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US Charges Two Canadian Nationals Over Alleged $230K Bitcoin Fraud

Two Indian-origin Canadians are charged in the U.S. with a $230K Bitcoin fraud using a fake Twitter account of HitBTC exchange.

Two Canadians of Indian origin were charged in the United States with a $233,220 Bitcoin (BTC) fraud using a fake HitBTC account on Twitter.

Scammers posed as HitBTC customer service on Twitter

Karanjit Singh Khatkar, 23, and Jagroop Singh Khatkar, 24, of Surrey, British Columbia, allegedly stole 23.2 Bitcoin from a woman in the U.S. state of Oregon, Indian publication The Week reports on Aug. 23, citing charges filed with the federal court.

According to the report, the defendants used a fraudulent Twitter account named @HitBTCAssist to midlead victims that they represented customer service from Hong Kong-based crypto exchange HitBTC from October 2017 until August 2018.

Using the fake HitBTC account, the alleged scammers reportedly convinced the woman to pass them her login data to take over her email, HitBTC and Kraken accounts.

Using the information, the defendants transferred over 23 BTC from the victim’s HitBTC account to Karanjit’s Kraken, who in turn sent nearly 11.6 in stolen Bitcoin to Jagroop’s Kraken account, the report notes.

Multiple charges

Now the two alleged criminals are facing various counts, including one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, five counts of wire fraud, three counts of aggravated identity theft and multiple counts of money laundering. 

While Karanjit was reportedly arrested upon arrival at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas in July 2019, Jagroop still remains at large.

Earlier this month, major global crypto mining hardware supplier Bitmain accused a crypto project of falsely using its name to promote a product dubbed Mangocoin and sale a product dubbed “Bitmain Cloud Miner.”

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Square Crypto Hires Blockstream Co-Founder, Open Source Bitcoin Dev

Square Crypto announced on Twitter that they have hired Matt Corallo, Bitcoin software developer and co-founder of Blockstream.

Square Crypto, the cryptocurrency-focused branch of mobile payment company Square, has hired Blockstream co-founder and Bitcoin (BTC) developer Matt Corallo. Square Crypto announced the news in an official Twitter post on Aug. 20.

Matt Corallo also commented on the announcement, saying:

“So excited to be joining the @sqcrypto team over the coming weeks. Experimenting with different models to accelerate Bitcoin OSS is awesome!”

As indicated in his Twitter post, Corallo is a Bitcoin Open Source Developer who previously worked at Bitcoin development company Chaincode Labs. Per his LinkedIn profile, Corallo has worked there for the past two years and 8 months. Additionally, Corallo is listed as the co-founder of Blockstream, a blockchain and Bitcoin development company where he worked for just under two and a half years.

Square Crypto’s teambuilding

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, who also founded Square, is looking to build a small team dedicated to improving crypto infrastructure. The team will reportedly include one designer and a handful of software engineers, and all of their projects will be open source. Square Crypto’s first hire was Steve Lee, who previously served as a director at Google.

Square aims to develop Bitcoin infrastructure

In a recent Twitter “ask me anything,” project manager at Square Crypto Steve Lee emphasized that his team is particularly keen on developing support for the Bitcoin ecosystem. Lee wrote:

“We are very, very pro-Bitcoin. There is more than enough work for us to do there. That said, we are open to emerging use cases and technologies that complement Bitcoin.”

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Bitcoin Twitter Handle With 1 Million Followers Renounces Bitcoin Cash

Bitcoiners give @Bitcoin a cautious welcome after years of pro-BCH rhetoric abruptly changes to BTC advocacy.

Bitcoin’s (BTC) best-known names are currently playing a guessing game after one of the industry’s most controversial Twitter accounts changed its views overnight.

@Bitcoin switches from Bitcoin.com to Bitcoin.org

Multiple users, including Reddit’s r/Bitcoin Subreddit moderator, BashCo, are supplying theories to explain the behaviour of the @Bitcoin account. 

@Bitcoin has almost one million followers, yet its name has formed a misnomer for years. Instead of promoting Bitcoin, the account has long maligned it in favor of altcoin Bitcoin Cash (BCH) after allegedly falling into the hands of major proponent, Roger Ver. 

As of press time Aug. 20, @Bitcoin redirects to pro-BTC website Bitcoin.org, instead of Ver’s Bitcoin.com

Ver denied any involvement with the account last year, while suggesting he knew its real owner. 

“He supports #BCH, is well known in the Bitcoin ecosystem, but doesn’t want to deal with incessant trolling so he has chosen not to make his identity public,” he tweeted at the time.

