Damages from cryptocurrency thefts from exchanges and frauds using digital assets have reached $1.2 billion in the first quarter of 2019, blockchain security firm CipherTrace revealed on Tuesday.
The quarterly figure already equaled 70 percent of all crypto-related thefts and scams pulled off in 2018 as the recorded loss of digital currency that year peaked at $1.7 billion.
The report detailed that the thefts from exchange-controlled wallets amounted to $356 million in the last quarter, while losses from fraud or misappropriated funds totaled to $851 million.
The estimation also included the mishap of Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX which resulted in the lockdown of CAD 190 million (roughly $145 million).
Commenting on the report, Dave Jevans, CEO of CipherTrace, told Reuters: “Crypto crime has gotten worse because regulations are still weakly enforced. Europe broadly has not implemented its regulations yet and the cybercriminal community continues to grow.”
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“I would also add that insider issues such as fraud or theft have grown mostly due to operations outside of the U.S. where regulations are poor, or simply due to greed and mismanagement by young management teams at these cryptocurrency companies that are managing hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars.”
Attacks on crypto exchanges
Apart from QuadrigaCX, many other digital currency exchanges also reported attacks on them this year. The first published crypto heist was on New Zealand-based Cryptopia. Though no official figures were released, third-party estimation put the losses at a minimum of $16 million.
In March, Bithumb, largest crypto exchange in South Korea, reported that the exchange was hacked for the third time. The exchange followed the trend of not disclosing losses, however, blockchain analysis firms estimated the compromised amount to be $19 million.
Meanwhile, CypherTrace raised $15 million in funding earlier this year followed by a partnership with Binance.
The firm also recently revealed that the cross-border cryptocurrency transfers from US-based exchanges to off-shore exchanges surged to 66 percent in Q1 2019.