Four Fake Cryptocurrency Wallets Found on Google Play Store

Malware researcher Lukas Stefanko has found four fake cryptocurrency wallets on the Google Play Store that were trying to steal users’ personal data, according to a blog post published Nov. 13.

The apps were posing as cryptocurrency wallets for NEO, Tether and an extension for accessing Ethereum (ETH), MetaMask. They were purportedly designed to phish users’ mobile banking credentials and credit card information.

Stefanko classified the wallets into two groups, wherein the fake MetaMask app was a “phishing wallet” and the other three apps were “fake wallets.” Once the phishing app is installed and launched, it requests the user’s private key and wallet password.

In a video attached to the blog post, Stefanko explained his research into the “fake wallets,” noting the example of the fake NEO app dubbed “Neo Wallet”, which had over 1,000 installs since its launch in October.

The fake crypto wallets reportedly did not create a new wallet through generating a public address and a private key — which are needed to securely send and receive digital currency — but only displayed the attacker’s public address with no user access to the private key. Thinking that the app generated their public address, users would deposit their funds to that wallet, but were unable to withdraw them as the private key belonged to a cybercriminal.

Stefanko noted that the apps were developed using the Drag-n-Drop app builder service, which does not require specific coding knowledge from the user. This means that nearly anyone is able to “develop” a simple malicious app to steal sensitive personal data, “once the Bitcoin (BTC) price rises,” according to Stefanko.

The analyst states in the post that he reported the fake apps to the Google security team, after which the wallets were subsequently removed.

Just yesterday, Cointelegraph reported that the official Twitter account of Google’s G Suite was supposedly compromised to promote a Bitcoin (BTC) giveaway scam. Scammers reportedly spread a message luring users to participate in a fraudulent 10,000 BTC giveaway.



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Star Trek’s Captain Kirk Defends ETH Decentralization, While Fake Elon Musks Overrun Twitter

Coming every Sunday, the Hodler’s Digest will help you to track every single important news story that happened this week. The best (and worst) quotes, adoption and regulation highlights, leading coins, predictions, and much more — a week on Cointelegraph in one link.

Top Stories This Week

Elon Musk Impersonators Flood Twitter With Fake Crypto Giveaways

Although impersonators on Twitter pretending to be famous celebrities offering crypto giveaways are many, this week saw an influx of these crypto pretenders posing as Tesla CEO Elon Musk. After compromising verified accounts with the blue check mark, scammers would change the name and picture to appear to be Musk, asking in comment threads for people to send them small amounts of crypto in exchange for more crypto sent back in a fake “giveaway.” According to news reports, one fake Musk account received around $170,000.

China’s Central Bank Scrutinizes Crypto Airdrops, Questions Their Legality

The People’s Bank of China (PBoC), the country’s central bank, has begun to scrutinize crypto airdrops, which is refers to as “disguised” Initial Coin Offerings (ICO). This week’s report from the bank notes that the entity is strictly anti-ICO and crypto trading, noting the high risks of financial fraud and pyramid schemes. The report notes that “airdrops” are potentially evading the regulation concerning the public token sale model, adding that they capitalize on speculation in the market to drive their own profits.

Star Trek’s William Shatner Tweets Thumbs up in Support of Vitalik Buterin

William Shatner, the former Captain Kirk on popular American television show Star Trek, tweeted a thumbs up at Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Vitalik Buterin this week. The celebrity’s tweet led to backlash from crypto Twitter trolls that criticized the Ethereum network’s supposed centralization, leading Shatner to quote ERC standards in response. The 87-year-old Shatner then received kudos from other crypto Twitter participants for his seemingly in-depth knowledge of the network.

Apple Apparently Briefly Removes Crypto Podcast Reportedly Ranked #4 in Investing

The podcast “Off the Chain,” hosted by Morgan Creek Digital partner and crypto analyst Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano has apparently been removed from the U.S. iTunes store this week. According to a tweet from Pompliano, the podcast was ranked 4th in the “investing” category before it was “mysteriously” taken down. The episode, which contained an interview with “Bitcoin Maximalist” Murad Mahmudov about the current worldwide monetary system, is available by press time.

Joseph Lubin Thinks Blockchain Will Take “A Little Longer” to Develop Than the Internet

In an interview this week, Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin said that blockchain will “probably take a little longer” to develop than the Internet, because it is “much more complicated. Lubin, who is also the creator of ConsenSys, noted that blockchain is developing similar to the web, due to its exponential growth and the “hundred of projects” to date. Lubin also said that DLT will be able to “permeate society more than the Internet” and make way for Web3.0.

