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Indian Police Arrested ”Crypto King” Who Traded Drugs for Bitcoin

India’s Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) arrested Makarand Pardeep Adivirkar, better known as the ”Crypto King”, on suspicion of purchasing drugs from the Darknet using bitcoin. Apart from Indian peddlers, the criminal also bought narcotics from European ones.

LSD for BTC

The NCB announced that it arrested a suspect who allegedly exchanged bitcoin for LSD. He was later identified as Makarand Pardeep Adivirkar, a.k.a. the ”Crypto King”. The criminal operated on the notorious Darknet, where numerous outlaws trade illegal substances like drugs and weapons:

”His modus operandi was to receive cash, and provide bitcoins on marginal profits by using his wallet that was used to purchase drugs from the Darknet.”

The investigation revealed that it found 20 LSD blots in Kharodi Village, Malad. The Director of the Mumbai Unit of NCB – Sameer Wankhede – informed that the ”Crypto King” has connections with European drug dealers as he bought the narcotics from Europe:

”In November 2020, a team of NCB Mumai had seized 20 LSD blots from Kharodi Village in Malad. The seized psychotropic substance was purchased from Europe by using bitcoin.”

The NCB will conduct a further investigation on the case. As of the moment, it remains unclear what punishment Adivirkar will face.

The Dark Side of Crypto

Recently, another suspect was arrested for processing $25 million worth of BTC illegally. Kais Mohammad – a resident of the luxurious part of Los Angeles Orange County – will spend the next 24 months in federal prison for operating an illegal BTC ATM service.

The criminal, also known as ”Superman29” pleaded guilty to the charges of operating unauthorized money transmitting business, money laundering, and so forth.

Mohammad was the leader of the illegal digital currency money services business – Herocoin – from December 2014 to November 2019. During this period, he offered Bitcoin-to-cash exchange services, charging fees of up to 25 percent – significantly above the usual market rate.

Interestingly, most of his clients were criminals and he never cared about the source of their funds. The US authorities even put into action undercover agents, who reached out to the outlaw for his services. They told him that their money comes from prostitution, human trafficking, and dark web activities, but Mohammad still did business with them and exchanged the cryptocurrency.

In addition to the two years that he has to spend behind bars, ”Superman 29” also agreed to give over 17 BTC ATMs, 18.5 BTC, 222.5 ETH, and $22,820 in cash to the authorities.

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Revised Bill ‘On Virtual Assets’ Aims to Regulate Ukraine’s Crypto Space This Summer

The Ukrainian parliament has released an updated version of the draft law “On Virtual Assets.” The revised bill requires exchanges to obtain government authorization, disclose their ownership and implement mandatory KYC procedures. The document has been criticized by regulators in Kyiv but the government wants the legislation passed before the parliament’s summer break.

Draft Law Proposes Regulations for Cryptocurrencies in Ukraine

Ukrainian lawmakers have revised the draft law designed to regulate the country’s expanding crypto space. The deputies have introduced a number of amendments since December when it was voted on first reading in the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament. The latest version of the document was released this week by the parliamentary Digital Transformation Committee which recommended its adoption.

The bill recognizes a virtual asset as an “intangible good” that has value and is an “object of civil circulation,” Forklog reported. Virtual assets can “certify property or non-property rights,” including “rights to claim other objects of civil rights,” the publication detailed. The draft also distinguishes between financial instruments and virtual assets backed by currencies.

One of the key regulations concerns cryptocurrency exchanges and exchangers. To operate legally, they will have to be authorized by the Ministry of Digital Transformation. Crypto service providers will be obliged to reveal their ownership structure and monitor financial transactions to prevent money laundering. The permits will be valid for a period of one year. Russian platforms will not be allowed to do business in Ukraine.

Another important aspect is the introduction of mandatory identification and verification procedures. As part of the know-your-customer (KYC) process, individuals will be required to provide IDs, bank accounts and information about their electronic wallets. Companies will also have to share their business registration numbers. Trading platforms that do not currently carry out client verifications will have to update their onboarding procedures to comply with the law.

