Exit scammers run off with $660 million in ICO earnings

A Vietnamese cryptocurrency company Modern Tech launched an ICO for its Pincoin token, raising $660 million from approximately 32,000 people. The company first ran the Pincoin ICO, promising constant returns to investors, and then launched another token, iFan( a social network token for celebrities ). Picoin investors first received cash from their investment and then the team began paying out rewards to Pincoin investors in iFan tokens.

Then the team disappeared.

This so-called exit scam could be that largest in recent memory and is also indicative of what’s to come in the ICO space. The squad of seven Vietnamese nationals seem to have left the country while scammed investors massed outside the company’s old headquarters.

From Tuoi Tre news 😛 TAGEND

In fact, the real mastermind behind these projects is a squad of 7 Vietnamese nationals, who have held different meetings in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and even remote areas to lure investors.

Investors has been said that they would enjoy a profit rate of 48 percent a month from their initial investment, and recoup all investments after four months. People would also be rewarded with an eight percent committee for every new member they have introduced to the network.

Pincoin was particularly unique in that it offered bonuses for bringing other people into the program, a tactic that might audio familiar. The scammers paid out in money until January when they began sending iFan tokens. Then, last month, the team vacated their fancy offices leaving merely an oddly well-made- if incomplete- website in its aftermath. Taking a closer look at the site we find a model of obfuscation. The mission-” The PIN Project is about constructing an online collaborative intake platform for global community, base on principles of Sharing Economy, Blockchain Technology, and Crypto Currency”- seems on par with other pie-in-the-sky answers but there is no mention of any founders or advisors and even their fancy, multi-lingual white paper, has no clear founder information. In short, the team paid a great deal for a very nice website and convinced thousands of people it was legitimate.

According to Viet Bao, a team consisting of Bui Thi My Ngoc, Ho Phu Ty, Ho Xuan Van, Luong Huynh Quoc Huy, Luu Trong Tuan, Nguyen Duc Trong, Nguyen Trung Hieu, and Vu Huu Loi led Pincoin and iFan from zero to multi-millions in a few months while claiming the latter are representing products from Singapore and India.” To formalize the mode of operation, ifan and Pincoin authorized their company as legal representative in Vietnam with tax code 03147072 23. Modern Tech then held the event in Ho Chi Minh City Minh and Hanoi to create capital from investors ,” Viet Bao reporter.

One interesting bit of chicanery is this screen from the iFan page. Near the middle of the page we find information that the token is based on the Ethereum platform. The page shows the cost and rating of the cryptocurrency, is recommended that the Ethereum is directly related to the iFan price.

And this popped up when I visited the project’s white paper 😛 TAGEND

Again we find that the current, unregulated, ICO market is the most interesting system for parting fools from their money in recent history.

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Coinbase has hired LinkedIns M&A boss to spearhead new acquisitions

Coinbase is continuing its executive hiring spree as the company has announced that Emilie Choi is joining Coinbase as vice president of Corporate and Business Development.

Choi comes from LinkedIn where she was vice president of Corporate Development and supervised a total of 40 M& -Arelated transactions. Prior to that she worked in business development roles at both Warner Brothers and Yahoo.

The hire constructs sense for Coinbase, a fast-growing startup that has had trouble keeping up with user growth and activity — both from a customer service and technical view. Having someone to spearhead acquisitions could help on this front — with limited engineering talent in the crypto space it can often build more sense to acquire or acqui-hire a startup either as a way to onboard a bunch of technologists at once or to quickly get a piece to new technologies without having to build it in-house.

Coinbase says that Choi “will be focused on scaling Coinbase globally, seeking out world-class acquisition and partnership opportunities, and managing our strategic projects.”

So far Coinbase hasn’t had any big acquisitions — but that may change under Choi’s leadership, especially considering the company is now well capitalized from both significant venture funding( $225 million to date) and now from running a super profitable trading business.

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Coinbase is launching its own cryptocurrency index fund

When you’re the runaway leader in a growing industry, you typically have two sentiments: A) Stay in your lane and let other companies pop up to solve the industry’s problems, or B) Try to offer as many products as is practicable and own the entire customer experience from -AZ( no Amazon pun aimed ).

If there’s any doubt which alternative Coinbase is gunning for, that’s now gone. The digital currency giant only announced they’re expanding in yet another direction by launching a passively managed cryptocurrency index fund.

