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Bitcoin (BTC) Extortionists Hit U.S., Canada With Bomb Threats

Canada, U.S. Hit With Waves Of Bitcoin Threats

Over the past 24 hours, businesses and institutions across the nations of Canada and the U.S. have been bombarded with bomb threats, from purported terrorists. According to messages distributed to media outlets, the group(s) sending these threats, issued through the medium of email, are looking for Bitcoin (BTC) in exchange for not decimating places of business, public places, and pertinent landmarks.

One email, obtained by KrebsonSecurity, routed through Bloomberg, claimed that its authors were looking for $200,000 in Bitcoin, an approximate 63 BTC. In another email, which the Cedar Rapids Police Department got its hands on, it was claimed that a man had carried explosives into “the building where your business is conducted.” The latter threat mentioned stipulated a $20,000 worth of BTC extortion.

So interestingly, as the extortion requested, Bitcoin addresses specified, message format, and explosive cited (tetryl, trinitrotoluene, and hexogen) differs from email to email, some assume that this is a coordinated attack from a group, rather than the act of a single individual.

While these extortionists are talking up a big game, no reports indicate that explosives have been planted at places targeted, which are situated all across the aforementioned nations. Yet, in an attempt to preserve the safety of the public, a number of firms and agencies have begun to evacuate their places of work.

A number of subway stations in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, purportedly shut down operations due to the attack, but the whole system seems to be up-and-running. A community hospital in Hillsboro also decided to close up shop, evacuating its building on early Thursday afternoon. Per The Verge, Infinity Ward, the development company behind Call of Duty, had also made a conscious decision to flesh out its offices.

However, authorities have maintained that there isn’t a credible threat. The New York Police Department, for instance, posted an urgent message to its Twitter page, telling its jurisdiction that “NO DEVICES have been found” in the gargantuan urban zone. Representatives from the American Federal Bureau of Intelligence tell Reuters that it is actively looking into the situation.

At the time of writing, no reports indicate that explosions have occurred.

Not The First Time This Has Happened

This isn’t the first time that such a debacle has occurred. As reported by Ethereum World News previously, a series of businesses in Amsterdam were emailed by supposed terrorists. The anonymous terror group, which may or may not be legitimate, threatened businesses with hand grenades and mass shootings if a ransom of 50,000 Euros worth of BTC isn’t paid.

These messages have since been obtained by local Dutch authorities, who reportedly researched into this odd matter. Interestingly, the terrorist’s threatening emails, which a local television station has access to, were first sent to at least three cafes and a local club in May 2018.

Although the threat’s author painted a foreboding picture, the coffee shops targeted have seemingly been unfazed. Maurice Veldman, a local lawyer working on this case of alleged terrorism, claimed that the victimized businesses he has contacted were not impressed by the email, elaborating to local media:

These types of threats are not taken seriously. They are very easy to make. But we have to report this, because coffeeshops signed a covenant with the mayor, which states that they are obliged to report everything related to safety.

Like in the U.S. and Canada, no explosions or attacks have been directly linked to these threatening emails. As noted by Tom Scott, a popular educational Youtuber, more likely than not, these threats are nothing more than a cash grab.

TItle Image Courtesy of Michael Barth on Unsplash

The post Bitcoin (BTC) Extortionists Hit U.S., Canada With Bomb Threats appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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Report: Court Ruling to Return Mistakenly Sent Cryptocurrency Could Set Precedent

A blog post from the University of Oxford Faculty of Law highlights the potential impact of a recent Canadian court ruling on lost or stolen crypto claims.

A Dec. 12 Business Law Blog post from the University of Oxford Faculty of Law notes possible repercussions for lost and stolen crypto claims following a case in a Canadian trial court earlier this year.

In the post, SAFE Frankfurt researcher Grygoriy Pustovit notes the case of Copytrack Pte Ltd v Wall. The superior trial court of British Columbia ruled that Ethereum (ETH) tokens, which were mistakenly sent by the plaintiff, Singapore blockchain startup Copytrack, to the defendant, Brian Wall, must be returned to Copytrack.