Revised ‘Virtual Assets’ Bill Draws Criticism From Ukrainian Regulators

The authors of the new legislation have tasked the Ministry of Digital Transformation, the National Securities and Stock Market Commission (NSSMC), and the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) with oversight of the law’s implementation. NSSMC and NBU representatives have criticized the draft and called for further revisions in correspondence with the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, Dmytro Razumkov.

The central bank has pointed out that the bill “On Virtual Assets” is riddled with “significant gaps and conceptual errors” that could create legal uncertainty. At the same time, the securities commission has complained that the law does not clearly define the responsibilities of each regulator and has no mechanisms in place to coordinate regulatory activities in the market.

The NSSMC also insisted that the adopted virtual assets classification and regulatory approach do not correspond to the best international practices and the EU legislation. The agency is concerned about the absence of texts dealing with investor protection and crime prevention. The NBU added that while virtual assets are not recognized as legal tender in Ukraine, the law does not explicitly prohibit their exchange for goods and services and does not limit trading with other virtual assets or the national fiat currency in any way. The bank fears this could lead to the emergence of a parallel settlement system outside its control. The Rada’s legal department called for more amendments to the draft.

The Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation, Alexander Bornyakov, acknowledged that the ministry faces criticism from various government agencies that consider the bill “insufficiently perfect.” However, he noted that the need to protect the interests of the state is often understood as a need to establish additional restrictions and to unreasonably complicate the business environment. Bornyakov stressed that the interests of the crypto market participants would be his department’s main priority and promised his team would do their best to ensure the bill hits the floor of the Rada during its last plenary week ending on July 13.

In the past few years, Ukraine has emerged as a generally crypto-friendly destination. The country was ranked first among over 150 nations in last year’s edition of the Global Crypto Adoption Index by blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis.

What’s your opinion about the proposed crypto legislation in Ukraine? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

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Bitcoin Gets More Popular in The UK, But Few People Actually Understand It

The latest data revealed that 78% of the UK residents have heard of cryptocurrencies, as 2.3 million of them hold some of them. Nonetheless, the overall understanding of digital assets has declined.

More HODLers But Less Crypto Knowledge

Digital assets remain a complicated industry in the UK, and the share of people investing in them is significantly lower than in other countries. However, the public awareness surged by 5% in a year, as in 2021, 78% of the locals have heard of cryptocurrencies compared to 73% in 2020, according to the FCA.

The number of individuals who own virtual assets has also increased as 2.3 million Britons have some cryptocurrencies, representing 4.4% of the population. Last year’s data showed this percentage to be 3.9%.

The locals seem to have invested a bit more this year and pushed the median holding from £260 ($361) to £300 ($417). Most crypto investors are male, wealthy, over 35, and with excellent educational levels.

Nearly half of the surveyed (47%) considered the crypto market a gamble in 2020. Now this percentage decreased to 38%, and more people see it as an option to invest at some point.

The FCA, though, reported that many of the Britons lack basic knowledge about virtual assets, and their investment could turn to be very risky:

”Some crypto users may not fully understand what they are buying.”

More Britons Prefer BTC Than Stocks

Despite the confusion that crypto seems to cause for the Britons, most have invested in Bitcoin rather than stocks and shares Isas last year. A survey conducted by Find Out Now suggested that nearly 7% of the locals have located some of their wealth in the primary cryptocurrency while 5% have done this in traditional stocks and shares. Laith Khalaf – a financial analyst – commented that according to the data, the society converts to crypto:

”When more people are buying cryptocurrency than investing in a stock market Isa, you have to conclude the world’s gone crypto crazy.”

The vast majority of the investors claimed to have made a profit from their crypto dealings, while 12% reported a loss.

