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U.S. federal law enforcement authorities are among the most active criminal agencies globally against cryptocurrency infractions. A new example of this is that FBI and Homeland Security agents have reportedly raided a technology campus over unauthorized cryptocurrency trading.
Unauthorized Crypto Trading
According to several media reports from Grand Rapids, Michigan, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have raided a not-for-profit technological education group in the city, on Dec. 21, 2018.
The head of the organization, the National Science Institute (originally named “The Geek Group”), now claims that the reason for the raid is that he was commercially trading in the cryptocurrency markets without the government’s authorization, according to a recent local TV report (video embedded below). Chris Boden reportedly said he thinks he might be sent to federal prison and needs over $ 100,000 for legal expenses. “I did a stupid thing, I made a bad decision, so I’m going to pay for it.” Boden is recorded saying.
On Saturday, Boden announced a “Going Out Of Business” sale on Facebook. “Everything goes. We have to completely liquidate all of our assets to close down the nonprofit. There will be nothing left. The proceeds will go towards paying off our gigantic mountain of debt.” Regarding the case he only provided this message: “On the advice of legal council I will not comment further on the Government’s ongoing investigation.”
FBI, HSI Among Most Active in the World
This case is only the latest example of U.S. authorities being among the most active globally against cryptocurrency infractions. Recently, Kraken released statistics about the global breakdown of its subpoenas from authorities during 2018. While the exchange reports that just about 20 percent of its clients come from the U.S., the country represented the absolute majority of requests for information it had to handle from all over the world. Following the United States’ 315 subpoenas in 2018 was the U.K. with just 61. In fact, the FBI alone issued more requests than all U.K. authorities, a total of 67. HSI was even more of a burden on the exchange with 91 information requests.
Is taxpayers’ money being put to good use with federal agents sent to tackle unauthorized crypto trading? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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The feds provided a vivid, blow-by-blow account Monday of the broad-daylight ambush shooting of an FBI agent in Brooklyn.
A former administrator from the now-defunct Silk Road marketplace is recounting his story in a tell-all book and movie deal. After being arrested in 2013, darknet moderator Curtis Green was involved in a bizarre conspiracy with corrupt Silk Road investigators and was later told to fake his own death.
A Kilo of Cocaine and Half a Million Dollars of BTC
The Silk Road marketplace, launched in Feb. 2011, was the first darknet market (DNM) that allowed the buying and selling of illicit narcotics. On Friday, a Salt Lake City media publication interviewed former Silk Road administrator Curtis Green about his involvement with the first DNM. Green says he can publicly discuss the subject now after selling his movie rights and publishing his book called The Silk Road Takedown. According to reports, Green’s memories and the Silk Road backstory has been turned into a Coen Brothers screenplay.
Green was involved in a shady conspiracy that complicated the Silk Road (SR) investigation because law enforcement faked his torture and had Green pretend he was dead for a year. Before his arrest, Green worked as a salaried administrator making thousands of bitcoins in revenue by issuing accounts and passwords to SR users. When U.S. bureaucrats started talking about the darknet in Congress, several three-letter agencies began to search for the creator of the Silk Road, an anonymous figure called the Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR). According to Green, when law enforcement officials acquired his Utah address, someone sent a kilogram of cocaine to his house.
The former SR moderator said he didn’t know the cocaine was being delivered and unknowingly took the narcotics into his home. Not long after opening the package of powder, Green was arrested and told the police everything he knew about the darknet marketplace. Moreover, Green gave the investigators vendor passwords and credentials to major dealers selling wares on the market. A couple of days later, about $ 500,000 worth of BTC was stolen from SR vendors and staff due to Green’s leaked information handed to police.
“I feel terrible,” Green told KSL Broadcasting during his interview in Salt Lake City. “There’s terrible guilt — I really wish I hadn’t gone to the Silk Road.”
Fake Torture and a Phony Death Plot
Following the cocaine bust and stolen bitcoins, Green explained that U.S. law enforcement officials told him that DPR wanted the administrator “beat up.” So they decided to fake-torture Green and used a phony waterboarding technique to make it look like he was bruised and beaten. Green then claims the agents told him DPR wanted him dead and asked him and his wife to perform a fake death. Under instructions from federal agents, the former SR administrator and his wife created a bogus death photo using a can of red soup. Green says he pretended he was dead for close to a year and never left his house in Utah.
