‘Easy money’: How International Scam Artists Pulled Off An Epic Theft of Covid Benefits

Russian mobsters, Chinese hackers and Nigerian scammers have used stolen identities to plunder tens of billions of dollars in pandemic aid, officials say. From a report: In June, the FBI got a warrant to hunt through the Google accounts of Abedemi Rufai, a Nigerian state government official.

What they found, they said in a sworn affidavit, was all the ingredients for a “massive” cyberfraud on U.S. government benefits: stolen bank, credit card and tax information of Americans. Money transfers. And emails showing dozens of false unemployment claims in seven states that paid out $350,000.

Rufai was arrested in May at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York as he prepared to fly first class back to Nigeria, according to court records. He is being held without bail in Washington state, where he has pleaded not guilty to five counts of wire fraud.

Rufai’s case offers a small window into what law enforcement officials and private experts say is the biggest fraud ever perpetrated against the U.S., a significant part of it carried out by foreigners. Russian mobsters, Chinese hackers and Nigerian scammers have used stolen identities to plunder tens of billions of dollars in Covid benefits, spiriting the money overseas in a massive transfer of wealth from U.S. taxpayers, officials and experts say.

And they say it is still happening. Among the ripest targets for the cybertheft have been jobless programs. The federal government cannot say for sure how much of the more than $900 billion in pandemic-related unemployment relief has been stolen, but credible estimates range from $87 million to $400 billion — at least half of which went to foreign criminals, law enforcement officials say.

Those staggering sums dwarf, even on the low end, what the federal government spends every year on intelligence collection, food stamps or K-12 education.

“This is perhaps the single biggest organized fraud heist we’ve ever seen,” said security researcher Armen Najarian of the firm RSA, who tracked a Nigerian fraud ring as it allegedly siphoned millions of dollars out of more than a dozen states.

Jeremy Sheridan, who directs the office of investigations at the Secret Service, called it “the largest fraud scheme that I’ve ever encountered.”

“Due to the volume and pace at which these funds were made available and a lot of the requirements that were lifted in order to release them, criminals seized on that opportunity and were very, very successful — and continue to be successful,” he said.

While the enormous scope of Covid relief fraud has been clear for some time, scant attention has been paid to the role of organized foreign criminal groups, who move taxpayer money overseas via laundering schemes involving payment apps and “money mules,” law enforcement officials said.

“This is like letting people just walk right into Fort Knox and take the gold, and nobody even asked any questions,” said Blake Hall, the CEO of ID.me, which has contracts with 27 states to verify identities.

Officials and analysts say both domestic and foreign fraudsters took advantage of an already weak system of unemployment verification maintained by the states, which has been flagged for years by federal watchdogs. Adding to the vulnerability, states made it easier to apply for Covid benefits online during the pandemic, and officials felt pressure to expedite processing. The federal government also rolled out new benefits for contractors and gig workers that required no employer verification.

In that environment, crooks were easily able to impersonate jobless Americans using stolen identity information for sale in bulk in the dark corners of the internet. The data — birthdates, Social Security numbers, addresses and other private information — have accumulated online for years through huge data breaches, including hacks of Yahoo, LinkedIn, Facebook, Marriott and Experian.

At home, prison inmates and drug gangs got in on the action. But experts say the best-organized efforts came from abroad, with criminals from nearly every country swooping in to steal on an industrial scale.

“They were literally calling this easy money,” said Ronnie Tokazowski, a senior threat researcher at Agari, a security firm, who has been monitoring dark web communications by West African fraud gangs.

In some cases, overseas organized crime groups flooded state unemployment systems with bogus online claims, overwhelming antiquated computer software benefits in blunt-force attacks that siphoned out millions of dollars. On several occasions, states have had to suspend benefit payments while they tried to figure out what was real and what was not.

“It’s definitely an economic attack on the United States,” said FBI Deputy Assistant Director Jay Greenberg, who is investigating cases as part of the Justice Department’s Covid fraud task force. “Tens of billions of dollars will be missing. … It’s a significant amount of money that’s gone overseas.”