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Global Nonprofit Operation Smile Opens Its Doors to Crypto Donations

The global nonprofit Operation Smile has announced the organization is now accepting crypto assets like bitcoin and dogecoin. The nonprofit is a surgical volunteer-based outfit that helps people with cleft conditions improve their lifestyles.

Surgical Volunteer-Based Nonprofit Operation Smile Accepts Crypto Donations

On July 18, one of the largest surgical volunteer-based nonprofit in the world, Operation Smile revealed the group is now accepting digital asset donations. The charitable organization invoked in 1982 leverages donations, volunteers, and public and private partnerships to enhance the lives of people struggling with cleft conditions.

The announcement says cryptocurrency donations will help bolster “Operation Smile’s mission to increase the accessibility of surgical care in underserved communities around the world so that patients can live lives of improved health and dignity.”

The nonprofit also joins the growing list of well known companies and charitable organizations leveraging crypto acceptance. Nonprofits like the Tony Hawk Foundation, The Skatepark Project, and charitywater.org utilize donations made with crypto assets.

“We felt that the time was right to provide cryptocurrency investors with the opportunity to extend their generosity to the children and families we serve,” Operation Smile cofounder and CEO Bill Magee explained. “The need for cleft surgery and ongoing care in our world is significant, but the compassion of these donors can drive the innovation needed to help local health workers provide world-class care to the most marginalized patients.”

Operation Smile uses The Giving Block to accept digital assets as tax-deductible contributions. The Giving Block claims to have created a “bitcoin and cryptocurrency donation solution trusted by 100+ nonprofits, universities and faith-based organizations.” Information on how to donate crypto to Operation Smile’s nonprofit work can be found at the URL operationsmile.org/donate-cryptocurrency.

The surgical volunteer-based nonprofit’s announcement notes the organization is “committed to providing patients with health that lasts—being there to offer patients additional surgeries, dentistry, psychological services, speech therapy, and other essential cleft treatments.” Presently, Operation Smile notes that more than five billion individuals globally do not have adequate access to timely and affordable surgical care.

What do you think about the nonprofit Operation Smile accepting cryptocurrency donations? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.

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Bitcoin Calms Around $35,000 as Ethereum Slides to $2,200 (Market Watch)

After several days of adverse price developments, bitcoin has calmed just over the $35,000 price tag. Most alternative coins, though, continue to register price losses, with ETH sliding to $2,200 again and XRP dumping by more than 5% in a day.

Bitcoin Stalls Above $35K

The workweek was going in bitcoin’s way for several days as it had spiked above $40,000 to a new 26-day high at $41,375 on Tuesday. As the community started preparing for another leg up that can take the asset to $50,000, the bears regained control, and BTC began losing value.

In the following days, the cryptocurrency gradually fell below several round-numbered price lines. This resulted in yesterday’s low of beneath $35,000 – meaning that BTC had lost more than $6,000 in a few days.

Since then, the asset has reclaimed some ground and trades several hundred dollars above that line. Although it seems stagnant and calm now, there’s still danger around the corner.

From a technical standpoint, the death cross has just transpired with history suggesting more bearish trading. On the other side, FUD is coming from different places, with a UK bank reportedly planning to cease doing business with two of the industry’s giants – Kraken and Binance.

BTCUSD. Source: TradingView

Altcoins’ Struggles Continue

The alternative coins have performed even worse than BTC in the past several days. Ethereum was riding high until Tuesday to above $2,600. However, it has lost over $400 of value since then and is currently down to around $2,200.

Binance Coin has also lost a substantial chunk of value in days and is now well beneath $340. The situation with the other larger-cap alts is quite similar.

On a 24-hour scale alone, Ripple has dumped by 5% to $0.75. Cardano (-1.5%), Dogecoin (-3%), Polkadot (-4%), Uniswap (-2%), Bitcoin Cash (-2%), and Litecoin (-2.5%) are also in the red.

