A Decade of Cryptocurrency ‘Hacks’: 2011 – 2021
22 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2021 Last revised: 29 Nov 2022
Date Written: October 1, 2021
We survey large-scale cryptocurrency thefts over the past decade, estimating the total value of stolen cryptocurrencies. We find that depending on the timing of when the cryptocurrency was converted to fiat, the stolen amounts are valued between $7 to $88 billion, with longer cryptocurrency holding periods corresponding to the larger estimate due to the market’s rising value. We also document that as the cryptocurrency market develops, the incidence of large-scale cryptocurrency thefts has also increased in both number and stolen values in recent years. Large-scale thefts can be attributed to security breaches accounting for 20 of the 30 thefts, human errors accounting for 5, and agency problems arising from insider thefts accounting for the remaining 5.
Keywords: theft, DeFi, misconduct, crypto, fintech
JEL Classification: G23, G32, G15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation