criminal schemes. The report also highlights that sanctioned and terrorist entities now control over 80 distinct assets sprawled across over 26 blockchains.
The Lazarus Group: A Stalwart in Cross-chain Criminal Operations
The Lazarus Group’s activities earmark it as the foremost source of all laundered illicit funds through cross-chain bridges. It’s also the third largest perpetrator of cross-chain crime overall. Their sinister operations have seen over $900 million laundered through cross-chain modalities.
The bad actors are not resting on their laurels; they are innovating. The report underscores sophisticated cross-chain methods like derivatives trading and limit orders employed to cloak their laundering undertakings.
Dr. Tom Robinson, the Co-founder and Chief Scientist at Elliptic, reiterated the firm’s decade-long endeavor to mitigate risks and fostering transparency within the blockchain ecosystem. Through its novel Holistic blockchain analytics capabilities, Elliptic continues to trailblaze in identifying and tracking illicit activities. The tool sheds light on the escalating trend of cross-chain crime.
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