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| January 22, 2018

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$1.2M in Wine Allegedly Stolen by Someone Exec Trusted

January 18, 2018 |

It sounds like a good gig: working as the personal assistant for—and managing the stunning wine collection of—the No. 2 man at Goldman Sachs. But as the New York Times reports, Nicolas De-Meyer allegedly turned a good thing bad. Per an indictment unsealed Wednesday in Manhattan federal court,…
Newser

Swedish Bank Allegedly Forbids Employees from Owning Cryptocurrency

January 12, 2018 |

Sweden’s Giant Bank Nordea Allegedly Forbids Employees from Owning or Trading Cryptocurrency

A giant Northern European bank, Nordea, has allegedly enacted a company policy which forbids its employees from owning or trading in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. The bank’s current executive team have a long history of on-the-record skepticism toward bitcoin.

Also read: Banks in India Block Crypto Accounts

Nordea Bank Allegedly Forbids Employees from Owning Crypto

The once Swedish bank Nordea Bank AB, now headquartered in Finland (home of its largest shareholder) has reportedly forbade all of its employees from owning or trading in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. The alleged move might not be a surprise to long-term watchers of the bank and its executive team.

Chairman Björn Wahlroos’ opinions on bitcoin go back to at least 2014, and he lamented then the decentralized currency’s supposed anonymous properties and its lack of inflation — two aspects most enthusiasts cherish. More recently, Nordea’s President and CEO Casper von Koskull dismissed bitcoin altogether, calling it “a joke.”

Sweden’s Nordea Bank Allegedly Forbids Employees from Owning, Trading Cryptocurrency

Mr. von Koskull explained, “If you somehow allow that to live without controls, then, given the billions we spend on financial regulation as a financial system, I mean, I think it’s actually a joke that you then just let something like bitcoin live. I don’t get it – it’s absurd.”

Joke or not, it’s evidently too hot for the bank’s employees. Nordea is listed on three exchanges and has over a thousand brick and mortar branches serving more than a dozen countries. It boasts nearly twenty million customers, retail and corporate, and has another over five million online users. Its market capitalization is nearing half a trillion dollars.

NDA

Double Standard

Sweden’s Nordea Bank Allegedly Forbids Employees from Owning, Trading Cryptocurrency
Björn Wahlroos

In a tweet, @samisin wrote, “Nordea Bank forbids all their employees (at least in Sweden) to stop owning and trading $ btc and other crypto currency. This applies to secretaries, IT personal, cleaners and any bank staff employed by the company. Is it legal even?” Commenters railed against the notion, citing violations of basic rights.

In some professional circles, such as journalism, it’s often assumed a conflict of interest to own or have financial stake in that which a company or employee is presumed to have objective contact. New York Times writer Nathaniel Popper has outright refused to own bitcoin so as to not appear tainted in his coverage. Famously, JP Morgan Chase through its CEO Jamie Dimon threatened to “fire” anyone even suspected of dabbling in bitcoin. For bitcoiners, however, there is a glaring double standard.

Sweden’s Nordea Bank Allegedly Forbids Employees from Owning, Trading Cryptocurrency
Casper von Koskull

Does Mr. Popper not use fiat currency? And if so, using his ethical logic, wouldn’t that make him biased toward government paper and against bitcoin? It’s easy to get caught in traps like these, especially when it is just a pretense or only perverse virtue signalling. Banks have long fretted about cryptocurrency and its “risky” and “speculative” nature. But even those concerns fall rather flat when one considers deals these same banks are engaged.

For example, Nordea was just involved in what’s known as a “capital relief deal,” which ironically pushes risk on investors (in this case to almost 10 billion USD) in loans. This is also known as “synthetic securitizations,” and they function to lessen the amount of reserves banks must have on hand against losses. Nordea was headlong in the deal until it abruptly pulled out altogether.

