According to reports published A report released on June 28 by blockchain intelligence firm TRM Labs shows that global cryptocurrency pyramid and Ponzi schemes will pay out a total of $7.8 billion in 2022. In addition, TRM claimed that another $1.5 billion in cryptocurrency was used for illegal activities on the dark web, while another cryptocurrency was accused by TRM of being used for illegal activities on the dark web. $3.7 billion in cryptocurrencies lost to hacks or bugs.

According to TRM Labs, a total of $9.04 billion in cryptocurrencies has been used in various types of financial fraud schemes. While the ongoing bear market has sent cryptocurrency prices plunging, there doesn’t appear to be a corresponding slowdown in cryptocurrency-related crime. The company wrote:

“Investment fraud focuses on raising funds for fraudulent investments or projects; these often involve bogus initial coin offerings (ICOs), unregistered securities, or fraudulent investment platforms. Investment fraud involving cryptocurrencies increased from 907 million in 2021 US dollars increase to US$2.57 billion in 2022, an increase of nearly 200%.”

The top 10 crypto Ponzi and MLM schemes accounted for about 54% of the total amount, the researchers said. Furthermore, 40% of total inflows to active investment fraud schemes are said to be on Tron in 2022, mostly via Tether (USDT) issued on the blockchain, compared to just 17% in 2021.

The two largest cryptocurrency Ponzi schemes to be prosecuted in 2022 are Forsage and Trade Coin Club. Forsage lured investors with the promise of high returns through contracts on the Ethereum and BNB smart chains, netting investors nearly $974 million through two related entities. Meanwhile, Trade Coin Club claimed high returns on its cryptocurrency exchange, raising more than $295 million from more than 100,000 investors before it collapsed. Both companies have since been sanctioned by the SEC.

Cryptocurrency spending on darknet markets in 2022. Source: TRM Labs

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