At Least 95 Percent of Crypto Crimes Involve Bitcoin Chainalysis Executive Says

At Least 95 Percent of Crypto Crimes Involve Bitcoin, Chainalysis Executive Says

At least 95% of cryptocurrency crimes investigated by law enforcement involve bitcoin (BTC,)

the co-founder and COO of Chainalysis told Fortune on April 24. Jonathan Levin, whose company offers investigation software for law enforcement to pursue bad actors, said BTC is “by far the favorite” for hackers and criminals. He revealed that law enforcement needs to take more sophisticated approaches to tackle darknets — and warned that the crypto industry was starting to see the beginnings of terrorism financing.

Levin said the records left behind by crypto transactions has led to many arrests, as officials in the United States tackle the deadly opioid crisis and try to stem the flow of illegal drugs into the country, often from China.

He told Fortune:

“What we’ve seen is that there is the ability to tie some of those cryptocurrency transactions either to the pharmacies in China or actually to the services that people are using to distribute fentanyl.”

According to Levin, the transparency of cryptocurrencies is helping law enforcement to build cases against suspects quicker than in traditional finance, namely because investigators no longer need to rely on obtaining records from foreign banks. Even though bitcoin is overwhelmingly used by crypto criminals, Levin noted that Chainalysis has launched real-time transaction monitoring for 10 cryptocurrencies, as well as a basket of stablecoins, because law enforcement agencies are trying to invesOKtigate hacks on crypto exchanges where other tokens are stolen.

Levin also said he has been investigating the case of QuadrigaCX, the major Canadian crypto exchange that was officially declared bankrupt earlier this month. The company lost access to cold wallets and corresponding keys following the CEO’s death in December last year, and reportedly owes more than $195 million to 115,000 customers. In the interview, the Chainalysis executive suggested Quadriga “was operating on fractional reserve and

in deep trouble”:

“We were looking at the bitcoin holdings and also tether holdings of Quadriga and what we found very quickly was that Quadriga as an exchange actually didn’t have those customer funds that were reported in the media to be lost. Those funds actually never existed.”

Levin also repeated claims made in a Chainalysis report earlier this year that two hacker groups have been responsible for stealing $1 billion in cryptocurrency, representing the majority of the funds lost in scams.

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Thomas Simms

Thomas is a British reporter who loves all things breaking news and crypto. When out of the office, he also likes backgammon and gin.

Report: Samsung Planning New Blockchain Mainnet Featuring Samsung Coin

Samsung Planning New Blockchain Mainnet Featuring Samsung Coin


South Korean electronics giant Samsung

may end up developing a public-private blockchain complete with its own cryptocurrency token, an anonymous source told crypto industry news outlet CoinDesk Korea on April 24. The project, part of an undertaking by the company’s dedicated blockchain division, would see a blockchain mainnet appear based on Ethereum (ETH), along with a new asset dubbed Samsung Coin.

“We expect Samsung Coin to come out in the market, but the direction has not yet been decided,” the source, who is in touch with the plans, told the publication. The news, while not confirmed officially, comes as Samsung continues its various forays into both the blockchain and cryptocurrency spheres. Last week, the company gave a fresh signal about its belief in the long-term profitability of the emerging phenomena as it participated in a $4 million investment round in smartphone-based wallet app ZenGo.

Samsung’s existing enterprise blockchain offering, Nexledger, also continues to see uptake from entities worldwide, most recent of which came in the form of Indian IT giant Mahindra. The ETH-based offering would meanwhile likely incorporate elements of both public and private blockchains, with exact details similarly still forthcoming. “Currently, we are thinking of private blockchain, though it is not yet confirmed,” the source added.

The source continued:

“It could also be public blockchain in the future, but I think it will be hybrid – that is, a combination of public and private blockchains.”

Article Produced By
William Suberg

William Suberg got into Bitcoin while completing his Masters degree and hasn't looked back since, writing about anything crypto-related which makes him sit up and pay attention. He started working with Cointelegraph in October 2013.

21-Year-old Jailed for 10 Years After Stealing 77M in Crypto By Hacking Cell Phones

21-Year-old Jailed for 10 Years After Stealing $7.7M in Crypto By Hacking Cell Phones

A 21-year-old man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison

after becoming one of the first people in the United States to be convicted of stealing cryptocurrency by hacking into cell phones. Prosecutors in Santa Clara announced the jail sentence on April 22. In February, Joel Ortiz had pleaded guilty and to theft and accepted the 10-year plea deal.