The fund will have a $ 10,000 minimum and charge a 2 percent annual management fee with no performance fee, which is rare for most traditional investment funds, but luckily is becoming the norm for crypto-specific passive investment vehicles.

The Index Fund is the first investment vehicle from Coinbase’s new asset management division. It will include all digital currencies that trade on GDAX, weighted by marketplace cap. This entails at launching it will be comprised of 62 percent Bitcoin, 27 percent Ethereum, 7 percentage Bitcoin Cash and 4 percent Litecoin. This will rebalance whenever a new asset is added to GDAX as well as once a year to account for render changes( as different currencies have different inflation targets ).

That being said, Coinbase does plan to offer future investment vehicles that aren’t limited to what is listed on GDAX — but for now it’s the best way to insure that there is sufficient liquidity to acquire the initial assets.

In terms of performance, the fund backdates to early 2015 when GDAX was launched. Since then it’s indicated( predictably) insane returns, up about 49 x or 4,900 percent.

Investments can be made in USD or any of the included digital currencies, as long as an investor can meet the $10,000 minimum investment. For this fund investors will also have to be accredited and U.S-based, although Coinbase hopes to remove those restrictions for future funds. New investment can be made once a month, with redemptions happening on a quarterly basis with no lockup period.

All funds will be held by Coinbase in cold storage, which is certainly a plus considering their experience managing such high-value assets. In fact, their security is so respected that they have another product called Coinbase Custody,which offers cold storage and custody services for other investment funds.

Of course, Coinbase isn’t the first to develop a passive crypto fund. Some are making similar SEC-sanctioned funds like Bitwise investments’ HOLD 10 indicator, and others are taking a platform approach like Iconomi’s services that are lets investors create their own custom-weighted crypto asset basket. But the major differentiator here is that Coinbase is already such an established name in the field with so many existing investors already utilizing at the least one of Coinbase’s services.

The fund will launch in a few months, and accredited investors can sign up now.

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Poor cloud security let hackers mine cryptocurrency on Teslas dime

The strange new breed of malicious cryptocurrency miners spares no one, it seems: Tesla is the latest to be struck by this trendy form of hackery. A poorly secured cloud computing setup let them waltz right in.

It’s merely the latest example of several detected by cloud security outfit RedLock, which has tracked a series of Kubernetes admin consoles wide open to anyone seeming. Not even password-protected.

If RedLock could find them, so could hackers — and they did. By logging in and carefully disguising the cloud computing utilization and associated traffic, they managed to quietly mine utilizing Tesla’s AWS pod for … well, it’s anybody’s guess how long. And given the volatility of cryptocurrency marketplaces these days, it’s also anybody’s guess how much and of what coin.

Obviously, the solution here is to have literally any kind of security on your infrastructure. But hackers are clever and companies should also be watching for unusual high levels of traffic and other usage indicators, and also monitor for non-standard user behaviours. But severely, at least a password.

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Uber co-founder Garrett Camp is creating a new cryptocurrency

Garrett Camp, best known for being a co-founder of Uber and founder of the accelerator/ venture money Expa, is launching his own cryptocurrency.

The currency is called Eco, and Camp wants it to be a digital global currency that can be used as a payment tool around the world for daily-use transactions.

There will be one trillion tokens issued initially, of which 50% will be given away to the first one billion verified humans that sign up. 20% will go to the universities operating trusted nodes, 10% will go to advisors, 10% will go to strategic partners, and 10% will go to a newly formed Eco Foundation which will be responsible for creating and maintaining the network. Camp as well as a small number of partners affiliated with Expa will also donate $10 M to seed the foundation with an operating budget.

Notably there will be no ICO- which entails no money will be raised for the project, and also lets the project avoid any potential legal issues which have now become prevalent with most major ICOs.

Eco’s initial whitepaper explains that it wants to improve on a few main issues common with digital currencies.

First, it wants to use only verified nodes for network subsistence and transaction verifications, meaning someone anonymous couldn’t run a node and confirm transactions like they could do on bitcoin’s network. While this essentially removes issues of 51% assaults or other acts of hoax, the committee is also entails it won’t be truly decentralized.

Second, Eco will have a large token supplying( one trillion, at least initially) and simple web and mobile apps. This is likely the project’s attempt to be more user friendly, meaning a smaller dollar to Eco token conversation rate so regular users aren’t frightened away by high token prices, which often happens with bitcoin. Similarly, the web and mobile app directive likely means they want to make wallets easily accessible to anyone irrespective of technical ability.

