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One week after Indian cryptocurrency exchange Unocoin announced the launch of its ATM, local police have reportedly seized the machine and arrested two founders of the company, including the CEO. Police say the machine was set up without approvals.
Several Items Seized
Indian police have seized a recently-installed kiosk operated by Bengaluru-based cryptocurrency exchange Unocoin, the Times of India reported on Wednesday.
The kiosk was reportedly located at Kemp Fort Mall on Old Airport Road in Bengaluru. It was launched on Oct. 15 as an automated teller machine (ATM). According to the police, the machine is “illegal as it had been set up without approvals,” the news outlet detailed, elaborating:
Central Crime Branch sleuths seized a teller machine, two laptops, a mobile, three credit cards, five debit cards, a passport, five seals of Unocoin company, a cryptocurrency device and Rs 1.8 lakh [$ 2,458].
The company’s 37-year-old co-founder, Harish B.V., was arrested on Tuesday in connection with operating the machine. Harish is being held in police custody for seven days, the publication noted, adding that “Cops said more arrests are likely.”
Then, on Thursday, the Times of India reported that another founder, CEO Sathvik Viswanath, was also arrested. “Viswanath, 32, who lives in Tumakuru, was produced before a judge at his residence and remanded in police custody for seven days. Sleuths have seized a laptop and a cellphone from him,” the publication wrote.
According to the News Minute, the Cyber Crime department of the Central Crime Branch told the media:
The ATM kiosk installed by Unocoin in Bengaluru’s Kempfort Mall has not taken any permission from the state government and is dealing in cryptocurrency outside the remit of the law.
The Bangalore Mirror quoted Alok Kumar, a commissioner with the Bengaluru City Police, elaborating, “They did not have any licence from RBI [Reserve Bank of India], Sebi [Securities and Exchange Board of India] or any other agency to carry out the bitcoin transaction.” He added that the machine was also operated without any trade license from the BBMP, a branch of the government in the Greater Bangalore metropolitan area responsible for civic amenities and some infrastructural assets.
Negative Media Reporting
On Oct. 20, before the police seized its kiosk and arrested its founders, Unocoin tweeted:
Our machine didn’t go well with few mainstream media reports who projected it under a negative light. The machine is still under final testing mode and it will be up and running in the upcoming week. The machine has been temporarily moved from its original place of installation.
The mall management became apprehensive after seeing negative media reports, a Unocoin founder told the Times of India. “The reason for panic is because of fake videos on Kannada and English channels. Due to this, our kiosk is not operational. We’ve been trying to actively get these videos pulled down,” the news outlet quoted the founder describing.
The machine was originally labeled as an ATM. However, Unocoin has since changed its description to a kiosk.
Cryptocurrency Not Illegal in India
Viswanath previously explained that “it’s perfectly legal for Indians to buy, own or sell bitcoins,” the publication conveyed and quoted him saying:
We got a lot of bad press after the finance minister announced a ban in February 2018. The minister’s statement was clear: cryptocurrencies are not legal tender in India. He did not say ‘illegal tender’. There’s a huge difference.
India’s finance minister Arun Jaitley said in his 2018-19 budget speech, “The government does not consider cryptocurrencies legal tender or coin and will take measures to eliminate [the] use of these cryptoassets in financing illegitimate activities.”
What do you think of the police seizing Unocoin’s kiosk and arresting the founders? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Unocoin.
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For Christie Hefner, visiting the Playboy Mansion was a child’s dream.
Papa John’s, which has featured founder John Schnatter in logos and TV ads, is removing his image from its marketing materials after reports that he used a racial slur.
His face had disappeared from at least some of the materials as of Friday morning, though the company said the details and exact…
For Christie Hefner, visiting the Playboy Mansion was a child’s dream.
Turkey’s so called “national” crypto, Turcoin, has turned out to be a classical example of a Ponzi scheme, local media reported. The founders of the “alternative” digital currency are believed to have fled the country with millions of dollars collected from defrauded investors. The company behind the Turkish token stopped distributing dividends earlier in June.
‘National, Alternative, Rivaling Bitcoin’
Turcoin, presented as a “rival to the global virtual currency bitcoin,” has been exposed as just another Ponzi scheme, after the executives of the project suddenly disappeared, according to local press reports. The Turkish altcoin, advertised as a national alternative digital currency, was launched by the Istanbul-based company Hipper A.Ş. founded by Muhammed Satıroğlu and Sadun Kaya last year.
In what sounds like a familiar scenario, every new participant in the network was supposed to bring more revenue to the person who signed them up. And as it happens with most financial pyramids, Turcoin crumbled as soon as growth grounded to a halt amid rising suspicions.
Hipper hit the headlines in Turkey with a lavish gala organized to promote the cryptocurrency last year. The event was attended by many Turkish celebrities, Hürriyet recalls. The company has also reportedly given away about 20 luxurious cars to the token’s early adopters.
The project suddenly stopped paying bonuses in early June. Since then, desperate investors have been trying to reach its Istanbul office without much success. “I am ruined. I don’t know what to do,” a 38-year-old man, who bought Turcoins worth 560,000 TL, almost $ 120,000 USD, told the daily. Hipper’s website is still online, currently offering “Cloud mining rental services.”
Billion Turkish Liras – Gone?
According to Sabah, the executives of Hipper have left Turkey with 1 billion TL stolen from thousands of defrauded investors. Many of them were lured with promises of monthly incomes of 250 TL (~$ 52) in return for an investment of 1,500 TL (~$ 315), the newspaper reported. Angry members of the scheme have raided the company’s office in the northwestern province of Kocaeli after their calls remained unanswered.
“I was only a mediator. Our company, Hipper, does not even have a single dollar in the bank. All the money went to Sadun Kaya’s company in Cyprus,” Muhammed Satıroğlu, one of Hipper’s founders, told Hürriyet. The daily wrote that he owns 49 percent of the company that issued the Turcoins.
Satıroğlu has joined investors in filing a criminal complaint against his partner, Sadun Kaya, who is said to hold 51 percent of the Turkish company and is thought to have fled the country with 100 million TL (~$ 21 million) taken away from about 10,000 people, according to the numbers quoted by Hürriyet. Satıroğlu claims he has not stolen any money and promises to start refunding Turcoin investors as soon as Turkish authorities unfreeze his bank accounts.
Meanwhile, Sadun Kaya, who has reportedly left Turkey, maintains that not he but his partners embezzled most of the money. “Everyone is trying to put the blame on me,” he complained in a conversation with Sabah. Kaya is also chairing the administrative board of Anafis Inc., another company involved in the scheme.
Amidst conflicting reports about the size of the fraud, it’s unclear if Turcoin will turn out to be the country’s biggest Ponzi scheme. The record holder for now, according to the online outlet Ahval, was revealed in March, when authorities in the northwestern province of Sakarya launched an investigation against Çiftlik Bank. Its 26-year-old founder Mehmet Aydın fled to Uruguay after reportedly collecting more than 500 million TL (~$ 128 million USD) from some 78,000 people in just two years.
Do you think authorities should take measures to prevent obvious Ponzi schemes? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Ahval, Turcoin.
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The post Turcoin Ponzi Scheme Exposed, Founders Flee with Millions appeared first on Bitcoin News.
The co-founders of Stripe, brothers Patrick and John Collison, recently discussed the company’s decision to no longer support bitcoin payments, and expressed a willingness to reverse this decision in future.
Declining Use of BTC as Means of Payment
In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Stripe co-founders John and Patrick Collison shared their view of bitcoin and the cryptocurrency markets, and discussed Stripe’s decision to no longer facilitate BTC payments made earlier this year.
When asked whether the company’s decision to no longer conduct bitcoin payments through its platform would leave it “on the wrong side of history”, Patrick Collison responded, “We’re absolutely open to revisiting this.”