Now, Ver appears even less interested in its fate, according to his response to a call for help on Subreddit r/BTC.

“Don’t know,” he wrote when asked if there was anything he could do to make @Bitcoin change course to favor BCH again.

After that Reddit exchange, in a post @Bitcoin subsequently retweeted Tuesday, Autonomous Bitcoin AI #2357 provided another explanation involving Ver.

“Roger claimed in the past that he knows the current owner of the handle. So, he either must know what happened with the account or there was a fallout between them. Yet he doesn’t reveal any information and lets his employees run rampant on r/btc with conspiracy theories instead,” it reads.

Community smells a Bitcoin rat

Other social media sources remained skeptical. 

“Clearly it’s been sold at least once before. They are just trying to make the account more valuable. They are either responsible for leading the account to bcashers or they are borrowing the account now. I’m keeping them blocked,” the account for information resource Bitcoin-Only.com concluded on Tuesday.

According to another Twitter users, BTC Sessions, @Bitcoin has been messaging those who previously blocked it requesting an amnesty.

The guesswork is already attracting its fair share of satire, Litecoin (LTC) creator Charlie Lee suggesting Ver’s personal life lay at the heart of the matter.

“I have no proof of this, but I think the owner of @bitcoin must have had a romantic relationship with Roger Ver and recently broke up with Roger. That’s the only thing that can explain why @bitcoin stopped supporting BCH,” he tweeted.

The event comes as BCH and Ver face challenging times. While Bitcoin has risen from the ashes this year, BCH has failed to do the same, currently trading at all-time lows in BTC terms.

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Binance Jersey to Reward Hacker Who Compromised Its Domain Name

The white hat hacker who compromised crypto exchange Binance Jersey’s domain name and Twitter account will be compensated for cooperation.

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance will compensate the white hat hacker who compromised Binance Jersey’s Internet domain name and Twitter account.

Binance Jersey Twitter and domain compromised

In a post published on Aug. 16, crypto exchange Binance Jersey announced that a white hat hacker was able to gain access to the @BinanceJE Twitter account (the official Binance Jersey profile) and the platform’s Internet domain name. Still, the company was able to recover the domain name within a few minutes, and the Twitter handle in some hours.

Per the announcement, the hacker obtained access “by social engineering the email domain name service provider,” and then posted a few tweets from the company’s official account, deleting them later. Furthermore, the hacker was reportedly cooperative and open during his communication with the exchange’s security team, which allowed for the quick recovery of the Twitter account. The firm notes:

“We were able to restore the domain name within a few minutes and the Twitter handle a couple of hours later. We will issue a security bug bounty to the white hat hacker, as well as investigate the incident further with our service provider. […] All funds on Binance.JE are safe. No data was compromised.”

Binance

Screenshot of one of the tweets | Telegram channel Diddycarter’s ANN Channel

In one of the tweets from another account, reportedly controlled by the same hacker, they asked Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao to contact them personally. At press time, all of the hacker’s tweets have been deleted from Binance Jersey’s Twitter profile.

As Cointelegraph recently reported, the native token of crypto exchange Binance soared around 11%, despite the fresh rumors of a possible Know Your Customer data leak affecting exchange’s users.

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IOHK CEO Charles Hoskinson Announces Upcoming Release of Cardano v1.6

Charles Hoskinson, the CEO of IOHK, says that version 1.6 of Cardano is set to roll out within days.

Charles Hoskinson, a former CEO of the Ethereum Network and current CEO of IOHK, has announced that IOHK-supported project Cardano is rolling out version 1.6 within a few days’ time.

Hoskinson teased the upcoming launch in a Twitter post on Aug. 13. Hoskinson also asked users to send screenshots and comments on the latest version of Daedalus, which is an open source cryptocurrency wallet also backed by IOHK.

As per IOHK’s website, Cardano is a blockchain platform that uses the proof of stake algorithm Ouroboros. Its native cryptocurrency, ADA, is based on the functional programming language Haskell. Daedalus, for its part, is the only cryptocurrency wallet that supports ADA. Additionally, the website states that Daedalus can also be used as a wallet manager to organize and provide backup for other wallets and their assets.

A new project for Hoskinson

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Hoskinson announced during the blockchain conference Consensus 2019 that he would be working on a new project with the security token platform Polymath. The project is called Polymesh, and is reportedly an attempt to create a blockchain for tokens centered on meeting regulatory requirements. In the announcement, Hoskinson said:

“After co-founding Ethereum and Cardano, two of the most widely used blockchains in the world, I am looking forward to working on Polymesh. There are quadrillions of dollars of financial securities, and building a blockchain to secure them is an incredibly exciting task.”

