It’s looking like a bumper year so far for cryptocurrency criminals.
According to the latest CipherTrace report, losses from digital crime, in which cryptocurrency was the main haul, reached $4.4 billion over the first nine months of the year.
It’s not even the end of the year yet, and this figure is already 150 percent up on the total money lost to cryptocurrency-related crime over the whole of 2018. Last year, just $1.7 billion was lost to digital currency crime.
“The 150% increase in crypto theft and fraud reflects how criminals are adapting for bigger and better scores,” Dave Jevans CipherTrace chief executive officer said to Reuters.
Two frauds, PlusToken and QuadrigaCX, in particular are responsible for most of the uptick in losses seen this year.
PlusToken was an alleged Ponzi scheme from South Korea which is thought to have defrauded $2.9 billlion in cryptocurrency from its victims.
Then there is the case of Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX that went dark after its CEO reportedly passed away, taking the company’s wallet private keys and $192 million with him.
It should be noted, though, that most of this year’s losses happened in the first half of the year.
According to CipherTrace’s Q2 report, issued in August, cryptocurrency scammers had netted $4.26 billion over the first six months of 2019.
Researchers pointed out that the amount stolen between July and September was the lowest quarterly amount for two years.
Indeed, it seems the trend is slowing somewhat, but the damage has already been done.