Teenage Mastermind Behind the Twitter Hack Owns $3.39 Million in Bitcoin (300 BTC)

The 17-year old Twitter-hack mastermind holds over $3 million in BTC value with only $725,000 set for bail.

In a bizarre moment last month, Twitter faced a massive hack that over 30 celebrity and business accounts hacked with the hackers gaining nearly $117,000 in a Bitcoin giveaway scam. Authorities identified 17-year old Graham Ivan Clark as the mastermind of the hack, and after a court hearing, bail was set at $725,000 on Saturday, but recent reports show the teen can afford to pay it.

In a report first published by Tampa Bay Times, Graham holds over $3.39 million in Bitcoin (BTC) at current prices (about 300 BTC), which would be sufficient to post bail. However, the prosecutors were calling out for a $1 million bond for each of his 30 charges before the court. Claiming the BTC must have been obtained illegally due to his conduct in the Twitter hack.

Clark’s attorney, David Weisbrod, had a different view on the legitimacy of the BTC, claiming that the court in a separate case earlier retuned the 300 BTC to Clark after seizing $15,000 in cash and over 400 BTC. Weisbrod believes the action of the court giving back the coins makes them legitimate. He said,

“I can think of no greater indication of legitimacy than law enforcement giving the money back.”

However, there lingers a loophole on why the court withheld some of the amounts and not returning the full value.

So far, two more accomplices (proxies) have been identified – 22-year-old Nima Fazeli of Orlando and 19-year-old Mason Sheppard of the United Kingdom – who face federal charges as adults.

The judge has further ordered the 17-year-old off any internet-connected devices once bail is posted and restricted his movement to doctor and attorney appointments only. The judge has also asked Clark to surrender his passport to authorities.

Clark is facing 17 counts of communications fraud and 11 counts of fraudulent use of personal information. One count each for organizing fraud that saw him collect $5,000 and another for accessing a computer or electronic device without authority.

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Author: Lujan Odera

US Travel Firm Pays 414 Bitcoin worth $4.5 million to Hackers

US travel management company CWT paid 414 Bitcoin, worth $4.5 million, to hackers who stole sensitive corporate files and reportedly knocked 30,000 computers offline. Crypto exchange Binance CEO said,

“Again, not bitcoin’s fault, but as we inevitably evolve into a more digital civilization, all businesses new and old will need to revamp their security practices.”

Ransomware called Ragnar Locker which encrypts computer files to make them unusable until the victim pays for them to be restored, was used by the attackers, reported Reuters. The statement by the company that posted $1.5 billion in revenue last year, but has been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic reads,

“We can confirm that after temporarily shutting down our systems as a precautionary measure, our systems are back online, and the incident has now ceased.”

CWT immediately informed US law enforcement, and European data protection authorities and the investigation is at an early stage.

Initially, the hackers demanded $10 million to delete the stolen data and restore CWT’s files, adding,

“It’s probably much cheaper than lawsuits expenses (sic), reputation loss caused by leakage.”

In its ransom note, hackers claimed to have stolen two terabytes of files, including security documents, financial reports, and employees’ personal data.

Ransomware attacks are a consistent and serious threat to businesses that costs billions of dollars each year, and the best defense against them is to keep secure data back-ups.

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Author: AnTy

NY Court Orders Longfin to Pay $223M to Investors After Blockchain Pivot Turns Securities Fraud

Longfin, a now-defunct crypto firm that raised $27 million in 2017, has been ordered by a Manhattan federal judge to repay $223 million to its investors along with interest in the alleged security fraud case. Longfin acquired an undervalued company back in 2017, after which its share prices surged by 1000%.

The judgment came on July 29, where the federal judge concluded that Longfin, along with its chief executive Venkata Meenaalli, CTO Vivek Ratakonda, and the director of two related companies, Suresh Tammineedi collectively owned a nine-figure sum. The case’s ruling has granted a default judgment, as requested by lead plaintiff Mohammad Malik in January. The judge in his decision noted that Malik:

“offered sufficient evidentiary support through declarations and exhibits submitted in support of his claim for damages, and no evidentiary hearing is required.”

A Brief History of the Case

Longfin launched an IPO as a Regulation A+ offering back in September 2017, which allowed the firm to raise funds from both accredited and non-accredited investors. It also obtained waivers from several registration requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. It went on to raise $27 million by December and called its IPO a successful event.

At the time, the firm also claimed that it had become the first publicly listed fintech firm under Reg A+ on Nasdaq. Soon after a successful IPO, Longfin acquired Ziddu.com, a cloud storage solution that claimed it had incorporated blockchain technology. The price of Longfin’s share surged by 1000% from $5 a share to $140 in early 2018. However, shareholders accused the company of issuing false and misleading statements, which led to the 1000% surge.

The firm is also accused of selling its shares after the surge, which prompted the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) to look into the firm’s working and investigate any wrongdoing. The SEC started their investigation in April 2018, and soon after, the price of the shares crashed.

In September 2019, the SEC received a judgment in its favor against Longfin, where a New York federal court found that the crypto firm falsified documents and data to receive Regulation A+ offering.

