Thai Police Arrest Suspect in $24 Million Bitcoin Scam

Thai Police Arrest Suspect in $24 Million Bitcoin Scam

Thai police have detained 27-year old actor Jiratpisit “Boom” Jaravijit in an alleged $24 million cryptocurrency scam, Bangkok Post reported August 9. Jiratpisit is reportedly one of the seven suspects in the alleged crime, including his older brother and sister. On July 26, the Criminal Court awarded a warrant for his arrest following a complaint from a Finnish man that he had fraudulently lured foreigners into investing 797 million baht (nearly $24 million) worth of cryptocurrencies. Jiratpisit has been detained on charges of money-laundering activity, which he denies. The alleged cybercrooks reportedly promised to purchase shares in companies that invested in the cryptocurrency Dragon Coin. According to the Bangkok Post, investors did not receive dividends from their supposed investment or an invitation to a shareholders’ meeting. The Crime Suppression Division states that the criminals withdrew BTC from their e-wallets and then converted it to baht. Earlier this week, South Korean police raided the office Shinil Group, whose alleged crypto scam promised investors the spoils of Russian warship Dmitrii Donskoi, that sank 113 years ago. To encourage investors to purchase the company’s own cryptocurrency, Shinil allegedly promised to reimburse them with the gold from the ship. The coin reportedly attracted 60 billion won ($53.7 million) in investments from around 100,000 investors since its launch this year. However, there is no clear evidence that the ship contained anything of value. Recently, Tokyo-based security software manufacturer Trend Micro found BTC automated teller machine (ATM) malware available for purchase online. Trend Micro cites an advertisement posted by an “apparently established and respected” user on a darknet forum. For the price of $25,000, criminals could purchase Bitcoin ATM malware accompanied by a ready-to-use card with EMV and near-field communication (NFC) capabilities.

Google Search Can Predict Bitcoin Price Increases, Study Finds

Google Search Can Predict Bitcoin Price Increases, Study Finds

A recent study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) suggests that cryptocurrency markets move depending on the type of attention they receive – unlike traditional financial markets. In contrast with other traditional financial assets, cryptocurrencies don’t behave or respond to the same set of market factors as traditional financial instruments but instead, move more closely with “cryptocurrency specific factors,” according to the non-profit’s report, which was published this week. These factors include investor attention and market momentum, described as the “time-series cryptocurrency momentum at the daily and weekly frequencies.” The paper’s authors, Yale University economists Yukun Liu and Aleh Tsyvinski, suggest that, contrary to public opinion, “the markets do not view cryptocurrencies similarly to standard asset classes.” The paper cited CoinDesk’s bitcoin, ethereum and XRP price trackers (referring to XRP as “ripple”) as the source of its market data. Using price data series over multi-year time frames, the paper compared actual returns to the projected returns using a standard finance pricing model known as the CAPM. Liu and Tsyvinski go on to compare cryptocurrency returns to that of traditional currencies such as the euro, metals like gold and macroeconomic factors such as consumption growth. All of these result in statistically insignificant findings, suggesting a stronger narrative in other proxies, which Liu and Tsyvinski identify as the measure of returns a day or week prior. Essentially, the price increase across one, three, five or six days could be predicted by a single daily return, while a weekly return could predict a one, two, three or four-week market movement. Notably, this study incorporates data from consumer activity on search forums such as Google and social media sites such as Twitter. It found that a standard deviation increase in searches for keywords such as “bitcoin” forecasted a small increase in the token’s price in the following weeks. On average, a single standard deviation increase in the keyword search lead to a 2.75 percent price increase, according to the report. Similarly, a standard deviation increase in Twitter post counts resulted in a 2.5 percent increase in bitcoin’s price. On the other hand, a standard deviation increase in the terms “bitcoin hack” forecasted a small decrease in bitcoin’s price. Financial markets image via Shutterstock The leader in blockchain news,…

