Crypto criminals are using blockchains such as RenBridge to launder money by sending digital assets across.
Research from blockchain analysts, Elliptic, revealed that at least $540 million were laundered in crime-related crypto cash since 2020 through RenBridge.
Hackers have also been using the service for ransomware payments by breaking into corporate networks and forcing them to pay to get their data back. According to Elliptic, RenBridge was “an important facilitator” for ransomware gangs.
Elliptic’s vice president of policy and regulatory affairs, David Carlisle, says cross-chain bridges were “a bit of a blessing and a curse”.
While talking to CNBC, he said, “they’re effectively ungoverned, and so very vulnerable to hacks, or to being used in crimes like money laundering,” but he expects regulators to make governing these bridges more strict, in the next six to twelve months.
“One major question is whether bridges will become subject to regulation since they act a lot like crypto exchanges. Which are already regulated.”
In Ellipitic’s report,
RenBridge has been used to launder assets originating from theft, fraud, ransomware, and various other types of criminal activity. Analysts believe other crypto assets were stolen by North Korea.
Elliptic’s chief scientist Tom Robinson says,
“Cross-chain bridges are a loophole in the regulatory regime. That has been painstakingly established by governments around the world, to combat crypto laundering.” In the last two years, $267 million in crypto assets taken from exchanges and DeFi services were laundered through RenBridge.
Moreover, according to Robinson,
“Ransomware gangs, fraudsters, and even North Korean hackers are shifting from regulated crypto exchanges to a decentralized, unregulated alternative.”