Chainalysis Study Shows ‘Criminal Whales’ Hold $25 Billion in Digital Assets, Entities Make Up 3.7% of All Crypto Whales


According to a study published by Chainalysis, criminal entities hold over $25 billion in cryptocurrencies. Research from the blockchain intelligence firm shows that there was a significant increase in crypto balances held by criminals in 2021, with the metric jumping 266% from the previous year.

Chainalysis investigates crypto whales holding balances tied to illicit addresses

Blockchain monitoring firm Chainalysis has published a study that indicates that $25 billion worth of digital assets are currently held by criminals. Despite major law enforcement seizures last year, the billions of dollars in crypto held by criminal entities on the blockchain could theoretically be seized by officials.

Chainalysis study shows 'criminal whales' hold $25 billion in digital assets, entities account for 3.7% of all crypto whales

Chainalysis findings explain that 2021 saw a “huge increase in criminal balances.” In 2020, Chainalysis says the metric was $3 billion, but in 2021 criminal entities held about $11 billion. Additionally, among stolen funds, ransomware, fraud stores, and darknet funds, the balance of stolen funds accounts for the lion’s share of crypto held by criminals.

“At the end of 2021, stolen funds accounted for 93% of all criminal balances at $9.8 billion. Darknet Market Funds are next at $448 million, followed by Scams at $192 million, Fraud Shops at $66 million, and Ransomware at $30 million,” the Chainalysis report details. “Criminal balances also fluctuated throughout the year, from a low of $6.6 billion in July to a high of $14.8 billion in October.”

Darknet workers hold crypto longest, criminal crypto whales hold longer than typical addresses associated with stolen funds

Additionally, the Chainalysis study identified the types of criminals who held crypto the longest without liquidation, and darknet market vendors and administrators ruled the roost. According to research, entities that hold stolen crypto funds keep the funds for the shortest time possible.

However, there are “extremely large wallets that last longer than is typical for others in the stolen fund category.” By analyzing the balance sheets of the criminal whales, the company was further able to notice that the whales showed “more variation”.

Chainalysis study shows 'criminal whales' hold $25 billion in digital assets, entities account for 3.7% of all crypto whales

Regarding the description of what a criminal crypto-whale is, Chainalysis researchers said that it is any private wallet holding $1 million in crypto and that at least 10% of the funds come from illegal addresses. Chainalysis has discovered that there are thousands of suspected criminal crypto whales and it seems that most criminal whales can be classified into one of two categories – “whales received a relatively small or extremely large share of their total balance illegal addresses”.

“Overall, Chainalysis identified 4,068 criminal whales holding over $25 billion worth of cryptocurrency,” the company’s study states. “Criminal whales represent 3.7% of all cryptocurrency whales, i.e. private wallets holding more than $1 million worth of cryptocurrency.”

Keywords in this story

$1 million in crypto, $25 billion, 2020, 2021, blockchain intelligence firm, blockchain monitoring, on-chain analysis, on-chain analysis study, criminal entities, criminal whale scales, criminal whales, crypto whales, darknet funds, darknet market sellers, fraud stores, ransomware, stolen funds, Whales

What do you think of the Chainalysis study that shows criminal whale addresses hold $25 billion in crypto assets? Let us know what you think about this topic in the comments section below.

Jamie Redman

Jamie Redman is the news manager for News and a fintech journalist living in Florida. Redman has been an active member of the cryptocurrency community since 2011. He is passionate about Bitcoin, open-source code, and decentralized applications. Since September 2015, Redman has written over 5,000 articles for News about disruptive protocols emerging today.

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