The defendant mistakenly received 530 Ethereum coins from Copytrack instead of 530 Copytrack (CPY) tokens that he was supposed to receive after participating in Copytrack’s initial coin offering (ICO). The Ethereum amounted to 495,000 Canadian dollars ($370,482), while the value of CPY tokens he intended to purchase was 780 Canadian dollars ($583) at the time.

“This precedent may have major repercussions for the enforcement of claims regarding lost or stolen cryptocurrency,” Pustovit claims, as the ruling allows the plaintiff to trace and recover tokens “in whatsoever hands those Ether Tokens may currently be held.”

As professional services for tracing digital assets develop, the rightful owners of certain assets could trace them on a public ledger and ostensibly recover tokens once they appear in an exchange’s wallet. Pustovit states that blockchains are not only governed by their code, but by the laws of concerned jurisdictions as well.

While noting that cross-border enforcement of varying national laws and regulations could prove difficult, the blog says that crypto businesses will likely comply with judgements in jurisdictions wherein they have strategic interests.

Pustovit also states that the Canadian court “missed the opportunity” to define the legal character of cryptocurrencies because it “could not be handled through summary judgment.” Since the defendant was deceased, “there would be no practical utility in sending this matter to trial.” The court therefore ruled the Ethereum tokens to simply be the property of the plaintiff and that they should be returned. Claims in conversion and detinue were left unsettled.

While the legal status of cryptocurrencies in case law remains hazy, “there is an increasing number of decisions recognizing that other intangible assets, e.g. funds, shares and mineral interests, may be subject to claims in conversion and detinue.”

Canada is reportedly one of the most crypto-friendly countries, with its favorable regulation of the industry, and low energy costs for crypto mining. In the summer of 2018, the Canadian government issued an official draft regulation for crypto exchanges and payment operators.

Additional reporting by Helen Partz

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Canadian City of Calgary Launches Local Digital Currency for Intracity Transactions

Calgary, a city in the Canadian province of Alberta, allows citizens to pay for local goods and services via its new digital Calgary dollar.

Calgary, a city in the Canadian province of Alberta, has launched its own digital currency. The Calgary Dollar will allow holders to pay for services and goods at local shops, Canadian major media outlet Global News reports Friday, Dec. 7.

According to HuffPost Canada, the Calgary dollar was initially launched in 1996, with citizens and businesses offering goods and services in exchange for the local currency alongside the Canadian dollar. This new move in 2018 allows citizens to download an app and store the digital currency on their devices.

Calgary is reportedly the first city in Canada to launch its own coin. According to Global News, Alberta’s government supports the initiative. The officials expect that the Calgary dollar could support small businesses and nonprofits by keeping funds within the city.

Calgary dollars work through a smartphone app that lists shops and restaurants that participate in the program. Citizens can spend their Canadian dollars to pay for lunch, make a donation to some of Calgary’s nonprofits or buy inner transport tickets.

One way to obtain the currency is by posting ads for goods and services that users want to sell in the app or on project’s website for Calgary dollars, receiving a small amount of the digital currency in exchange for posting the ad.

Recommending Calgary dollars to a friend also brings profit. Moreover, the Victoria Park, an events and culture district of Calgary, is reportedly offering cash back to shoppers who use the local digital currency.

Local entrepreneurs, in their turn, can pay up to half of their business licenses with Calgary dollars.

As Cointelegraph has often reported, many countries are considering launching local digital currencies.

In Mongolia, the country’s largest mobile telecoms operator plans to issue an e-currency, dubbed “Candy.” Meanwhile, in Dubai, consumers will soon be able to use digital currency to pay for goods, services and utilities following a new government partnership with a blockchain payment provider.

As well, the Bank of Thailand has plans to develop a wholesale central bank digital currency that will use blockchain consortium R3’s Corda platform.

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Crypto Exchange Kraken Denies Rumors of Sudden Staff Layoffs in Canada

Crypto exchange Kraken, currently ranked 11th largest globally by daily trade volumes, has denied rumors that it is laying off staff in its unit in Halifax, Canada, Finance Magnates reports September 6.