Illegal Activity No Longer Dominant Use of Bitcoin: DEA Agent

Illegal Activity No Longer Dominant Use of Bitcoin: DEA Agent

Regulation A special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has reportedly revealed that the use of bitcoin in illegal activities has shrunk to about 10 percent from 90 percent previously. This finding contradicts the popular perception of the cryptocurrency’s primary use. Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space New Data From DEA Agent A DEA special agent, Lilita Infante, has reportedly admitted that illegal activity is no longer bitcoin’s primary use. She is part of the 10-person Cyber Investigative Task Force, a team focusing on dark web and crypto-related investigations. The group collaborates with other units of the Department of Justice including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Infante explained to Bloomberg on Tuesday that five years ago when she started investigating cases involving bitcoin, “her analysis of blockchain data showed criminal activity was behind about 90 percent of transactions in the cryptocurrency.” However, she is now seeing the opposite: The ratio of legal to illegal activity in bitcoin has flipped…Now, illegal activity has shrunk to about 10 percent and speculation has become the dominant driver. “That doesn’t mean criminals stopped using bitcoin,” the publication noted. While the “total transaction volume associated with illegal uses has surged since 2013,” Infante reiterated: The majority of transactions are used for price speculation. Contradicting Popular Opinion Mainstream media have often described bitcoin as being used by criminals such as for money laundering and purchasing drugs and other illicit goods. According to Matthew Allen, ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Assistant Director, “HSI agents are increasingly encountering virtual currency… in the course of their investigations.” In a written testimony for a Senate Committee hearing on modernizing anti-money laundering (AML) laws in November last year, he wrote that among cryptocurrencies encountered were “anonymity enhancing cryptocurrencies (AECs).” In June, a high-ranking official of the U.S. Secret Service urged Congress to consider additional legislation to address potential challenges related to anonymity-enhanced cryptocurrencies. He claimed that some cryptocurrencies “have been used extensively for illicit activity.” In the same month, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill to help prevent the illicit use of cryptocurrencies. Citing the popular perceived use of bitcoin for illicit activities, Bloomberg emphasized: Infante’s findings contradict the popular perception.…

Overstock Shares Surge Following tZERO Investment Announcement

Overstock Shares Surge Following tZERO Investment Announcement

Overstock shares soared by 21 percent in after-hours trading following news that Hong Kong-based private equity firm GSR Capital will invest up to $270 million in tZERO, an Overstock blockchain subsidiary, CNBC reported Aug. 9. The two companies signed a deal wherein GSR Capital will invest up to $374.55 million in exchange for tZERO and Overstock shares. GSR will buy $30 million worth of tZERO tokens from the e-commerce retail giant and will аlso invest up to $270 million in the company at a valuation of $1.5 billion, giving the investment firm an 18 percent stake in tZERO. The stock jumped 4.47 percent during trading hours and closed at $38.60 per share. tZERO CEO Saum Noursalehi said in a statement: “We are honored to have GSR Capital as a strategic investor. The tokenization of securities has the potential to disrupt global capital markets responsible for moving hundreds of trillions of dollars. Together with our partners, we will globalize our blockchain-based platform, bringing more efficiency, liquidity, and trust to capital markets.” In June, tZERO signed a letter of intent with GSR Capital for the purchase of $160 million in tZERO security tokens at a price of $10.00 per token. tZERO also “entered into executed SAFEs [Simple Agreements for Future Equity] in excess of $168 million for Security Tokens, of which over $95 million has been already funded.” On August 6, tZERO announced the closing of its Security Token Offering (STO) at 11:59 PM EDT that day. tZERO originally limited the maximum amount of tokens to $250 million. The company initially introduced the STO in the form of an Initial Coin Offering in December last year, which attracted strong crypto and institutional interest that reportedly resulted in $100 million committed to the platform during the first 12 hours.

