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Scammers Are Posing As Crypto Exchange Support Staff, Says FBI

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said Wednesday that consumers should watch out for would-be scammers posing as support staffers for cryptocurrency exchanges.

The agency’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) sounded the alarm about tech support scams in a recent notice, stating that it constitutes “a problematic and widespread scam.” In 2017, the center said, consumers submitted roughly 11,000 complaints and claimed losses in excess of $11 million connected to tech support fraud.

According to the FBI warning, cryptocurrency investors are becoming an increasingly more common target for fraudsters, “with individual victim losses often in the thousands of dollars.”

The scam plays out like this: fake support numbers are posted online, which are then found by victims who are looking for information. During the course of conversation, the scammer directs the victim to send their cryptocurrency to a “temporary” wallet while the issues are addressed. But in these instances, the funds are never returned.

“The fraudulent support asks for access to the victim’s virtual currency wallet and transfers the victim’s virtual currency to another wallet for temporary holding during maintenance,” IC3 explained. “The virtual currency is never returned to the victim, and the criminal ceases all communication.”

The warning highlights the lengths to which scammers seeking to defraud cryptocurrency users will go to find targets. But this isn’t a new phenomenon: a number of popular online platforms, from Google to Facebook to Twitter, have been used as a conduit to fraud, prompting the companies behind them to cut off advertising for services and token sales in particular.

Other frauds masquerading as real entities include a recent wave of fake websites pretending to sell tokens for message app Telegram’s ongoing token sale.

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Blockchain Startup Cypherium Partners with IC3 for Scaling Research

Blockchain infrastructure platform Cypherium is partnering with the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts (IC3) research group to develop new blockchain scaling solutions.

The partnership was announced today, alongside the news that Cypherium will launch an initial coin offering (ICO) early in 2018 and that the two entities hope their joint work will lead to mainstream adoption of blockchain-based platforms.

Cypherium plans to use its CPH token to power transactions and smart contract functionality for decentralized apps and a deferred payments system, according to the release.

The company, which includes former Google, Amazon and Microsoft engineers, notably utilizes the Bitcoin-NG technology pioneered by IC3 co-director Emin Gün Sirer. Bitcoin-NG was designed to solve scaling issues with blockchains by using two different types of blocks.

Sirer, who is also a computer science professor at Cornell University, said Cypherium is a “perfect fit” for IC3, continuing:

“Both of our organizations are dedicated to the research and application of methodologies that will solve scalability, compliance, governance, and performance issues with widespread blockchain adoption.”

Cypherium co-founder Sky Guo said the partnership would help his company grow as it attempts to bring its blockchain to a mainstream audience.

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IC3 Blockchain Initiative Expands Research Team to Europe

Researchers from several European universities have joined the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts (IC3), a research effort set up to develop new cryptocurrency systems.

Faculty members at ETH Zurich, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), and University College London (UCL) have become the latest to the join the initiative, which launched in 2015 with financial backing from the U.S. National Science Foundation.

The new IC3 members are no stranger to the technology, with researchers from each institution having worked on projects related to blockchain in recent years.

In a statement, Emin Gun Sirer, co-director of IC3 and an associate professor at Cornell, said:

“This expansion will bring fresh new perspectives into IC3, growing our research portfolio and reach, and expanding us geographically to those places on the globe where exciting new blockchain deployment developments are taking place.”

In addition to the three European researchers, IC3 is now tapping the expertise of economist Maureen O’Hara, who serves as the Robert W. Purcell Professor of Finance at the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. In recent months, major companies like Microsoft and Fidelity have also thrown their weight behind the research initiative.

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Microsoft Joins Cornell Blockchain Research Group

Tech giant Microsoft has joined the Cornell Tech-based Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts (IC3) research effort, it was announced today.

Yorke E. Rhodes III, global blockchain business strategist at Microsoft said in a statement that the firm is “very impressed” by the research that IC3 has been executing, in particular its work on scaling and simplification.

Rhodes said:

“The synergies in their research fit well with our visions for enterprise scale blockchain solutions.”

IC3 is a collective that carries out blockchain research in the areas of distributed systems, game theory, cryptography, programming languages and security. Currently, the team is comprised of faculty members from Cornell University, Cornell Tech, UC Berkeley, University of Illinois and Israel Institute of Technology.

The news comes soon after the announcement of Microsoft’s new blockchain endeavour, the Coco platform, which has been designed to provide a simplified framework for blockchain protocols in order to improve the “enterprise readiness” of the technology.

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