Cynicism toward Facebook’s Libra

Hoskinson has also commented in the past on how he believes Libra is not going to succeed in its global aims, particularly within emerging markets. In an interview late June, he commented:

“Facebook has to come into countries it doesn’t know a lot about and convince them to enslave themselves to an economic monopoly and give nothing in return. And their only pitch is that you’ll pay less on fees. […] I’m going there and saying, ‘we’re going to rebuild all your systems so you have fraud-free land registration, better voting systems and improved supply chains.’ We’re already doing this stuff but it took years. These are relationship-based markets – and Facebook doesn’t have those relationships.”

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Justin Sun: Tron’s Listing on Major US Exchange Is #1 Priority

Justin Sun says listing Tron on more U.S. exchanges is his team’s number one priority as the community warns big investors are concerned.

Tron (TRX) founder Justin Sun has said that getting the cryptocurrency listed on the American version of Binance or Coinbase is his company’s number one priority.

The entrepreneur was responding to tweets from Tron enthusiasts on Aug. 9, with some claiming that investors were concerned that United States citizens will be unable to trade TRX on Binance.

Alarm bells also sounded after TRX was absent from a list of 30 digital assets being explored for the upcoming launch of Binance’s U.S. marketplace.

Questions from Tron community

Above a screenshot of Binance’s list in a tweet on Aug. 9, @TronSpark had written: “#Tron better get on this list or on #Coinbase ASAP. We all love Tron but we also need a place for US citizens to trade #trx.”

Two hours later, Sun replied: “Yes. It is our #1 priority now. We will have a full team including me dedicated to this matter. We will get all these things done with #TRON speed! #TRX $TRX.”

Sun also apologized for the delay, admitted Tron should be accepted on more U.S.-based exchanges and vowed his community will see progress on the issue by the end of this year.

Despite fears that Tron could become extinct in the U.S., TRX remains available on two compliant exchanges in North America: Bittrex and eToro.

Earlier today, Tron released the first version of its scalability solution known as the Sun Network. The solution will purportedly pave the way for 100x scalability and the building of decentralized applications on sidechains.

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Coinbase’s Professional Platform to Begin Listing Process for Algorand Token

The professional trading arm of Coinbase is scheduled to begin listing Algorand, a cryptocurrency developed by an MIT professor.

Major cryptocurrency platform Coinbase is adding the Algorand protocol’s eponymous token to its professional-targeted trading platform Coinbase Pro on Aug. 14.

Coinbase announced this latest addition in an official blog post on Aug. 9. The cryptocurrency exchange will scale up to full Algorand (ALGO) trading in four steps: transfer-only, post-only, limit-only and full trading. 

The announcement also recalls some other common procedures for adding a new token to its platform, which include announcing the onboarding phases as they occur on Twitter and that they will provide immediate support for Algorand in every supported jurisdiction with the exception of New York.

As per the announcement, Algorand is a cryptocurrency that aims to solve some common issues — decentralization, scalability and security — within current blockchain infrastructure. Algorand reportedly launched recently as of June and utilizes a permissionless, proof-of-stake protocol.

Algorand’s fundraisers so far

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, the cryptocurrency’s issuing organization, the Algorand Foundation, raised $60 million through token sales. Algorand additionally raised $66 million over the past year through venture capital firms, including Union Square Ventures and Pillar Venture Capital. The foundation is reportedly aiming to grow Algos’ market capitalization to $24 billion.

Algorand’s founder

As noted in Coinbase’s blog post, Algorand was founded by Silvio Micali, a cryptographer and Turing award winner. Micali is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has great optimism for blockchain as a high-security technology. Micali has remarked:

“Only a true decentralized system, where the power is really so spread that is going to be essentially practically impossible to attack them all and when you don’t need to trust this or that particular node, is going to bring actually the security we really need and deserve.”

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Cryptocurrency Lender Dharma to Postpone Accepting New Deposits and Loans

Cryptocurrency lending platform Dharma has put a moratorium on new deposits and loans, adding that they are still hard at work on their product.

San Francisco-based crypto lender Dharma has decided to pause new deposits and loans on its platform. 

Dharma announced their decision in a series of official Twitter posts on Aug. 7. Their second tweet in the series reads:

“For now, we’re pausing new deposits and loans in Dharma. If you have an existing deposit or loan with Dharma, you’ll still be able to access your account and will have the option to withdraw any funds that are not currently locked up.”

While not appearing to offer any further details, Dharma assured the public in the rest of their posts that they were “hard at work” and that the “next chapter of this story is going to be exciting.”

The launch of Dharma

Dharma is a relatively young company. In February, the firm raised $7 million from investors such as Coinbase Ventures. The Block Crypto additionally specified that the funds would go toward Lever, it’s platform designed to support instant margin loans for crypto traders and high-volume investors.

The head of the Dharma Labs’ marketing team, Max Bronstein, reportedly the claimed advantages of Lever as follows:

“Investors can take out loans against a number of different assets in sheer minutes, counter-party risk can be eliminated by smart contracts, borrowers can freely move their principal anywhere they’d like, and most importantly, all of this can be done at almost half of the cost offered by traditional lenders.”

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Dharma launched its public-facing lending service in April. In the announcement, Dharma said that its service was compatible with any wallet, but that only Ether (ETH) and the stablecoin DAI were currently available. At the end of May, Dharma announced that it added support for the dollar-backed stablecoin USDC.

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Online Sentiment Toward Crypto Market in 2019 — Attitudes Are Positive

A study reveals that more than 80% of all crypto related posts on Reddit are positive in nature, sentiment toward crypto on a rise in recent years…

Despite all of the bad press that the digital asset industry continues to receive on an almost daily basis, it appears as though the overall sentiment of the online communities in regard to this burgeoning domain is still pretty positive. For example, Comparitech — a research firm that provides its consumers with a host of specialized data that allows one to make more informed decisions — recently used a machine learning-based analysis tool to study more than 48K Reddit posts to determine which cryptocurrencies were viewed most favorably by the masses. Not only that, the study also took into consideration a total of 7,500 crypto/blockchain-related articles from a variety of different national and international media outlets.

All of the posts, tweets and articles analyzed by the researchers were scored on the basis of their positive/negative sentiment — primarily in relation to other articles included in the study. In this regard, there were a few notable trends that jump out at the reader upon first glance. While over 85% of the analyzed Reddit posts were deemed to be positive in nature, articles published by various mainstream media publications such as HuffPost, Business Insider and The International Business Times were, by and large, dismissive of the crypto market.

To get a better overview of the matter, Cointelegraph has reached out to Craig Russo, owner of Peer, a Boston-based startup that is behind the popular crypto and gaming media outlet SludgeFeed. When asked about what the overall sentiment of the average social media user toward the crypto industry (at large) was like, Russo pointed out:

“While there will always be different camps or schools of thought on the crypto industry, the overall sentiment across social media continues to be bullish, both on future price growth and mainstream adoption of the technology.”

A similar point of view is also shared by Sritanshu Sinha, an independent crypto author and analyst, whose work has been shared online by the likes of John McAfee and Kim DotCom. Sinha pointed out that the overall reception that the crypto industry has received thus far on forums such as Reddit and Twitter has been quite warm. He is also quick to point out that, since the Reddit community as a whole views itself as being anti-establishment, the platform’s users are usually drawn to crypto much more than your average investor. Similarly, in the case of Twitter, he believes that there are a few independent analysts who have hundreds of thousands of followers and therefore have the power to influence the community toward fostering a positive view regarding various altcoins/digital offerings.

Has the public views on crypto changed over the years?

Another pertinent question is how the crypto industry’s general perception has evolved since the novel asset class came into the spotlight a few years back. For example, it is no secret that all through 2018, investor confidence in this space has been dwindling. However, Russo believes that Bitcoin’s (BTC) financial upswing over the last eight months has been a turning point for the industry, especially across different social media outlets. Further elaborating on his views, Russo added: 

“This is in stark contrast to those invested in the altcoin markets, as many are in disbelief towards the poor performance of their assets. The regulatory environment definitely plays into the latter, as increasing pressure from the U.S. government has undoubtedly hurt investor interest in Bitcoin alternatives (i.e., Binance shutting down to U.S. customers).”

When compared to the previous years, the general sentiment toward the crypto sector has certainly become less hostile. For example, back in 2017, a time when Bitcoin was witnessing astronomical growth, the industry was still facing a lot of heat from many financial experts of differing pedigree. And while the market, at the time, was replete with countless scams (especially Twitter bots) such activities have largely died out now. 

As mentioned earlier, a host of recent surveys seem to suggest that more than 80% of all crypto talk online is positive. This number seems abnormally large for an industry that is usually on the receiving end of a lot of criticism from various traditional media outlets. Sharing his thoughts on the subject, Sinha pointed out:

“80% seems about right. Mostly, because that’s the nature of evangelism. Most of us on social media seems to be crypto-evangelists. However, positive sentiments and bull markets are highly correlated and they seem to be feeding off each other to create a positive feedback loop. If I have to prophesize, the 80% positive sentiment will not be the case during a bear run. Then the voices of the skeptics will become louder and sentiments will turn increasingly negative.”

Tweet interpreters are being used to gauge global investor interest

A number of hedge funds and asset managers are currently turning to software developers to help them interpret and harness sentiment signals to their advantage. Speaking to Reuters on the subject, Bin Ren — CEO of Elwood Asset Management — was quoted as saying that this latest trend of identifying price clues from tweets and other social media messages is slowly turning into an “arms race for money managers.”

To put things into perspective, it can be seen that the costs involved with conducting such types of research analyses are quite steep. As per Andrea Leccese, president of New York-based investment firm Bluesky Capital, a simple bot-driven Twitter data exploration can cost firms anywhere between $500,000-$1 million.

Will increasing regulations stifle the industry’s growth?

Ever since Facebook announced its decision to enter the digital asset market — via its much-hyped stablecoin offering called Libra, which is backed by the Libra Foundation — the regulatory noose surrounding this space seems to have tightened considerably. However, contrary to popular belief, a number of crypto analysts seem to believe that increased regulations can be a good thing for the industry. 

Cointelegraph spoke to Mohanned Halawani, the founder and CEO of Crypto PR, one of the first blockchain-specialized communication firms. He seems to be quite optimistic and believes that some of the latest regulations are actually quite advantageous for prospective investors, especially those regarding security token offerings (STOs) and initial coin offerings (ICOs). Halawani went on to add:

“The SEC has facilitated the emergence of Security Token Offerings which it felt was a more worthy investment vehicle when compared to traditional Initial Coin Offerings… Security tokens allow their investors to get information about the issuer on a fully transparent framework, providing complete visibility on all token allocations. Thanks to the regulatory benefits of these assets, authorities are beginning to their raise their standards among tradable asset classes and even support their implementation.”

Similar opinions are also provided by Joe Mercurio, project manager for Comparitech, who believes that the goal behind these regulations is to ultimately make consumers and businesses more comfortable with using cryptocurrencies on a regular basis. Mercurio shared his thoughts with Cointelegraph:

“I think that government entities will eventually adopt blockchain technology and new cryptocurrencies will begin to emerge. That said, I do believe that the market will remain volatile.”

Whether we like it or not, government regulations are crucial for any financial commodity — be it crypto or otherwise — to gain mainstream acceptance. And while these rules and guidelines may appear to hamper an asset’s growth at times, a majority of these regulations are a step in the right direction. Also, because Bitcoin and other digital currencies are basically tools for individual financial freedom, governments do not want to give up financial control over their citizens.

Simply put, when we see the history of such revolutionary technologies getting adopted by countries en masse’, we are sadly faced with a long and painful path that eventually leads to widespread human well-being.

How much of a role does social media play in shaping the public’s opinion on crypto?

Mercurio, whose core field of work includes the analysis of tweets and other online content to gauge public sentiment, is of the belief that there currently exists a strong correlation between the volume of social media posts related to a particular digital asset and its price. As part of his research, he claims to have often observed spikes in online articles when the price of a specific cryptocurrency changes. Mercurio went on to add:

“Social media posts remain more positive during times of price fluctuation compared to media coverage overall. Online enthusiasm regarding crypto has been overwhelmingly warm. We found that cryptocurrency-related subreddits were 55% more likely than media publications to have content with positive sentiment toward various cryptocurrencies.” 

In a similar vein, to look at the impact that social media influencers have on the crypto industry, we can turn to a few high-profile individuals such as Elon Musk and LA Chargers’ star Russell Okung, both of whom have been advocating for the widespread adoption of crypto for quite some time now. In fact, Okung has sent out several requests to the NFL, asking the league (since the start of 2019) to provide its employees with the option of getting paid in crypto — a petition that is backed by fellow NFL star Matt Barkley.

Looking ahead

It thus appears as though the crypto market will continue to grow, mainly because people want to find newer economic avenues that are free from the involvement of any corporations or government-controlled agencies. However, a lot of this growth will depend on the use cases that emerge from this space. Also, as social media continues to play an ever-increasing role in arenas such as politics and public affairs, there is no reason to doubt its utility when it comes to crypto adoption.