Bitcoin Cash Acceptance Grows — Dish Network and Flow Partner With Bitpay

Bitcoin Cash Acceptance Grows — Dish Network and Flow Partner With Bitpay

News This week Bitcoin Cash (BCH) proponents will be pleased to hear that more merchants can now accept bitcoin cash due to the crypto-payment processing firm Bitpay announcing a few strategic partnerships this week. The first announcement stems from the subscription television channel provider, Dish, who announced on August 9th that BCH is now accepted as a payment option after collaborating with Bitpay. Further Bitpay joined forces with the firm Flow.io and BCH payments can be used with global cross-border e-commerce platform on more than 60 different payment methods across 200 countries. Also read: Philippines Building Crypto Valley of Asia Television Network Dish Now Accepts Bitcoin Cash Bitcoin cash payments can now be used to pay for television subscription services with the company Dish after the firm announced migrating away from its former payment processor to Bitpay. The partnership allows Dish customers to utilize their bitcoin cash to pay for monthly subscriptions, and pay-per-view movie events. The company says as a push transaction customers must send the exact amount of BCH needed to make a one-time payment. John Swieringa, Dish executive vice president, and the chief operating officer says the reason they adopted BCH is for the same reason they adopted BTC back in 2014.      “We’ve added Bitcoin Cash just as we chose to accept Bitcoin to serve customers who have adopted a new way of doing business,” explains Swieringa. We have a steady volume of customers paying with cryptocurrency each month, and Bitpay will allow us to continue offering more choice and convenience to our customers. BCH proponents can use bitcoin cash to pay for monthly subscriptions with Dish and pay-per-view events. Flow.io Platform Users Can Opt to Accept Bitcoin Cash Another partnership with Bitpay that also adds more merchant acceptance to the Bitcoin Cash ecosystem is the company’s integration with the cross-border e-commerce platform Flow.io. The Flow business model is expanding its services to allow cryptocurrency payment processing through Bitpay. The collaborative effort enables Bitpay to process BCH transactions in real-time with more than 60 payment methods in over 200 countries on Flow’s application. “As an addition to Flow’s platform, bitcoin and bitcoin cash are ideal for international e-commerce payments making it easy to buy and sell goods from countries where traditional forms of payment…

Blockchain Startup Enables Litecoin Transactions via Telegram Messenger

Blockchain Startup Enables Litecoin Transactions via Telegram Messenger

Litecoin (LTC) transactions are now available via encrypted messenger app Telegram, Litecoin founder Charlie Lee tweeted today, Aug. 9. A bear market is the best time for people to work on adoption. Check out https://t.co/Ua8LQz9f4h. Send and recieve LTC on telegram. Eventually, it will support SMS also. Great work @ztxrepublic team! 👏 We build it and they will come. Adoption is key! — Charlie Lee [LTC⚡] (@SatoshiLite) August 9, 2018 The new Litecoin feature Lite.im was developed by blockchain startup Zulu Republic. Based in Zug, Switzerland, the firm develops decentralized applications (DApps) and “is an ecosystem of digital platforms built on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain.” According to a Zulu blog post, the new Litecoin feature will enable users to use Litecoin services with text queries via Zulu’s backend LTC API system. Zulu stressed that private key data is not managed by the the company, and instead secured with RSA encryption and the user’s private password. In the announcement, Zulu said that Lite.im will first be rolled out on the Telegram  messenger app, “the most secure messenger in the world,” adding that the app provides privacy that is “built in by default.” Lite.im will allow users to send commands to check their current LTC balance and send LTC to a wallet or an email address. In the future, the company aims to introduce LTC transactions via text messages (SMS) to enable operations on the Litecoin blockchain for customers with poor internet connection. The startup states that, out of the 64 percent of the global population that owns a mobile phone, only 33 percent have a smartphone with internet connection. Zulu stressed the decentralized nature of the upcoming feature, saying that it is targeting countries where “internet connectivity is scarce, where the web is censored by autocratic regimes, and where large segments of the population are marginalized by the conventional financial system.” The statement also says that users will be able to send Litecoin “to those who don’t already have a Litecoin wallet, or to those whose wallet address you don’t know, even if the recipient has no idea how to use cryptocurrency.” Currently the seventh largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, Litecoin is an open-source project that was released in 2017. The basic idea of the digital…