“Nordea dropped those plans as it embarks on an overhaul to eliminate 6,000 jobs,” Bloomberg reported. Clearly shredding thousands of jobs goes to the bank’s concern about employee wellbeing.

On the brighter side, those former Nordea employees might now be able to own bitcoin.

What is your experience with banks and crypto? Let us know in the comments below.


Images: Pixabay,Twitter, Nordea.


Do you like to research and read about Bitcoin technology? Check out Bitcoin.com’sWiki page for an in-depth look at Bitcoin’s innovative technology and interesting history.

The post Swedish Bank Allegedly Forbids Employees from Owning Cryptocurrency appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

He Allegedly Spanked Reporters. 40 Years Later, He’s Out

January 6, 2018 |

Following accusations from multiple women that he spanked them when they were reporters in the 1970s, the former publisher of an Alabama newspaper has resigned from his position at the head of the company started by his grandfather, AL.com reports. According to the Washington Post , 82-year-old H. Brandt Ayers…
Newser

‘Privacy Coin’ Verge is Allegedly Leaking Users’ IP Addresses

January 1, 2018 |

‘Privacy Coin’ Verge is Allegedly Leaking Users’ IP Addresses

Privacy coins are meant to be private: that’s their raison d’être. Without this functionality, they’re just altcoins, and dangerous ones at that for anyone relying on them for anonymity. Verge (XVG) is one of the best known privacy coins on the market, but it risks becoming famous for all the wrong reasons. A new website claims to list the IP addresses associated with hundreds of verge transactions, stripping bare the coin’s claims of anonymity.

Also read: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Privacy Coins

Verging on the Ridiculous

XVG has soared in price over the past month, which may owe more to the coin being heavily shilled by John McAfee than its strong fundamentals. Nevertheless, a combination of privacy coins being en vogue and XVG costing mere buttons – or rather satoshis – until recently have also contributed to its rise. Anyone snapping up the coin for its privacy features, however, could be in for a disappointment.

‘Privacy Coin’ Verge is Allegedly Leaking Users’ IP AddressesIn a recent article on privacy coins, news.Bitcoin.com wrote: “The general consensus is that verge isn’t as private as some of its competitors, so don’t trust it with your life.” That may have been an understatement given that a website is now purportedly listing IP addresses pertaining to verge transactions. The operator of the website is anonymous, which is more than can be said of the transactions it reveals.

Publicizing Privacy

‘Privacy Coin’ Verge is Allegedly Leaking Users’ IP AddressesThe revelatory site currently lists transactions that were conducted via the Verge Core wallet, but the Electrum XVG wallet will soon be added. There’s also the ability to determine transactions which went via a ‘rich list’ address; verge is notorious for having a large number of coins in possession of a handful of ‘whales’. One of these whales spent a cosy weekend with John McAfee before the former software tycoon extolled the virtues of verge, but the pair later fell out over claims that McAfee reportedly wanted millions from Verge and XVGWhale to shill the coin.

‘Privacy Coin’ Verge is Allegedly Leaking Users’ IP AddressesThese claims are hard to verify, but coupled with the latest disclosures regarding verge’s anonymity, they emphasize the need to be cautious when using privacy coins for their intended purpose.

On its website, the cryptocurrency’s developers claim:

Verge uses multiple anonymity-centric networks such as Tor and I2P. The IP addresses of the users are obfuscated and the transactions are completely untraceable.

In a glossy video posted to the Verge Twitter account on December 20, a voiceover describes XVG as “the only untraceable currency devoted to everyday use”.

Concerns about the veracity of this claim have abounded for some time, with the creation of xvg.keff.org now seeming to confirm as much. Not only does verge fail to provide the privacy that is the coin’s USP, but it arguably provides less privacy than other cryptocurrencies in allowing IP addresses to be recorded.

As the whistleblowing site explains:

Obviously not all of the IPs below will be correct. Some might just be relaying a transaction. The point is that a large amount will be correct due to the Verge network being so small. If your IP appears in the list with a TX you didn’t do, it means you relayed it for someone else. Would you want your IP to be connected to other users’ transactions?