Ortiz stole more than $7.5 million from at least 40 victims: the press release notes that he then spent $10,000 a time at Los Angeles nightclubs, hired a helicopter to fly him and his friends to a music festival, and bought top-end Gucci clothes and luggage.  In May 2018, one cryptocurrency entrepreneur in Cupertino lost $5.2 million in a matter of minutes, prosecutors note. Prosecutors described the one-time high school valedictorian as a “prolific SIM swapper who targeted victims to steal cryptocurrency and to take over social media accounts with the goal of selling them for bitcoin (BTC).”

Illegal SIM swaps often involve duping phone companies into switching cell phone numbers to a new SIM card by providing stolen addresses and social security numbers. From here, hackers can circumvent two-step authentication measures that are designed to keep crypto safe. Ortiz was detained at the Los Angeles International Airport last year, and investigators say they have only been able to recover $400,000 of the stolen funds. They believe the rest has either been hidden or spent.

Prosecutor Erin West said:

“These are not Robin Hoods. These are crooks who use a computer instead of a gun. They are not just stealing some ethereal, experimental currency. They are stealing college funds, home mortgages, people’s financial lives.”

Oritz had been sentenced on April 19 by a judge after two hearings where victims described the financial devastation caused by his crimes. In February in a separate case, an individual was indicted in New York for stealing identities and funds, including crypto, in the state’s first SIM swapping prosecution.

Article Produced By
Thomas Simms

Thomas is a British reporter who loves all things breaking news and crypto. When out of the office, he also likes backgammon and gin.


Everything But Crypto Or How the ‘Crypto’ Movie Does Not Live Up to Its Name

Everything But Crypto, Or How the 'Crypto' Movie Does Not Live Up to Its Name

The best news for crypto enthusiasts about the movie “Crypto”

is that “Crypto” has very little to do with crypto. It is mainly concerned with Russian mafiosi, money laundering and a main character who plods through the heavy plot with the affect of a depressed zombie.

Cryptocurrencies do make three appearances in the movie:

1. It is revealed that a major bank, because (one character explains) such banks are terrified of being made irrelevant by cryptocurrencies, is secretly buying crypto in order to drive the price up, on the theory that high prices will make cryptocurrencies unaffordable and dissuade people from buying them. I am not sure this makes sense, since I was under the impression that rising prices make cryptocurrencies not less but more attractive to the general public (hence the bitcoin buying frenzy at $20,000). But this is not a major plot point.

2. The Russian mob, which is laundering money through that same bank, is doing some of its laundering by the use of crypto. The details of this are vague, but it is apparently being done in league with one of the bank’s employees, so #2 may be linked to #1 above. Or maybe not.

3. One major character — who owns a failing discount liquor store — is making a lot of money by investing in initial coin offerings. He is also mining crypto with a computer set-up in his store’s back room. It’s that easy!

All of this is explored, or stumbled upon, by the film’s main character, Martin Duran, played by Beau Knapp. Martin is allegedly a top-ranked business school graduate who has a fairly mundane job as a compliance officer for the major bank. After he angers the bank’s brass by nixing a proposed big client, he is punished by being transferred to the bank’s branch in his own home town, a small farming community. Although many scenes are set in that bank branch (which does not look like a bank), no customers ever appear. Regardless, Martin’s new job as the branch’s compliance officer involves a specific brief to keep an eye out for money laundering. I was not aware that individual bank branches had compliance officers, but never mind.

Martin’s attention is soon drawn to a high-end art gallery where pictures sell for millions of dollars. (We are told the town has a newly gentrified section, although we never see any of the gentry.) The women working at the gallery find Martin attractive, which is among the film’s least likely plot turns. Martin is a thin, sallow fellow who speaks in a low monotone and sports traces of what might or might not be an attempted beard. (Even a casual viewer may have the urge to tackle him to the ground and administer a shave.) He also wears the same dark suit, black tie and dress shoes in every scene, even when he is hiking through the woods on a date with an attractive gallery assistant played by Alexis Bledel (former star of “Gilmore Girls,” who deserves better).  She suggests he wear more appropriate shoes next time.

The gallery’s finances are suspicious, and indeed the place is linked to the Russian mob, represented locally by Vincent Kartheiser (of “Mad Men” fame, who ditto). The mob gets wind that Martin, with the help of his friend — the failing liquor store owner, who also happens to be a genius hacker — is looking into its affairs. The mob disapproves. Kartheiser gets his revenge by out-acting Knapp (Martin). Also there is mayhem and violence.

A parallel story involves Martin Duran’s family, from which Martin has been estranged. His brother (played by Luke Hemsworth), a damaged Iraq war veteran, is no happier to see Martin than we are. His widowed farmer father, played by Kurt Russell in one of the grimiest t-shirts ever seen onscreen, is gruff but affecting and seems to harbor the wish that his boys will reconcile. In the end (spoiler alert!), they do. And all is well. Martin departs the depravities of Wall Street to return to the family farm, where he helps his father and brother dig up potatoes. Martin and his brother smile for the first time in the film. And Martin sets up a crypto mining operation in a home office. After all, it’s that easy, right?

Article Produced By
Edward Zuckerman

Edward Zuckerman is a journalist and an Emmy-winning television writer.

South Korea’s Largest Car Supplier Hyundai to Use DLT in Smartphone-EV Pairing Tool

      South Korea's Largest Car Supplier Hyundai to Use DLT in Smartphone-EV Pairing Tool


South Korea’s largest car manufacturer, Hyundai Motor Group,

will use blockchain in its new tech for pairing electric vehicles (EVs) with smartphones. Sustainable mobility-focused news agency Green Car Congress reported on the development on April 22.

Hyundai reportedly announced development of smartphone-EV pairing based performance adjustment technology that allows users to customize primary functions via a smartphone application. In the claimed industry-first, Hyundai will reportedly implement blockchain technology to prevent security issues while users upload and share their custom settings on the server.

As such, the upcoming system is set to encrypt major performance parameters on a blockchain network by creating new data blocks in the process of uploading and sharing custom settings in order to prevent unauthorized manipulation of data. According to the report, drivers will be able to adjust seven performance features such as the maximum torque output of the motor, acceleration and deceleration abilities, regenerative braking capacity, maximum speed limit, responsiveness and energy use on climate control.

Earlier this year, Hyundai’s financial services subsidiary, Hyundai Commercial, partnered with American tech giant IBM to transform its business model with blockchain. The partnership is focused on deploying open source Hyperledger Fabric blockchain technology to create a new supply chain financing ecosystem for the Hyundai Commercial network. Recently, IBM was granted a patent for a new system to manage data and interactions for self-driving vehicles.

Article Produced By
Helen Partz

Helen is passionate about learning languages, cultures and the Internet. She has years of experience working at international online advertising projects. Growing interested in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in late 2017, she joined Cointelegraph as a writer.

Microsoft Korea: Country Faces Growing Threat From Stealth Crypto Mining Attacks

Microsoft Korea:
Country Faces Growing Threat From Stealth Crypto Mining Attacks

Microsoft Korea has claimed the country is facing

an increase in cryptojacking incidents, according to a report from local English-language daily The Korea Times, published on April 22. The findings were announced by Microsoft security program manager Kim Gwi-ryun during a press conference in Seoul today, which accompanied the release of the annual Microsoft Security Intelligence Report.

As previously reported, cryptojacking is the practice of using a computer’s processing power to mine for cryptocurrencies without the owner’s consent or knowledge. According to The Korea Times, South Korea's cryptocurrency mining incident rate in 2018 was 0.05% —  reportedly 58% lower than the world average.

Nonetheless, Kim Gwi-ryun isolated the malicious practice from among other cybersecurity attack vectors detected in the country — such as supply chain malware and phishing attempts. The representative noted that Microsoft has detected market correlations in the fluctuating prevalence of cryptojacking,

stating that:

"We have noticed that as the value of cryptocurrency rises and falls, so does the mining encounter rate."

As the report notes, stealth cryptojacking is difficult to detect and largely manifests itself in compromised system performance due to the intensive drain on processing power that crypto mining presents. As Cointelegraph has reported, cryptojacking was cited in a recent criminal conviction of two Romanian alleged cybercriminals, who had been tracked in a joint investigation by the United States Federal Investigation Bureau and the Romanian National Police.

A March 2019 report from AT&T Cybersecurity revealed that cryptojacking was one of the most prevalent objectives of hackers targeting businesses’ cloud infrastructures, despite the crypto bear market. That same month, reports surfaced of a new strain of Trojan malware for Android phones. The malware reportedly targets worldwide users of top crypto apps such as Coinbase, BitPay and Bitcoin Wallet, as well as banks including JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and Bank of America.