Cryptocurrency Market Overview. Source: Quantify Crypto

Apart from Amp, which has spiked by 20% since yesterday to almost $0.1, most other lower- and mid-cap altcoins have bled out as well.

Quant leads this adverse trend with an 8% decline. Theta Fuel (-7%), Hedera Hashgraph (-7%), THORChain (-6%), Celsius (-5%), and Qtum (-5%) follow suit.

As a result, the market capitalization of all crypto assets has remained below $1.5 trillion.

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Bitmain Reveals New Scrypt Miner — Model Mines DOGE and LTC Four-Times Faster Than Today’s Top Machine

Regional reports from an exposition in Chengdu indicate Bitmain has unveiled a new scrypt ASIC rig for dogecoin, litecoin, digibyte, and verge mining. The Chinese reporter who disclosed the information says the new Bitmain model has a hashrate of around 9,500 megahash per second (MH/s) and overseas prices are reduced by 13%.

Bitmain Unveils New Scrypt Miner With 9.5 Gigahash

According to the Chinese journalist Colin ‘Wu’ Blockchain, Bitmain has revealed a new scrypt coin mining device that packs a lot more hashrate than the company’s previous model. Wu tweeted out the news on Saturday after Bitmain showed off the specifications at an exposition held in Chengdu.

“On June 19th, Bitmain released the new Litecoin/Dogecoin mining machine L7,” the China-based reporter tweeted. “With a hashrate of 9,500 MH/s and 3425W, equivalent to 19 sets of L3+, and the price is $15,000, [the] overseas purchase price is reduced by 13%. The delivery time is November 2021,” he added.

Moreover, Wu also said that Bitmain had shown off its “5nm-based Bitcoin water-cooled mining machine and a preview of the Dash mining machine D7.”

Photo via Colin ‘Wu’ Blockchain from Twitter.

The news from Bitmain follows the company’s unveiling of the Antminer E9 ethereum mining rig at the end of April. The device is not for sale yet and E9 prices have not been announced.

“[The] Antminer E9 ethereum miner. Equivalent to 32 – 3080 graphics cards, Equipped with a hashrate of 3 GH/s,” Bitmain explained at the time. The new scrypt miner from Bitmain follows the October 2017 release, the Antminer L3+ which produces around 600 MH/s.

Presently, the Innosilicon brand A6+ Ltcmaster is the most profitable scrypt miner on the market today with 2,200 MH/s. A single A6+ Ltcmaster will give an owner $26 per day in profit using today’s exchange rates and $0.12 per kilowatt-hour.

Using the same electricity rate and today’s crypto prices for the most profitable scrypt coins, the Bitmain L3+ can rake in around $6.35 per day in profit.

If the specifications revealed by the Chinese journalist Colin ‘Wu’ Blockchain and the screenshot Wu shared as well are correct, the new Bitmain scrypt miner will be the most powerful on the market once it is released to the public.

For some perspective, the upcoming Bitmain scrypt ASIC machine would be more than four-times more powerful than Innosilicon’s A6+ Ltcmaster. 9,500 megahash per second is equivalent to 9.5 gigahash per second (GH/s) and the Innosilicon machine captures 2.2 GH/s.

What do you think about Bitmain unveiling the new scrypt miner with 9,500 MH/s specifications? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.

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Cornell Economist Says Bitcoin Has 3 Flaws Driving People to Search for Better Alternatives

Cornell University professor of economics and former head of the IMF’s China division, Eswar Prasad, sees three major flaws in bitcoin. Because of these flaws, the professor says that “bitcoin really has set off something of a search for a better alternative.”

Cornell University’s Professor of Economics Outlines Bitcoin’s Flaws

Cornell economics professor Eswar Prasad talked about bitcoin’s flaws in an interview with CNBC Thursday.

Prasad is the Nandlal P. Tolani Senior Professor of Trade Policy and professor of economics at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University. He is also a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He was previously chief of the Financial Studies Division in the research department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and, before that, was the head of the IMF’s China division.