Verge has disputed the accuracy of the site purporting to publish transaction IPs, tweeting:

‘Privacy Coin’ Verge is Allegedly Leaking Users’ IP Addresses

It is telling however that the development team have yet to issue an outright denial of the site’s claims. Even if a handful of IPs on the list are correct, it is evident that privacy proponents relying on verge are taking a risk every time they transact.

The roadmap for Verge – which began life as Dogecoin Dark – lists branded apparel and RSK smart contracts as next on its to-do list. Before it tackles these tasks, XVG’s development team may wish to return to the drawing board and take a look at their privacy coin’s alleged lack of privacy.

Do you think XVG’s development team have a case to answer, or are these claims unfounded? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, and Verge website.


Keep track of the bitcoin exchange rate in real-time.

The post ‘Privacy Coin’ Verge is Allegedly Leaking Users’ IP Addresses appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Russian Crypto Expert Released After Allegedly Being Kidnapped

December 30, 2017 |

Pavel Lerner, the Russian IT specialist kidnapped by masked men near his Kiev office on Tuesday, has been released after reportedly paying a bitcoin ransom worth more than a million in USD. This sum and payment has not been confirmed. Exmo’s executive was dropped off on a roadside by his attackers and is in a state of shock. The crypto entrepreneur has so far remained silent about the attack, that also shocked many Russians and Ukrainians. 

Read more: Russian Reports Say Crypto Entrepreneur Pavel Lerner Kidnapped in Kiev

Snatched by Men With Rifles and Balaclavas

“He was freed by his kidnappers”, a police sources told Strana.ua, the Ukrainian website that broke the news about Lerner’s mysterious disappearing. The six attackers were armed with assault rifles and were wearing balaclavas. They dragged Lerner into a van in broad daylight on a main street in the Ukrainian capital, security officials added. The vehicle, a black Mercedes-Benz, had stolen registration plates. Friends of the Russian businessman reported him missing after he stopped taking phone calls on December 26.

The blockchain expert has been released after paying a ransom of more than $ 1m in bitcoins, a high-ranking Ukrainian official revealed [Editor’s note: this piece of info has not been confirmed]. “He was kidnapped by an armed gang for the purpose of extorting bitcoins”, Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to the Ukrainian interior minister, told the Financial Times. He described the attack as a “bitcoin kidnapping” and revealed “operative information” about the amount Lerner had paid for his freedom. Local and Russian media quote other sources claiming that the abductors simply got scared by the wide coverage and decided to let him go.

Russian Crypto Expert Released After Bitcoin Ransom of $  1m

Shock and Awe in Russia and Ukraine

Pavel Lerner’s kidnapping has stunned crypto communities in both Russia and Ukraine where he has several businesses operating mining facilities and working on blockchain development projects. Exmo Finance LLP, the UK registered company he is working for, is a leading cryptocurrency exchange in the post-Soviet space, popular for processing Russian ruble transactions. Exmo has almost 95,000 active users and has hosted trading of $ 125m worth of bitcoin in a single day, BBC and FT reported. According to its website, more than 996 000 people in 200 countries have used its services.

With authorities reluctant to officially disclose details during an ongoing investigation, Lerner’s disappearing has prompted media speculations of a possible detention, a new “Vinnik case”. Alexander Vinnik is another Russian national with cryptocurrency background that has attracted a lot of media attention. He was arrested in Greece earlier this year on accusations of money laundering and other criminal activities through the now defunct BTC-e exchange, supposedly operated by him. US officials believe Vinnik is responsible for laundering $ 4 billion worth of bitcoin stolen in the Mt. Gox hack and have requested his extradition. He is also wanted by authorities in Russia where he is charged with stealing funds worth $ 10,000 USD.

