Tron accounts for 45% of all illicit transactions

Illicit activity in crypto has overall declined, with lawmakers and law enforcement catching up, but Tron blockchain is attracting bad actors

A new report published by TRM Labs has indicated that the majority of illicit transactions happening in the crypto world are actually facilitated by Tron (TRX). In The Illicit Crypto Economy, TRM Labs takes a closer look at the most preferred cryptocurrency used by criminals who are keen to remain hidden from the public eye as they transact ill-gotten gains.

The popularity of the Tron blockchain amongst bad actors has been increasing at a good pace too as, according to the research, the 45% of illicit transactions detected in 2023 are actually a noticeable step up from the 41% recorded in 2022.

The network is often used by hackers who are mostly associated with North Korea, who use it to swap and move stolen funds, and rely on USDT’s tethering to the US dollar for stability, while also benefiting from its anonymity. All are facilitated through the Tron blockchain, the research indicates.

To put things in perspective, TRM Labs estimates that USDT accounts for $19 billion of illicit funds moved globally, along with another $428.9 million moved in USD Coin, another stablecoin. The role of the Tron blockchain is to help with these transactions and exchanges.

This is not to say that it is the blockchain network specifically aiding, but bad actors simply prefer it for its transaction speed, strong security, and anonymity. Low gas fees and nominal changes in the price of the Tron token itself have been a honey pot for criminals.

This being said, however, things don’t look so bad when actual numbers of illicit activity are considered. TRM Labs said that illegal operations actually contracted by 9% in 2023, even if they increased on Tron. But even then, criminals have assets worth $35 billion in various cryptocurrencies.

The good news is that regulators and lawmakers are beginning to catch up. Anonymity is no longer an option for criminals as law enforcement agencies are able to track – with qualified success so far – even elusive funds such as Monero. Laws are changing to account for the rather lithe nature of crypto transactions which could make them hard to catch.

North Korean hackers were able to bring in 30% less than they did in 2022 last year, and this means that there is a growing consumer awareness of the dangers that they face, making them somewhat more resilient. Yet, fraudsters are not done. They are now regrouping and the Tron blockchain seems to be their preferred destination.

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Written by Barney


Barney is co-founder of When not at work he can usually be found behind a Nikon. He's won numerous international competitions for his photography and volunteers as a content creator for aid organisations in Africa.

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