Price Highs, Bull Runs, and Thieves: Bad Crypto News of the Week

Price Highs, Bull Runs, and Thieves: Bad Crypto News of the Week

Check out this week’s Bad Crypto podcast.

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Another good week for Bitcoin last week. The dollar price rose more than 5 percent, taking it to around $11,700. That rise wasn’t smooth. A flash crash took $1,500 off the price at one point, although investors remain bullish and the VIX volatility index, which is based on the S&P 500, is “extremely bullish.” Other volatility measures, though, suggest another drop to $10,000 before a new rally, while the Winklevoss twins think that the amount of infrastructure and capital in the crypto markets will make this bull run very different from the 2017 run.

It’s not just Bitcoin that’s been on a run, though. Ethereum has hit a two-year high of $400, supported by decentralized finance protocols, the anticipated arrival of ETH 2.0, and the general rise in the altcoin market.

Meanwhile, in the analog world, the US printed more money in June than it did in the first two centuries after its founding.

Where there are riches, there are also thieves, and hackers have broken into a cryptocurrency trading platform in Europe. The thieves stole more than $1.3 million from 2gether. The platform has offered customers its own 2GT token as a replacement. 

Bitfinex is still trying to track down hackers who stole more than 120,000 Bitcoins back in August 2016. The exchange is offering a reward of up to $400 million and is even willing to give the hackers 25 percent of the total property recovered.

As for that big Twitter hack that saw accounts as large as Elon Musk’s, Joe Biden’s and Bill Gates’s ask for Bitcoins, authorities have now arrested a 17-year-old in Tampa, Florida. He has been something of a trend-setter, though. Hackers have been taking over big YouTube channels, changing their names to topics like SpaceX and Elon Musk, and offering similar Bitcoin giveaways. The hackers appear to be using phishing attacks targeting the owners of large channels.

Not all law evasion is bad though. Chinese Internet users have turned to the blockchain to share a censored news article. The article is about a company that gave faulty vaccines to babies. 

In Tel Aviv, the stock exchange is now launching a blockchain-based securities platform. Audius has raised $3.1 million to support its “SoundCloud on the blockchain.” The company previously raised $5.5 million but now has 250,000 users and 40,000 artists.

And according to Heath Tarbert, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a large part of the financial system could soon end up using the blockchain. It’s on a run. 

Check out the audio version here:

Joel Comm is an internet pioneer, New York Times best-selling author, futurist speaker and co-host of The Bad Crypto Podcast. That’s a fancy way of saying he writes words, says things and loves to play with cryptos

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.


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Check out this week’s Bad Crypto podcast.

Honor Among Thieves? Darknet Markets Refuse COVID-19 ‘Cures’

Honor Among Thieves? Darknet Markets Refuse COVID-19 ‘Cures’

Professor of Criminology Roderic Broadhurst found that some darknet market operators may have scruples after all.

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Almost half of the darknet sites surveyed by the Australian National University do not offer COVID-19 ‘treatments’ or protective equipment. 

Researchers found that eight out of 20 markets do not sell any items related to coronavirus with another nine selling a very limited selection. Just three sites accounted for the vast majority (85%) of all unique items sold.

The study was commissioned by Australian Institute of Criminology and monitored 20  darknet markets on April 3 to conduct a census of COVID-19 related medical products and supplies.

The researchers found 645 listings on sale in exchange for cryptocurrency, including personal protective equipment (PPE), ‘vaccines’, diagnostic equipment, and one even claimed to offer a blood sample from a recovered coronavirus patient. The researchers were not permitted to purchase the item so were unable to assess the authenticity of such items.

Evidence of a darknet conscience?

Titled “Availability of COVID-19 related products on Tor darknet markets” the report stated that “crime follows opportunity and the COVID-19 pandemic offers profiteering arising from shortages and fear”. 

While some were quick to jump on the financial opportunities presented by the pandemic — the products surveyed were valued at $240,000 USD — the fact that almost half were devoid of such listings may suggest some darknet operators have more scruples than is commonly believed.

Speaking to Cointelegraph, study author Professor Roderic Broadhurst speculated on the absence of COVID-19 related products on certain sites:

“Basically different markets view risk differently. Many already ban products like child abuse materials and certain drugs/poisons/etc and so ethics [are] also relevant. Of course some markets have no such scruples and may consider themselves bullet proof.”

Free market on darknet

Of course many darknet markets happily sell drugs, weapons and trade in stolen credit cards and personal information. Some corners of the darknet are worse than others: Cointelegraph recently reported that over $900,000 in Bitcoin (BTC) went to the purchase of child sexual abuse material on the darkent in 2019.


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Professor of Criminology Roderic Broadhurst found that some darknet market operators may have scruples after all.

Canada: Thieves Steal $4K From Bitcoin ATM, Leave $50K Untouched

Canada: Thieves Steal $4K From Bitcoin ATM, Leave $50K Untouched

Two men have stolen $4,000 from a Bitcoin ATM in a small-town grocery store, but left $50,000 behind in an overlooked canister

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Two thieves at a Canadian grocery store swiped $4,000 from a Bitcoin (BTC) ATM but forgot to check the second canister, leaving $50,000 behind.

According to a local media report published on Nov. 20, the robbery took place around 4 a.m. on Nov. 19 at the “Simply Delicious Food Market” in Vernon, British Columbia.

Police “confident” they’ll catch perpetrators

CCTV footage of Bitcoin ATM robbery at “Simply Delicious Food Market” in Vernon

CCTV footage of Bitcoin ATM robbery at “Simply Delicious Food Market” in Vernon. Source: Castanet

With police reportedly on the scene just 15 minutes after the store’s security systems were triggered, the two men escaped in time and remain at large — yet an interview with the store owner indicated that a fair amount of evidence had been captured:

„Our security camera caught at least one of their cars drive away, which was a grey Nissan Sentra. The police were also able to catch their license plate too.“

While the local media report gives little context on the small-town grocery store’s decision to install a Bitcoin ATM — Vernon has a population of just over 40,000 — the shaken owner said he now plans to remove the machine. 

The adverse impact of the small-time heist is all the more ironic given the thieves’ own hamfisted success, with local reporters revealing that: 

“The thieves made off with $4,000, but left $50,000 still in the machine in a canister they didn’t check.”

Bitcoin ATMs installed worldwide at all-time-high

In fall 2018, Cointelegraph reported on the Indian authorities’ controversial arrest of the developers of the country’s first Bitcoin ATM. 

The story carried particular symbolic clout in light of the two suspects being the co-founders of the country’s first cryptocurrency exchange, Unocoin, celebrated by the local industry as being among India’s brightest tech pioneers. 

The arrests were vehemently opposed amid a fog of regulatory uncertainty and the case’s intersection with the government’s evolving stance toward the sector at the time.

Earlier this week, the number of Bitcoin ATMs installed worldwide reached a new milestone, surpassing 6,000. 

In a development apparently not directly triggered by the news directly, the United States Internal Revenue Service has this week revealed it is looking into potential tax issues caused by cryptocurrency ATMs and kiosks.


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Two men have stolen $4,000 from a Bitcoin ATM in a small-town grocery store, but left $50,000 behind in an overlooked canister

Two Masked Thieves Caught on Tape Stealing Bitcoin ATM in the US

Two Masked Thieves Caught on Tape Stealing Bitcoin ATM in the US

Two thieves were caught on tape stealing a Bitcoin ATM in Washington DC

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A Bitcoin (BTC) automatic teller machine (ATM) has allegedly been stolen in the United States with the theft caught on tape. 

Bitcoin ATM theft in the U.S.

A Bitcoin ATM has reportedly been stolen by two alleged thieves in a mall situated in Washington DC on Aug. 3, according to a report published by Finnish news outlet Ilta Sanomat on Aug. 22. Moreover, the alleged two suspects have been filmed by a surveillance camera as they stole the machine.

