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  • Bitmain is a renowned company in the cryptocurrency industry. Their main bread and butter revolves around creating specialized mining equipment. This company has also filed a lawsuit against unknown individuals. This filing comes on the heels of the company’s Binance account being hacked and funds being stolen.Bitmain Seeks JusticeCryptocurrency exchange hacks have become all too common over the years. In most cases, individual users are affected. Every now and then, however, companies associated with projects or companies can be abused as well. For Bitmain, its Binance account was compromised by an unknown individual. Because of this intrusion, the mining manufacturer lost 617 bitcoins, worth roughly $5.5 million at the time of the theft.It is believed the stolen funds were not converted to US Dollars. Instead, the lawsuit claims, these funds were moved tot he Bittrex exchange. The hacker used this latter platform to heavily inflate the price of a relatively unpopular altcoin called MANA. It is unclear if this is an attempt at laundering money, or if it serves a more nefarious purpose. Bitcoin’s transparent nature makes it very easy to track the origins and destinations of specific transactions.For an unknown reason, the Binance account “hacker” did not empty Bitmain’s account entirely. Instead, he, she, or they left over 200 Bitcoin in the account belonging to Bitmain. Why that was done in such a manner, remains unclear to this very date. Bitmain alleges this confirms the culprit clearly intended fraud and was intent on causing damages to the firm itself.Finding the Real Culprit is DifficultThe lawsuit stands out for another reason as well. Bitmain officially filed it against “John Doe”. This confirms neither the company nor its legal representatives know the real identity of the culprit. Filing the lawsuit in Washington is not done randomly, though. Bittrex, one of the exchanges involved in this defrauding scheme, is based in Seattle, Washington.
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  • MUFG via its wholly owned subsidiary – Banco MUFG Brasil, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Banco Bradesco S.A. to use Ripple technology in a new international payment corridor between Japan and Brazil. This news is the latest adoption case for Ripple in the banking industry.Cross-Border Payments Using RippleIn a press release published on Friday (November 9, 2018), MUFG, the banking arm of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Japan and the world’s fifth largest bank, announced its partnership with Banco Bradesco S.A., one of the largest banks in Latin America. The partnership enables a new Ripple-based cross-border payment network between both banks.A portion of the statement reads:Through this MOU, MUFG Bank has decided to start the collaborative development for cross-border payments between Japan and Brazil, utilizing Ripple’s cutting-edge technology. The new payment system – developed by Ripple, a San Francisco-based software vendor – will assist the banks as they work towards commercializing a high-speed, transparent, and traceable cross-border payment solution between Japan and Brazil.According to the press release, this new payment corridor is an extension of the already existing collaboration between both banks. MUFG first got into business with Bradesco in 1973 when the former invested in latter.
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  • A customer of a London-based blockchain company sent a letter bomb to its employees just because the firm had refused a request for a password reset.The Chilling IncidentIn a scary case that has come to light, a man has been sentenced to six and a half years in prison for sending a homemade bomb to a Bitcoin firm in London. Thankfully, no one was hurt by the potentially lethal device, reports the BBC.The perpetrator by the name Jermu Michael Salonen and aged 43 was found to be a Swedish national. The Stockholm District Court has sentenced him to six and a half years prison term.Multiple charges were slapped on Salonen including sending white powder to Swedish lawmakers in 2017. One of the recipients happened to be the Swedish Prime Minister.The Reason Behind the EpisodeLaw enforcement agency which conducted the investigation found a queer motive behind the action.
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  • Cryptocurrency users are often targeted by criminals. Especially those users who rely on exchanges to manage and store funds. A new lawsuit filed against AT&T and T-Mobile is of great interest in this regard. The lawsuit alleges that neither company did enough to prevent the SIM swapping attacks that resulted in the theft of more than $1 million in cryptocurrency.What is SIM Swapping?Theft of cryptocurrencies occurs in many different ways. One notably popular trend involves hijacking existing exchange user accounts. These accounts are often protected by two-factor authentication. For most exchanges, that equals to sending a text message to a mobile phone number associated with the user’s account. It is a relatively secure method, but one that can also backfire.Dozens of cryptocurrency users have fallen victim to SIM swapping over the years. Criminals claim phone numbers as their own by verifying the owner’s identity. The necessary information to do so is usually obtained through social engineering or from social media platforms. Providers such as AT&T and T-Mobile are now charged with negligence when it comes to these SIM swapping attempts.According to the lawsuit, several cryptocurrency investors have filed a lawsuit. Silver Miller is the firm spearheading this case at this time. Both providers face charges of “helping thieves in remotely taking over SIM cards”. In virtually all cases, cryptocurrency funds have been lost in the process. One user lost roughly $621,000 due to such a SIM swapping attack.Account Security Needs to ImproveAlthough two-factor authentication is a good measure, it is not always implemented correctly. Most cryptocurrency exchanges still consider this an optional step. Instead, they should enforce this method upon users to keep their funds safe. Secondly, moving away from text-based verification is another option worth considering. Google Authenticator or other solutions are equally secure and convenient.
