Tag Archives: cryptocurrency

U.S. Department of Justice Unveiled Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiatives

The U.S. Deputy Attorney of the Justice Department, Lisa Monaco, unveiled two new enforcement initiatives aimed at targeting cryptocurrencies and government contractors who fail to report cyber breaches, Reuters reported. The U.S. Department of Justice website calls it the Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative.

The initiative will combine the Justice Department’s expertise in civil fraud enforcement, government procurement and cybersecurity to combat new and emerging cyber threats to the security of sensitive information and critical systems.

Reuters reported that Deputy Attorney of the Justice Department, Lisa Monaco, gave a virtual speech at the Aspen Cyber Summit, about the new initiative. It includes a mix of anti-money laundering and cybersecurity experts. In addition, the initiative will focus on cryptocurrency.

“Cryptocurrency exchanges want to be the banks of the future, well we need to make sure that folks can have confidence when they’re using these systems and we need to be poised to root out abuse,” Monaco said. “The point is to protect consumers.”

According to Reuters, Deputy Attorney of the Justice Department, Lisa Monaco, also announced the use of a cyber fraud initiative, which will “use civil enforcement tools to pursue companies, those who are government contractors, who receive federal funds, when they fail to follow recommended cybersecurity standards.”

Personally, I think the Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative could be a good thing. It sounds like it will enact enforcement against companies that are aware a breach occurred – but don’t tell their customers about it. Cryptocurrency is relatively new, and should have some regulation attached to in order to prevent fraud.

Some things the Cyber-Fraud Initiative includes:

  •  Use of False Claims Act to pursue cybersecurity related fraud by government contractors and grant recipients.
  •  A False Claims Act is the government’s primary civil tool to redress false claims for federal funds and property involving government programs and operations.
  •  A whistleblower provision, which allows private parties to assist the government in identifying and pursuing fraudulent conduct and to share in any recovery and protects whistleblowers who bring these violations and failures from retaliation.

China Declares All Cryptocurrency Activities Illegal

The People’s Bank of China has declared all digital currency activities illegal, and has vowed to crack down on the market, CNBC reported. According to CNBC, the People’s Bank of China said services offering trading, order matching, token issuance, and derivatives for virtual currencies are strictly prohibited. Overseas crypto exchanges providing services in mainland China are also illegal.

It appears that this decision affected the price of cryptocurrency, which resulted in the stocks for at least some types of cryptocurrency falling. CNBC pointed out that this comes after Beijing announced a crackdown on crypto mining earlier this year, which caused a slump in bitcoin’s processing power.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the People’s Bank of China declared all cryptocurrency-related transactions illegal to prevent the risks surrounding crypto trading and to maintain national security and social stability. According to the Wall Street Journal, the People’s Bank of China said that cryptocurrencies are issued by non monetary authorities, use encryption technologies and exist in digital form, and shouldn’t be circulated and used in the market as currencies.

I’m no expert on cryptocurrency, but it is my understanding that one of the reasons why some people like cryptocurrency is because they think the transactions are anonymous. However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) points out that “depending on the cryptocurrency, the information added to the blockchain can include details like the transaction amount and the sender’s and recipient’s wallet addresses”. To me, that sounds like China could potentially discover which of their people are buying or selling cryptocurrency.

I understand that a country can make rules or laws that people who live in that country are required to comply with. I’m having difficulty understanding why China’s decision to call all digital currency illegal also requires people who live in other countries to comply with China’s new rules.

Senators File an Amendment About Cryptocurrency and “Brokers”

The U.S. Senate is facing backlash from the cryptocurrency industry over a portion of the Infrastructure bill that would require crypto brokers to report customer information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), CNBC reported.

The bill broadens the definition of a “broker” to include anyone who is “responsible for regularly providing any service effectuating transfers of digital assets on behalf of another person.” The definition does not exclude miners, software developers, stakers and other individuals in the crypto economy who don’t have customers.