Article Produced By
Marie Huillet

Marie Huillet is an independent filmmaker, with a background in journalism and publishing. Nomadic by nature, she’s lived in five different countries this decade. She’s fascinated by Blockchain technologies’ potential to reshape all aspects of our lives.

El Toro Blockchain Division Launches Crypto Exchange for Pro Traders Issues 8 Stablecoins

El Toro Blockchain Division Launches Crypto Exchange for Pro Traders, Issues 8 Stablecoins

The blockchain division of global social trading platform eToro

has launched a cryptocurrency exchange for pro traders, a press release shared with Cointelegraph on Tuesday, April 16, states. EToroX claims to be a secure a secure and fully regulated trading venue. As for now, the platform offers 37 trading pairs, with the ability to convert six cryptocurrencies to fiat, such as the dollar, euro and Swiss franc.

The exchange currently allows users to trade bitcoin (BTC), ethereum (ETH), ripple (XRP), dash (DASH), bitcoin cash (BCH) and litecoin (LTC). According to the managing director of eToroX, Doron Rosenblum, the exchange will launch more pairs in coming months.

Moreover, eToroX has launched eight stablecoins that are backed by the New Zealand dollar (NZDX), Japanese yen (JPYX), Swiss franc (CHFX), United States dollar (USDEX), euro (EURX), U.K. pound sterling (GBPX), Australian dollar (AUDX), and Canadian dollar (CADX). The stablecoins will be issued and controlled by eToroX. Co-founder and CEO of eToro, Yoni Assia, said that the platform is set to bring crypto to a

larger range of investors:

“We want to bring crypto and tokenized assets to a wider audience, allowing them to trade with confidence. This is the future of finance. Blockchain will eventually 'eat' traditional financial services through tokenization.”

Assia believes that financial services will eventually be transferred to blockchain, as the tech brings a new paradigm for asset ownership. According to him, traditional asset classes such as art and property will also be tokenized.

In March, eToro officially launched its platform and crypto asset wallet in the U.S. Later the same month, the company announced that it has acquired smart contracts development company Firmo in order to explore and add more tokenized assets. In other stablecoin news, Canadian cryptocurrency exchange Coinsquare has recently announced that it will be launching a Canadian dollar-backed stablecoin. Meanwhile, billionaire VC investor Tim Draper is reportedly planning to meet with Facebook execs to discuss investing in the social media outlet’s rumored FB Coin.

Article Produced By
Ana Berman

Moved by her interest to discover the world of decentralized technologies, Ana joined Cointelegraph in June 2018. Shortly after joining the team as a news writer, she focused on the major crypto stories from Latin America

Fundstrat’s Tom Lee: Current Bitcoin Misery Index Never Been Reported in Bear Market

Fundstrat's Tom Lee: Current Bitcoin Misery Index Never Been Reported in Bear Market.

Fundstrat Global Advisors founder Tom Lee

pointed out that the value currently reported by his company’s bitcoin (BTC) sentiment indicator Bitcoin Misery Index (BMI) has never been seen in a bear market. Lee made his comments during an interview with Cointelegraph published on April 19. During the interview, Lee noted that through 2018, the BMI has not been over 50, while it now recently touched a value of 89. According to Lee, values over 67 have never taken place in a bear market.

Lee concluded:

“It means that a bull market is likely starting.”

Still, he also explained that when the indicator reported such a high value, “six out of six times, there was a drawdown in the market.” Lee claims the drawdown averaged to 25% in such instances, and that in the short term, the market could see a headwind. Moreover, he also stated that this could also mean that investors could be moving their capital to altcoins instead.

Lee also pointed out that bitcoin recently broke the 200-day moving average, which he believes means that bitcoin’s recovery is happening faster than they expected. This is in line with what he stated in mid-March, when Lee said that he thinks “the key number to watch is the 200-day moving average.” Lee noted that this breakout could also mean that this time, the recovery won’t be different than it has been in the past, and that bitcoin could easily recover to new highs. Still, when asked if new highs for the coin will be achieved this year, Lee answered that while he believes they will be reached, he does not know when.

According to Lee, there are various reasons for the recent trend inversion in the crypto market. For instance, he mentioned that old and wealthy bitcoin wallets have recently started adding BTC, and that transaction activity has begun increasing along with crypto exchange volumes. As Cointelegraph reported in January, the number of active bitcoin wallets, many of which have long been dormant, has seen an uptick. Earlier this week, digital assets fund Adamant Capital published a report claiming that the cryptocurrency bear market is winding down and is in its final stage.

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Adrian Zmudzinski

Adrian is a newswriter based out of Pisa, Italy. He's passionate about cryptocurrency, digital rights, IT, tech and futurology and likes to think about the future in a positive way.

Crypto Developer Raises 4 Mln From Samsung Others to Launch Wallet Without Private Keys

Crypto Developer Raises $4 Mln From Samsung, Others to Launch Wallet Without Private Keys


Israeli cryptocurrency developer KZen has raised $4 million

from backers including South Korean electronics giant Samsung, industry news outlet The Block reported on April 17. The company’s product, smartphone wallet app ZenGo — currently in beta phase testing — aims to simplify custodial wallet usage for entry-level cryptocurrency users. Using a combination of split key storage and biometric security features, the company hopes users will be able to benefit from a simple wallet user interface while not relying on a third party or themselves to hold their private keys and other sensitive information.

A smartphone and cloud storage form the two sharers of information needed to sign a transaction, part of a setup called threshold signatures. “ZenGo uses open source threshold cryptography to replace the private key and all the troubles related to securely managing non-custodial wallets,” CEO and cofounder, Ouriel Ohayon, wrote in a blog post on April 15.

He added:

“Our solution eliminates the typical friction points of onboarding and backup and does so without the existence of a single point of failure.”

Other sponsors of the investment round included Elron and Benson Oak Ventures. The product builds on a trend that fellow custody startup Casa began with its mobile app Keymaster. Casa, however, only supports bitcoin (BTC), whereas ZenGo does not limit users to specific tokens. Regarding the security of the cloud server aspect needed for transactions to work, Ohayon told The Block that extra backup procedures would appear following launch. The private beta is currently available on iOS, with an Android equivalent to follow.

Article Produced By
William Suberg

William Suberg got into Bitcoin while completing his Masters degree and hasn't looked back since, writing about anything crypto-related which makes him sit up and pay attention. He started working with Cointelegraph in October 2013.

Bitcoin Accounts for 98 of Crypto-Denominated Ransomware Payments Study

Bitcoin Accounts for 98% of Crypto-Denominated Ransomware Payments, Study


Bitcoin (BTC) continues to account for the lion’s share of crypto-denominated ransomware payments,

according to Coveware’s Q1 2019 Global Ransomware Marketplace report, published on April 15. The report — reportedly based upon aggregated ransomware data from cases tackled by Coveware’s Incident Response Team — indicates that in Q1 2019 the ransomware landscape saw a sharp increase in the average ransom demanded by threat actors. The average sum — demanded in exchange for the ostensible delivery of a decryptor tool that can help victims recover data after a ransomware attack — rose 89% from a median $6,733 in Q4 2018 to $12,762 in Q1 2019, the report states. Of these ransoms that were paid in cryptocurrency, 98% were payable in bitcoin.

The report outlines that in Q1 2019:

“[H]andling cryptocurrency continued to be a major source of friction for victims, and thus the threat actors as well. It is unlikely that ransomware rotates towards a different cryptocurrency anytime soon as they are even more nuanced to procure and handle.”

Coveware notes that threat actors have scant need to migrate away from bitcoin to other coins as they reportedly face little difficulty using mixing services to exchange bitcoin for privacy-focused cryptos such as dash (DASH) or monero (XMR). Privacy coins are thus used for only 2% of ransomware payments, according to Coveware’s data, and are largely used later in the process, once the payment has been received and threat actors subsequently attempt to obfuscate the transfer of their ill-gotten funds. GandCrab — a strain of ransomware that accounts for 20% of the market, according to Coveware’s data — was the only prevalent strain where threat actors accept payment in either dash or bitcoin.

Moreover, the report notes, GandCrab victims who pay with bitcoin face a 10% additional fee due to the costs incurred by the threat actors’ use of mixing services to anonymize the cryptocurrency after payment. As reported earlier this week, digital payments giant PayPal recently won a cybersecurity patent to protect users from crypto ransomware. In March, Big Four auditor PwC linked Iranian nationals behind the bitcoin ransomware scheme SamSam — which reportedly damaged multiple American companies, government agencies, universities, and hospitals —  to the crypto exchange WEX.

Article Produced By
Marie Huillet

Marie Huillet is an independent filmmaker, with a background in journalism and publishing. Nomadic by nature, she’s lived in five different countries this decade. She’s fascinated by Blockchain technologies’ potential to reshape all aspects of our lives.