Report Attributes Large Share of Global Crypto Crime to Russia, Moscow City

The blockchain analytics firm announced this week that individuals and groups located in Russia Federation can link to approximately $400 million in crypto-denominated Ransomware revenue in 2021. Chainalysis gave a sneak peak of its 2022 Crypto Crime Report.

Overall, approximately 74% of ransomware revenues in 2021, or over $400 million in cryptocurrency, went to strains that we can identify as being highly connected to Russia.

The bulk of the extorted funds are laundered by platforms that operate primarily on the Russian cryptocurrency market, according to the U.S-based company, citing web traffic data. The ransomware addresses sent funds to service providers for approximately 13%. This includes users who were believed to be in Russia. The authors point out that crypto laundering activities are more prevalent in Russia than elsewhere.

Chainalysis reports that dozens of cryptocurrency companies involved in the laundering of illicit money are located in or operate from Moscow City’s financial district. Many of these businesses are believed to have processed substantial amounts of transactions that originated from criminally linked addresses.

Suex, a cryptocurrency broker, was blacklisted in September 2013 by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Treasury Department. This platform has offices in Moscow, St. Petersburg and is suspected of processing hundreds and millions of dollars in crypto transactions in relation to scams and ransomware attacks.

Chainalysis reports that these businesses received almost $700 million in cryptocurrency from illegal addresses over the three-year study period. This represents 13% of all cryptocurrency funds sent to these platforms. The total amount reached almost $1.2 billion in Q2 2021.

It is also revealed that darknet markets and scams account for most of the illicit cryptocurrency sent between 2019 and 2021, to companies based out of Moscow City. This amounts to $313 million and $296 millions, respectively. Ransomware is third with $38 Million.

These figures were published following Russian law enforcement’s recent action against cryptocurrency-using cybercrime actors. The Federal Security Service (FSB), responding to a request from the United States, busted the Revil ransomware organization. It also arrested 14 of its members. This was in conjunction with the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Elliptic, another blockchain analytics company, found last week that Russia also blocked 4 major dark web sites, with an estimated $263M in crypto sales. While authorities work to regulate Russia’s growing crypto market, the interior ministry has requested the arrest of six additional hackers.