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  • The Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) in Zambia have arrested three individual directors of the cryptocurrency firm Heritage Coin Resources Limited on the charge of laundering approximately 28,000,000 kwachas, the country’s official currency. This is equivalent to more than $2.3 million in USD.So, Who’s in Trouble, Here?In a statement released on November 2, 2018, DEC assistant public relations officer Chibu Mwansa Tembo explained that the group had been garnering funds under false pretenses and are believed to have participated in several other financial crimes, such as operating a financial services firm without the proper license.The persons charged include 35-year-old Hilda Agnes Raubenheimer of Salama Park; 29-year-old Orient Rio of Ibex Hill, and 40-year-old Tapiwa Chirwa, who served as the firm’s primary managing director. Tembo commented that the three had been jointly charged for:…Providing banking business, financial business or financial services without a license, conducting or participating in a money circulation scheme, obtaining money by false pretenses and money laundering contrary to the laws of Zambia.The Dates and DetailsIt is estimated that between the dates of June 1, 2018 and October 15, 2018, the three individuals worked with financial industry leaders (unnamed in the statement) to provide monetary services to the public by collecting deposits from customers which were disguised as partnership fees.
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  • In a bizarre incident, the principal of a Chinese school was sacked for running a cryptocurrency mining operation using the school’s electricity and internet.The Lure of MiningThe principal of a school in China has been sacked from his job, and his deputy given a warning after both were found guilty of using the school’s electricity and the internet to carry our cryptocurrency mining within school premises.The queer incident was reported earlier by the South China Morning Post. According to the article, the mining operation which had been running for over a year incurred a massive electricity bill amounting to 14,714 yuan (US$2,120) for the school.How It All StartedLei Hua, Principal, Puman Middle School in Chenzhou, Hunan province decided last year to mine Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization.He spent 10,000 yuan (US$1,440) on buying a mining rig, only to find that he could not afford to pay for the power that the machine was consuming.
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  • Blockchain technology has been in existence for close to 10 years now. Yet adoption levels are still low. Ex-president and board member of overstock.com shares his perspective.Perspectives of an Early AdopterOctober 31st was celebrated as the 10th anniversary of the Bitcoin white paper being published by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto. By January of 2009, the initial version of the protocol was released.However, we are still far from its mass adoption. Overstock.com was one of the major early adopters of bitcoin as a method of payment.Jonathan Johnson, the ex-president and board member at Overstock and President at Medici Ventures was part of the decision to embrace the technology.In an article published on Techcrunch, Johnson shared the three challenges that according to him need to be addressed before the full potential of blockchain technology can be realized.
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  • Government agencies continue to target ICOs for potent rule violations. In Colorado, the Division of Securities has flagged four projects as potentially suspicious. These ICO projects are currently subject to a cease and desist order, bringing the total to twelve so far. It is another big step toward legitimizing initial coin offerings in the United States.More ICOs Faces Regulatory ScrutinyIn the United States, a proverbial crusade against illicit ICOs is taking shape. The SEC is clamping down on every company violating securities guidelines or defrauding investors. Individual US states also take similar measures if the need arises. For Colorado’s Division of Securities, four projects are on the radar and received cease and desist orders this week.These companies are flagged by the ICO Task Force. This unit is created to investigate potentially fraudulent activity. In the case of these four companies, there are some serious concerns to take into account. Bitcoin Investments guarantees daily returns to investors. Pinkdate offers dividends to investors without filing with the correct authorities. For Prisma, the situation is a bit different. Investors can earn hefty returns due to the company’s lending and arbitraging model. Last but not least, Clear Shop Vision is a serial ICO company. They have organized three different funding rounds throughout the second half of 2018. This is considered an unregistered securities offering and is thus subject to additional scrutiny.The ICO Industry Needs More ScrutinyThe action undertaken in Colorado is an important step. Weeding out the potentially nefarious projects from the ICO industry needs to be the top priority. Even though there is more work to be done, efforts like these show a proactive approach is warranted. A cease and desist can ensure no investors lose money in the process.The lack of nationwide initial coin offering regulation remains a problem. In the United States, no domestic crypto regulation exists. As such, individual states often draft their own laws and guidelines. That makes it somewhat complicated for genuine companies to operate. Moreover, it allows for ICOs like these to almost slip through the mazes of the net.