Under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for gig workers and contractors, people could apply for retroactive relief, claiming months of joblessness with no employer verification possible. In some cases, that meant checks or debit cards worth $20,000, Hall said.

“Organized crime has never had an opportunity where any American’s identity could be converted into $20,000, and it became their Super Bowl,” he said. “And these states were not equipped to do identity verification, certainly not remote identity verification. And in the first few months and still today, organized crime has just made these states a target.”

Sheridan, whose purview at the Secret Service includes financial crimes, pointed out that the stolen sums far exceed the annual cost of ransomware, a problem estimated to cost the economy $20 billion a year, which has commanded outsize media attention.

The windfall for criminal groups will fuel other types of crime, including drug and human trafficking, he said.

“These groups that are profiting so greatly from these types of schemes, they engage in a host of other crimes,” he said. “Drug trade, crimes against children, more sophisticated cyber-related fraud. And this money is basically an investment to them to conduct more extensive criminal operations … some of which include crimes that will compromise national security.”

Missed opportunities

By the time states recognized the extent of the criminality, the spigot of cash had been gushing for months.

“Nobody really understood how big the problem was until it was playing out,” said Najarian, the RSA security researcher. “We all accepted that there was fraud taking place, organized fraud and local fraud. But what we didn’t realize … was that the organized fraud was very aggressive and very efficient and moving very, very large sums of money offshore.”

The investigative journalism site ProPublica calculated last month that from March to December 2020, the number of jobless claims added up to about two-thirds of the country’s labor force, when the actual unemployment rate was 23 percent. Although some people lose jobs more than once in a given year, that alone could not account for the vast disparity.

The thievery continues. Maryland, for example, in June detected more than half a million potentially fraudulent unemployment claims in May and June alone. Most of the attempts were blocked, but experts say that nationwide, many are still getting through.

The Biden administration has acknowledged the problem and blamed it on the Trump administration.

“There is perhaps no oversight issue inherited by my Administration that is as serious as the exploitation of relief programs by criminal syndicates using stolen identities to steal government benefits,” Biden said in a statement in May as the government announced a Justice Department Covid fraud task force.

The Biden administration has allocated $2 billion to shore up state unemployment systems. That appears to be badly needed, because states have failed to take basic steps to improve identity verification, according to the Labor Department’s inspector general.

In a memo in February, the inspector general reported that as of December, 22 of 54 state and territorial workforce agencies were still not following its repeated recommendation to join a national data exchange to check Social Security numbers. And in July, the inspector general reported that the national association of state workforce agencies had not been sharing fraud data as required by federal regulations.

Twenty states failed to perform all the required database identity checks, and 44 states did not perform all recommended ones, the inspector general found.

“The states have been chronically underfunded for years — they’re running 1980s technology,” Hall said.

Not a victimless crime

Along with the huge losses inflicted on the U.S. Treasury, the criminals also hurt tens of thousands of people, many of whom suffered delays in getting much-needed benefits.

When Yvonne Matlock lost her job last year as a fundraiser for an Indiana addiction treatment center, she applied for unemployment benefits online, like millions of other Americans.

But she was told she was already getting relief money.

“Somebody had gotten ahold of my Social Security number and set up an account in my name. It seems as though it was really easy for them to do,” she said.

She said it was an ordeal to verify her identity with the state and get her benefits.

“I sent them everything but a blood sample,” she said. “I sent my driver’s license, my Social Security card, my gun permit — which they issued, by the way — my W-2 forms.”

“I sent more than what they asked me for and was still denied,” Matlock added.

She finally got the benefits after three months. And then she was victimized again. Somebody else stole her identity and diverted $1,200. Police are investigating.

The detective “said I’ll do my best, [but] the chances of us finding this person are pretty slim,” she said.

So far, there has been relatively little recovery of the stolen cash — or accountability for the criminals who took it.

