Cryptocurrency Scams in 2022 – Statistics & Trends

Miklos Zoltan

By Miklos Zoltan . 25 November 2022

Founder - Privacy Affairs

Justin Oyaro

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Cryptocurrency scams are always on the rise and are getting more sophisticated each year. 2022 wasn’t an exception to this.

In this study, we looked into cryptocurrency scams in 2022 and found the following data:

Highlights

  • According to Solidus Labs, threat actors in the crypto industry launch up to 15 crypto scams per hour.
  • From January to November 2022, hackers stole $4.3 billion worth of cryptocurrency. This accounts for a 37% increase from 2021 during the same period.
  • Potentially, the largest cryptocurrency scam to date could be the collapse of FTX, where according to experts, between $1 to $2 BILLION of clients’ funds continue to be unaccounted for.
  • In Q1 2022, 97% of all stolen cryptocurrency came from DeFi protocols.
  • According to the FTC, consumers lost over $1 billion from the beginning of January 2021 through March 2022 to cryptocurrency scams.
  • Americans lost $329 million to cryptocurrency scams in Q1 2022.
  • Australians have lost AUD242.5 million ($166 million) to investment and cryptocurrency-related scams in 2022.
  • Investors in Hong Kong have lost $50 million to cryptocurrency scams in 2022.
  • Scammers prefer Bitcoin (70%), Tether (10%), and Ether (9%) for scams.
  • Social media platforms, such as Instagram (32%), Facebook (26%), WhatsApp (9%), and Telegram (7%isare used for crypto scams.
  • Since 2021, most reported crypto scams and losses began with a message, a post, or an ad on a social media platform.
  • Statistics show that young people (20 to 40) are more susceptible to crypto scams.

11 Biggest Crypto Scams and Hacks 2022

This section contains a generalized list of the biggest crypto scams and hacks in 2022 ranked by the amount of money stolen ($100 million and above).

Affected entity / scam Amount stolen or lost
1. FTX $1-$2 billion
2. Axie Infinity’s Ronin Network $615 million
3. Wormhole crypto bridge $320 million
4. JuicyFields.io scam $273 million
5. Unique-Exchange.co/PARAIBA world scam $267 million
6. Nomad cross-chain bridge attack $190 million
7. Beanstalk DeFi project $182 million
8. Wintermute hack $160 million
9. Elrond blockchain exchange hack $113 million
10. The OmegaPro world scam $106 million
11. Harmony Horizon Bridge hack $100 million
12. Mango Market crypto trading platform $100 million

Below you can find more information about the above cases:

  1. FTX: The online trading platform and exchange FTX declared bankruptcy in November 2022 after an investigation revealed misuse of customer funds by CEO Sam Bankman-Fried. Allegedly, between $1-$2 billion of customer funds is missing.
  2. Axie Infinity’s Ronin Network: $615 million in USDC and Ethereum stole in March 2022.
  3. Wormhole crypto bridge: lost $320 million in Ethereum to a hacker in February 2022.
  4. JuicyFields.io scam: investors lost $273 million worth of cryptocurrency as of July 2022.
  5. Unique-Exchange.co/PARAIBA world scam: this scam netted $267 million as of July 2022.
  6. Nomad cross-chain bridge attack: hackers stole $190 million in Bitcoin in August 2022.
  7. Beanstalk DeFi project: lost $182 million to a flash loan attack in April 2022.
  8. Wintermute hack: $160 million lost after an attack on the DeFi operations in September 2022.
  9. Elrond blockchain exchange hack: hackers stole $113 million worth of EGLD tokens in June 2022.
  10. The OmegaPro world scam: this scam made $106 million as of July 2022.
  11. Harmony Horizon Bridge hack: hackers stole $100 million by exploiting a vulnerability in June 2022.
  12. Mango Market crypto trading platform: lost $100 million to a flash loan attack in October 2022.

Cryptocurrency Scam Revenue in 2022

The total cryptocurrency scam revenue for 2022 is low compared to 2021. However, this can change as the year comes to an end. The drop in revenue can be attributed to several factors in the industry.

So far, there have been a few substantial cryptocurrency scams. Few people are falling for cryptocurrency scams as compared to other years. This is also due to the fall in prices for various crypto assets.

  • $4.3 billion is the total revenue from cryptocurrency scams as of November 2022.
  • This is a 100% increase compared to the scam revenue of 2021 as of November.
  • The sharp increase is largely attributed to the collapse of FTX, which was the biggest individual contributor to money lost.
  • In the past four years, 2022 has had the lowest individual transfers to crypto scams.
  • As of November 2022, the collapse of FTX is the biggest case of money lost, with between $1 to $2 BILLION worth of cryptocurrency.
  • Axie Infinity’s Ronin Network is second in place with $615 million.
  • The Wormhole crypto bridge scam is third with $320 million.

Cryptocurrency Hacks on DeFi/Blockchain Bridges/Exchanges

Like 2021, most cryptocurrency hacks and scams in 2022 result from attacks and other threat actors taking advantage of flaws and vulnerabilities in DeFi protocols, exchange platforms, and blockchain bridges.

  • In 2021, 72% of stolen money came from DeFi protocols. 21% of all crypto hacks in that year exploited vulnerabilities in DeFi.
  • In 2022, 97% of all stolen cryptocurrency has been acquired from DeFi protocols.
  • So far this year, breaches on cross-chain bridges account for an estimated loss of $1.4 billion.
  • According to Solidus Labs, 12% of all BEP-20 tokens were linked to scams. Thus, Binance’s BNB Chain witnessed the most scams this year.
  • North Korea-affiliated hack groups have stolen around $1 billion worth of cryptocurrency from DeFi protocols.
  • During Q1 2022, the Ethereum ecosystem suffered 18 hack events, resulting in a nearly $636 million loss.
  • In January 2022, cryptocurrency exchange Crypto.com suffered a hack that resulted in the loss of over $30 million in Bitcoin and Ethereum.
  • The Qubit Finance DeFi protocol was also attacked on January 2022, and hackers took $80 million worth of the Binance coin.
  • Wormhole protocol lost over $320 million in ETH to a hacker on February 2022.
  • Also, in February, IRA Financial Trust lost $37 million after hackers accessed the master key on the Gemini crypto exchange.
  • In March 2022, crypto hackers stole over $615 million in ETH and USDC from Axie Infinity’s Ronin Network.
  • Hackers stole $48 million worth of Cashio after the Solana protocol suffered an infinite mint glitch.
  • In April 2022, Beanstalk Farms suffered an attack in which $182 million worth of cryptocurrencies was stolen.
  • In June 2022, hackers stole an estimated $113 million worth of EGLD tokens from the Elrond blockchain exchange.
  • Also, in June 2022, the Harmony Horizon Bridge lost $100 million to a hacker due to a vulnerability in the bridge.
  • Hackers stole around $190 million in Bitcoin from Nomad – a cross-chain bridge, on the first week of August 2022.
  • Solana wallets also suffered a $5 million hackin August 2022.
  • Also, in August 2022, an exploit on the ZBExchange resulted in a loss of $4.8 million after a private key was compromised.
  • In September 2022, Wintermute lost $160 million after a hack targeted its DeFi operations.
  • In October 2022, hackers orchestrated 11 different hacks and stole over $718 million from DeFi protocols.

Cryptocurrency Exit Scams and Rug Pulls 2022

Rug pulls, generally, exit scam is a strategy where a crypto scammer starts an initiative to raise funds for a crypto token/project promising significant returns for the investors and unsuspecting crypto users.

After roping in a substantial amount, the scammer abandons the project, takes all the funds, and vanishes.

  • In 2021, $2.8 billion were lost to rug pulls. Investors lost over $2.6 billion to the Thodex (Turkish crypto exchange) rug pull.
  • 2022 has had more than 188,000 rug pulls on various blockchains, such as BNB and Ethereum.
  • According to Solidus Labs, 2022 has seen an increase of 20% in crypto scams to 2021, with rug pulls taking a bigger share.
  • In Q2 2022, rug pulls generated a total loss of $37.46 million.
  • In July 2022, investors lost $32.7m after Raccoon Network pulled off an exit scam on its IDO/fundraising project.
  • In August 2022, exit scams and rug pulls resulted in a cumulative loss of over $10 million.
  • Blur Finance disappeared with $600,000 worth of crypto tokens from its BNB Chain and Polygon contracts in August 2022.
  • Also, on August 2022, investors lost over $2 million after wallets linked to the Day of Rights dumped AMO tokens into the market.

Cryptocurrency Flash Loans Scams 2022

Flash loans allow crypto users to borrow digital assets without collateral – usually, the loan is paid in the same transaction block. The process takes a few seconds once the loan is processed.

Cryptocurrency scammers use flash loans to buy all governance tokens in a project, allowing them to withdraw all of the funds since they have the largest vote.

Scammers can also use flash loans to manipulate the value of crypto exchanges and tokens.

  • In April 2022, a flash loan attack on the Fei protocol saw a loss of $79 million.
  • A flash loan exploit on the Beanstalk DeFi project resulted in a loss of $182 million in April.
  • In March 2022, One Ring protocol suffered a flash loan attack in which One Ring Finance lost $1.4 million.
  • Deus Finance suffered a loss of $3 million after a flash loan attack in Q1 2022.
  • In Q2 2022, 27 flash loan attacks resulted in a loss of over $308 million.
  • A flash loan attack on the cryptocurrency trading platform Mango Market resulted in a loss of $100 million in October 2022.
  • Statistics show flash loan attacks increased 66.7% in Q2 from Q1 2022.

Cryptocurrency Romance Scams ‘Pig Butchering’ 2022

Like the ‘Tinder Swindler,’ in crypto romance scams, the con artist manipulates victims in dating/social media apps to invest in bogus crypto projects.

Ultimately, the victims lose significant money/crypto to the scammer. Statistics show that cryptocurrency romance scams will be on the rise in 2022.

  • In the US, people lost $185 million worth of crypto to romance scams in Q1 2022.
  • According to FTC, in 2021, victims parted with over $139 million worth of crypto to romance scams.
  • On average, an individual loses a whopping $10,000 worth of crypto to romance scams.
  • According to a poll by Social Catfish, romance scams start on dating apps (35%), Facebook (10%), and various apps and platforms share the remainder.

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