SEC Charges Ripple With Selling $1.3 Billion In Unregistered Securities, XRP Loses $2 Billion In Market Value

The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged cryptocurrency pioneer Ripple Labs, the firm that owns a majority of the world’s third-largest cryptocurrency, for allegedly raising $1.3 billion in an offering of unregistered “digital asset securities”–a huge sign U.S. regulators could ramp up oversight of the cryptocurrency space as the market surges to new highs.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Ripple, its cofounder Christian Larsen and CEO Bradley Garlinghouse raised capital to finance the firm’s business through an unregistered public offering of XRP tokens beginning in 2013.

The complaint, filed in Manhattan’s federal district court, also alleges that Larsen and Garlinghouse carried out personal unregistered sales of XRP totaling roughly $600 million.

As of 3 p.m. EST, the value of the XRP token had plunged roughly 12% over the last 24 hours, according to crypto data firm CoinMarketCap, wiping out more than $2 billion from the cryptocurrency’s market cap.

PROMOTED DP World BrandVoice | Paid Program Track And Trace Technology Is The Disruption Automotive Logistics Needs Grads of Life BrandVoice | Paid Program Driving Opportunity For Women Immigrants Is Key To Recovery Civic Nation BrandVoice | Paid Program My Path To Community College And Beyond

“It’s not just Grinch-worthy, it’s shocking,” Garlinghouse told Fortune when he warned of the impending lawsuit on Monday evening, later tweeting that Ripple, a San Francisco-based firm last valued at $10 billion in 2019, “is ready to fight” the suit. “It’s an attack on the entire crypto industry and American innovation.”

The SEC has largely cracked down on crowdfunded token sales, commonly referred to as initial coin offerings, but XRP is easily the largest cryptocurrency targeted by the SEC as a security; officials in 2018 declared ether and bitcoin were currencies and not securities because of their decentralized nature.

Crucial Quote

“We allege that Ripple, Larsen and Garlinghouse failed to register their ongoing offer and sale of billions of XRP to retail investors, which deprived potential purchasers of adequate disclosures about XRP and Ripple’s business and other important long-standing protections that are fundamental to our robust public market system,” said Stephanie Avakian, director of the SEC’s enforcement division on Tuesday.

Big Number

$653 billion. That’s the current market value of all the cryptocurrencies across the world, more than tripling this year alone, according to CoinMarketCap. At its peak in January 2018, the market was valued at more than $800 billion. XRP’s current market cap of $21.6 billion is bested only by ether ($71 billion) and bitcoin ($435 billion).

Key Background

Heightened regulatory scrutiny from nations such as South Korea triggered a near-85% crash in cryptocurrency prices in 2018, but the United States has been slow to issue broad-based regulation. Among the most vocal U.S. regulatory agencies when it comes to cryptocurrency, the SEC spent months drafting guidance it released in April 2019 about when and how cryptocurrencies may be classified as securities, but it’s been relatively quiet on the front ever since.

The suit against Ripple, however, could mean that’s set to change as the cryptocurrency market soars toward new highs during the pandemic. “There is more and more interest from a wide spectrum of people, both inside the crypto space as well as inside the traditional financial institutions who are asking us for guidance,” an SEC Commissioner told CoinDesk in October. “I think we’re going to be forced to confront that more and more in the coming years.”

What To Watch For

Competition–from the government. Though it has not committed to the idea, the Federal Reserve is exploring the possibility of debuting its own central bank digital currency, Goldman Sachs said in a Sunday note. Officials have warmed up to the idea of a central bank token “largely out of concern that wide adoption of alternative digital currencies could endanger financial stability, U.S. financial intermediaries and the Fed’s ability to influence financial conditions,” Goldman analysts led by Jan Hatzius said.

Tangent

During the pandemic many investors have flocked to cryptocurrency–and namely bitcoin–as a hedge against longer-term inflation concerns, which have escalated in the face of increased government spending for coronavirus relief measures. In a report released Monday, digital asset management firm CoinShares said cumulative investments into cryptocurrency funds have totaled about $5 billion so far this year, eclipsing the approximately $1.4 billion plowed into the space through the end of last year.

Chief Critic

“Other major branches of the U.S. government, including the Justice Department and the Treasury Department’s FinCen, have already determined that XRP is a currency,” Ripple Counsel Michael Kellogg said in a statement to Forbes, arguing that the currency designation means XRP transactions fall outside the scope of federal securities laws. “This is not the first time the SEC has tried to go beyond its statutory authority. The courts have corrected it before and will do so again,” he added.

Further Reading

Ripple says it will be sued by the SEC, in what the company calls a parting shot at the crypto industry (Fortune)

Ripple’s Trillion-Dollar Man (Forbes)

As Bitcoin Surges 15%, Here’s What Wall Street’s Saying About The Cryptocurrency’s Meteoric Resurgence (Forbes)

U.S. Government Voids Public Comments On Newly Proposed Crypto Wallet Rule (Forbes) Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

Jonathan Ponciano

 Jonathan Ponciano

I’m a reporter at Forbes focusing on markets and finance. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I double-majored in business journalism and economics while working for UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School as a marketing and communications assistant. Before Forbes, I spent a summer reporting on the L.A. private sector for Los Angeles Business Journal and wrote about publicly traded North Carolina companies for NC Business News Wire. Reach out at jponciano@forbes.com.

.

.

CNBC Television

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse addresses the Securities and Exchange Commission’s lawsuit over the XRP cryptocurrency.

“The Securities and Exchange Commission announced today that it has filed an action against Ripple Labs Inc. and two of its executives, who are also significant security holders, alleging that they raised over $1.3 billion through an unregistered, ongoing digital asset securities offering.” SEC NEWS: https://www.sec.gov/news/press-releas… BITCOIN AND ALTCOIN LEVERAGE PLATFORMS: 💲 Phemex https://phemex.com/web/user/register?… 💲 Bybit https://www.bybit.com/app/register?re… 💲 Binance https://www.binance.com/en/futures/re… 💲 PrimeXBT https://u.primexbt.com/sunnydecree BUY BITCOIN AND ALTCOINS HERE: 🏦 Coinbase https://www.coinbase.com/join/5939812… 🏦 Kraken https://r.kraken.com/sunnydecree 🏦 Binance https://www.binance.com/en/register?r… MY CHART TOOLS: 📊 TradingView https://tradingview.go2cloud.org/aff_… MY HARDWARE WALLETS: 🔑 Ledger https://www.ledgerwallet.com/r/f7c4 🔑 Trezor https://shop.trezor.io/product/trezor… STORE YOUR PRIVATE KEYS SAFELY: 🔒 https://cryptosteel.com/product/crypt… FOLLOW ME: 📷 https://twitter.com/sunnydecree 📷 https://www.instagram.com/sunnydecree… 📷 https://discord.gg/Psrt8Yn 📷 https://www.youtube.com/sunnydecreede#Bitcoin#XRP#Ripple

IRS & Global Tax Enforcers Expand War on Cryptocurrency Fraud

Tax authorities, both domestic and abroad, have been continuously building an arsenal of tools and experts to monitor and audit crypto transactions. This increased weaponry has led to a growing number of international arrests by the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5) and the US Department of Justice (DOJ), with each member organization arresting individuals allegedly involved in crypto fraud, and/or seizing funds from their activities.

Not surprisingly, the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is keeping pace with these efforts and closing in on those who may have attempted to take advantage of the perceived anonymity of these transactions to evade taxes. As these tax authorities continue their collective efforts, the question becomes: who will be the next target of this expanding arsenal?

Crypto tracing for hire

Public records reveal that the IRS and other federal agencies have recently entered into agreements with a number of private cryptocurrency analytics companies to gain access to certain blockchain tracing software. This is unsurprising, given the US government’s recent outreach to members of the cryptocurrency community. For example, the IRS recently sought assistance from several cryptocurrency tax software companies for the audits of tax returns involving on-chain and off-chain cryptocurrency transactions.1

The statements of work for these arrangements provide that the IRS “is engaging outside contractors to assist our revenue agents in calculating taxpayers’ gains or losses as a result of their transactions involving virtual currency.” The DOJ is also advertising positions for crypto experts to assist law enforcement with “undercover operations on the Dark Web and undercover cryptocurrency transactions, technical skills and technology to perform block-chain analysis to trace transactions.”2

The IRS Criminal Investigation Division (IRS CI), the largest federal law enforcement agency in the US Department of Treasury, is also expanding its crypto capabilities. As part of its Cryptocurrency Initiative, IRS CI recently issued a public request for tools related to cryptocurrency, including applications “to more easily trace privacy coins and other protocols that provide anonymity to illicit actors.” This coordinated effort by the IRS and other federal agencies to acquire crypto talent forecasts a looming crackdown on the use of virtual currency for illicit purposes, and those that facilitate its use for those purposes.

International enforcement: Pooling of resources

The global tax community has also pooled its resources to target crypto fraudsters. The J5, which consists of the leaders of the tax enforcement agencies in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, England, and the United States, was formed to investigate and combat cross-border tax and money laundering threats, including cybercrime, cryptocurrency, and enablers of global tax crimes. This has led to the J5 making several recent arrests involving certain cryptocurrency transactions. One of the J5’s stated missions is to “collaborate internationally to reduce the growing threat to tax administrations posed by cryptocurrencies and cybercrime and to make the most of data and technology.”

The J5 has held annual events known as “Challenges,” where investigators, cryptocurrency experts, and data scientists from the member nations exchange data and techniques. These combined efforts have led to an uptick in enforcement activity by member nations, including:

Two men were arrested in February 2020 in the Netherlands on suspicion of money laundering using cryptocurrencies via the subject crypto service provider. This arrest was the apparent culmination of the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service’s investigation of a crypto service provider discussed during the 2019 Challenge. The amount laundered was approximately US$118,800, indicating that the J5’s targets are not limited to the million-dollar players.

A Romanian programmer in Germany was arrested and pleaded guilty in July 2020, for conspiring to commit wire fraud and offering and selling unregistered securities. The activity is connected with the programmer’s role in a cryptocurrency mining scheme that defrauded investors of at least US$722 million worth of bitcoin.

The DOJ has also continued its enforcement efforts in earnest. Just last month, the DOJ:

  • Announced the seizure of millions of dollars in bitcoin associated with financing of terrorist organizations, including al-Qassam Brigades, al-Qaeda, and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). The operation involved, among other things, an investigation into certain alleged Syrian charities and also led to the unsealing of criminal charges for two Turkish individuals. Acting United States Attorney Michael R. Sherwin commented that this seizure, the largest of its kind, “reflect[s] the resolve . . . to target and dismantle these sophisticated cyber-terrorism and money laundering actors across the globe. While these individuals believe they operate anonymously in the digital space, we have the skill and resolve to find, fix and prosecute these actors under the full extent of the law.”
  • Filed a civil forfeiture complaint related to two hacks of virtual currency exchanges by North Korean actors. The complaint alleges that these North Korean players stole millions of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency and then laundered the same through Chinese over-the-counter crypto traders. Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division proclaimed, “Today’s action publicly exposes the ongoing connections between North Korea’s cyber-hacking program and a Chinese cryptocurrency money laundering network.”
  • The first hack dates back to July 2019 when an agent tied to North Korea allegedly stole over US$272,000 worth of crypto. This agent then engaged in “chain hopping,” a process whereby the user converts cryptocurrency into other forms of crypto in order to make the illegal transactions more difficult to trace. Then, in September 2019, another agent with ties to North Korea hacked a US-based company, stealing nearly US$2.5 million in crypto.

Avoiding the land mines and risks: The time to act is now

The message is ominous. The recent J5 activity and the US government’s stockpiling of crypto experts and tracing software leaves little doubt that tax enforcement efforts in the crypto space is ramping up. Indeed, in its February 18, 2020, newsletter, the J5 warned that “it cannot be ruled out that more international investigations by the J5 countries will follow” from the data sharing at the Challenges.

At home, the DOJ, IRS, and IRS CI remain laser focused on abusive crypto schemes, as evidenced by their call to arms for crypto experts and tracing software. While the above DOJ actions focus on anti-money laundering activity, they demonstrate a growing familiarity with these systems which will lead to future cases in other areas, including tax evasion.

Thus, any company operating in this high-risk industry should consider whether its compliance measures are adequate to protect its systems from being used, purposefully or not, to further activity that may become the focus of the government’s increasing scrutiny in this space. This is especially so in light of the DOJ’s updated guidance for corporate compliance programs places greater emphasis on continuous data driven compliance programs that are responsive to industry risks.


Footnotes

1 Hamza Ali and Allyson Versprille, IRS Seeking Private Companies to Aid With Cryptocurrency Audits, Bloomberg Law: Tax 2 Dark Web and Cryptocurrency International Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Attorney Advisor

Legal notices and disclaimersImpressumStandard termsBlog network terms and conditionsPrivacy noticeCookies policyWebsite access conditionsFraud alertsModern Slavery Act StatementAnti-Facilitation of Tax Evasion StatementSuppliersHistoryRemote accessSitemap

.

.

The Bitcoin Express

🇺🇸🇺🇸Avoid Stressful Crypto Tax Audits. SAVE TIME AND MONEY With Cryptotrader. 💰 💰 10% off for T.B.E. Viewers (Coupon Code: CRYPTOTAX10) ➡️ http://cryptotrader.tax?fpr=stjck – Support Me On Patreon Here 👉 https://www.patreon.com/TheBitcoinExp… – Twitter : https://twitter.com/The_BTC_express Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_btc_exp… – 🔒 🔒 #1 Protection For Your Crypto With Ledger➡️ https://shop.ledger.com/?r=106413d64227 📚 📚 My Favorite Books 💎The Bitcoin Standard ➡️https://amzn.to/2TxXR0I 💎Blockchain Basics➡️https://amzn.to/2JinfWu 💎Rich Dad Poor Dad➡️ https://amzn.to/34BQ20h 💎The Fountainhead➡️ https://amzn.to/35NrvVo 💎The Lessons of History➡️ https://amzn.to/31Uf3BY 💎The Intelligent Investor➡️https://amzn.to/34C3uBp 💎Principles: Life and Work➡️ https://amzn.to/3mxmhUy

Is It Possible To Recover Funds From Trading & Investment Frauds

Investors of certain markets have had a hard time this year due to the COVID 19 pandemic. This year global economies have experienced a heavy recession. And if that is not bad enough, investment scammers are still stealing from innocent people. Trading and investment scams evolve every day. Nowadays they have become so sleek, you don’t know you have been robbed until it is too late. Fund recovery after such scams is a hard and long process, but it can be done.

Trade and investment scams are cleverly orchestrated schemes to rob innocent people. They convince people to part with their money with fake promises of high returns. They prey on people who want to get returns on investments fast.

Nowadays they impersonate genuine investment traders and convince people to invest. They may even make one payment to trap you into investing more money, only for you to suffer devastating losses.

Some of the Notorious Investment Scams

The common characteristic of investment scams is that they promise low-risk investments with high returns. They come in different languages but the premise is the same. For instance, an advance fee scheme persuades you to give a small amount for triple returns. You may feel that you are giving just a small amount, but if they trick millions of people, they make a lot of money. They come up with “boiler room” offices to convince you that they are professionals. Once you lose your money, you cannot trace them.

Some scammers pitch “exempt securities” and sell you on a fake exclusivity narrative. They convince you of how lucky you are to be the first one to know of these securities. Later you realize that you paid for non-existent securities. 

Forex scams are also on the rise. Some forex trading is legal. But scammers have come up with clever ways to mint money out of innocent traders. They convince you to open ghost accounts with promises of big returns. Once you make your deposits that is the end of the road for you.

Other scams include offshore investment, pension scams, and Ponzi scams. You send your money or offshore investments in the name of lowering your taxes and you lose it all. Ponzi scams promise quick cash in a short time. You may also fall victim to pump and dump schemes that lead you to buy worthless stocks. 

How Can You Spot a Scam?

You have to be very careful about money nowadays. Trade and investment scammers come up with clever ways to deceive victims every day. Some of these scams look legit and before you know it, millions of people lose their money. However, here are the obvious signs that you can look out for in these scams.

  • They offer very high returns with very low risks.
  • They promise you hot insider secrets and information
  • They give you pressure to make decisions instantly. They convince you that you are running out of time.
  • The sellers are not legally registered to trade stocks or investments. Some of them can convince you with fake documentation. Always do your background research.
  • They keep sending you spam messages on social media and your email address.
  • Pension schemes target senior citizens and coerce them to disclose personal information about their pension plans.
  • They are relentless with unsolicited advice. They barely let you breathe. A genuine company lets you breathe and make a sound decision.

Why Do People Fall Victim to These Scammers?

Surprisingly, more people fall into these scams every year. There are many reasons why someone may fall victim to these scams. Some of them are very crafty in the way they market themselves. They forge legitimate documents and convince people that they are legit. They use very inviting language and narratives to attract the masses. They use false advertisements and stories to convince you that others have had successful investment returns. They offer the lowest risk and the highest returns.

The rate of unemployment and poverty is on the rise. Simple psychological manipulation can cause a person to fall victim to these scams. They promise quick riches to people who are struggling and they believe them. They ask for something small at first, so people oblige.

Can People Recover Their Money From a Scammer?

Investment fraud causes disorientation, stress, and worse, financial distress. Funds recovery is a long and hard process, but it can be a success. Victims should report the scammers to anti-fraud government authorities. You can also contact your bank immediately to reverse transactions. If it’s not too late you can get your money back. Collect as much evidence as possible and file a funds recovery police case.

If you can get a hold of the scammers, you can file a class act as a group and go to court. If you are not a part of a group scam, get an investment lawyer, and file a single case. You can also use a fund recovery company that specializes in asset recovery. They conduct a detailed investigation with legal help and they often recover money lost to scammers.

Binary options continue to be a highly-debated subject among retail traders and even though some might argue that some brokers focusing on these assets have a long track-record in providing reliable services, in reality, the whole binary options industry favors the appearance of scammers.

Letting aside the fact that trading these instruments comes with a high risk of loss, there are plenty of other reasons that this is a “heaven for scammers” and in this article we will like to have more focus on the matter.

Binary options favor the “house”

If we think about how binary options work, the trader is always on the weaker side. Most of the binary options brokers offer around 80% payout rate and that has many implications on the probability to generate returns in the long run.

To be more specific, let’s say to buy a binary option with $10 and assume the price will be above the strike price at the expiration (call option). If you are right, then you will make $8 in profit. However, if you are wrong, you will lose all $10, which puts you in a position to have a high win rate over any given period, to be a profitable trader.

If we combine this disadvantage with the ability to manipulate prices on the platform (this will be discussed in one of the following sections), traders are faced with guaranteed losses, rather than profits, when dealing with a binary options scam broker. A lot has changed in terms of regulation for these companies and because of that, now we have most of them operating offshore.

Binary options brokers generally operate offshore

Since 2018, European regulators made a historic decision to reshape the regulation for retail online trading. As a result, there are tighter restrictions for traders with little experience and at the same time, binary options are prohibited for retail traders. This had been a major hit for brokers, which are now operating offshore.

This creates an even bigger problem, considering they can now operate free from any regulatory requirements, and even target customers based in areas where binary options trading is no longer allowed. As with any other broker type, operating via an offshore entity should be a major warning flag, signaling a binary options scam or a Bitcoin fraud.

There’s a long list of scams related to binary options, and more than 90% of them were operating via offshore companies. As a result, traders that still want to trade these instruments, despite acknowledging the high risk associated, should avoid these entities and instead look for brands that have a long track record in providing reliable services.

Marketing exaggerated returns

Like most of the fraudulent companies, a binary options scam will use aggressive social media advertising to reach inexperienced people and promise exaggerated returns. This is a typical practice and works many times because financial strains are pushing some to take drastic measures and embark on avenues that could generate returns fast.

Unfortunately, a binary options broker can’t ensure or talk about the level of profitability you’ll be having. That will be depending on the market’s performance, your expertise in the world of trading, as well as the effectiveness of your trading strategy. The broker is a simple intermediary that creates a link between you and the market via trading software.

When dealing with a binary options broker promising you will make a lot of money, the best thing to do is walk away as fast as possible. It can be a company operating not on behalf of customers, but one that wants to set up a trading or bitcoin scam.

Accurate pricing on the binary options platforms?

Another important aspect to consider has to do with how the prices displayed on the platform are calculated. A binary options scam can be easily spotted by simply reading its terms & conditions. These companies are using a method that implies averaging the pricing from multiple liquidity providers. As a result, the prices you see on the platform are not the actual market valuations, but averages calculated by the broker.

Considering binary options trading is generally short-term and even a pip can make the difference between profit and loss, it would be important to have the most accurate pricing.A bitcoin scam hide behind this price adjustment technique that generally results in massive losses for clients in the long run.

Many binary options brokers turned out to be scams

After taking an in-depth look online, we’ve noticed that there are plenty of blacklists with binary options scam. Only a few companies are still labeled as not scam, which means that most were eventually flagged as “not to be trusted”. For someone looking now for a binary options broker, this fact should be raising doubts, even on those companies that are still out there providing their services.

Keep in mind that most binary options brokers have affiliated programs and some positive online reviews may be coming from individuals that are affiliates and are generating income based on each new customer they bring in. As a result, even reviews should be taken with a grain of salt. The ultimate goal should be to avoid being trapped in a binary options scam and any Bitcoin fraud. By considering all the relevant data we’ve highlighted today, we think that’s possible.

Final Words

We can conclude that binary options trading comes with high risks and the whole industry is designed in such a way that scammers can thrive. If you want to trade these instruments, despite all the downsides, it would be important to do in-depth research and find out a company that has been operating for a long time and gets reliable positive feedback from customers. So many binary options scams had been uncovered during the past few years and this should raise serious questions about the interests of these brands. Finding the best binary options broker is a very complex process and will require you to not make any concessions.

.

.

MoneyBack Hero

Are you a victim? MoneyBack Hero can help you get your money back. Click Here for a free consultation: https://www.moneybackhero.com Looking for more info on Binary Options, Forex, CFD, or Cryptocurrency scams? Take a look at these helpful articles on the Money Back Hero site: 1) Read to understand the psychology employed by the scammers: https://www.moneybackhero.com/educate… 2) Not sure if you are the victim of a trading scam? Read this for the telltale signs: https://www.moneybackhero.com/how-do-… 3) Want to know your best option to get your money back? Red this to discover your #1 weapon to get your money back: https://www.moneybackhero.com/how-do-… At Money Back Hero (https://www.moneybackhero.com), we are not merely a wealth recovery service, we are your personal team of experts who do one thing all day long: use every legal trick in the book to get your money back from the scammers.

IRS Will Pay Up To $625,000 If You Can Crack Monero, Other Privacy Coins

When the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) signaled that it was getting serious about cryptocurrency, the agency wasn’t kidding. The IRS is now offering cash to anyone who can “reliably produce useful results on a variety of real-world CI cryptocurrency investigations involving Monero and/or Lightning.” That’s right: they are looking for code crackers.

The IRS has made no secret that it believes that taxpayers are not correctly reporting cryptocurrency transactions. An IRS dive into the data showed that for the 2013 through 2015 tax years, when IRS matched data collected from forms 8949, Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets, which were filed electronically, they found that just 807 individuals reported a transaction using a property description likely related to bitcoin in 2013; in 2014, that number was only 893; and in 2015, the number fell to 802.

Cryptocurrency Compliance Efforts

A new cryptocurrency compliance measure for taxpayers was introduced in 2019 in the form of a checkbox on the top of Schedule 1, Additional Income and Adjustments to Income (Schedule 1 is used to report income or adjustments to income that can’t be entered directly on the front page of form 1040). And in 2020, the IRS noted that it will post a cryptocurrency question right on the front page of your Form 1040.

In 2019, the IRS also announced that it was sending letters to taxpayers who might have failed to report income and pay the resulting tax from virtual currency transactions or did not report their transactions properly. The names of these taxpayers were obtained through various ongoing IRS compliance efforts.

(For more on some of those efforts – like the Coinbase court saga – click here.)

Pilot IRS Cryptocurrency Tracing

Now, the IRS is offering what some are calling a “bounty” to those who can assist in tracing cryptocurrency transactions. Specifically, the IRS has created a pilot that will pay cash (up to $625,000) to anyone who can trace Monero or other anonymity-enhanced cryptocurrency, or Lightning or other Layer 2 off-chain cryptocurrency protocols.

You can read the official Request for Proposals (RFP) here (you can also find out more about the process).

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, September 16, 2020, at 08:00 EDT. No late submissions will be accepted or considered or evaluated.

About Privacy Coins

The focus of the proposal is privacy coins. Privacy coins allow users more anonymity when using cryptocurrency. According to the IRS-CI, the use of privacy coins is becoming more popular not only by investors, but also by illicit actors. For example, according to the IRS-CI, in April 2020, a RaaS (Ransomware as a Service) group called Sodinokibi (a former affiliate with the GrandCrab RaaS group) stated that future ransom request payments will be in Monero (XMR) rather than Bitcoin (BTC) due to transaction privacy concerns.

Bitcoin has become increasingly common since it’s easy to use – even for relative crypto newbies. Bitcoin transactions are open ledger (blockchain): that means that the record-keeping system is “public” through a series or chain of blocks even though the exact identities of the participants (as well as their other details, like account balances) may remain private. This kind of open system encourages transparency but also means that, with some effort, hackers and others – like the authorities – can track down the players in a chain of transactions. 

The result has been a push from some crypto-sectors to completely anonymize all pieces of the transaction. Enter privacy coins. Monero is considered the largest privacy coin on the market right now; the technology it uses extends privacy to senders, receivers, and transaction amounts. Other popular privacy coins include Cash (ZEC) and Dash.

IRS-CI Is Looking For Solutions

Now, IRS-CI is looking for solutions which provide “information and technical capabilities for CI Special Agents to trace transaction inputs and outputs to a specific user and differentiate them from mixins/multisig actors for Monero and/or Lightning Layer 2 cryptocurrency transactions with minimal involvement of external vendors” as well as “technology which, given information about specific parties and/or transactions in the Monero and/or Lightning networks, allows Special Agents to predict statistical likelihoods of other transaction inputs, outputs, metadata, and public identifiers with minimal involvement of external vendors.” In other words, they are looking to crack privacy coins.

If this sounds out of the ordinary, you’re not wrong. And the IRS acknowledges as much, stating, “For those who are familiar with traditional government procurements, Pilot IRS will appear substantively different from how the government normally buys technology. To be fair, it is… This type of approach is more often used in research and development environments, but there are existing regulations that allow federal agencies to buy commercial items in a manner similar with how the private sector would. Pilot IRS will aggressively pursue a streamlined and cost-effective approach to testing and deploying technology solutions that will have an immediate impact on the government’s mission.” 

IRS-CI has noted an uptick in criminal syndicates using privacy coins. And authorities have to be able to keep up. An IRS-CI spokesperson stated that, “IRS-CI is responsible for investigating potential criminal violations of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code and related financial crimes. We are also a global leader in cyber-criminal investigations involving cryptocurrency and have played a lead or key role in the takedown of numerous major Darknet Marketplaces and other transnational criminal organizations facilitating identify theft, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, terrorist financing, sex trafficking, and child prostitution.”

As a result, he explained, “The IRS Cryptocurrency pilot was developed to create and promote innovation in response to ongoing challenges within IRS-CI in hopes of quickly testing, piloting and/or deploying solutions. Privacy coins continue to be a challenge to law enforcement due to their increased anonymity and specific technological enhancements. Currently, there are limited investigative resources for tracing transactions involving privacy cryptocurrency coins such as Monero, Layer 2 network protocol transactions such as Lightning Labs, or other off-chain transactions that provide privacy to illicit actors. The pilot will look to leverage the knowledge of public/private sector and academia to address these specific challenges.” Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here

Kelly Phillips Erb

Kelly Phillips Erb

I cover tax and its impact on the lives of taxpayers and tax professionals. In addition to Forbes, you can find me at my own blog, Taxgirl.com, which has been consistently recognized by the ABA Journal as one of the top blogs written by lawyers. You can also subscribe to my newsletter – which features articles from the blog and Forbes – here. I am a member of the bars of Pennsylvania and New Jersey and licensed to practice in front of the U.S. Tax Court. I’m also permitted to engage in pro bono practice in my home state of North Carolina through Legal Aid of N.C.

Finally, I’m a mom to three children, so I can add science fair expert, cupcake baker, and sports mom to my resume

Advertisement

Wirecard Was Germany’s Fintech Star—Now $2 Billion Is Missing And Its CEO Has Been Arrested

1

Ex-Wirecard CEO Markus Braun, who resigned last week amid allegations of fraud at the German payment processing company, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of using fake transactions to inflate the company’s sales and balance sheet to boost its profile with investors.

KEY FACTS

Prosecutors in Munich arrested Braun after he turned himself in on Monday night, while three other managers at the company are also under investigation.

Wirecard’s woes reached a head when it admitted on Monday that $2.1 billion in cash the company claimed it had, likely never existed.

Braun resigned on Friday from the company he founded 21 years ago, claiming that the company “has been the victim in a substantial case of fraud.”

 

The firm’s shares plunged more than 50% on Friday and crashed 45% on Monday following news of the missing billions.

News peg

Braun’s arrest is the crescendo in a long-running battle that has pitched the Munich-based company, and Germany’s financial regulator against a small-army of short-sellers, and the Financial Times.

Short sellers had circled the company for years but a FT investigation that alleged unusual transactions and forged contracts at Wirecard’s Singapore office prompted authorities there to investigate, and its shares to drop. The FT followed up with allegations sales and profits at the company’s outpost in Dubai and Ireland were inflated with Wirecard firing back with the threat of a lawsuit, while Germany’s financial regulator opened a probe into the FT journalists involved in the story.