Radio Silence After Lerner’s Release

But the “Vinnik scenario” is unlikely in Lerner’s case, as the 40-year-old Russian entrepreneur has never tried to hide his association with crypto businesses in several European countries – he has also resided in Poland and Spain. Initial media reports described him as the managing director of Exmo and according to his Linkedin profile he is the CEO of the British company running the exchange. In a statement, Exmo referred to him as “leading analyst” and “blockchain expert who leads an array of personal startup projects not related to the operations of the platform”.

Last week the UK-based cryptocurrency exchange posted that it had been targeted by cyber attackers. After Lerner’s abduction, the company asked for any information that could lead to finding him. It also addressed customers’ concerns stating that Pavel’s activity did not involve access to their financial assets and personal data. The exchange continued its operations despite the alleged kidnapping.

Pavel Lerner is yet to speak publically about his abduction. Attempts to contact him after his release have been unsuccessful. Ukrainian media believe he has decided to remain silent following instructions by the security services. “At the moment he is safe, and there was no physical harm inflicted on him. Nevertheless, Pavel is currently in a state of major stress, therefore, he will not provide any official comments in the coming days”, Exmo said in a statement published on its website.

What do you think of the abduction? Leave your comments below!


Images: Shutterstock.


Need to know the price of bitcoin? Check this chart.

The post Russian Crypto Expert Released After Allegedly Being Kidnapped appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

TMZ

‘Real Housewives’ Alum Carlton Gebbia Sued for Allegedly Attacking Housekeeper

December 28, 2017 |

‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ alum Carlton Gebbia mopped the floor with her housekeeper, and the maid’s now taking her to court … and she says Gebbia even tried to kill herself. The housekeeper — referred to in the lawsuit as Jane Doe –…

TMZ.com

Oklahoma high school teacher, student allegedly file for license to wed

December 16, 2017 |

A high school teacher in Oklahoma was fired Thursday after she and her 16-year-old student allegedly applied for a marriage license, according to reports.
FOX News

New York Credit Card Scammer Allegedly Sent Bitcoin to ISIS

December 15, 2017 |

New York Credit Card Scammer Allegedly Sent Bitcoin to ISIS

A Long Island woman has been charged with sending tens of thousands of dollars to ISIS fighters in Syria. As has been widely reported, the woman allegedly used bitcoin to transfer the funds overseas. Headlines have glossed over the way the money was obtained in the first place though: by good old-fashioned credit card fraud.

Also read: Putin Aide Says Bitcoin Can Help Russia Bypass Financial Sanctions

From the Eastside to the Middle East

The suspect at the center of the case, Zoobi Shahnaz, supposedly stole tens of thousands of dollars from American Express Bank, Chase Bank, Discover Bank and TD Bank before forwarding her ill-gotten gains to Syria using bitcoin. Her lawyer has insisted that the 27-year-old was only trying to aid Syrian refugees, but U.S. prosecutors aren’t buying it. Shahnaz supposedly gave fake information to a series of banks in order to obtain over $ 85,000. As evidence of the woman’s ideological leanings, it’s been reported that her internet searches included “top female jihadis” and “one-way tickets to Istanbul”. In the event, she went on to purchase a return flight – something ISIS recommends as it’s less suspicious.

The woman, who was born in Pakistan, worked in a Manhattan hospital as a lab technician until quitting in June in readiness to flee the country. The case has only come to light now after a grand jury indictment was unsealed, revealing charges of bank fraud, money laundering, and supporting a foreign terrorist organization. Her defence lawyer, Steve Zissou, has claimed that the money was for humanitarian purposes, citing a journey she took to Jordan in early 2016 to volunteer with the Syrian American Medical Society.

New York Credit Card Scammer Allegedly Sent Bitcoin to ISIS
Coalition forces bomb ISIS positions in Turkey.

Follow the Money

The scam unfolded between March and July of this year, and culminated in Zissou purchasing over $ 62,000 of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, according to prosecutors. The Pakistani national successfully purchased bitcoin with the stolen credit cards but her plan came undone after she tried to fly from John F. Kennedy International Airport on July 31. Agents swooped, ensuring that the woman was unable to reach her final destination of Istanbul via Pakistan.