The denial comes after a post to a local discussion thread on reddit alleged that Kraken’s “unit 102 at 60 Highfield park drive” had laid off “hundreds of people…after making them sign voluntary quit forms,” further claiming that a “giant commotion” had erupted in response to an alleged security breach. After making the claim, the redditor in question asked thread contributors, “was anyone here one of those people?”

Despite the tentative question at the end of the post, some of the details appeared to have been be reinforced by a separate thread contributor, who wrote:

“10 AM, mandatory meeting. Security everywhere, required to hand in door fobs. Sitting in lunchroom, get told that due to volumes being down (both trading and support ticket), and in light of the opening of a new office in Asia, we need to reduce costs, and layoff of recently hired (<3 months, approx 57 people) was not enough.”

The contributor further alleged that meeting attendants had been told that if they would voluntarily resign before this coming “Friday at noon,” they would be given “8 weeks pay as a severance package,” but that if they would fail to do so, they could not be guaranteed further employment. “Sounds an awful lot like we just got laid off, right?,” the post’s author wrote.

Another contributor to the thread suggested that the security alert was due to the location being “compromised,” – i.e. a physical, rather than a network, breach.

Finance Magnates cites Kraken support team’s Twitter denial to a worried inquiry yesterday:

“We can confirm that we are not shutting down any operations in any specific place, and there has been no security breach. Everything is fine & secure. Thank you for your reaching out to us with your question!”

The denial was reaffirmed in a second Tweet from the Kraken support team hours later.

Yesterday’s rumors come roughly six months after a Business Insider report had claimed that a “person familiar with the [Kraken’s] operations” had said the company was “on the fast track to 1,000 employees and [was] prepared to add 800 people to its staff in 2018.”

Nonetheless, this April, Kraken pulled its trading services from Japanese residents, citing rising costs of business as the grounds for its decision.

Last month, data compiled by crypto industry newsletter producer Diar suggested that since the start of 2018, traded volumes on Kraken – alongside U.S.-based exchanges Coinbase and Bitstamp – have seen steep declines, in contrast to the relatively better performance on Asian-based crypto exchanges during the same time frame. Nonetheless, according to Diar, Kraken fared better than both its US competitors.

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‘Operation Cryptosweep’ Results in 200 Crypto-Related Investigations

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) announced today, August 28, that its ongoing initiative “Operation Cryptosweep” has resulted in over 200 investigations of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and crypto-related investment products.

State and provincial securities regulators in the U.S. and Canada launched probes into potentially fraudulent crypto investment programs as part of the NASAA’s “Operation Cryptosweep” in May. The initiative targeting suspicious crypto investment products is reportedly the largest such coordinated investigation by state and provincial officials.

The NASAA President and Alabama Securities Commission Director Joseph P. Borg said that in the course of their investigations, regulators have come upon numerous crypto-related activities that may constitute a violation of state and provincial securities laws. Such violations include failure to properly register a product before offering it to investors. Borg said:

“While not every ICO or cryptocurrency-related investment is a fraud, it is important for individuals and firms selling these products to be mindful that they are not doing so in a vacuum; state and provincial laws or regulations may apply, especially securities laws. Sponsors of these products should seek the advice of knowledgeable legal counsel to ensure they do not run afoul of the law. Furthermore, a strong culture of compliance should be in place before, not after, these products are marketed to investors.”

The announcement states that, in order to provide some measure of protection for investors, any project qualified as a security should be registered with the appropriate regulatory agencies, or apply for an exemption from registration.

The NASAA notes that even registered products can be fraudulent, so investors should perform their own due diligence before investing in ICOs or crypto-related projects.

Since the project’s launch in May, investigators discovered about 30,000 crypto-related domain names, most of which were registered last year when the Bitcoin (BTC) price reached its record high of $20,000.

Alleged scams reportedly used fake addresses, flashy marketing materials, and guarantees of up to a four percent daily interest rate, while failing to report the potential risks of crypto-investments. According to the update on “Operation Cryptosweep,” regulators have issued 46 enforcement actions.