Key background

Braun founded Wirecard, once a star of Germany’s startup landscape, in 1999 and it has since expanded around the world, employing almost 6,000 people. Wirecard’s growth led it to joining the exclusive club of 30 major Germany companies tracked by the DAX index in 2018. The search for the missing cash came after auditors EY flagged a massive hole in the company’s balance sheet last week, which represents around a quarter of Wirecard’s assets, and delayed signing off on the firm’s 2019 accounts. But the hunt came up short after two banks in the Philippines accused of holding the cash denied having Wirecard as a client, adding that the billions never entered the nation’s financial system, officials said on Sunday. They also accused Wirecard of using the banks’ names to cover the company’s own tracks.

1

Big number

The company’s valuation has plummeted from more than $28 billion two years ago, to just over $3 billion last week.

What to watch for

Braun is set for a court hearing on Tuesday. Meanwhile, prosecutors are reportedly mulling an arrest warrant for former board member Jan Marsalek, who was also fired as the company’s chief operating officer. Marsalek was the executive who oversaw operations including in Southeast Asia.

Further reading

 

Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

 

I am a breaking news reporter for Forbes in London, covering Europe and the U.S. Previously I was a news reporter for HuffPost UK, the Press Association and a night

Source: https://www.forbes.com

Sep.24 — Markus Braun, chief executive officer at Wirecard, discusses becoming one of the companies on the German benchmark, growth drivers and his outlook for the company. He speaks on “Bloomberg Markets: European Open.”

Why Most Modern Online Fraud Prevention Methods Are Falling Short

1

It was recently reported that new account fraud went up 28% in 2019 compared to 2018 global reports, and more than 100% over 2014 levels. As cybercriminals fine-tune their impersonation efforts, it’s getting more difficult for modern enterprises to distinguish between high-risk and low-risk users — and this will only continue thanks to large-scale data breaches, the evolution of the dark web and the looming threat of identity theft. Unfortunately, traditional authentication methods like passwords, knowledge-based authentication (KBA) and SMS-based two-factor authentication (2FA) can easily be spoofed as the result of the never-ending data breaches that we read about every day.

Just a couple months ago, an unsecured database on the dark web left the personal information of more than 267 million Facebook users, mostly in the U.S., exposed. This type of breach is not only a nightmare for the consumers impacted but also for businesses. When over 190,000 websites are Facebook Login Button customers and almost 40,000 live websites use the Facebook Login Button, a hacker can easily gain access to a multitude of connected accounts by simply having access to a user’s Facebook profile. This particular breach exposed Facebook profiles, as well as email addresses, meaning all fraudsters need to do is look for a consumer’s exposed passwords in a disconnected breach in order to have a good chance at gaining access to their Facebook account and subsequent connected accounts (since 50% of Americans recycle passwords across multiple websites).

Traditional methods like SMS-based 2FA and simple password authentication aren’t the only forms of authentication proving inadequate. Methods like fingerprint scanning have also come up short in recent months, proving hackable with little effort. Digital fingerprints are being sold in the Richlogs Marketplace (dark web) according to a recent report from IntSights. The report reveals that digital fingerprints which include the full fingerprinting of a user’s web browser and computer characteristics, allows an attacker to almost flawlessly impersonate the victim.

It was recently reported that the fingerprint reader on Samsung’s flagship S10 and Note10 smartphones can be spoofed with a $3 screen protector. Unfortunately, this means any person can unlock the device and access its data and any other apps opened by the fingerprint-based biometric security. Smartphone manufacturers have been implementing advanced features for users to secure their devices, using fingerprint readers, face mapping and even sensors that map out the veins in the palm of your hand, but device-centric approaches like fingerprint sensors are inherently problematic.

The biggest issue is that these fingerprint sensors are easily duped and cannot be relied on for commercial authentication use cases, but this approach also suffers from several other limitations. Multiple people can register their fingerprints on the same device, which means it’s unclear which family member was behind a given commercial transaction. Also, if the device is lost or stolen, the ability to recover access to their online accounts is challenging. Finally, device-centric unlocking functionality, such as the Samsung fingerprint scan, is also limited in terms of establishing someone’s actual digital identity for on-device purchases (i.e., users cannot use their fingerprint scans to make purchases from their desktop computer).

For any organization looking for enterprise-grade security, spoof-proof detection and cross-device support, sophisticated face-based authentication is inherently superior to fingerprint-based, SMS-based 2FA and simple password methodologies. Certain cloud-based approaches can leverage the 3D face map of a user’s face to alleviate some of the shortcomings of fingerprint-only authentication methods. Features like certified liveness detection add another layer of protection, rendering the solution practically dupe-proof. These options create a digital chain of trust to a unique user and can be used across devices. This will prove increasingly valuable with the rise of advanced fraud strategies like account takeovers, identity theft and deepfake technologies.

Philipp facilitates Jumio’s product strategy and, with his team, turns visions into products. Prior to Jumio, Philipp was responsible for paysafecard, Europe’s most popular prepaid solution for online purchases.