The FBI has opened about 2,000 investigations, Greenberg said, but it has recovered just $100 million. The Secret Service, which focuses on cyber and economic crimes, has clawed back $1.3 billion. But the vast majority of the pilfered funds are gone for good, experts say, including tens of billions of dollars sent out of the country through money-moving applications such as Cash.app.

‘Sick to my stomach’

The government does not seem to know how much has been stolen.

Through a public records request, NBC News obtained data from the Labor Department, which funds Covid relief unemployment benefits programs, that are riddled with blank values and underestimates. The data list just over a billion dollars in fraud across the three CARES Act unemployment programs — a figure experts say is off by orders of magnitude.

In fact, state officials have made statements that refute their own reporting into the Labor Department data system. California, for example, appears to have reported only $2 million in fraud across CARES Act programs, despite publicly having acknowledged over $11 billion in unemployment fraud after an audit in January. State officials said early this year that projected losses could reach $31 billion.

More than two-thirds of states, 34, reported no cases of identity theft overpayments in the most vulnerable unemployment benefits program. Experts say that simply is not accurate.

The inspector general pointed out in a recent report that the Labor Department reduced testing and reporting requirements on state unemployment systems during the pandemic.

One result is that the public is in the dark about the scope of the fraud.

“It makes me sick to my stomach, particularly when I see how much is coming out of my taxes each month for unemployment,” said John Wilson, Agari’s field chief technology officer.

The inspector general has projected that there will be $87 billion in misspent unemployment funds, a conservative estimate that assumes no spike in fraud rates. Both the inspector general and the FBI declined to offer an estimate of what the actual value of lost funds might be.

ID.me’s estimate of $400 billion comes from the data the company has seen across the states, Hall said.

ID.me implements extra verification steps beyond paper or digital records, requiring people, for example, to prove through FaceTime that their faces match the ones on the drivers’ license. As a result, fraudsters have used Barbie dolls, silicon masks and deep fake videos in an unsuccessful effort to beat the system, he said.

A Nigerian fraud group strikes

One of the few examples in which analysts have pointed the finger at a specific foreign group involves a Nigerian fraud ring dubbed Scattered Canary by security researchers. The group had been committing cyberfraud for years when the pandemic benefits presented a ripe target, Najarian said.

“The moment the pandemic hit, that was the next big thing that they jumped on, and they did a great job exploiting that opportunity,” he said.

Scattered Canary took advantage of a quirk in Google’s system. Gmail does not recognize dots in email addresses — John.Doe@gmail.com and JohnDoe@gmail.com are routed to the same account. But state unemployment systems treated them as distinct email addresses.

Exploiting that trait, the group was able to create dozens of fraudulent state unemployment accounts that funneled benefits to the same email address, according to research by Najarian and others at Agari.

In April and May of 2020, Scattered Canary filed at least 174 fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits with the state of Washington, Agari found — each claim eligible to receive up to $790 a week, for a total of $20,540 over 26 weeks. With the addition of the $600-per-week Covid supplement, the maximum potential loss was $4.7 million for those claims alone, Agari found.

Scattered Canary and other groups made use of so-called money mules — witting or unwitting third parties who moved the stolen funds through bank accounts so they could be transferred out of the country, Najarian said.

Cash App, which describes itself as “the easiest way to send money, spend money, save money, and buy cryptocurrency,” has been frequently used by fraudsters to move money, law enforcement officials and private consultants said.

“When you use the app, you can quickly and easily convert everything over to Bitcoin,” Tokazowski said. “Within like 10 minutes, you can get that cash converted and sent on its way.”

Cash App said in a statement that it has “enhanced our systems to monitor and act upon deposits that we deem to be risky, despite coming from largely trusted sources like state unemployment agencies. We also partner with law enforcement and government agencies to investigate potential fraud and work collaboratively to return those funds when possible.”