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Canadian Crypto Exchange Coinsquare Prepares For European Expansion

Despite current market woes and prices lulling at a yearly low crypto exchanges and trading platforms are expanding at an unprecedented rate.

Canada’s premier crypto trading service, Coinsquare, has announced plans to expand into Europe in the fourth quarter of this year. According to the press release European customers will gain access to all of the major digital assets including Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash and Dash backed up with a secure and reliable service from the firm.

Chief Digital and Growth Officer of Coinsquare, Thomas Jankowski, said;

“Cryptocurrency investors globally want a platform they can trust. Coinsquare is a regulated, fully-compliant trading platform and we’re thrilled to offer the European market the same secure and intuitive interface that we offer to Canadians.”

Coinsquare, founded in 2014, has become one of Canada’s largest and most trusted cryptocurrency exchanges. Like Coinbase across the border in the US, it allows fiat to crypto trading for a number of different digital currencies. The move will be the first international expansion under the Coinsquare brand but not the first time the company has ventured overseas.

Last month the firm entered into a partnership in Japan with DLTa21, a global cryptocurrency investment bank. The collaboration allowed Coinsquare to open a cryptocurrency exchange for the Japanese market. Chief Executive of Coinsquare, Cole Diamond, added;

“Entering on a massive market like the EU is an exciting step closer to Coinsquare’s vision of becoming a global 21st century financial institution. Already the premier cryptocurrency exchange in Canada, we are careful in how we expand internationally to ensure we can offer the same high quality, secure service in every country we operate.”

However it was not specified which European country or countries the company would be operating in. If it follows the leads of Binance and Huobi it could choose crypto friendly Malta, Switzerland or Gibraltar which top the list of countries open to blockchain business.

Like its rivals Coinsquare continues to expand despite the bearish market of 2018. A new investment fund and portfolio manager offering a suite of products focused on emerging technologies including blockchain and cryptocurrencies was recently announced. Additionally a licensing division enabling the company to tap into regulated markets in the EU and Asia was also launched. More notably Coinsquare added XRP fiat trading to its listings a few weeks ago as part of its ‘global expansion’.

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Pornhub Partners With PumaPay to Accept Crypto as Payments

Canadian adult entertainment streaming website Pornhub has announced a partnership with cryptocurrency payment and billing startup PumaPay to enable its users payments in cryptocurrencies, according to a tweet August 23.

Pornhub is now accepting PumaPay, with its “unique” pull payment protocol that will allow users automatically pay for their subscriptions, including PornHub Premium. PornHub promoted the partnership with a YouTube video entitled “Pornhub and PumaPay Save the World.”

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The move follows a similar agreement with cryptocurrency Verge (XVG) completed in April. The partnership with Verge allows customers to pay with the coin for Pornhub Premium and all purchases within the product.

Earlier this month, Pornhub subsidiary Tube8 revealed plans to develop a blockchain-powered platform for users to earn crypto for watching and interacting with Tube8 videos. Through a partnership with Vice Industry Token (VIT), Tube8 will create a platform for its 10 million users, that will give them the chance to “get paid to consume [their] free content.”

In March, Playboy Enterprises announced it will be developing an online wallet that will allow customers to use cryptocurrency to pay for company’s online media and includes support for VIT.

However, earlier this month, Playboy sued Canadian firm Global Blockchain Technologies for failing to deliver on a deal in which they would integrate the blockchain platform into Playboy’s websites.

VIT also got involved in the legal conflict, and plans to seek restitution of its own after “purportedly losing millions of crypto tokens in a crumbling deal between Playboy Enterprises and… Global Blockchain Technologies.”

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A Canadian Government Body Has Built an Ethereum Blockchain Explorer

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) announced Monday that it has built an ethereum blockchain explorer.

The organization wrote in a news release that its Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) is now hosting the explorer on the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) through services provided by Bitaccess, a blockchain startup.

Using IPFS, it said, ensures web applications are both “unalterable and can be accessed far into the future,” regardless of whether the original host is online or not.