Source: https://forbes.com

728x90-1-1-1-1

The nature of payments fraud requires real-time solutions designed to detect and prevent fraud before it happens. Learn what is required to thwart fraud and how UP Payments Risk Management solutions can put you in control of managing risk. Learn more: http://www.aciworldwide/paymentsrisk Commerce and banking channels are multiplying and providing consumers more ways to transact than ever before. From physical channels, like credit, debit and pre-paid cards; checks; ATMs and point-of-sale terminals; to digital channels like ACH, wire, internet, telephone, mobile devices and crypto-currencies. Consumers, businesses, merchants and financial institutions all benefit from anytime, anywhere commerce…but…there’s a dark side. Sophisticated fraud threats are multiplying even faster: malware and Trojans; account takeover and identity theft; credit abuse and bust-out scams; ACH and wire fraud; data breaches; money laundering and employee fraud. In fact, a single data breach can compromise tens of millions of account holders in a matter of seconds.

Billionaire John De Mol Takes Facebook to Court Over Fraudulent Bitcoin Ads

John de Mol, a Dutch billionaire and media magnate, has recently sued Facebook over fraudulent bitcoin ads that showed him next to quotes about how much money he purportedly made investing in BTC with a company that was swindling users.

According to Reuters, De Mol’s lawyer has claimed the businessman, who created the reality show ‘Big Brother’ and is one of brains behind the Endemol entertainment studio, is suing the social media giant over damages to his client’s reputation, and over Facebook’s inability to stop the ads from appearing altogether.

De Mol’s lawyers would, as such, like to see Facebook automatically block ads featuring him and cryptocurrencies. The businessman’s lawyer further claimed consumers sent a total of €1.7 million (around $1.9 million) to the scammers, before Facebook reacted to complaints and removed the ads from its platform.

De Mol is also looking to get the names of those behind the fraudulent bitcoin ads, so he can hand them over to authorities. Jacqueline Schapp, one of his lawyers, argued that Facebook’s system of reacting to users reporting problems isn’t good enough.

I don’t know what reality Facebook lives in, but that doesn’t work.

Facebook’s lawyer, Jens van den Brink, revealed the company couldn’t be forced to monitor every ad that goes through it all the time, and that it’s “technically impossible” to block ads with De Mol’s name on it, as other people have the same name.

Van den Brink also added Facebook has met with Dutch financial market regulator AFM this month to discuss ways to combat scammers on its platform. It’s worth noting that Facebook banned cryptocurrency-related ads last year to stop them, but later on lifted the ban.

A judge at the Amsterdam District Court gave both parties two weeks to come up with a reasonable solution. If they fail to reach an agreement, the judge noted he would rule on the case.

This isn’t the first time celebrities are used to get users to buy into fraudulent cryptocurrency schemes through Facebook’s ads.

Source: CryptoGlobe

Indian Police Uncover Cryptocurrency Scam Involving BitConnect Promoter

Indian police have reportedly discovered an alleged multi-million dollar cryptocurrency scam, involving a BitConnect promoter, local media outlet the Times of India reported on June 3.

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Gujarat, India, has accused Divyesh Darji — a promoter of now-defunct cryptocurrency investment program BitConnect that ceased its operations in January of last year — of luring people to invest into “Regal Coin,” promising unrealistic returns of as high as 5,000% on investment. A CID official said that the estimated amount of the scam reaches into the tens of millions of rupees.

Per the CID, Darji began offering the investment scheme back in 2017, asking potential investors to buy the coin with an investment of $2 to get $100 on each Regal Coin. A CID official said that “Darji had promised that the investor would get the principal amount in 99 days. He had also promised to give interest on principal amount as per robotic trading profit along with 1% to 1.6% bonus as referral bonus at every 11 days.”

The scam was discovered after a Surat resident, Vishal Savalia approached the CID saying that he had lost around $26,783 in the Regal Coin scam. A CID official further explained that “Savalia had allegedly given the money to Darji’s daughter, Dimki through another accused and Darji’s aide, Ramdayal Purohit and Dimki herself had downloaded Regal Coin app in Savalia’s cellphone and get him registered on its website.”

According to the police, only Purohit is presently under arrest, while Darji was released on bail a month ago and is on the lam. This is reportedly the third case involving Darji.

At the end of August 2018, Indian police arrested Darji for allegedly promoting BitConnect and scamming investors. Darji reportedly said that he had been the India head of BitConnect. The CID claims that staff at the BitCoinnect office in Surat admitted that promoters had amassed “crores of rupees from thousands of investors.”

In February of this year, India’s Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the cyber forensic lab and Cyber Protection Awareness and Detection Centre, with a special unit focused on cryptocurrency.

Source: Pivot – Blockchain Community

JPMorgan Chase Launches Its Own Cryptocurrency: ‘JPM Coin’

JPMorgan Chase, the largest U.S. bank (and the world’s sixth largest), has created its own cryptocurrency, a stablecoin called “JPM Coin.” According to CNBC, J.P. Morgan “moves more than $6 trillion around the world every day for corporations in its massive wholesale payments business,” and in a few months, it will start trials for use of this new cryptocurrency for instant settlement of payments between its clients. The report says that J.P. Morgan is for a future blockchain-powered world, but before that happens………..

Source: CryptoGlobe

%d bloggers like this: