Crypto Cons Stole 650% More Money in 2021

By the Numbers: When a Figure Is Worth a Thousand Words


The Balance / Alice Morgan

The amount of money lost to cryptocurrency fraud in 2021 surged 650% from the year before—highlighting the risks posed by digital assets, a major reason that the government has launched a new effort to regulate them. 

That’s according to an FBI report from earlier this year, which said the value of losses of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies to scams jumped from $246 million in 2020 to $1.6 billion in 2021. The White House cited these statistics Friday when it announced its creation of a framework for government agencies to regulate the fast-and-loose world of cryptocurrency. Among other measures, the report directed regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to step up their efforts to go after wrongdoers in the crypto world. 

In a report outlining the government’s plan, the White House noted that cryptocurrency is an ideal vehicle for criminals because anonymous, peer-to-peer systems bypass the traditional finance system with all its controls and reporting requirements. 

In the future, the frontier of digital payments could get a little less wild: The White House noted the Federal Reserve is planning to launch a new instant payment network next year, FedNow,  intended to make electronic payments faster and more accessible. It’s also forming a working group from different government agencies to study the creation of a Central Bank Digital Currency, a digital payment system that would be controlled by the Fed. 


The FBI’s figures may understate the true extent of the problem. Since early 2021, at least $10 billion has been lost to various crypto-related grifts, according to a running tally kept by blogger Molly White at White, a software engineer, has been tracking publicly-reported crypto losses since the start of 2021.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. FBI. "Internet Crime Report 2021."

  2. The White House: "White House Releases First-Ever Comprehensive Framework for Responsible Development of Digital Assets"

  3. Web3 Is Going Just Great. "Grift Counter."

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