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  • Singapore Stock Exchange and the government-owned Temasek have invested in a blockchain platform that will connect investors with firms offering security tokens.ICHX Tech Secures Funding for New PlatformICHX Tech, a Singapore based blockchain infrastructure company has announced investments from the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX) and Heliconia Capital Management, a subsidiary of Temasek Holdings.The announcement was made earlier on Thursday by ICHX on its website. ICHX is being incubated by leading Singapore investment firm ICH Group.The funds have been raised for iSTOX, a capital markets platform that aims to become the first regulated platform in Asia to offer issuance and trading of security tokens.Speaking about this latest development, Danny Toe, Chief Executive Officer at ICHX Tech, said:
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  • The leading technology firm will work with the data storage company to put hard drive information on the blockchain to fight the counterfeit market. IBM and Seagate Join HandsThe US-based IT giant, International Business Machines (IBM), has announced a partnership with Seagate, a leading data storage company to build a blockchain-powered system that will help identify counterfeit hard drives.The development which was reported by ZDNet will help Seagate in traceability and authentication of hard drives.IBM’s existing blockchain platform and the security technology from Seagate will be used to build a solution that will help in addressing the issue of counterfeit devices.The solution will also improve security and compliance for the firm’s customer organizations that use the hard drives.
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  • The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says it isn’t going to be swayed by technical definitions when it comes to its oversight of cryptocurrency exchange platforms. This pronouncement comes barely a day after the Commission brought up charges against the founder of EtherDelta – a decentralized virtual currency trading platform.Centralized/Decentralized Exchanges – Semantics and Nothing MoreIf you thought running a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange (DEX) exempted you from SEC oversight, think again. As far as the Commission is concerned, the issue of centralized and decentralized exchanges is simply semantics.Speaking to Forbes, the head of the SEC’s cyber unit, Robert Cohen, said:The focus is not on the label you put on something or the technology you’re using. The leveled is on the function, and what the platform is doing. Whether it’s decentralized or not, whether it’s on a smart contract or not, what matters is it’s an exchange.Cohen’s statements refer to decentralized or blockchain-based cryptocurrency exchanges and ensuring that they comply with existing regulations. For the SEC, the crux of the matter revolves around operating unregistered exchanges.
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  • France appears ready to consider giving Bitcoin owners in the country a tax cut. This move comes as regulators in the country wish to streamline all non-real estate-related tax requirements. Tax Cut for Bitcoin ‘Hodlers’According to Reuters, the lower House of Parliament in France is looking to cut taxes for Bitcoin owners. On Wednesday (November 7, 2018), the House’s Finance Commission adopted a reduction of the capital gain taxes on the sale of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. This move formed part of the Commission’s amendment to the country’s 2019 budget bill.Based on this development the capital gains tax on cryptocurrency sales will drop from 36.2 percent to 30 percent. Thus, Bitcoin and other digital currencies will now be in the same tax bracket as other non-real estate assets.The new tax provision hasn’t been passed into law. For now, it is merely a part of the amended 2019 budget bill. If the bill is passed into law, then the new tax percentage for cryptocurrencies in France becomes legally binding.Apart from Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrency exchanges, taxation is another cardinal aspect of virtual currency regulation for many countries. However, not many have been able to create a clear regulatory framework for cryptocurrency taxes.
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  • JPMorgan has listed three companies it believes are ideally positioned to deliver blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) to potential investors.Full Faith in the TechnologyThe Wall Street bank is one finance institution that is embracing the blockchain.Through its Interbank Information Network (IIN), JPMorgan is aiming to streamline the firm’s global payments process by reducing delays. In September, it was reported that the bank had attracted 76 banks to join its blockchain-based financial application.Now, in its continued enthusiasm for the technology, it has listed three companies it believes will deliver blockchain-as-a-service to potential investors, reports CNBC.In a note to clients, Sterling Auty, JPMorgan software equity research analyst, said:
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  • President Heine of the Marshall Islands believes that cryptocurrencies aren’t the reason for her upcoming vote of no confidence, Chinese interference is.Usually, when you put ‘crypto’ and ‘China’ in the same sentence, it’s not going to result in anything good. This seems to be the case for the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and its president, Hilda Heine.Live Bitcoin News recently reported that Heine will be subjected to a vote of no confidence come the 12th of November. This comes after eight senators accused Heine of tarnishing the reputation of the RMI with her proposed introduction of a state-backed virtual currency, the Sovereign (SOV).Threat to IndependenceHowever, according to The Guardian, Heine has now broken her silence and has said the vote has nothing to do with cryptocurrencies and more to do with Chinese interference.It is reported that the remote coral atoll of Rongelap in the RMI has hopes of becoming a hub for foreign investors. In fact, the mayor of the atoll, James Matayoshi, attended the Asia World Expo in April to discuss plans for the redevelopment of the atoll, which was previously used as a nuclear testing site for the U.S. when the RMI was still under administration by the country.
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  • In another incident of what appears to be an exit scam, a South Korean exchange that collected over $2.8 Million in an ICO has suddenly shut down.One More Exit ScamICOs have become an easy way for fraudsters to rob gullible investors of their hard-earned money. The latest incident has been reported from South Korea where a cryptocurrency exchange Pure Bit has shut down overnight after raising over 13,000 Ethereum in an ICO.At the current market value of Ether, the amount swindled works to around $2.8 Million.The incident was reported by Techcrunch earlier today. According to the article, the project had committed to deliver their native “Pure Coin” to the investors.According to Pure Bit model, token holders would receive a share of the profit generated, and a discounted fee would apply to them.
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