Most Memorable Quotations

“His viewpoints don’t take into account the fact that the code has to be audited by an auditing firm and approved by consortium or it doesn’t get accepted. He thinks it exists in a bubble.

That’s why we have ERC-20, ERC-721… ERC-1701”William Shatner (Captain Kirk), defending the Ethereum network’s decentralization

“We are NOT tolerant. We will not capitulate. We will not surrender. We will not negotiate. We will not end,”Craig Wright, speaking about his own Bitcoin Cash (BCH) faction before the upcoming hard fork

Laws and Taxes

Thai Revenue Department Plans to Use Blockchain to Track Tax Payments

Thailand’s Revenue Department is planning to track payments using blockchain and machine learning, utilizing the tech to verify the validity of taxes paid as well as increasing the speed of the tax refund process. The machine learning use will help to expose tax fraud and support more transparency, as a digital tax collection system based on modern technologies is a stated goal of Thailand’s government.

French Parliament Finance Committee Adopts Amendments to Crypto Tax Bill

The Finance Committee of the lower house of France’s parliament has adopted regulations this week that would ease taxes on cryptocurrency sales. The Finance Committee of the National Assembly has submitted a draft of the government finance bill for 2019, specifying that the tax on crypto sales will be equal to capital income tax. If the amendments to the budget are accepted in the hearings scheduled for next week, the rate will be reduced from 36.2 percent to 30 percent starting Jan. 1, 2019.

US Judge Ends Freeze on Charlie Shrem’s Assets Amidst Winklevoss Lawsuit

A U.S. judge has ruled this week to end the freeze on Charlie Shrem’s assets in a lawsuit brought against him by the Winklevoss twins. The twins alleged in their lawsuit that Shrem took part of their $250,000 investment in his now-defunct exchange BitInstant to buy 5,000 Bitcoins (BTC). Shrem’s lawyer has said that his client is innocent, and that the claims have “no basis in fact or law.” According to the Winklevoss’ lawyers, the freeze should continue as Shrem possess $12 million in crypto, real estate holdings, and other assets. However, at present time only $10 in assets have been identified.

Thailand’s Securities Regulator Promises to Certify One ICO Portal in November

The general secretary of the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said this week that “at least one” ICO “portal” will be able to operate legally in the country in November. Rapee Sucharitakul said that they “might” starting approving ICO offerings in December, noting that five such “operators” are currently under consideration by the Finance Ministry. Thailand’s legislation requires that the Thai SEC vet crypto entities like ICOs, exchanges, and “digital asset operators” who wish to operate in Thailand.

Adoption

Wallet Provider Blockchain.Com to Airdrop $125 Mln in XLM After Adding Stellar Support

Crypto wallet provider Blockchain.com will now support altcoin Stellar (XLM), accompanied by an airdrop of $125 in XLM to its user base. The provider noted that the large airdrop is a “great way to drive decentralization and adoption for new networks,” noting that crypto airdrops allow consumers to “test, trade, and transact” newer crypto assets without need to mine or invest in them first. The choice to add support for Stellar was driven by the scalability of the token’s network, as well as its ability to create custom tokens that represent “real-world or virtual goods and services.”

Decentralized Network Bancor Partners With EOS for Cross-Blockchain Trading With ETH

Decentralized liquidity network Bancor said this week that it had partnered with EOS in order to allow for cross-blockchain swaps between Ethereum and EOS-based tokens. Bancor has now expanded to the EOS blockchain, using its DApp BancorX for the conversation. Bancor noted that the cross-blockchain DApp was built in collaboration with LiquidEOS, Bancor’s EOS “Block Producer.” According to the press release, this conversion DApp paves the way for “vastly more blockchain” to be included in cross-blockchain trading.

Trading Platform eToro Releases Crypto Wallet Supporting Bitcoin, Three Altcoins

Global crypto and fiat trading platform eToro has released its own cryptocurrency wallet this week with support for Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin. The platform noted that they plan to add a “whole host of additional functionality” including additional crypto and fiat tokens, crypto-to-crypto conversion, and fiat deposits. eToro currently supports 14 total cryptocurrencies on its platform and has more than 10 million registered users.

Major Crypto Wallet Coinbase Launches Support for Basic Attention Token

Crypto exchange and wallet Coinbase announced this week that it would add support for a rollout of full trading of the Basic Attention Token (BAT) for its Android and iOS apps. As per the announcement, Coinbase customers can now buy, sell, send, receive, and store BAT on the platform, except for initially those residents of New York. Last week, Coinbase had noted the addition of inbound transfers of BAT to Coinbase Pro, specifying that the token would undergo four listing stages until it reached full access.

