Over the past two years, the amount of illicit bitcoin transactions in the decentralized finance (Defi) sector has increased dramatically. So far this year, hackers
have stolen digital assets valued at close to $1.7 billion. 97 percent of the hacking attempts were directed toward Defi protocols.
Chainalysis Report is one of the blockchain analytics companies. According to sources, North Korean hackers received more than 84 million dollars worth of
stolen assets. The use of Defi protocols for money laundering has grown recently as well. The paper describes the challenges these processes confront in
identifying asset theft. Most Defi schemes lack KYC, which has made it simpler for criminals to access them. The Lazarus Group, well-known for its cyber
activities, as mentioned in the study as having violated numerous protocols to steal bitcoins last year, to the tune of approximately $91 million. It is alleged
that the stolen tokens were converted into Bitcoin and Ether and then sent to controlled exchanges to extract money.
At least 54 BAYC NFTs have been avoided recently thanks to a breach on the NFT series Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) Instagram account and Discord server.
A loss of around $ 137 million resulted from it. Instagram and Yuga Labs, an owner of BAYC, have launched an inquiry. According to a BAYC representative,
the hacker created a false link to the Bored Ape Yacht Club website. Later, users were prompted to link their MetaMask to the con artist’s wallet in order to take part in a phony airdrop.
Following the discovery of the attack, BAYC informed its community and took down all links from Instagram and other networks. In addition, BAYC has made
it illegal for users to create NFT on their behalf. In this instance, the victims are the individuals who clicked on the phony airdrop link. The hackers’ wallet
address received the NFTs that had been stolen.
Defi Is the Main Target of Hackers
Illegal Defi transactions have continuously increased ever since the Defi Boom that took place in the summer of 2020. According to Chainalysis’ study, the two
main illicit activities on such protocols have been money laundering and Defi hacking.
Digital assets worth $1.7 billion in total were stolen by criminals in 2022, with Defi protocols accounting for 97% of the thefts. The $300 million Wormhole
attack in February and the $600 million Ronin bridge breach at the end of March were the two most significant robberies that contributed to the hoard.
According to the research, as of 2022, hackers with ties to North Korea have received approximately $840 million in stolen money.
Along with hacking, Defi money laundering has increased steadily over the past few years, with Defi protocols receiving 69 percent of the cryptocurrency-
based cash linked to criminal activity.
The report cited the challenge of tracing the flow of digital assets as the reason why the majority of such systems allow users to trade one token for another.
Additionally, the lack of KYC procedures for the majority of Defi schemes has increased their appeal to criminals. The notorious Lazarus Group, which has ties
to North Korea and was implicated in the laundering of cryptocurrency worth $91 million last year on various protocols, was used as an example in the
research. According to reports, the organization converted stolen tokens into ETH and BTC, moved them to accounts on centralized exchanges, and then
cashed out the funds.
Wash Trading NFT
Another noteworthy section of the paper focused on NFT Wash Trading, a type of market manipulation that inflates an illiquid asset artificially. NFTs can be
traded between wallets that are under the same entity’s control, providing market players the false impression that demand for the asset is stronger than it actually is.
The report cited one instance when fraud produced over 650,000 wETH in transaction volume. The marketplace offered incentive payments for trading NFTs
in the form of the site’s native token, which led to the conclusion that the instances happened on the same platform.
Users could increase their token earnings by simply making more transactions between accounts. NFT collectors could be led to assume that there is more
transaction activity than there actually is in the market.