North Korea Leads Crypto Crime Scene With $1.59 Billion In Stolen Funds

North Korea Leads Crypto Crime Scene With $1.59 Billion In Stolen Funds

June 29, 2022


  • Coincub’s latest crypto crime ranking tips North Korea as the top country for illicit activities.
  • The analysis and research firm estimated over $1.5 billion in proceeds.
  • Chainalysis and U.S. authorities tagged the $600 million Ronin exploiters as North Korean hacker group Lazarus.
  • The U.S. clinched second place with 14 cases accounting for billions in stolen funds as well.
  • Russia and China took third and fourth, while the U.K. came fifth.
  • Coincub highlighted that crypto crime still makes up a tiny part of the industry despite hitting an all-time high.

According to a recent report from Coinhub, North Korea is the top choice for cybercriminals who deal in illicit cryptocurrency currency proceeds. The report estimates that more than 15 cases of crypto crimes originating from North Korea have accounted for over $1.56 billion of stolen funds raised from a plethora of cyberattacks.

These cases involved an estimated 7,000 hackers working in different setups ranging from individual exploiters to hacker groups like Lazarus.

North Korea leads the world in crypto crime according to a new report from Coincub. North Korea has over 15 documented instances of crypto crime, with proceeds conservatively estimated at $1.59 billion.

Second, on the ranking is the U.S. with over 14 cases of attributable crypto-focused cybercrimes. Coincub’s report cited America’s underground crypto economy and a string of high-profile scams as the reason for its second-place rank.

Russia came third on the list with around 8 cases and over $1.4 billion in illicit crypto wealth gathered by hackers. Russia is also credited as the source of popular malware programs like Conti, REvil, and Ryuk to name a few.

China and the U.K. took fourth and fifth in the rankings thanks to Ponzi scams, ransomware attacks, and other crypto-related crimes.

While the report noted that crypto-based crimes hit an all-time high in 2021 where attackers made over $14 billion, such incidents remain a small part of the broader digital asset industry. 

According to Coinhub’s report, illicit activities make up only 0.15% of the total transactions recorded in crypto throughout 2021. In comparison, crime accounts for 2-5 of the world’s GDP, per the report.

North Korean Group Lazarus Behind $600 Ronin Bridge Exploit

Blockchain firm analysis firm Chainalysis and U.S. Treasury officials named Lazarus as the culprit behind a massive exploit on Ronin. Ronin is a sidechain network developed by Sky Mavis for the popular game Axie Infinity. 

So far, the $600 million attack ranks among the top three largest exploits to ever occur in crypto history. U.S. authorities reportedly blacklisted a Lazarus wallet address and Binance said some of the stolen funds were recovered through their platform.

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