Mergers, Acquisitions, and Partnerships

Port of Valencia Integrates Maersk and IBM’s Blockchain Shipping Platform

The Port Authority of Valencia, Spain, has joined IBM and Maersk’s blockchain ecosystem, the TradeLens platform, which aims to apply blockchain tech to global supply chains. According to the announcement, the port has integrated into the platform as “Early Adopters,” meaning that the port will be a part of the platform’s early development. There are currently more than 20 participants in the TradeLens ecosystem, which has already reportedly processed 154 million “data-sending events.”

Deloitte Partners With Identity Management Startup for Digital ID System

“Big Four” accounting firm Deloitte has partnered with identity management firm Attest Inc. in order to create a blockchain-based digital identity system. The Chicago-based Attest offers a shared identity platform that allows its clients to conduct transactions, including its governmental customers, which can provide identity services to citizens. The partnership plans to develop a digital identity offering for government-compliant identifiers to be used for existing products, including a cryptographically secured identity storage wallet.

South Korea’s Bithumb Partners With E-Commerce Giant Qoo10 for Crypto Payments

South Korea’s leading virtual currency exchange Bithumb announced a partnership this week with Asian e-commerce fim Qoo10 to create a cryptocurrency payment service. Qoo10, which covers Asian markets including Singapore, Hong Kong, China, and Indonesia, will work with the Bithumb Cache system to purchase products through Qoo10. The two companies will use both the Qoo10 settlement service and the cache system, which is a password settlement service that allows Bithumb customers to convert their funds for use in payments with their password.

Nine Major Shipper Operators Launch Blockchain-Based Global Business Network

Nine major terminal operators and shipping companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop an open digital platform based on DLT. The MoU is aimed at forming a consortium of shipping operators to develop the Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN), noting that the software solution will be provided by Hong Kong-based shipping and logistics firm CargotSmart. The new alliance includes such shipping giants as PSA International, a Singapore-based company and one of the world’s largest port operators, and Shanghai International Port Group, leading operator of ports in China.

Funding Rounds

Major Mining Provider Bitfury Raises $80 Million in Closed Funding Round

Bitcoin mining infrastructure provider Bitfury raised $80 million this week in a closed funding round led by European venture capital fund Korelya Capital. Other participants in the funding round included South Korean Internet giant Naver Group, Asian institutions Macquarie Capital and Dentsu Japan, and Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital. The funding round comes several weeks after rumors circled that Bitfury was considering an IPO.

Winners and Losers

The crypto markets are seeing mixed signals, with Bitcoin trading for around $6,404.13 and Ethereum at $211 by press time. Total market cap is around $212 billion.

The top three altcoin gainers of the week are Traco, Pedit, and the Internet of Things. The top three altcoin losers of the week are Simmitri, empowr coin, and OBXcoin.

For more info on crypto prices, make sure to read Cointelegraph’s market analysis.

FUD of the Week

Turkish Police Arrest 11 in Reported Hack of Crypto Wallet Accounts

The Cybercrime Department of the Turkish National Police arrested 11 suspects this week while investing the alleged hack of crypto accounts, with victims reporting more than $80,000 in losses. 14 individuals so far have reported crypto wallet hacks to local prosecution authorities, noting that their Bitcoin had been transferred to other wallets. Police have since seized two fake identity cards, as well as a number of devices allegedly used in the hacks such as 18 mobile phones and SIM cards, 22 memory sticks, from the hackers. The investigation notes that it found the suspects by tracking new SIM cards registered to exchanges by the hackers.

Texas Regulator Issues Emergency Cease and Desist to Australian Cloud Mining Company

The Texas State Securities Board has issued an emergency cease and desist order this week to Australian cloud mining firm AWS Mining PTY LTD for selling unregistered securities. AWS Mining, along with many of its employees, are charged with violating the Texas Securities Acts by convincing Texas residents to purchase AWS’ unregistered cloud mining power contracts promising a “200 percent passive return on every investment.” The cease and desist notes that AWS did not follow through on its promised profits to investors, as well as failed to register as a securities broker-dealer.