The two reportedly timed their actions to take place when the shops were closed, but the mall itself was still open. Nobody paid attention to them as they allegedly entered the building, took the machine, carried it to a van, loaded it on board and drove away.

Not the first time criminals attempt to snatch Bitcoin ATM

This is a similar modus operandi compared to the incident reported in July, when a  gang of masked men have raided a Bitcoin exchange in the English city of Birmingham, sparking a police investigation. Also on this occasion, the group had reportedly attempted to steal a Bitcoin ATM using a rope attached to their car. 

Interestingly, the two were so discreet that the theft has not been noticed until a week later. At this point, the police had to call Bitcoin ATM operator and owner Coinme to inform about the theft.

In June, the number of Bitcoin ATMs worldwide crossed the 5,000 mark, Cointelegraph reported in June.


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Two thieves were caught on tape stealing a Bitcoin ATM in Washington DC

Bitcoin Lightning Nodes Claimed 2.22 BTC in ‚Justice‘ Against Thieves: BitMEX

Bitcoin Lightning Nodes Claimed 2.22 BTC in ‚Justice‘ Against Thieves: BitMEX

Bitcoin Lightning Network nodes have claimed 2.2 BTC in “justice transactions” to deter potential thieves since Dec. 2017, according to BitMEX Research

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Bitcoin (BTC) Lightning Network nodes have claimed 2.2 BTC in “justice transactions” to deter potential thieves, a BitMex Research analysis revealed on July 15.

A so-dubbed “justice transaction” is a punitive mechanism involving the closure of a lightning channel that is suspected to be attempting theft. As the report outlines:

“… by design, when a thief attempts to steal funds on the lightning network, if caught, they do not only lose the money they tried to steal, they lose all the funds in the relevant channel. This “punishment” is expected to act as a deterrent and is sometimes called “justice”.

BitMEX researchers claim to have potentially identified 241 justice transactions since the second-layer network’s in December 2017 — all the while noting that there is a possibility the data “includes false positives” and that other, more robust tools exist to identify such transactions than the “basic search methodology” used for their report.

BitMEX’s data apparently reveals that the highest number of justice transactions — over 60 apparent instances — occurred in October 2018. April 2018 saw the second-highest number of justice transactions — over 30.

Notably, while the period from February to April 2019 saw a relatively high number of justice transactions — between 20 and 30 instances — it eclipsed both October 2018 and April 2018 in terms of the absolute value in BTC claimed by honest nodes via the mechanism. February 2019 alone represented the absolute peak in terms of monthly total, at roughly 0.67BTC:

BTC reclaimed by honest nodes using justice transactions

BTC reclaimed by honest nodes using justice transactions. Source: BitMEX Research

BitMEX’s report further qualifies the findings by noting that 2.22 BTC does not necessarily indicate that thieves tried and failed to steal that amount — given that potential thieves may have been punished by an amount larger than the value they tried to steal. 

Instead, the figure represents:

“… the total funds claimed by honest non channel closing nodes, part of this value is funds originally owned by the dis-honest nodes and part of the value will be the value they tried to steal.”

In conclusion, the report notes that the total number of justice transactions on Lightning since its inception represent just 0.7% of the number of currently active channels: while an optimal proportion of justice transactions is hard to determine, BitMEX Research notes, this current level appears to be a reasonable figure sufficient to prevent the risk of “large systemic channel thefts” in future.

As reported, Bitrefill has recently made it possible for users of major American crypto exchange Coinbase to access its full suite of Lightning services directly from within their native exchange accounts. 

A couple of crypto payment processors have meanwhile this year released intermediary services to enable Lightning payments for products sold on Amazon.


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Bitcoin Lightning Network nodes have claimed 2.2 BTC in “justice transactions” to deter potential thieves since Dec. 2017, according to BitMEX Research