The language does not effect centralized exchanges like Coinbase, or other public companies where consumers can buy cryptocurrencies like Robinhood, Square, and PayPal. These companies have clearly identified customers and work with them on reporting requirements due to the IRS.

Politico reported that a bipartisan group of lawmakers want to narrow down who would be subject to new tax reporting requirements that are intended to improve tax compliance among those trading digital currencies. There is an amendment that is supported by one Democrat and two Republicans Senators, all of whom are on the Senate Finance Committee.

The Blockchain Association posted what amounts to an open letter titled: “More Than 100 Crypto Ecosystem Stakeholders Support Wyden-Lummis-Toomey Amendment in Infrastructure Bill”. Those who signed this open letter support the bipartisan amendment. From the letter:

“The Wyden-Lummis-Toomey Amendment addresses significant concern raised by the bill as currently drafted by removing the obligation to report from those participants who don’t have – and shouldn’t have – access to customer information. It does so without affecting the reporting obligations placed on brokers and traders of digital assets”.

According to Politico, the Biden administration feels that the cryptocurrency industry is “using scare tactics to water down the requirements” in the bill. CNBC reported including the requirement for crypto companies to report customer information to the IRS is part of how the Infrastructure bill will be paid for.

Nvidia Nerfs GeForce Cards to Deter Cryptocurrency Miners

Nvidia announced a change to their RTX 30 series cards. The purpose is to nerf them so that the cards will be less desirable to people who use them for mining cryptocurrency. To me, it sounds like this could make it easier for gamers to not only obtain Nvidia’s cards, but also to use them for their intended purpose – playing video games.

…To help get GeForce in the hands of gamers, we announced in February that all GeForce RTX 3060 graphics cards shipped with a reduced Ethereum hash rate.

Today we’re taking additional measures by applying a reduced ETH hash rate to newly manufactured GeForce RTX 3080, RTX 3070, and RTX 3060 Ti graphics cards. These cards will start shipping in late May…

Nvidia clarifies that because these GPUs originally launched with a full hash rate, they want to ensure that customers know exactly what they’re getting when they buy GeForce products. To help with his, Nvidia pointed out that their GeForce partners are labeling the GeForce RTX 3080, RTX 3070, and RTX 3060 Ti cards with a “Lite Hash Rate” or “LHR,” identifier. The identifier will be in retail product listings and on the box.

The reduced has rate does not apply to cards that have already been purchased. It will apply to newly manufactured cards with the LHR identifier.

The purpose of this change is to reinforce that GeForce is made for gaming. Nvidia says it believes this additional step will get more GeForce cards at better prices into the hands of gamers everywhere.

My hope is that this change will deter people who want to use GeForce cards for mining Ethereum cryptocurrency. It is abundantly clear that the Nvidia doesn’t want its cards used by crypto miners, especially as it appears that the result is that gamers can’t access the cards.

That said, The Verge reported that Nvidia tried to nerf mining with the RTX 3060, and accidentally released a beta driver that unlocked hash rates and increased performance. The Verge said that’s been reinstated with more recent drivers, but the beta drivers are “out in the wild now.”

The Verge also reported that Nvidia’s move to nerf new cards will drive up the prices for existing 30-series GPUs that don’t have those restrictions in place.

FTC Warns About Cryptocurrency Investment Scams

The Federal Trade Commission posted a warning about cryptocurrency investment scams. The information includes descriptions of how crypto scammers work – and how to avoid being scammed.

According to the FTC, “scammers are taking advantage of people’s understanding (or not) of cryptocurrency investments, and how they work. And younger people are losing big.”

The FTC’s new data spotlight shows that since October 2020, nearly 7,000 people reported losses to bogus cryptocurrency investments, adding up to more than $80 million. People ages 20-49 were more than five times more likely than other age groups to report losing money on those scams.