The explorer allows users to search the ethereum blockchain for proactively published grants and contribution data, according to Bitaccess.

The NRC continued:

“These are early days, but NRC IRAP’s experiments with blockchain are expected to provide constructive insight into the potential for this technology and how it may be used for more open and transparent operations for public programs.”

According to the post, NRC IRAP launched the Canadian government’s first live trial of public blockchain technology on ethereum back in January, in an effort to build a more transparent administration of government contracts.

Since the launch, the program is reported to have been exploring additional applications in blockchain technology.

As CoinDesk reported previously, IPFS aims to build a more permanent web by storing multiple copies of data. It initially caught international attention as may were worrying at the time that the new administration in the U.S. would make data from the government agencies disappear.

Moe Adham, co-founder of Bitaccess, said in a news release that the company is helping to “enable constituents to participate in the verification and validation of public information.”

Canada flag image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Canada: State-Funded Research Program IRAP Now Hosts Blockchain Explorer

The Canadian government-funded research program Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) is now hosting its own blockchain explorer, according to an official statement on Aug. 20.

The IRAP, managed by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), has announced that the project has implemented the blockchain-based app on InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), a protocol and network that is designed to enable peer-to-peer storing and sharing of data on a distributed ledger.

According to an article published on Newswire, the IPFS blockchain browser has been implemented via Catena Blockchain Suite, a product provided by BitAccess.

With its new initiative, IRAP plans to test the use of public blockchains in government grants’ management, allowing users to perform instant searches for new grant data on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain.

According to the official announcement, NRC IRAP first hosted a blockchain kickoff session in June 2017, revealing its plans to implement the technology in administering funding for innovative projects to Canada’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

In early 2018, IRAP has successfully launched the Canadian government’s “first-ever” live trial of public blockchain technology on Ethereum’s ledger, in order to enable transparent administration of government contracts.

In June 2018, Canada’s national self-regulatory non-profit organization Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) built up a working group to draw up proposals on blockchain within the capital markets ecosystem in a move to protect investors and support healthy domestic capital markets.

Last week, the Bank of Montreal and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan tested a blockchain-powered debt scheme for the Canadian dollar (CAD), which is reportedly the first time when CAD was used as “fixed-income issue” through DLT. Earlier in June, Canada’s central bank (BoC) issued a study reaffirming that double spending on blockchain is “unrealistic.”

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Genesis Mining Compels Certain Customers to Upgrade BTC Mining Contracts

Iceland-based hashpower hosting service Genesis Mining is compelling some of its customers to upgrade their Bitcoin (BTC) mining contracts following this year’s significant cryptocurrency price decline, according to an August 17 statement.

In 60 days, the company will terminate services for open-ended contracts that mine less than the daily maintenance fee. Genesis claims that the downward trend of BTC around January and heavy decline in crypto mining in April and May resulted in a reduction of mining outputs.

If customers wish to continue using Genesis’ services, they have to upgrade their existing BTC mining contracts to premium five-year contracts. Genesis notes in the announcement:

“…as a hashpower hosting service, we can only influence one out of the three main factors that determine mining rewards, and that is the infrastructure… The market price of Bitcoin and the mining difficulty are factors we cannot control.”

Genesis Mining was started in 2014, with locations in Bosnia and China. The company subsequently moved to Iceland and Canada due to the cold climate and cheap electricity rates.

In March, Genesis was issued a cease and desist order and asked to leave the state of South Carolina due to selling “unlicensed securities.” South Carolina demanded Genesis not only halt operations within its borders, but pay an “appropriate civil penalty for the wrongdoing.”

Since Bitcoin slid from it’s famed $20,000 peak last December, miners have struggled to stay above water as the combination of low prices and regulatory pressure continues to put a squeeze on the industry.

In June, Canadian provincial utility Hydro-Quebec proposed new rules, under which blockchain companies will be required to bid for electricity and quantify the jobs and investment they expect to generate per megawatt. The new regime seeks to allocate up to 500 megawatts, in addition to 120 megawatts of already existing initiatives.