The first flaw concerns the energy usage in bitcoin mining, which Prasad said is “certainly not good for the environment.” The professor pointed out that in contrast Ethereum is coming up with a method “That is going to be much less energy intensive, and it could deliver a lot of the benefits that bitcoin was supposed to deliver.” He added:

It could also make transactions much cheaper and quicker.

The second point the professor made was that bitcoin is not so anonymous after all. He cited the Colonial Pipeline case where law enforcement claimed to have recovered $2.3 million in bitcoin. He noted that other cryptocurrencies may offer more anonymity than BTC, such as monero and zcash.

The third flaw, according to the professor, is that bitcoin does not work well as a currency. He described BTC transactions as “slow and cumbersome” for use in payments, adding that its market is very volatile and the cryptocurrency has become a speculative asset. Prasad concluded:

So bitcoin really has set off something of a search for a better alternative and people seem to be on the lookout for a medium of exchange that does not require them to go through a trusted institution like the government or a commercial bank — but it’s not quite there yet.

Do you agree with the professor? Let us know in the comments section below.

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UK Bank Bans Crypto Purchases From Binance and Kraken, Reports

British banks are making it increasingly difficult for their customers to get involved with crypto, citing particular concerns related to security and exposure to fraud.

According to a report by the British newspaper The Times, TSB bank is reportedly about to ban its customers from buying crypto with funds managed by the bank. TSB is reportedly concerned about an “excessively high” fraud rate related to crypto exchanges operating in the country.

TSB Could Be Cutting Ties With Crypto Exchanges For Safety Reasons

The Times claims to have reliable information that TSB is going to ban the purchase of crypto with cash via Binance and Kraken. Apparently, the low security standards of these platforms facilitate the works of scammers, in particular the setup of e-wallets.

According to the reports, TSB has received at least 849 fraud complaints between March 15 and April 15 by Binance users. The bank claims that all attempts to communicate with Binance have been unsuccessful. However, Binance says it has never received any messages from the bank’s security team.

Without directly referring to TSB, a spokesman for Binance reiterated the exchange’s commitment to working for the security of its customers, assuring that it is company policy to prioritize the issue:

“Binance is very serious about its responsibility to protect users from scams. When we are made aware of these claims, we immediately take action and have an excellent record of working with law enforcement agencies.”

But Kraken was much more direct. Steven Christie, global head of compliance at Kraken, denied TSBs allegations, although he made no reference to the stance they will take on this possible outbreak of new wire fraud:

“We categorically deny the allegation that Kraken does not respond to calls for assistance on incidents of fraud. Kraken responded to well over 1,000 different requests from law enforcement agencies in 2020 alone. Kraken operates in full compliance with law enforcement agencies.”

Investors Are Making Things Easier For Scammers In The UK

Fraud reports are a sensitive issue for the bank as it offers a fraud protection service in which it refunds the money lost in the event that a person has been a victim of a scam. The bank has also asked for caution towards crypto-related scams.

Be extra vigilant when it comes to Crypto investment advisors. If you get a call, e-mail or text from one – bin it, it’s a scam. Never engage with contact out of the blue. Find out more: https://t.co/jfNPCdlkzJ #ThinkTwiceThinkFraud pic.twitter.com/A835A7qJy5

— TSB (@TSB) June 15, 2021

So far, TSB bank has not issued any official statement regarding its stance towards Kraken of Binance, however, the interest of UK regulators in overseeing cryptocurrency-related activity has been on the rise.

Recently, a survey by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority revealed that the number of cryptocurrency investors had increased from last year, as had the average worth of cryptocurrency holdings by retailers.

However, the FCA also found that the number of people with a poor understanding of cryptocurrencies also increased even though they invested in them.

This is a worrying development for law enforcement and crime prevention agencies, as it provides a breeding ground for scammers and criminals to take advantage of a larger potential pool of victims who are less savvy than in previous years.