Cross-Chain Crime Hits $7B: North Korean Ties Unveiled


Elliptic, a reputable blockchain analytics entity, shed light on the expanding realm of cross-chain crime. Their 2023 report, ‘The State of Cross-chain Crime,’ delineated that an alarming $7 billion of illicit or high-risk funds have been navigated through cross-chain and cross-asset services. The report further unmasked the Lazarus Group, tied to North Korean hackers, as a notable perpetrator, orchestrating $900 million of the cross-chain crime. The findings underscore an escalating issue, exceeding prior anticipations and posing a grave concern for the blockchain domain.

Reflecting on the trajectory, Elliptic’s initial report released in October 2022 illustrated that $4.1 billion of illicit funds were laundered through decentralized exchanges, cross-chain bridges, and coin swap services up until July 2022. The analytics firm had then forecasted this figure to ascend to $6.5 billion by the end of 2023, and further to $10.5 billion by 2025. Contrary to these projections, recent data reveals an accelerated pace, with $2.7 billion being laundered between July 2022 and July 2023, signaling a surpassing of earlier estimations.

Utilizing cutting-edge research methodologies, and Holistic blockchain analytics, Elliptic has managed to unmask the true scope of cross-chain crime. The analysis divulged that sanctioned and terrorist entities are now in possession of over 80 different assets distributed across more than 26 blockchains. The report also hinted at an enhanced sophistication in laundering techniques with criminals adopting complex cross-chain methods like derivatives trading and limit orders to veil their activities.

Lazarus Group: Emerging as a Significant Cross-Chain Criminal

The Lazarus Group has been pinpointed as a major culprit, standing as the largest source of illicit funds funneled through cross-chain bridges and ranking third in overall cross-chain crime. Their actions echo a rising menace within the crypto arena, accentuating the pressing necessity for fortified security frameworks and adept blockchain analytics to counter cross-chain crime.

Dr. Tom Robinson, Co-founder and Chief Scientist at Elliptic, expressed the firm’s enduring dedication towards diminishing risks and augmenting transparency within blockchain networks by detecting and tracing illicit activities within the crypto sphere. As cross-chain crime trends upward, the imperative for innovative insights via advanced blockchain analytics is underscored to shield the industry from malicious adversaries.

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