Patrick sought to emphasize that the reasons underpinning Stripe’s decision to move away from BTC are “a question for the bitcoin community, basically, and especially the architects of the software, whether they want to optimize bitcoin for being a payment method, or for being […] a form of digital gold, a store of value.”
“At the time we made our decision, it was trending towards being a digital store of value – I think that’s a valuable thing to have exist in the world, […] I genuinely wish them the very best with that […] It just works less well for our use case, and this wasn’t […] a decision where we wanted to be the arbiter, we were just looking at the data, and it was declining rapidly in use as a payment method, if it starts increasing [in use] again as a payment method, then sure, great, we’ll go back and we’ll add it,” Patrick said.
Stripe Founders Remain “Fascinated by Cryptocurrencies From a Technology Point of View”
John Collison echoed his brother’s sentiment, emphasizing that “the speed and cost” of conducting “transactions on the bitcoin network was the main” issue. “Our determination was that bitcoin is not a good payment method, which is a very different discussion than cryptocurrencies generally,” John said.
Regarding the current state of the cryptocurrency sphere broadly, John stated that he believes “there is a ton of promise that has not actually been shown in real-world applications yet, and while we are waiting for those real-world applications, I think people are getting a little distracted by some of the hype.”
“I see tons of companies, and tons of people, getting distracted by almost vanity projects of ‘we’ll put this database on the blockchain or things like this’ because people are not really weathered in the technical details,” John continued.
Do you think that BTC will see an increase or further decline in its adoption as a means of payment? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Wikipedia
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A US federal court has indicted three founders of a company purported to offer cryptocurrency-related financial products and have raised $ 25 million in an initial coin offering. In addition to claiming to have licenses in 38 states, the company also claimed partnerships with Bancorp, Visa, and Mastercard to issue its own cards.
Three Founders Indicted
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Monday that the founders of a cryptocurrency-related company have been indicted in the Manhattan federal court.
Florida residents Sohrab Sharma, 27, Raymond Trapani, 27, and Robert Farkas, 31, are co-founders of a startup called Centra Tech. The company purported to offer cryptocurrency-related financial products including the Centra Card, a debit card which supposedly “allowed users to spend various types of cryptocurrency to make purchases at any establishment that accepts Visa or Mastercard payment cards,” the DOJ described.
The three were arrested last month. The US Attorney’s Office of Southern District of New York and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seized 91,000 ether which was “raised from victims as part of the charged scheme” in an initial coin offering (ICO).
The attorney for the United States, Robert Khuzami, explained:
As alleged, the defendants conspired to capitalize on investor interest in the burgeoning cryptocurrency market. They allegedly made false claims about their product and about relationships they had with credible financial institutions, even creating a fictitious Centra Tech CEO. Whether traditional or cutting-edge, investment vehicles can’t legally be peddled with falsehoods and lies.
ICO Worth $ 60+ Million
The three began “soliciting investors to purchase unregistered securities, in the form of digital tokens issued by Centra Tech” through an ICO in approximately July. In oral and written materials, they falsely represented that Centra Tech had an experienced executive team and “had formed partnerships with Bancorp, Visa, and Mastercard to issue Centra Cards licensed by Visa or Mastercard.” They also represented that the company “had money transmitter and other licenses in 38 states, among other claims,” the DOJ revealed, adding:
Based in part on these claims, victims provided millions of dollars’ worth of digital funds in investments for the purchase of Centra Tech tokens.
“In or about October 2017, at the end of Centra Tech’s ICO, those digital funds raised from victims were worth more than $ 25 million” – the amount which has now appreciated to more than $ 60 million.
The Department of Justice found that statements made by the three to secure these investments “were false,” emphasizing that the three “were well aware of the falsity of such claims.”
For example, “the purported CEO ‘Michael Edwards’ and another supposed member of Centra Tech’s executive team are fictitious people who were fabricated to dupe investors.”