Overstock Blockchain Spin-Off Raises $134 Million – With Millions More Committed

Overstock Blockchain Spin-Off Raises $134 Million – With Millions More Committed

Overstock.com subsidiary tZero raised $134 million in its security token offering, the company said Thursday. The announcement – revealed as part of Overstock’s second-quarter results – was paired with a separate disclosure revealing that Hong Kong-based equity firm GSR Capital has agreed to invest as much as $400 million in both tZero and Overstock. TZero said earlier this week that it had completed its token sale, though the firm originally had set a goal of raising $250 million through the offering. During an earnings call, CEO Patrick Byrne reiterated a previous claim that tZero received $100 million in commitments when it first opened its token sale, saying “we did the very best we could … eventually we went to Asia. In Asia it was quite different. The first three people we met … all said ‘we’d take $60 million’ [but] it proved extremely difficult to get money out of Asia for many different reasons.” “That’s what slowed things down so much,” he said, referencing multiple extensions to the company’s token sale. Specifically, the deal would see GSR acquiring up to $270 million in tZero equity – at a valuation of $1.5 billion – as well as up to roughly $104 million in Overstock shares. As well, GSR has agreed to buy $30 million worth of tZero Security Tokens from Overstock, according to statements. Overstock first announced GSR’s intention to purchase equity in the firm in June 2018, according to a press release. At the time, Overstock said GSR would purchase $160 million in tZero security tokens. The company said that it ended its sale “raising $134 million in aggregate consideration,” adding that “this sum includes $30 million from repayment of intercompany debt between tZero and Overstock.” GSR is purchasing the same security tokens from Overstock that Overstock bought from tZero as part of “a repurchase agreement,” according to Thursday’s press release. CEO Patrick Byrne said that the funding would help support tZero efforts, particularly when accounting for the amount kicked in by GSR. “When GSR completes its planned investments, we should have over half-a-billion dollars,” Byrne wrote in a statement Thursday. “We believe this will provide ample capitalization with which to build a company that can upend global capital markets.” Editor’s note: This article has been updated…

Can Crypto Exchanges Be Trusted With Hard Forks?

Can Crypto Exchanges Be Trusted With Hard Forks?

On July 31, a Chinese Bitcoin investor sued local crypto exchange OKCoin for allegedly blocking him from getting his Bitcoin Cash (BCH) after the Bitcoin fork.   While the case is new for China, compilations regarding hard forks and exchanges have been amassing since perhaps as early as the DAO incident in 2016. So what happens when you have a coin that is about to be split into two, but you’re holding it on an exchange’s hot wallet? What’s a hard fork? Essentially, a hard fork is a change to the cryptocurrency’s protocol that makes previously invalid blocks/transactions valid — and vice versa — and therefore requires all users to upgrade to the latest version. In other words, a hard fork splits the path of the asset’s underlying blockchain, wherein the upgraded, separated blocks start following new sets of rules. Simply put, it’s the equivalent of a ‘reset’ button. There’s also a soft fork, which entails a change of protocol as well, although such forks can still work with older versions. Why launch a hard fork at all? Basically, it can be initiated to correct security risks found in older versions of the software, to add new functionality or to reverse transactions. The latter, for instance, was the reason for the infamous DAO hard fork, which will be described in greater detail in the next section. According to data obtained from Forkdrop.io, there are currently 116 forks, 74 of which are affiliated with Bitcoin. There are major ones, like Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum Classic (ETC) or Bitcoin Gold (BGD), that compete with the top coins and are commonly listed on the largest exchanges — they rank 4th, 12th and 24th respectively, as per Coinmarketcap. There are also smaller ones that are worth just a few cents, and are hence less likely to be featured on large platforms. Charlie Lee, the creator of Litecoin who previously worked at Coinbase, described how the platform would approach forks in the past: “With the ETC and BCH hard forks, it was clear that those two coins will be the minority fork, so it was safe to use a wait-and-see approach. So Coinbase didn’t support those forks initially. And only if there was traction on those forks would Coinbase spend the…

New Bill Proposes 5% Tax on Crypto Incomes in Ukraine

New Bill Proposes 5% Tax on Crypto Incomes in Ukraine

Economy & Regulation A draft law prepared by deputies and representatives of the industry aims to introduce light taxation of crypto incomes in Ukraine. Businesses and individuals will be required to pay 5% on their profits from trading and mining cryptocurrencies when exchanged to fiat. Add to that the mandatory ‘military charge’ of 1.5% all Ukrainians owe the state since the start of the conflict in the East. Also read: Poor Russians More Aware of Crypto Than the Rich, Poll Finds Ukrainians to Pay 5% Tax and 1.5% Military Charge on Crypto Profits Despite their increasing popularity, cryptocurrencies are not yet legalized and regulated in Ukraine. The country’s growing crypto sector is expecting authorities to do that as soon as possible but officials in Kiev have been slow to grasp the phenomenon and figure out what to do with it. Three bills are stuck in the Rada since last October and a fourth one is expected to be filed this September. Now when Ukraine is getting closer to adopting regulations after the approval of a regulatory concept last month, a new draft law addresses the aspects of taxation. A group of deputies led by Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksiy Mushak and two dozen representatives of the crypto business are working on the bill which proposes а temporary tax regime in the sector. The authors want it to be enforced in 2019 and remain in place until 2025. The draft envisages the introduction of a 5% tax rate on profits from cryptocurrency trading and mining, Liga Business reported. The tax will be levied at the difference between the buying and selling price of digital assets, and the difference between mining income and mining expenses. It will be due only when the crypto funds are exchanged to fiat or in case of payments for goods and services, including property. Crypto-to-crypto transactions will not be taxed. According to Mushak, the crypto industry has a positive attitude toward the proposals in the legal document. “The state shouldn’t touch the exchange between cryptos but the exit to fiat, the real sector, and the purchases of goods. 5% sounds optimal. In fact – this is the price to pay for the legalization of income from dealings in crypto,” says Artiom Afyan, managing partner…

Overstock Blockchain Spin-Off Raises $134 Million – With $370 Million More Committed

Overstock Blockchain Spin-Off Raises $134 Million – With $370 Million More Committed

Overstock.com subsidiary tZero raised $134 million in its security token offering, the company said Thursday. The announcement – revealed as part of Overstock’s second-quarter results – was paired with a separate disclosure revealing that Hong Kong-based equity firm GSR Capital has agreed to invest as much as $400 million in both tZero and Overstock. TZero said earlier this week that it had completed its token sale, though the firm originally had set a goal of raising $250 million through the offering. Specifically, the deal would see GSR acquiring up to $270 million in tZero equity – at a valuation of $1.5 billion – as well as up to roughly $104 million in Overstock shares. As well, GSR has agreed to buy $30 million worth of tZERO Security Tokens from Overstock, according to statements. Overstock first announced GSR’s intention to purchase equity in the firm in June 2018, according to a press release. At the time, Overstock said GSR would purchase $160 million in tZero security tokens. The company said that it ended its sale “raising $134 million in aggregate consideration,” adding that “this sum includes $30 million from repayment of intercompany debt between tZero and Overstock.” GSR is purchasing the same security tokens from Overstock that Overstock bought from tZero as part of “a repurchase agreement,” according to Thursday’s press release. CEO Patrick Byrne said that the funding would help support tZERO’s efforts, particularly when accounting for the amount kicked in by GSR. “When GSR completes its planned investments, we should have over half-a-billion dollars,” Byrne wrote in a statement Thursday. “We believe this will provide ample capitalization with which to build a company that can upend global capital markets.” CoinDesk is monitoring this developing story. Image via Shutterstock The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.