The last improvement is that Eco wants to be energy efficient when it comes to transaction verification and token generation, meaning there won’t has become a network of electricity-intensive miners supporting the network like some other cryptocurrencies have.

Eco is an admirable idea, but not a novel one. Since the early days of crypto, groups have been “copy and pasting” Bitcoin to make their own digital blockchains, all with slight differences that they guess will change the world.

For example, Litecoin and Ethereum both have faster blockchain which have increased transaction times. Both Telegram’s upcoming token and Kik’s Kin token are trying to be mobile-first, daily-use tokens with a high render and low token cost. Ripple already shuns anonymous nodes and instead employs trusted validator nodes run by legitimate groups chosen by them. Ethereum is working on proof of stake to become more energy efficient, and NEO already has a working one in place.

You get the point.

There is currently no lack of existing cryptocurrencies with these improved features. Instead, we suffer from a lack of a developed ecosystem which is needed develop and support real-life everyday use instances for these blockchains. It’s not hard to launch a new cryptocurrency, but it is hard to onboard the hundreds and thousands of service providers, merchants and financial institutions that are needed to make a cryptocurrency actually useful.

Maybe Eco will have better luck with this. And in fact, signing up partners to build an ecosystem is a field where this new cryptocurrency should prosper, holding Garrett Camp’s involvement and high-profile in the tech industry.

Eco hopes to have a test net operating by the end of the year, but users can sign up now to claim a username and reserve some tokens.

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Why is Bitcoins price down to two-month lows?

Crypto investors are seeing red this week. Bitcoin plunged to two-month lows on Thursday, dipping below $9,000 for the first time since November. At the time of writing, Bitcoin had ricochetted back up to the $9,200 level, down from weekly highs simply above $12,000. This week has seen coins across the board in the red — a sign that investors are jumping ship to fiat currencies this time instead of swapping into altcoins as we’ve seen in the recent past.

At the time of writing, the total cryptocurrency market cap weighed in at $459 billion, down from January highs around $830 billion. It’s a contraction to be sure, but not a low for the last 30 days( that low came on January 18 ).

Is this the bitter end for Bitcoin? For cryptos? Well , no, probably not. Get your head bolt on right and you’ll should be noted that( for better or worse) many coins have watched unprecedented growth in the last six months to a year, even with Bitcoin’s price halved from holiday highs closer to $20,000. On the working day last year, Bitcoin was sitting pretty at $982. At the height of December’s craze, most reasonable crypto-watchers could agree that the price was overheated and there was only one way for it to go in the short term. Still, in the thick of the present correction, Bitcoin’s longer-term growth is anyone’s guess.

Cryptocurrency die-hards expecting the price to bounce back, even partially, “il be seeing” these tanking numbers as the perfect entry phase for getting in low and maximizing gains. Late speculators who got in during the mass crypto hysteria of the holiday season aren’t likely to have such steady hands, a factor that’s likely contributing to the slide.

So what’s causing the slide to begin with? As usual , no one thing can be blamed for Bitcoin’s current downturn, but recent skittishness around a subpoena for Bitfinex and fears around Tether — a kind of cryptocurrency equivalent to USD that matches the dollar one to one — likely taken into account in. Recent news that Facebook would ban ads for ICOs probably didn’t help either. And it seems like every day a new Ponzi scheme gets busted, hurling yet more doubt on the credibility of plenty of less than legit ICOs.

Even beyond news cycle highs and lows, Bitcoin has seen a few mid-January dips before, though 2017 ’s Bitcoin behavior surely broke from any seasonal patterns of the past.

Still, these growing aches are far from surprising. As cryptocurrencies mature — assuming they continue to do so — regulatory “bad” news will become more common. Countries across the globe will continue to struggle to accommodate their citizens’ sudden those who are interested in digital currencies — or not, in the case of India, which simply decided to ban them outright. Unsurprisingly, headlines like these inspire a sense of premonition among cryptocurrency fanatics wondering which country will be next to come down hard. Fear, perhaps justifiable anxiety for many speculators with plenty to lose, amplifies each new regulatory revelation. But for cryptocurrencies to grow out of the present scam-laden chaotic epoch, a thorough house cleaning is healthy.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have also looked less responsive to positive news in the latter half of January compared to their relative buoyancy during December’s dizzying highs. Then, every little positive news blip seemed to push the prices higher.

Bitcoin aside, some altcoins might just be adjusting from overheated, overhyped December highs. Ripple is an excellent example of this, hovering around$ 1 Thursday, a price that’s five times its November value and only seems bad after XRP flew a bit too close to the sunshine with sudden early January highs above $3. Ethereum is also faring pretty well, all things deemed, down from all-time highs above $1,400 but holding most of its newly built value after doubling in price from December costs around $500.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens as we move into next week’s Senate Banking Committee hearings on cryptocurrency. Titled “Virtual Currencies: The Oversight Role of the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Commodity Future Trading Commission, ” the open hearings will air on February 6 at 10:00 Eastern day. It’s possible that the upcoming discussion in Congress has traders nervous, but ultimately variables from all over the globe combine to affect the market every day.

For anyone considering riding out the present correction, a little historical view — in this case, even a few months’ worth — could go a long way.

Disclosure: The writer holds a small posture in some cryptocurrencies. Regrettably, it is not enough for a Lambo .

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50 Cent realizes hes a Bitcoin millionaire thanks to sales of a 2014 album

Call him the ultimate hodler. After being one of the first musicians to accept Bitcoin all the way back in 2014, Rapper 50 Cent( a.k.a. Curtis Jackson) appears to have accumulated a small fortune in the volatile digital currency.

As TMZ first reported, and the man himself seems to have confirmed, 50 Cent left his Bitcoin sales untouched until rediscovering them some time lately. At the time, he reportedly raked in around 700 bitcoins in album sales for his fifth album, Animal Ambition, which launched in June 2014. TechCrunch reached out to confirm the numbers and will update when we hear back.

On the date of the album’s launching, one bitcoin was worth $657. If reports of his 700 bitcoin haul are accurate, then 50 made around $460,000 in sales at the time — not bad.

Today, that same sum of bitcoin is worth $7,770, 000.

50 appeared to confirm the news in an Instagram caption: “Not Bad for a kid from South Side, I’m so proud of me, ” followed by the comment “I’m a keep it real I forgot I did that shit. Lol.” A later Instagram post depicted bitcoin imagery with the caption “all moneys is good fund over here.”

In 2015, 50 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and restructured his finances, agreeing to pay off $23 million in debt with a five-year plan. Last year, he reportedly finished paying off the $23 million early after receiving some fund in a settlement. Back in 2011, the rapper debuted a decide of headphones marketed with his personal brand and became the CEO of his own audio company, SMS Audio.

50 may have stumbled onto his crypto-millions, but that doesn’t diminish his early vision to support the then still reasonably obscure digital currency. Still, cryptocurrency fortunes can change at a moment’s notification. We’d be curious to know if he plans to cash out or live that #hodler life.

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Financial technology startups emerged as serious challengers to financial services in 2017

dYdX is a decentralized protocol for cryptocurrency derivatives

While some fiscal derivatives like futures trading are slowly coming to Bitcoin, we’re still a long time away from these financial products being widely available for the entire cryptocurrency asset class.

So dydX is constructing a decentralized protocol for derivatives, built on the Ethereum blockchain and the 0x protocol. The protocol lets you take out peer-to-peer short sells, long positions and options on any ERC2 0 token. It also provides the ability for traders to make fully-collateralized loans, which are used to to money short sellers.

As a refresher, a decentralized protocol means that no single entity controls the process. No one can cancel your order, steal your funds or rip you off as long as the smart contracts powering the protocol are securely written and properly vetted. There are already a few examples of decentralized exchanges like EtherDelta, where you can exchanges crypto assets peer-to-peer. But most of these platforms restriction you to exchanging one token for another, which is why dYdX’s focus on more complicated financial positions is unique.

When the platform launches in the spring there will be a decentralized open protocol that anyone can access, as well as a centralized relay built by dYdX that acts as a user interface to the protocol.

The UI will look like a traditional trading site but will never take control of user funds, and dYdX will charge a small fee on all trades that use their interface. Of course anyone else can also build private or public interfaces to interact with the dYdX protocol for free. Order volumes will be off chain with on-chain settlements, which allow for faster trading, especially during times of network congestion.

At first you’ll only be able to trade with ERC2 0 tokens( and Ethereum itself) but technologies like cross-chain atomic swaps may enable trading of non-Ethereum-based tokens in the future like Bitcoin.

dYdX was founded by Antonio Juliano, a former software engineer at Coinbase and Uber. The startup has raised a seed round led by Andreessen Horowitz and Polychain Capital, with participation from Coinbase founders Fred Ehrsam and Brian Armstrong, Elad Gil and others.

Juliano schemes on using the funding to build out a team of engineers( it’s currently a one-man store) and undergo extensive third-party security audits on the protocol before launching. As explained earlier the only thing that could bring down a decentralized protocol is flaws in its code, building crypto security audits very important for any serious decentralized protocol.

Both the decentralized protocol and centralized relay are expected to launch around April, with the independent security audits being the biggest roadblock before launch.

You can check out dYdX’s white paper here.

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Coinbase may have given away its own Bitcoin Cash surprise

On Tuesday, when Bitcoin Cash hit Coinbase, the popular user-friendly U.S.-based exchange, cryptocurrency’s reputation as the financial wild west was on full display.

While anyone following along was well aware that Coinbase planned to add Bitcoin Cash, the currency created in August’s Bitcoin hard fork, things still got weird immediately. After some suspicious pre-launch climbing, Bitcoin Cash’s Coinbase launch immediately assured prices soar to virtually three times those listed on other exchanges.

That “significant volatility” resulted Coinbase to freeze transactions for its newest asset, creating plenty of disarray in the process. Just a few hours later, the company disclosed that the chaos had prompted an insider trading investigation, a surprising concession after some in the cryptocurrency world cried foul( to be fair, they are often screaming foul ).

While it’s not yet wholly clear “whats going on”, many digital currency enthusiasts have pointed to a Reddit thread from three days ago titled “ATTN: Bitcoin Cash added to Coinbase API( EXTREMELY BULLISH )” that claims to have spotted evidence of Bitcoin Cash’s addition on a Coinbase API key permissions screen.

Given its broad disinterest in regulatory norms and preponderance of first-time investors, doctored screenshots trying to nudge costs one way or another are fairly common within the cryptocurrency community. Still, many Reddit users appeared to give this particular thread enough credence to check it out for themselves.( Regrettably, as Bitcoin Cash is now live, we weren’t able to verify the listing’s early appearance in the API .)

Again, Coinbase users knew that Bitcoin Cash was coming by January 1, 2018 — the deadline Coinbase devoted itself in August — but most users assumed that the new coin would be withdrawal-only, letting Coinbase users who stored Bitcoin on the exchange at the time of the fork get their trapped Bitcoin Cash out of the platform. As Coinbase stated in its August 3 blog post 😛 TAGEND

We are planning to have support for bitcoin cash by January 1, 2018, assuming no additional risks emerge during that time.

Once supported, customers will be able to withdraw bitcoin cash. We’ll make a determination at a later date about adding trading supporting. In the meantime, customer bitcoin money will remain safely stored on Coinbase.

Reddit’s / r/ btc community took the API breadcrumb as a signal that both constricted Bitcoin Cash’s looming Coinbase timeline and has proven that Coinbase intended to add trade options for the currency — a significant sign of adoption that would surely influence the altcoin’s cost across exchanges. “If you’re a programmer you know this is a very strong sign that Bitcoin Cash will receive full integration and not only withdrawals, ” one Redditor stated in the thread’s replies.

Given its mainstream appeal and extreme ease of use relative to other exchanges, Coinbase is something of a cryptocurrency kingmaker. For any digital currency gaining Coinbase trading support, volume and prices would widely be expected to rise as the news spread. Plainly, anyone paying attention to potential Coinbase API hints or other subtle backend signals is likely doing so with the intent to cash in on such a surge.

“We can’t confirm the screenshot. But we publicly announced we would be supporting Bitcoin Cash in August, so it would be expected that Bitcoin Cash would appear on the API at some phase, ” a Coinbase spokesperson told TechCrunch in response to questions about the incident.

Whatever truly was downed, the situation is shown how Coinbase’s decision to add any cryptocurrency builds for a very delicate rollout indeed. The company plans to introduce more altcoins on its platform in the coming year, so it will have ample opportunity to learn from its bumpy, semi-surprise introduction of Bitcoin Cash on December 19.

Like many things in the digital currency world, cryptocurrency marketplace forces-out are often even stranger and more inscrutable than their traditional fiscal equivalents. There might not be one single justification for Bitcoin Cash’s controversial pop on Tuesday, but the situation serves as yet another cautionary tale of the unique chaos of cryptocurrency, a fiscal realm where the rules are being written as they’re broken.

Disclosure: The author holds a small position in some cryptocurrencies, mostly because it seemed like a fun notion back in 2013 and then she forgot about it. Regrettably, it is not enough for a Lambo .

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