The DOJ then described the scheme used to fabricate the CEO and another executive:
Sharma text-messaged Trapani on or about July 29, 2017, that they ‘Need to find someone who looks like Michael’…Similarly, Sharma later wrote during that same exchange: ‘Gonna kill both CEO and her [another executive],’ ‘Gonna say they were married and got into an accident.’
Furthermore, the company’s claimed partnerships and licenses were non-existent, the DOJ revealed, citing text messages between Trapani and Sharma discussing “Centra Tech’s lack of actual partnerships with banks or credit card companies.” Another text message from Sharma to Trapani and Farkas says, “Gotta apply for all licenses,” “Should I even say this.”
According to the Justice Department’s announcement:
All three of them are charged in a four-count Indictment.
One count is “conspiracy to commit securities fraud, which carries a maximum potential sentence of five years in prison.” The other three carry “a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison.” They are securities fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and wire fraud. Additionally, each charge also carries potential financial penalties. “The maximum potential prison sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge,” the DOJ wrote.
Moreover, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has separately filed civil charges against the trio.
What do you think of the DOJ indicting the three Centra Tech’s founders? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter, and the DOJ.
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The post US Court Indicts Founders of Crypto Company for Fraudulent Scheme appeared first on Bitcoin News.
On Tuesday, reports regarding the notorious Facebook investor and venture capitalist Peter Thiel and his Founders Fund was revealed. According to sources familiar with the matter, Thiel’s fund has made an investment in the startup Tagomi, a firm that plans to execute cryptocurrency buy and sell orders as a brokerage service dealing with institutional investors and family offices.
Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund Helps Inject $ 15.5 Million in Capital Into the Cryptocurrency Startup Tagomi Systems
The Peter Thiel Founders Fund is betting that institutional investors want to get in on bitcoin and cryptocurrency markets. Thiel’s venture-capital firm maintains the biggest portfolios in Silicon Valley and just recently it made an early-stage investment in Tagomi Systems Inc. The Wall Street Journal reports that Tagomi is a startup that aims to provide electronic-trading guidance to cryptocurrency investors. Tagomi is a startup based out of New York, and the company just filed a Form D notice with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on March 15.
The report on May 1 details that the Founders Fund was involved in a funding round for Tagomi that resulted in $ 15.5Mn USD. The publication did not detail whether or not the Founders Fund led the seed round, and details on Tagomi’s business model is relatively unknown. However, the recently filed Form D with the SEC shows that the Founders Fund managing partner, Napoleon Ta, is named as one of Tagomi’s directors. According to reports Tagomi plans to facilitate high-speed electronic brokerage services with cryptocurrencies to institutional investors and family financial management services alongside over-the-counter (OTC) operations.
Long on Cryptocurrencies: Tagomi Systems is the Founders Fund’s Fourth Cryptocurrency Venture
The Facebook and Paypal investor Thiel is a big believer in bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Earlier this year the Founders Fund revealed it had allegedly “amassed hundreds of millions of dollars” of bitcoin since mid-2017. Just recently during an interview with the Economic Club of New York, Thiel stated he was ‘long’ on bitcoin and called it the internet’s gold.
I would be long bitcoin, and neutral to skeptical of just about everything else at this point with a few possible exceptions — There will be one online equivalent to gold, and the one you’d bet on would be the biggest.
Tagomi Systems is not the only cryptocurrency project the Founders Fund has dipped its venture capital paws into. Thiel’s fund has also recently invested in the tokenization platform Harbor. Additionally, Thiel’s organization has injected capital into the funds Polychain Capital, and Metastable Capital which are primarily focused on cryptocurrency investment vehicles as well. Tagomi’s Form D filing with the SEC shows the firm has declined to disclose its revenue range, and the securities offered by the startup are disclosed as “equity.”
What do you think about Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund throwing more money at cryptocurrency ventures? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments below.
Images via Pixabay, AP, and CNN.
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Two founders of Backpage.com and five others who work for the classified advertising site have been indicted on federal charges in what authorities say was a scheme to knowingly facilitate prostitution by running ads for sexual services and using foreign banks to hide revenues, the AP reports. A 93-count…