The case, if proven, demonstrates the difficulty of sending funds overseas by any means for illicit purposes. While there are ways of buying cryptocurrency anonymously without leaving a paper trail, it is very difficult to do so in large amounts. The bulk of the crimes Shahnaz stands accused of were conducted using fiat currency, before the 27-year-old switched to cryptocurrency for the final leg of the journey. Despite this, expect to see the mainstream media zeroing in on bitcoin as a conduit for terrorism. Shahnaz has been held without bail and the case will call again on January 5th.

What do you think deserves the brunt of the blame here: fiat currency, bitcoin, or the accused herself? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


Keep track of the bitcoin exchange rate in real-time.

The post New York Credit Card Scammer Allegedly Sent Bitcoin to ISIS appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Man Allegedly Kidnaps Friend at Gunpoint and Steals $1.8m of Cryptocurrency

December 14, 2017 |

Man Allegedly Kidnaps Friend at Gunpoint and Steals $  1.8m of Cryptocurrency

A man has appeared in a New York court charged with robbing an acquaintance of his cryptocurrency hoard. Louis Meza allegedly had a gunman point a pistol at his friend’s head after luring him into a minivan and persuading him to part with his wallet seed. The offense, which is reported to have taken place on November 4, netted $ 1.8 million in cryptocurrency.

Also read: Tax Investigators Raid Bitcoin Exchanges Across India

With Friends Like These

Technology might be getting smarter, but the same cannot be said of criminals. If the allegations against Louis Meza are proven correct, the 35-year-old committed one of the most brazen and unsophisticated robberies imaginable. Millions of dollars of ether were stolen after Meza lured his supposed friend into a van and had his accomplice point a pistol at him. Due to the nature of blockchains, police were able to easily follow the flow of stolen ether, which reportedly showed up in the accused’s account the next day.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. stated in court that the case demonstrates “the increasingly common intersection between cyber and violent crime,” the NY Daily News reports. In reality, it shows nothing of the short. All the case demonstrates is that violent crooks will do what violent crooks do best: go for the easiest low hanging fruit. In this case it was cryptocurrency, but had the accused’s assets been in the form of gold, dollars, or Air Jordan sneakers, there’s every likelihood they would have befallen a similar fate.

Man Allegedly Kidnaps Friend at Gunpoint and Steals $  1.8m of Cryptocurrency
A glum looking Louis Meza appears in court

What is indisputable however is that the sharp rise in value of cryptocurrency this year has turned former friends and acquaintances into targets for the unscrupulous. Cases such as this illustrate the need to keep the extent of one’s cryptocurrency portfolio private. What may be a modest amount now has the potential to turn into a windfall in future, leaving individuals vulnerable to theft. The case also illustrates the the danger of the five dollar wrench attack, as recently noted by news.Bitcoin.com: the notion that even the strongest password in the world is no match for an angry man wielding a gun or wrench.

After being arraigned at Manhattan Supreme Court, Meza pled not guilty to grand larceny, kidnapping, and robbery, and was held on a $ 1 million bond, with bail set at $ 500,000 cash. Manhattan Supreme Court does not accept cryptocurrency.

Do you keep the extent of your cryptocurrency holdings hidden from friends? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, and New York Daily News.


Tired of those other forums on the subject of Bitcoin? Check forum.Bitcoin.com.

The post Man Allegedly Kidnaps Friend at Gunpoint and Steals $ 1.8m of Cryptocurrency appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Teacher Busted for Allegedly Doing Cocaine in Classroom

November 24, 2017 |

“When I actually watched the footage again and again and I just realized that my English teacher just did cocaine,” an Indiana high school student tells WGN . Will Rogers took a video of his teacher, 24-year-old Samantha Cox, through the window of her locked classroom door at Lake Central High…
Newser