Darknet market crypto crimes on the rise in 2023, $1.7B revenue — Chainalysis

The crypto industry continues to suffer from cybercrimes, with darknet markets being one of the two categories showing an increase in revenue in 2023, according to the latest report from blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis. 

The Chainalysis “2024 Crypto Crime Report,” released on Feb. 29, reveals that darknet marketplaces received revenue of at least $1.7 billion in 2023 — a rebound from its 2022 data when authorities shut down the world’s largest darknet marketplace, Hydra.

While no single marketplace replaced Hydra, the report revealed that smaller marketplaces are thriving by serving specific niches and developing more “specialized roles.” Chainalysis highlighted Mega Darknet Market leading the pack with over $500 billion in crypto inflows.

However, the revenue generated from darknet markets has not yet returned to the peak levels seen during Hydra’s time. The report said:

“We expect law enforcement agencies to continue to investigate and dismantle darknet markets, especially given that many offer fentanyl products for sale.”

Eric Jardine, cybercrime research lead at Chainalysis, told Cointelegraph that the phenomenon of “niche darknet marketplaces” competing to gain market share is not a new thing and follows trends after the closures of darknet marketplaces like the Silk Road and AlphaBay.

In addition to darknet market revenue increases, 2023 saw crypto-linked sanctions by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) more than double, with a total of 18 sanctions on individuals or entities, all of which included cryptocurrency addresses in their designation.

Crypto inflows to sanctioned entities and jurisdictions comprised 61.5% of all illicit transaction volume, representing $14.9 billion in transaction volume in 2023.

According to the report, in 2023, crypto-linked OFAC sanctions shifted toward groups and individual actors and away from major darknet markets like Garantex and Hydra, as well as mixers like Tornado Cash.

The list of sanctioned individuals linked to crypto includes the North Korean hacking group Kimsuky, crypto mixer Sinbad.io, Russian national Ekaterina…

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