Scammers, hackers stole US$3.3 billion worth of cryptocurrencies in last 12 months

SINGAPORE – Individuals and firms lost about US$3.3 billion ($4.6 billion) worth of cryptocurrencies to scams and cyber attacks over the past 12 months that ended in August, according to an online database.

This accounts for about 15 per cent of the total of US$20 billion worth of cryptocurrencies that hackers and scammers stole over the last 10 years, based on Rekt Database, an online platform which records user reports of cryptocurrency losses.

The largest cryptocurrency heist that took place involved online game Axie Infinity in March this year, when hackers made away with US$625 million worth of cryptocurrencies. The criminals had targeted nodes – computers connected to the blockchain network – which support software that allows players to move funds in and out of the game.

In another high-profile incident, hackers stole US$602 million worth of cryptocurrencies from the Poly Network blockchain in August last year.

In its 6th annual Singapore Cyber Landscape 2021 report released on Monday (Aug 29), the Cyber Security Agency (CSA) of Singapore said the anonymity afforded by decentralised blockchain networks has made it difficult for regulators to track illicit activity and enforce laws across country borders.

“Furthermore, money trails associated with crypto laundering may appear only long after the incidents have taken place, as cyber criminals sit on stolen cryptocurrency in the hope that they can cash out unnoticed once law enforcement efforts die down,” said CSA.