Cryptocurrency investment scams can happen in many ways, but they’re all full of fake promises and false guarantees. Scammers might post investment sites that look real, but you’ll find you can’t withdraw the money you’ve “invested”. Other pretend to be celebrities – like a would-be Elon Musk – doing giveaways with claims of multiplying any cryptocurrency you send. Scammers also use online dating sites to sweet-talk people into bogus crypto investments in the name of love.

The FTC stated that people in their 20s and 30s have lost more money on investment scams than on any other type of fraud. And more than half have reported investment scam losses – $35 million – were in cryptocurrency.

Personally, I think these scammers are disgusting people who intentionally take advantage of those who aren’t very knowledgable about cryptocurrency. It is even worse when they go on dating websites for the purpose of scamming a lonely person out of their money. The FTC points out that if you need to report a cryptocurrency scam you can visit Reportfraud.ftc.gov.

Cryptocurrency Could Ruin Your Relationship

There is a risk for people who invest in cryptocurrency – it could hurt their personal relationships, Bloomberg Wealth reported. This information comes from a survey done by SurveyMonkey that was done on behalf of .Tech Domains. The survey was done with 1,033 Americans and balanced by age and gender.

…And while there might be no harm in checking in on investment more frequently, it appears that being in the crypto market does come with very real consequences for many. In fact, 60% of crypto investors say their belief or investments in the cryptocurrency have had a negative impact on their personal relationships.

The information on .Tech Domains continues: “With countless stories of people selling homes and businesses to invest in crypto and the sheer polarizing nature of the topic, perhaps it’s not surprising that so many crypto investors have experienced strain on their personal relationships.”

How much a person invests in cryptocurrency matters. There’s a direct correlation between the percentage of someone’s net worth that’s invested in cryptocurrencies and the likelihood they say their personal relationships have been impacted negatively, Bloomberg Wealth reported.

According to information Bloomberg Wealth found in the survey, about 25% of those who have invested 10% or less of their net worth into cryptocurrency say that they’ve seen a negative impact on their relationships. That number rises to 73% for those who’ve invested 10% to 25% of their net worth, 94% for those who invested 50% to 75% of their net worth – and 100% for those who’ve invested 75% or more of their net worth.

This finding makes sense, because money is a very common thing that couples fight about. Sometimes one person is a “saver” and the other person is a “spender” – and this leads to disagreements.

Cryptocurrency, however, adds more fuel to that fire. People who are absolutely convinced that investing in it will make them rich could make some very inadvisable decisions as a result. It makes sense that the person’s significant other would get really upset after finding out their partner sold the house without telling them.

The survey didn’t ask about how people’s awareness of the fact that cryptocurrency has negative effects on the environment can affect a relationship. My best guess is that if one person in the relationship feels that protecting the environment is important, and the other is buying cryptocurrency – that relationship is doomed.

John McAfee has been Charged with Cryptocurrency Fraud

John McAfee, founder of the software company McAfee Associations (and the software that still bears his name), has been indicted on fraud and money-laundering conspiracy charges, according to Reuters. His bodyguard, Jimmy Gale Watson Jr., is also in trouble.

The United States Attorneys Office Southern District of New York posted a press release with more information. It should be noted that they described the crimes in their press release are described as “alleged”.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “As alleged, McAfee and Watson exploited a widely used social media platform and enthusiasm among investors in the emerging cryptocurrency market to make millions through lies and deception.  The defendants allegedly used McAfee’s Twitter account to publish messages to hundreds of thousands of his Twitter followers touting various cryptocurrencies through false and misleading statements to conceal their true, self-interested motives.  McAfee, Watson, and other members of McAfee’s cryptocurrency team allegedly raked in more than $13 million from investors they victimized with their fraudulent schemes.  Investors should be wary of social media endorsements of investment opportunities.”

Reuters also reported that both McAfee and Watson face civil charges by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which in October accused McAfee of concealing more than $23.1 million he made from boosting seven cryptocurrencies on Twitter.

One thing to take from this situation is that it is never a good idea to post the crimes you, and your team, are allegedly doing, on your Twitter account.