Green: ‘Bad Agents Were My Get-Out-of-Jail Card’
It was only after Ross Ulbricht was arrested in San Francisco that Green and the public found out about the two rogue special agents who stole BTC from the investigation. Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Carl Force and U.S. Secret Service veteran Shaun Bridges were convicted of stealing thousands of bitcoins from the case and are now in prison. According to testimony in court, back in April of 2013, the father of Carl Force passed away and Force decided to create an SR account called “Death from Above.” Following the new profile creation, the agent used the account to attempt to extort DPR. Force’s legal representation, criminal defense lawyer Ivan Bates, explained that during this time Force was drinking a lot and had significant mental health problems. Later Green plead guilty for the cocaine delivery, but was let off the hook by federal prosecutors because he helped law enforcement officials and because of the part he played in the Bridges and Force scandal.
“Two people that are deceitful criminals and here they were part of the government,” Green opined during his interview. The former SR administrator continued:
The bad agents were my get-out-of-jail card, to be honest — They put me through a year’s worth of — ‘hell’ is not even a term befitting what they did.
Meanwhile, Ross Ulbricht is serving a double life sentence for his involvement with the darknet market and his family continues to fight for his freedom. The blatant corruption involved with the Silk Road investigation gives the Ulbricht family reason to believe the whole case was rife with manipulation.
The Ulbrichts have also created a petition to U.S. president Donald Trump asking for Ross to receive clemency. So far the document has garnered over 100,000 signatures. Green says his life will go on and emphasized to the Salt Lake City media publication that he “can’t go back and change it.” The former darknet administrator added: “All I can do is apologize, make sure I don’t make the same mistakes twice and move forward.”
What do you think about Curtis Green’s tale regarding U.S. investigators asking him to fake his own death? Let us know what you think about this story in the comments section below.
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Japan has decided to set up a new agency to better address cybercrime. The Tokyo-based center gathers 500 analysts and investigators who will also combat cryptocurrency theft. Over 3 million attempts to steal digital information have been registered last year. Hackers have stolen funds worth over 17 billion Japanese yen.
$ 6.3 Million Worth of Cryptocurrency Stolen Before Coincheck
The new law enforcement unit is expected to streamline efforts to combat cybercrime. The center will operate from Tokyo. Over 500 analysts and investigators from different branches of Japanese police and other security services will work at the new agency, Kyodo reported. Authorities hope to address the internet security issues in a more efficient way.
Last year alone, hackers stole ¥17 billion JPY ($ 166 million USD). That includes ¥662 million ($ 6.3 million) worth of cryptocurrency. The amount does not cover the funds lost by Coincheck this year. In January hackers took ¥58 billion worth of NEM (~$ 550 million USD) from the Japanese crypto exchange. Police are still investigating the theft. The hack was probably carried out with a virus emailed to the Coincheck’s employees.
Cybersecurity experts have voiced concerns that half of the NEM coins, which disappeared in the heist, have been laundered already on the darknet. It’s believed that the attackers have converted them to other cryptocurrencies or even fiat money. A couple of weeks ago the NEM Foundation announced it would no longer track the stolen cryptos. The Singapore-based organization also said it had provided “actionable information” to law enforcement agencies investigating the hacker attack.
Crime in the cyberspace has become a real issue in Japan. More than 3 million attempts to steal computer stored data have been registered in 2017. These include cases of attacks on both credit cards and cryptocurrency wallets. Hackers have misappropriated twice as much as in 2016.
Attention Turning to Crypto Users
In March, Japan’s National Police Agency said it was aware of 149 crypto-related attacks that took place last year. In most cases hackers accessed unprotected crypto wallets storing both public and private keys. Funds in ripple (¥453.5 million), bitcoin (¥194.4 million), etherium (¥5.3 million), and NEM (¥9.2 million) have been illegally transferred to other accounts.
The number of attacks peaked in June, with 41 cases. It stayed below 20 per month for the following five months before going up again in December, when 25 cases were recorded. No suspects have been identified in any of these investigations.
A total of 16 Japanese exchanges have been targeted, according to the Japan Times. Authorities have blamed lax security in more than 80% of the breaches, despite recommendations by exchanges for implementing measures like multifactor authentication.
Although many hackers may have shifted their attention to cryptocurrency users, the number of illicit online transfers of yen and other fiat currencies remains high. 425 such cases have been reported last year in Japan.
Do you take measures to protect your cryptocurrency wallet? Tell us in the comments section below.
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The U.K. government said Sunday it has evidence that Russia has spent the last decade secretly developing nerve agents to use in assassinations, in what it said was a violation of international treaties banning chemical weapons.
WSJ.com: What’s News Europe
Mexican authorities arrested 18 people Thursday in the abduction of two prosecution agents forced to appear on a video by a drug gang before they were slain, the Attorney General’s Office said.