Rufai, the Nigerian official, is accused of having used 100 fraudulent claims to steal $350,000. He is being held without bail after having been transferred from New York to Washington state. He has been placed on leave from his government job, said his attorney, Lance Hester.

Federal officials have not linked the cases to Scattered Canary. But at a detention hearing, prosecutors portrayed Rufai as a significant player in cyberfraud going back to 2017.

“This is a defendant who is charged with participating in a massive fraud on the United States,” said Seth Wilkinson, an assistant U.S. attorney in Seattle, according to a public transcript. “It is someone who exploited our country’s efforts to take care of its own people during the biggest emergency of our lifetime.”

Hester said he could not comment because he had not had a chance to speak with his client in detail.

“I know he stands strongly behind his not guilty plea,” Hester said.

By:

Source: ‘Easy money’: How international scam artists pulled off an epic theft of Covid benefits

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Crypto Exchange And XRP Refuge Bitsane Vanishes, Scamming As Many As 246,000 Users

Exchange for Ripple's XRP scam users.

Ireland-based cryptocurrency exchange Bitsane disappeared without a trace last week, likely taking hundreds of thousands of users’ assets with it.

Account holders told Forbes that attempts to withdraw bitcoin, XRP and other cryptocurrencies began failing in May, with Bitsane’s support team writing in emails that withdrawals were “temporarily disabled due to technical reasons.” By June 17, Bitsane’s website was offline and its Twitter and Facebook accounts were deleted. Emails to multiple Bitsane accounts are now returned as undeliverable.

Victims of the scam are comparing notes in a group chat with more than 100 members on the messaging app Telegram and in a similar Facebook group. Most users in the groups claim to have lost up to $5,000, but Forbes spoke with one person in the U.S. who says he had $150,000 worth of XRP and bitcoin stored in Bitsane.

Bitsane’s disappearance is the latest cautionary tale for a cryptocurrency industry trying to shed its reputation as an unsafe asset class. Several exchanges like GateHub and Binance have been breached by hackers this year, but an exchange completely ceasing to exist with no notice or explanation is far more unusual.

Bitsane had 246,000 registered users according to its website as of May 30, the last time its homepage was saved on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. Its daily trading volume was $7 million on March 31, according to CoinMarketCap.

“I was trying to transfer XRP out to bitcoin or cash or anything, and it kept saying ‘temporarily disabled.’ I knew right away there was some kind of problem,” says the user who claims to have lost $150,000 and asked to remain anonymous. “I went back in to try to look at those tickets to see if they were still pending, and you could no longer access Bitsane.”

At the height of the cryptocurrency craze in late 2017 and early 2018, Bitsane attracted casual investors because it allowed them to buy and sell Ripple’s XRP, which at the time was not listed on Coinbase, the most popular U.S. cryptocurrency exchange. CNBC published a story on January 2, 2018 with the headline “How to buy XRP, one of the hottest bitcoin competitors.” It explained how to buy bitcoin or ethereum on Coinbase, transfer it to Bitsane and then exchange it for XRP.

Three of the five Bitsane users Forbes spoke to found out about the exchange through the CNBC article. Ripple also listed Bitsane as an available exchange for XRP on its website until recently. A Ripple spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Bitsane went live in November 2016 according to a press release, registering in Dublin as Bitsane LP under CEO Aidas Rupsys, and its chief technology officer was Dmitry Prudnikov. Prudnikov’s LinkedIn account has been deleted, and neither he nor Rupsys could be reached for comment.

A separate company, Bitsane Limited, was incorporated in England in August 2017 by Maksim Zmitrovich. He wanted to own the intellectual property rights to part of Bitsane’s code and use it for a trading platform his company, Azbit, was building. Zmitrovich says Bitsane’s developers insisted that their exchange’s name be on the new legal entity he was forming. But Azbit never ended up using any of the code since the partnership did not materialize, and Bitsane Limited did not provide any services to Bitsane LP.

On May 16, Bitsane Limited filed for dissolution because Zmitrovich wasn’t doing anything with it and the company’s registration was up for renewal. Some of the Bitsane exchange’s victims have found the public filing and suspected Zmitrovich as part of the scam, but he insists accusations against him are unfounded.

He says he hasn’t spoken to Prudnikov—who was in charge of negotiations with Azbit—in at least five months, and Prudnikov has not returned his calls since account holders searching for answers began contacting him. Azbit wrote a blog post about the Bitsane scam on June 13, explaining Bitsane Limited’s lack of involvement.

“I’m sick and tired of these accusations,” Zmitrovich says. “This company didn’t even have a bank account.”

The location of the money and whereabouts of any of Bitsane LP’s employees remain a mystery to the scam victims, who are unsure about what action to take next. Multiple account holders in the U.S. say they have filed complaints with the FBI, but all of them are concerned that their cash is gone for good.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Send me a secure tip.

I’m a reporter on Forbes’ wealth team covering billionaires and their fortunes. I was previously an assistant editor reporting on money and markets for Forbes, and I covered stocks as an intern at Bloomberg. I graduated from Duke University in 2019, where I majored in math and was the sports editor for our student newspaper, The Chronicle. Send news tips to htucker@forbes.com.

Source: Crypto Exchange And XRP Refuge Bitsane Vanishes, Scamming As Many As 246,000 Users

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Critics:

Cryptocurrency and crime describes attempts to obtain digital currencies by illegal means, for instance through phishing, scamming, a supply chain attack or hacking, or the measures to prevent unauthorized cryptocurrency transactions, and storage technologies. In extreme cases even a computer which is not connected to any network can be hacked.

In 2018, around US$1.7 billion in cryptocurrency was lost due to scams theft and fraud. In the first quarter 2019, the amount of such losses was US$1.2 billion.

Exchanges

Notable cryptrocurrency exchange hacks, resulting in the theft of cryptocurrencies include:

  • Bitstamp In 2015 cryptocurrencies worth $5 million were stolen
  • Mt. Gox Between 2011 and 2014, $350 million worth of bitcoin were stolen
  • Bitfinex In 2016, $72 million were stolen through exploiting the exchange wallet, users were refunded.
  • NiceHash In 2017 more than $60 million worth of cryptocurrency was stolen.
  • Coincheck NEM tokens worth $400 million were stolen in 2018
  • Zaif $60 million in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash and Monacoin stolen in September 2018
  • Binance In 2019 cryptocurrencies worth $40 million were stolen.

Josh Garza, who founded the cryptocurrency startups GAW Miners and ZenMiner in 2014, acknowledged in a plea agreement that the companies were part of a pyramid scheme, and pleaded guilty to wire fraud in 2015. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission separately brought a civil enforcement action against Garza, who was eventually ordered to pay a judgment of $9.1 million plus $700,000 in interest. The SEC’s complaint stated that Garza, through his companies, had fraudulently sold “investment contracts representing shares in the profits they claimed would be generated” from mining.

Following its shut-down, in 2018 a class action lawsuit for $771,000 was filed against the cryptocurrency platform known as BitConnect, including the platform promoting YouTube channels. Prior fraud warnings in regards to BitConnect, and cease-and-desist orders by the Texas State Securities Board cited the promise of massive monthly returns.

OneCoin was a massive world-wide multi-level marketing Ponzi scheme promoted as (but not involving) a cryptocurrency, causing losses of $4 billion worldwide. Several people behind the scheme were arrested in 2018 and 2019.

See also

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.

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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.

Uncovering The Money Laundering Attempts Of Bitcoin Fraudsters Behind The Recent Twitter Scam

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Performing an initial investigation to follow the funds related to the Twitter TWTR hack that happened on July 15 to Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Kanye West, Bill Gates and numerous other celebrities and executives of large technology companies, it is evident the many of those funds already hit reputable exchanges that might freeze the funds.

During the Twitter hack, the fraudsters, posing as celebrities, falsely informed users that they have decided to partner up with a mysterious organization called “CryptoForHealth” in order to ‘give back to their community.’ The scam has been covered extensively by several news outlets including Forbes contributors like Jasse Damiani, that reviewed the initial steps just after the hack.

As different celebrities were sharing and resharing those posts that turned out to be fraudulent, some of their followers decided to open up their own wallets and pay as well. More than $130,000 later, most of the posts had been removed, the website of CryptoForHealth shut down. Twitter stepped in to forbid some users to tweet, but it is high time to recover the funds to the victims or at least specify to which exchanges they have been sent.

Despite a common misperception as Bitcoin represents a pseudo-anonymous network, transactions performed on it are both visible to the general public and traceable. Addresses can be directly connected to particular exchanges.

As scammers are still moving funds between cryptocurrency wallets, investigators from all over the world have stepped in with the goal to identify types of exchanges and freeze the funds on different accounts.

From the initial review, it is evident that much of the funds have been transferred to Binance. In a recent statement to TechCrunch, Binance Security Team informed that they have been aware of the situation and launched an investigation, which is visible to the crypto community as their team marked several cryptocurrency wallets as fraudulent.

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Earlier today, an article released by Cointelegraph revealed that addresses used by the hackers had previously been linked to Coinbase and BitPay, common names in the cryptocurrency exchange and merchant sphere.

“According to our initial analysis the funds have reached many exchanges, but the core of the funds originated from the main Binance address. It is now clear that scammers were sending funds back and forth between different cryptocurrency addresses in an attempt to confuse law enforcement agents, wash them. Once completed fraudsters have sent a large parts of the funds to an address belonging to Binance yet again, which has been rather quickly discovered and flagged by the exchange.

Secondary besides Binance, it seems though that multiple exchanges like Bittrex, as well as MercadoBitcoin in Brazil have received funds from this scam already,” said Sven Martinsson, the Founder & CEO of VALEGA Chain Analytics – a Blockchain Investigations and analytics firm working out of Finland.

Even though the investigation remains novel, due to the transparency of the open blockchain of Bitcoin, it is possible to follow different transactions to a different account at cryptocurrency exchange platforms. Being personally engaged in one such ‘crypto exchange platform,’ competent and motivated compliance team members have a portfolio of tools and processes to stop such transactions in case they are being spotted. The fraudsters seem to know that so that there is a race for the fraudsters to try to exchange the funds to fiat currencies as soon as possible and Blockchain investigators to mark as many wallets as quickly as possible to freeze those funds.

Even though the identity of the scammers remains yet unknown, there are tools in place which allow for visualizing transactions between different accounts and exchanges that use the publicly available data and connect wallets to crypto exchanges.

Here are a couple of examples of how the fraudsters anticipated to hide their tracks. Everything starts on the left side in the middle of the graph, which represents the first address to which the scammers asked users to pay. Each additional connected line of dots represents their effort to hide their tracks and mix funds between different wallets and exchanges.

A more comprehensive description has been placed below each picture which represents a print screen out of a Blockchain Analytics Software.

Zooming in closer to different dots allows us to directly view the cryptocurrency wallet address which has been used. It is connected to a particular wallet provider or a platform (with strong but not utmost certainty). In order to review where funds were directed and how much was sent.

Investigations performed by compliance teams take time as they are most likely performed by individuals who are working for different exchange platforms or geographies, so sometimes the funds are able to be transferred to an account before they are being flagged as fraudulent. Red accounts have been already marked as fraudulent.

Following each transaction and the connected spiderweb of transfers between cryptocurrency addresses helps to spot a time period in which fraudsters will try to wash funds with a legitimate exchange. As stated below, fraudsters launched a transfer to MercadoBitcoin in Brazil as well as Bittrex.com already.

This review is just a snapshot of the current stage of transfers performed by the fraudsters as of the afternoon of July 17th. It does not display traces in full to avoid obstructing justice or investigations. Even though it has been a Twitter hack and not a Bitcoin hack, the pseudo-anonymity of bitcoin and visibility of each transaction with tools like the wallet explorer does prove that the Crypto community is not helpless and knows more and more with each transaction the fraudsters perform. It is important to underline that it was not Bitcoin that got hacked, it was Twitter. Bitcoin was just the chosen means of payment.

Sven will release a collected investigation free of charge to anyone who can identify themself as an investigator in the process.

Disclaimer:

The transaction investigation remains ongoing. For security reasons and not to interfere with investigations, this is just a teaser to provide insights into different tactics of criminal networks. Exchanges in question have the appropriate means to stay compliant and do their reporting accordingly. This is NOT an attempt to defame or point any fingers and the statements are assumptions, not yet evidence. It remains a visualization of investigation that affected many users and the account holders on Twitter.

For transparency purposes – The contributor of this post is a Head of Compliance in one of the leading Cryptocurrency Exchanges in the Nordics called ‘Safello’.

He serves as a board advisor to Valega Chain whose team has launched an investigation to follow the stolen funds on his request. Statements about how Blockchain Analytics Tools work have been performed on the example of Valega Chain Analytics and should not be generalized to other Blockchain Analytics Tools as all of them have their own criteria, tools, and internal processes. 

Follow me on Twitter.

I’m a freelance technology, video game, and entertainment journalist. I’ve been writing about the world of technology, video games, and entertainment for the last decade. If you’ve seen my work around the Web, you’ve probably found me analyzing and reviewing your favorite smartphones, televisions, and video games. And if you’re on Twitter, you probably see me asking for movie recommendations and complaining about the tech in my life not working the way it should. In my free time, I’m usually tinkering with tech, improving my surround sound setup, and insatiably consuming all the world of tech, games, and geek culture has to offer. I write for Forbes Finds. If you buy something using a link on my posts, Forbes Finds may receive a small share of that sale.

Source: https://www.forbes.com

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Hackers Threatening to Release ‘Dirty Laundry’ of Celebrities If Ransom Not Paid

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Hackers have doubled their original ransom demand in exchange for the data belonging to U.S. entertainment law firm Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks, which represents many celebrities, such as Lady Gaga, Lizzo, and Madonna.

According to a report by Fox News, the hacking group REvil ( updated their ransom demand to $42 million in exchange for the stolen files containing personal information on high-profile celebrities such as Lady Gaga, U2 and President Donald Trump. The files belonged to attorney Allen Grubman.

The hackers claim to have stolen 756GB of data that includes the firm’s contracts, personal emails, and correspondence with clients.

The hackers also deleted or encrypted the firm’s backup files and are demanding a ransom for the decryption key.

Grubman has refused to negotiate with the hacking group. The report cites an anonymous source close to the matter saying,

“His view is, if he paid, the hackers might release the documents anyway. Plus the FBI has stated this hack is considered an act of international terrorism, and we don’t negotiate with terrorists.”

The hacking group released a statement on Thursday threatening to release to the “dirty laundry” of President Donald Trump if the ransom was not paid.

Well, acording to a report published in Mail Online on Sunday (May 17), the hackers have “released a trove of emails mentioning President Donald Trump, and claim that they will publish much more damaging material if they aren’t paid a ransom of $42 million.”

By Michael LaVere

Featured Image Credit: Photo via Pixabay.com

Source: https://www.cryptoglobe.com

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“The US Secret Service and the FBI are continuing to probe hacking group REvil, who attacked the server of attorney Allen Grubman’s NYC firm and stole 756 gigabytes of confidential documents relating to his firm’s clients including Lady Gaga, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Priyanka Chopra and Bette Midler. On Thursday the hackers upped the ante by doubling their ransom demands and threatening to publish “a ton of dirty laundry” on President Donald Trump — who is not a client of the NYC law firm Grubman, Shire, Meiselas and Sacks — next week if the law firm did not pay in full. It remains unclear if the hackers claims to have dirt on Trump are true.
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