Swiss Financial Regulator Recommends Banks to Set Crypto Risk Coverage at 800%

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) said in a report this week that banks and other financial institutions could calculate risk coverage for cryptocurrencies at 800 percent of their current market value. The confidential letter, seen by a local Swiss news outlet, noted that the recommendation for a flat risk weight at 800 percent are to “to cover market and credit risks, regardless of whether the positions are held in the banking or trading book.” The news outlet reports that 800 percent is at the upper end of the range, meaning that FINMA sees crypto as a volatile asset.

US SEC Charges EtherDelta Founder With Operating Unregistered Securities Exchange

Zachary Coburn, the founder of crypto token trading platform EtherDelta, has been charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with operating an unregistered securities exchange. EtherDelta has operated as a secondary marketplace for trading ERC20 tokens, letting users buy and sell digital assets using an order book and smart contracts on the ETH blockchain and placing a total of more than 3.6 million orders (some involving those considered securities) over an 18-month operating period. Coburn neither denied nor admitted the findings, but agreed to pay $300,00 in unlawful profits, as well as $13,000 in prejudgement interest and a $75,000 penalty.

Chinese Mining Giant Bitmain Sues Unknown Hacker for $5.5 Million Crypto Theft

China-based BTC mining firm Bitmain has sued an anonymous hacker for the reported theft of crypto work about $5.5 million from Bitmain’s account on Binance this April. As stated in the U.S. court documents, the “John Doe” hacker used stored Bitcoin after taking over Bitmain’s Binance account to manipulate the price of altcoin Decentraland (MANA) and then abscond with the profits. Bitmain notes that the hacker was able to steal $5.5 million in digital assets, including about 617 BTC. The documents also note that the hacker carried out transactions between BTC and MANA from Bitmain’s wallet and their own, completing the theft by transferring BTC from their Bitmain account into a digital wallet on Bittrex.

Prediction of the Week

Tim Draper Maintains Bitcoin Prediction of $250,000 by 2020

Venture capital investor Tim Draper said this week that he still believes that Bitcoin will experience 40 times returns and reach $250,000 by 2022. Although his initial prediction was for the coin to hit this price point in April of this year, Draper said that the industry merely needs to make it so that “Bitcoin could be used to buy Starbucks coffee” and the world will “open up.” Draper also added that he didn’t trust “political currencies” that are “determined by some weird political party,” adding that he sees a future with blockchain and smart contracts taking on a more prevalent role in states.

Best Cointelegraph Features

Morgan Stanley Report Shows Strong Institutional Investment for Bitcoin

At the end of October, multinational investment bank and financial services firm Morgan Stanley released a report on how Bitcoin has been a new “institutional investment class” since 2018. The report, which shows a relatively bullish outlook for 2018, brings attention to the stablecoin phenomenon, noting that not all stablecoins active currently will survive.

The SEC Stops Accepting Public Comments on Bitcoin ETFs, Takes Time to Make Decision

Last week, the cryptoverse buzzed with misinformation that the U.S. SEC was finally going to make a decision about Bitcoin ETFs. However, last week’s deadline concerned a close to the acceptance of public comments, leaving the SEC to now make their decision on the nine BTC ETFs on their own. Cointelegraph delves into the possibilities for the SEC’s decision, as well as looks into the root of where this deadline confusion came from.

Blockchain Advocates Storm Governors’ Mansions and Retain House Seats in US Midterm Elections

The U.S. saw midterm elections that week that led to the Democratic Party taking back the House, leaving the Republicans still in control of the Senate. Amidst the party lines, the governorships in both California and Colorado were won by crypto- and blockchain-friendly candidates Gavin Newsom and Jared Polis respectively. Beyond his strong blockchain policy push in his state, Polis (also the first openly gay elected governor), co-founded and co-chaired the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, a bipartisan group of Members of Congress. Electorally, the Caucus has done exceptionally well in the midterms: both of the co-chairs and 10 out of 12 regular members who stood for reelection retained their seats.



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Fake Elon Musk Accounts on Twitter Promote Bitcoin Scams, One Collects $170K

Several verified Twitter accounts have been hacked to impersonate Elon Musk today, Nov. 5, with one reportedly collecting almost $170,000.

After compromising verified accounts, scammers changed the profile name and picture in order to pose as the Tesla CEO. Scammers would then post in comment threads started by the real Elon Musk, so as to give the impression of legitimacy. Some of the scam tweets said that Elon Musk was conducting “the biggest” crypto-giveaway in the world for those who use “Bitcoic” (read Bitcoin), and provided a link to “participate” in the giveaway.

Screenshot of compromised Pathe UK account. Source: Business Insider

To skirt Twitter security measures, scammers subtly changed one of the characters in the name, while still maintaining a display name that appeared to be “Elon Musk” at a glance, preculding Twitter from automatically flagging the account.

Hackers reportedly compromised several different accounts, including those of film production firm Pathe U.K. and U.S. politician Frank Pallone Jr.

Daily Beast reporter Lachlan Markay reported that sources on Pallone’s campaign confirmed the account was hacked, albeit without any political goals saying, “Just looks like a Bitcoin Scam.”

He subsequently added that one of the BTC wallets used in the scams received $158,256 and that the payments “are still coming.” At press time, the address referred to by Markay had a final balance of 26.38 BTC ($168,930).

Pathe U.K. later confirmed that it had recovered control of its account and deleted the fake Elon Musk tweets.

Other high-profile individuals in the crypto and tech space have been similarly impersonated. In April, founder and CEO of Telegram Pavel Durov tweeted a warning, telling his followers that the messaging app was experiencing downtime due to its server clusters overheating. Durov’s tweet drew attention to fake crypto giveaway scammers who posed as the Telegram CEO and claimed to offer crypto to users as a “thank you for [their] support.”

In January, Twitter saw an influx of Litecoin (LTC) founder “Charlie Lee” impersonators, with multiple imposters posing as the LTC creator and promoting a fake LTC giveaway. Most of the scammers were using Twitter handles with names very similar to the real Charlie Lee, @SatoshiLite, such as @SatoshiLitez and @SatoshiLitee_.

In September, Elon Musk asked Jackson Palmer, the creator of Dogecoin (DOGE), to help him combat “annoying” cryptocurrency scammers on Twitter. Palmer replied almost immediately, urging Musk to reach out to him using direct messages. Later on, the creator of Dogecoin sent Musk a script that could purportedly solve the problem.



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How One Project is Fighting Fake ICO Reviews Using AI and Blockchain

On October 24, Revain, a service for collecting customer reviews, released a full-scale working 1.0 version of its Ethereum-based platform. As the project team reported to Cointelegraph, the 1.0 version is completely blockchain-based, containing a verification system and artificial intelligence (AI), among many of its other new features. “Users can see all of the reviews written in the blockchain on a special page,” reads the official press release.

The Revain platform was launched in order to change the process of collecting reviews from customers, by means of blockchain technology. The service is aimed to help new projects and startups obtain feedback from users. Specifically, the platform was designed for companies that have concluded their crowdfunding or ICO campaign.

Refining the Dashboard

The basic element of the Revain platform is its Dashboard, which allows startup teams to communicate with users and reward them for high-quality reviews. “We have been actively working on creating the Dashboard. There have been ten releases: versions 0.1 to 1.0 with a number of new features added,” the Revain team reported to Cointelegraph.

According to Revain’s previous press release, the Dashboard may be helpful for companies in various ways. Firstly, replying to specific reviews is a great tool for managing negative reviews and encouraging positive ones. Secondly, as the Revain team assures its users, a large number of quality reviews about a company will make it stand out among others in a very positive way.  

Revain is using AI to monitor the quality of reviews, with no third parties involved. The AI moderation system will be able to consider the tone of the reviews, as well as filter them based on certain parameters — such as emotion, language style, and social tendencies. “Revain AI filters out low-quality reviews and makes quality ones eligible for rewards,” reads the company’s press release.

Users are supposed to benefit from writing reviews on the Revain platform. In order to motivate authors to write reviews, companies can reward users with internal tokens called RVNs.

Revain has recently introduced its first premium service for blockchain projects and crypto exchanges which were designed to help them improve their reputation and perception among the crypto community. A premium subscription was the main part of the latest v0.9 release of the Dashboard. Besides the premium subscription, Revain completely redesigned the complimentary email and added the ability to share a specific review.

Due to blockchain technology — and Ethereum platform especially — all of the reviews cannot be deleted or changed, says the company’s website. So far, the platform covers a few kinds of reviews: ICOs, crypto exchanges, e-commerce, as well as FMCG companies and services. In addition to these, the company plans to add other sectors at a later.

 

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.



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Crypto Exchange Bitfinex Denies Allegedly ‘Fake’ Tether Volumes Listed on CoinMarketCap

Major crypto exchange Bitfinex has responded to a recent media report that accused the exchange of publishing trading volume data from “a market that doesn’t exist,” in a tweet posted Oct. 23.

The controversy centers on an article from crypto media outlet CoinDesk, which had alleged that Bitfinex’s data on popular crypto statistics aggregator CoinMarketCap (CMC) was misleadingly inflated by reporting on a stablecoin Tether (USDT)-U.S. dollar trading pair, which as of press time appears to account for $33,598,474 — or 18.30 percent — of a total 24-hour traded volume of $182,742,351.

The article had argued that since the exchange does not provide a USDT/USD trading pair, this was an intentional strategy to make it appear as though a large volume of such trades were occuring on the exchange. In fact, Bifinex users are only able to deposit and withdraw both Tether and U.S. dollars through their accounts, rather than execute such trades.

A representative from CMC disclosed that the data was derived from Bitfinex’s in-house public application program interface (API), and was represented in CoinDesk’s article as being “confused” herself as to the meaning of the data point.

Bitfinex has tweeted its response to clarify its position, with a link to the original CoinDesk article, stating that:

api.bitfinex.com/v1/movement_volume/tether … is the sum of USDt dep/wds to/from Bitfinex. We are not ‘publishing’ fake numbers; the API method is called ‘movement_volume’ and isn’t part of our ticker API. Not pushed by us, pulled by CMC. Another not-so-brilliant example of anti Bitfinex/Tether FUD.”

The API link that was provided by both the exchange and CMC’s representative to Coindesk does not lead to a live website as of press time. On Bitfinex’s website, it is noted that some parts of the API may require authentication.

Bitfinex has not responded to Cointelegraph’s request for a live link by press time.

Bitfinex has recently been prompted to deny rumors that it was “insolvent” or facing banking issues in response to reports that its banking partner, Puerto Rico’s Noble Bank International, was seeking a buyer and had lost both Bitfinex and affiliated firm Tether as clients.

The following week, the platform temporarily suspended all fiat wire deposits without providing a specific reason, although it had acknowledged in its prior statement that “complications continue to exist” for Bitfinex “in the domain of fiat transactions.”

The exchange’s circuitous history of banking relationships dates back to April 2017, when U.S. bank Wells Fargo & Co. allegedly refused to continue operating as a correspondent bank. Bitfinex then filed a lawsuit against the bank that was quickly dropped.

Tether, for its part, has faced repeated criticisms of inadequate transparency over its claims to be backed one-to-one by the U.S. dollar, with some going so far as to accuse the firm of covering up an alleged fiat reserve deficit in complicity with Bitfinex.

The rumors intensified when Tether allegedly dissolved its relationship with a third-party auditor this January. However, an unofficial audit in June reported that Tether did have the appropriate amount of dollar reserves held in an unnamed bank.

Crypto investor and entrepreneur Michael Novogratz recently remarked on the Tether transparency controversy just as the stalwart coin had briefly lost its U.S. dollar peg, at one point trading as low as $0.91, amid reports of investors’ “loss of faith” in the asset.



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Central Bank Refutes Fake Articles Claiming its Chairman Invested $1 Bln in BTC

Singapore’s de facto central bank issued two warnings over two fake news websites Tuesday, September 18, after articles were published with “fabricated comments” about crypto from Chairman and Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

The sites, Gulf Weed Crab and Positive Bath Hour, which feature hoax news stories on seemingly random topics, had claimed Shanmugaratnam was behind both a state-sponsored $1 billion investment in Bitcoin (BTC) and a “Hi-Tech Digital Project” for Singaporeans.

The websites have since appeared to withdraw the articles. Gulf Weed Crab’s headline, according to a screenshot reproduced in local media outlet Straits Times, read: “Tharman Shanmugaratnam Invests $1 Billion for All Singapore Residents,” with the other site’s article contained false information about a “hi-tech” digital investment.

Commenting on the episode, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) sought to distance itself from quotations erroneously attributed to Shanmugaratnam, reiterating the Gulf Weed Crab article’s content was fake.

“The website’s article on Bitcoins is highly deceptive and misleading,” it responded, stating:

“The statements attributed to DPM Tharman are completely false, apart from his observation that trading volumes in cryptocurrency are low in Singapore.”

Both of the offending articles had also asked for payment information from readers in order to send funds, and to sign up for a “Bitcoin account.” MAS’s second warning noted that “cases of fraudulent investments and other forms of unlawful activities should be referred to the Police [sic].”

Singapore continues to adopt a permissive yet prudent stance on cryptocurrency, with MAS and senior politicians noting they were monitoring the space and would apply stricter regulation if necessary for consumer protection.



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Recent Reports About Crypto Trading Desk Are ‘Fake News’

Goldman Sachs Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Martin Chavez said that recent reports about the company abandoning its plans to open a cryptocurrency trading desk are “fake news,” CNBC reported September 6.

At the TechCrunch Disrupt Conference in San Francisco, Chavez reportedly said that reports about the company’s intentions for a crypto trading desk were unfounded:

“I never thought I would hear myself use this term but I really have to describe that news as fake news.”

Rumors that Goldman Sachs planned to establish a crypto-focused unit by the end of 2018 were initially reported by Bloomberg in December last year. However, on September 5, Business Insider reported that unnamed sources said the firm is scrapping crypto trading desk plans due to an unclear regulatory environment in the crypto industry. Chavez suggested that the excitement over a potential trading desk may have been premature. CNBC quotes him saying:

“When we talked about exploring digital assets […] it was going to be exploration that would be evolving over time. Maybe someone who was thinking about our activities here got very excited that we would be making markets as principal and physical Bitcoin, and as they got into it they realized part of the evolution but its not here yet.”

While Goldman has been clearing and providing liquidity for Bitcoin-linked futures contracts from the CBOE and CME, Chavez said there needs to be a reliable custody solution before the bank can proceed with physical Bitcoin (BTC). He stated:

“Physical bitcoin is something tremendously interesting, and tremendously challenging. From the perspective of custody, we don’t yet see an institutional-grade custodial solution for Bitcoin, we’re interested in having that exist and it’s a long road.”

Chavez noted that the company is working on a type of Bitcoin derivative, non-deliverable forwards, which are over the counter derivatives settled in U.S. dollars. The reference price is reportedly the Bitcoin/USD price established by a group of exchanges.

The price of Bitcoin and other digital currencies plummeted following the news about Goldman Sachs cancelling plans for a trading desk, with total market cap dropping by $12 billion in an hour. All of the top 100 coins experienced losses over the last 24 hours. BTC is trading around $6,479, having lost more than 6 percent on the day. At press time, total market capitalization is around $206 billion, according to Coinmarketcap.



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France’s Interrogation of Alleged BTC-e Owner Alexander Vinnik Was ‘Fake’, Says Attorney

Alleged former owner of crypto exchange BTC-e Alexander Vinnik was indicted and subjected to a “fake” interrogation by French prosecutors on Tuesday, August 28, his attorney Timofey Musatov told Russian news outlet Izvestiya Thursday, August 30.

Musatov claims that his client Vinnik was brought to a court in Greece where he is currently awaiting extradition and then informed about official charges in France.

Musatov also told Izvestiya that French prosecutors attempted to hold a “fake” interrogation without informing his lawyers, which he insists was a violation of Vinnik’s rights.

He further explains that under Greek law only local security forces can conduct investigation procedures in the country. Vinnik’s attorney raises the question to reporters of why “French citizens though involved in prosecution can proceed with investigation in another country with no relevant permission.”

According to Izvestiya’s report, Musatov did not specify which particular accusations Vinnik is facing in France nor did he mention the questions Vinnik was allegedly asked during the examination.

Vinnik was arrested by Greek police in July 2017 under the order of the U.S. Department of Justice, who accused him of fraud and laundering $4 billion in Bitcoin over the course of six years.

As Cointelegraph reported this July, France charged Vinnik in absentia of “defraud[ing] over 100 people in six French cities between 2016 and 2018” and requested his extradition. That same month a Greek court ruled to extradite Vinnik to France, but his attorneys appealed against the court’s decision in the Greek Supreme Court.

At the time of Greece’s ruling, the Russian government also intervened in Russian national Vinnik’s case, asking the court to extradite him to his home country.

The decision over which country will eventually apprehend Vinnik is up to Greece’s justice minister. The next hearing will reportedly be held on Tuesday, September 4, in the Supreme Civil and Criminal Court of Greece.



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Central Bank, Gov’t Caution Public Over Fake Cryptocurrency Schemes

Multiple Chinese authorities issued a stark warning about illegal fundraising attempts claiming affiliation with the cryptocurrency industry in a bulletin Friday, August 24.

Sounding the alarm on “lawless entities” attempting to amass funds “using the banner of ‘financial innovation’ and ‘blockchain’” and distributing “so-called ‘virtual currency,’ ‘virtual assets’ and ‘digital assets,’” the document urges the public to be “rational” about blockchain-related information.

Its authors include China’s Banking Regulatory Commission, Ministry of Public Security and the People’s Bank of China (PBoC).

“Such activities are not really based on blockchain technology, but rather the practice of speculative blockchain concepts for illegal fundraising, pyramid schemes, and fraud,” it reads.

The document comes just days after authorities in Beijing announced they would ramp up efforts to block domestic access to cryptocurrency businesses located offshore.

A fresh batch of 124 platforms would be added to China’s Great Firewall, while the government is also taking steps to ban other activities which could be tantamount to endorsing cryptocurrency.

“The funds for these illegal activities are mostly overseas, and supervision and tracking are very difficult,” the most recent document meanwhile admits.

Despite focusing on genuinely illegal activities, the PBoC continues to ensure bonafide cryptocurrency businesses, ICO schemes and similar operators remain personae non gratae in China since bans on various facets of the industry came into force last year.



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How Blockchain Could Fix Facebook’s Fake News Problem


After the 2016 United States presidential election, Facebook started to receive flak for its possible role in Donald Trump’s victory. The usage of Facebook profiles for data analysis by Cambridge Analytica, the immense number of fake news articles on the site and the impact of confirmation bubbles meant that Facebook’s platform was being used to drastically misinform users about the world around them. Though Facebook has recently cracked down with their fake news problem, they still face many roadblocks.

Since Facebook operates as the largest community in the world, the company has an obligation to ensure information getting traction on their platform is accurate. With Mark Zuckerberg being called before Congress and the company coming under fire from legislators, Facebook needs to come up with some technical solutions that can help mitigate their fake news dilemma.

Blockchain technology offers Facebook a variety of ways to overcome information inaccuracy and tampering. Whether they develop a blockchain network to track individual node activity and verify information or integrate blockchain into incentive systems, the tech can help Facebook get back on the right track.

Identity Verification

One of the largest problems Facebook has been seeing is the rise of fake accounts and the usage of these accounts to do mass promotion. These accounts have been tied to the spread of fake news links through Facebook groups. While Facebook has already taken measures to utilize machine learning and artificial intelligence to spot and shut down fake accounts, integrating blockchain can boost these efforts.

With a blockchain network tracking identities on Facebook, individuals can have transparent assurance that their identity is not being stolen. Furthermore, Facebook will be better able to track and compare the actions of various accounts. If one bad actor is in charge of a variety of accounts, blockchain can spot and stop this activity faster than machine learning can.

Rewarding Content Creators

steem
Steem is one blockchain-based platform designed to reward content creators.

Steem launched as a blockchain-based social media network that rewarded content creators with financial incentives. This platform works similarly to Reddit and gives posters tokens based on the number of up and down votes they receive. Since posters are financially incentivized to minimize down votes and are rewarded for quality content, the social media network is able to sort out bad actors without external intervention.

Facebook could integrate a content-creation incentive system like this, where the highest quality content creators (influencers) are offered financial compensation for driving a large amount of positive engagement. On the flip side, the system would also track and purge content creators who cause the most problems and are frequently reported by the community. Overall, the system should help get more people adding quality content and reduce the amount of fake news and low-quality content.

Tracking Journalist Bias

RedPen is a project that will utilize blockchain technology to track journalists’ reputations and communicate that information to readers. The premise is that blockchain is able to analyze a person’s reputation and bias based on a set of data. The service can then offer insights about the reporter based on any particular bias they have. For instance, if a tech writer has written pro-Apple pieces in the past, that information will be communicated in his blurb when he does a review of the latest iPhone.

Facebook could utilize a similar approach of understanding what people are saying off of Facebook and treating that as a filter. For instance, if someone has a history of posting malicious or false information on a personal blog, that information should be communicated alongside anything they post on Facebook.

Using Crowd Verification

Trive is a social science global consensus engine that researches and clarifies facts and empowers users through cryptocurrency to discover truth through wisdom of the crowd. Combined with game theory, Trive will enable people around the world to research, verify and score the truth of almost any piece of information. 

Crowdsourced content verification acts as a normal spam filter on Facebook currently. It makes sense that sepcialize providers would be beneficial in helping monitor content as well as create an ecosystem that rewards people’s time and effort.

Analyzing Publication Bias

Finally, Facebook can work with major publication and content hubs to track the consumer sentiment on their articles and on Facebook to identify the quality of their publication’s content and any potential biases. Blockchain has the ability to crowdsource data and incentivize people to adjust their actions.

With blockchain, Facebook stands a chance of combating fake news and helping create a more helpful environment for their users. There are a number of different approaches they can implement, each offering a different set of product functionality. At least one of these solutions should be used to help track and stop bad actors in the Facebook network.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely that of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to CCN.

Images from Shutterstock

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