Big picture: Bitcoin is becoming an increasingly attractive option for money laundering, in addition to allowing many to make money illicitly thanks to the largely unregulated technology on which it is based. However, the US government has recently begun to pay more attention to the cryptocurrency space, with the result that some $ 5.2 billion in bitcoin transactions have been linked to ransomware payments.
Ransomware transactions in the first 6 months of 2021, as highlighted in a report released by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the United States Department of the Treasury has reached $ 590 million. This amount already exceeds the announced figure of $ 416 million for 2020.
The average monthly number of suspicious ransomware transactions was $ 66.4 million, and the average was $ 45 million. “FinCEN has identified Bitcoin (BTC) as the most common ransomware payment method in reported transactions,” the report said.
More interesting information that came from the study is that huge transactions worth $ 5.2 billion were attached to outgoing payments associated with Bitcoin ransomware. This figure is linked to the 10 most common ransomware variants.
A FinCEN investigation found this figure by examining 2,184 suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed over the past decade, from January 2011 to June 2021. 68 variants of the ransomware were identified, including REvil / Sodinokibi, Conti, DarkSide, Avaddon and Phobos, frequently reported criminals.
Related reading: Evolution of Ransomware: How Did We Get Here?
Ransomware gangs have clearly taken advantage of cryptocurrency to launder money, but the US Treasury announced plans to stop such activities. Last month department disclosed this is the first ever sanction against cryptocurrency exchange.
Elsewhere, Bitcoin hit a 6-month high, surpassing the $ 60,000 mark. At the time of writing, it is close to the all-time high of $ 64,863 on April 14, 2021.