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Former Elliptic crypto advisor reveals a fascinating shift in the world of cryptocurrency-related crime. Criminals are no longer relying on Bitcoin for money laundering, as stablecoins take center stage due to their accessibility and ease of use.

During a captivating presentation at EthCC in Paris, Tara Annison shed light on how crime in the Web3 era is evolving. Decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols, mixing services, and stablecoins have become the new hotspots for illicit activities.

One standout stablecoin drawing criminals’ attention is USD Coin (USDC), denominated in dollars. Its popularity arises from the convenience of laundering through decentralized exchanges (DEXs) with deep liquidity and high volume.
The silver lining for law enforcement is the ability of centralized issuers like Circle to freeze specific USDC tokens, preventing criminals from “off-ramping” into fiat through DEXs or centralized exchanges.
Ponzi and pyramid schemes continue to plague the sector, with a staggering $7.8 billion stolen from unsuspecting victims. To evade detection, criminals are adopting more sophisticated methods, such as chain swapping and asset swapping, amounting to around $4.1 billion in ill-gotten gains.

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Despite these alarming numbers, there is some positive news—the bear market has deterred cybercriminals, reducing scams in the sector by 46%. Lower prices and diminished hype make it less profitable for criminals to engage in illicit activities.
However, new challenges are arising, with cryptocurrencies being used to evade sanctions and finance terrorist activities. TRON and USDT have gained popularity among nefarious actors for these purposes.
Moreover, the advent of metaverse experiences has created a breeding ground for crimes in virtual worlds. Phishing attacks, NFT theft, wallet tainting, and augmented reality hacks are emerging threats that demand increased vigilance and security measures.

As the cryptocurrency landscape continues to evolve, law enforcement and users must remain vigilant to combat criminal activities effectively. Annison’s presentation serves as a wakeup call, urging the industry to stay ahead of the game and protect its stakeholders from the dark underbelly of crypto-related crime.