Mounting U.S. sanctions against digital cryptocurrencies have mostly prompted illicit cryptocurrency activity to reach $20.1 billion in 2022, the highest on record and an increase from $18 billion in 2021, according to CyberScoop.
Almost 44% of illicit transactions have been associated with transactions by sanctioned entities, with cryptomixing service Tornado Cash among the most significant entities sanctioned by the U.S. government after being used by North Korean hacking operation Lazarus for laundering more than $500 million in cryptocurrency, a Chainalysis report showed.
"This was the year that [Treasury Departments Office of Foreign Assets Control] kind of started to come out pretty hard with their sanctioning of services. And were seeing that in our numbers this year," said Chainalysis Head of Research Kim Grauer.
However, the findings also showed that illicit activity-related cryptocurrency transactions only rose from 0.12% in 2021 to 0.24% in 2022, with the minimal increase attributed to a decline in legitimate cryptocurrency transactions.