The court also found that Longfin lied about primarily operating from the US and lied about qualifying shares and shareholders sold in the offering. The court found that $66 million in revenue generated by the firm came from “fictitious revenue and sham commodities transaction” equivalent to 90% of the company’s revenue.

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Author: Rebecca Asseh

Data Breach at Popular Hardware Crypto Wallet Ledger Affects Million; Trezor Fires Shots

Popular crypto hardware wallet Ledger reported the leak of 1 million email addresses and 9,500 detailed personal information of its customers.

Ledger’s competitor, Trezor, took this opportunity to advertise, “After 90 days, we get rid of all sensitive data about your order in our e-shop database (even e-mail addresses),” complete with promo code “DATAPRIVACY” to offer a discount on its products. But it’s limited to 9500 users.

The company came to know of the data breach on July 14th when a researcher participating in Ledger’s bounty program made them aware of it; Ledger shared in its official report. Ledger immediately fixed the breach and conducted an internal investigation.

Now, a week after patching the breach, the company discovered the vulnerability had been exploited on June 25th by an unauthorized third party. The entity accessed Ledger’s e-commerce and marketing database through an API key, which has now been deactivated and is no longer accessible.

The database access, which has been used to send order confirmations and promotional emails, including mostly email addresses along with contact and order details such as first and last name, postal address, email address, and phone number.

Approximately 1 million email addresses were affected, and a subset of 9500 customers was exposed for first and last name, postal address, phone number, or ordered products.

“Your payment information and crypto funds are safe,” as the data breach has no link and impact on hardware wallets, crypto assets, or Ledger Live security, ensuring the company.

The company has since then informed all of its customers about the situation, and those whose detailed personal information is exposed have been sent dedicated emails.

Ledger has also notified the CNIL, the French Data Protection Authority, which ensures that data privacy law is applied to the collection, storage, and use of personal data.

Last week, they partnered with Orange Cyberdefense to assess the situation and are actively monitoring the evidence of databases being sold on the internet.

The company is now extending the scope of its security and organizational program to e-commerce, which initially focused on Products (HW and Vault). Further steps are taken to meet the requirements listed in ISO 27001.

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Author: AnTy

Decentralized Derivatives Exchange Injective Raises $2.6M In Fresh Funding for Upcoming Mainnet

Injective Protocol, a front-running resistant layer-2 decentralized exchange protocol has raised $2.6 million in seed funding round led by Pantera Capital and many other prominent firms such as QCP’s investment arm QCP Soteria, Axia8 Ventures, and OK’s strategic investment partner K42.

The Injective Protocol was also a part of the Binance incubation program of 2018. The protocol itself aims to solve the scalability and liquidity issues faced by exchanges. Solving these issues would not only offer working capital but also liquidity solutions for decentralized exchanges.

Commenting on their new partners, and what led to lead the funding round, was Paul Veradittakit, Partner at Pantera Capital stating:

“Injective Protocol scalably brings advanced derivatives capabilities to Defi while being uncompromisingly decentralized.

We see Injective as a strong contender to expand Defi beyond just Ethereum power users and to serve as an integral layer ushering the new dawn of decentralized derivatives.”

Injective protocol promises to boost the decentralized exchange market by improving liquidity and also promise to help in building different products to cater to the needs of the consumers.

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Author: Hank Klinger

Visa Partner Non-Custodial Lightning Network Wallet Zap Secures $3.5M Funding

The non-custodial Lightning Network wallet Zap has closed a $3.5 million seed round led by Green Oaks Capital, which previously backed Robinhood and Stripe. Morgan Creek co-founder Mark Yusko and Anthony Pompliano also joined the round.

This big development came just months after the payment startup partnered with Visa. Zap currently employs 13 people from all over the world.

Jack Mallers founded zap, and before, the Maller family funded April. Jack’s grandfather helped found the Chicago Board of Exchange (Cboe) and then co-founded First American Discount Corporation with his son.

The core of the product Lightning Network is the second layer of bitcoin, which enables faster and cheaper transactions.

With this open-source non-custodial wallet, users’ don’t even know they are using bitcoin as they use dollars.

“One of the early use cases for us is content creators. Journalists or video game streamers or adult film actors and actresses, put up profiles backed by our infrastructure, and anyone in the world can tip them,” Mallers, 26 told Forbes.

Zap launched its flagship product Strike, a Lightning native neo-bank that addresses pain points for the mass adoption of crypto. In June, the company announced it was admitted to Visa’s Fast Track program and would be launching its card within a year. Strike rewards and Strike merchant tools would also be coming shortly, he said.

Twitter and Square co-founder Jack Dorsey who is a bitcoin advocate have also taken an interest in Lightning with investing in Lightning Labs, the leading developer of Lightning Network.

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Author: AnTy

Cryptocurrency Focused Insurer, Evertas, Raises A $2.8 Million Seed Round Led by Morgan Creek

  • Evertas crypto insurer has received $2.8 Million cash injection from a recently concluded seed round led by Morgan Creek Capital Management.
  • Morgan Creek CEO will onboard the Evertas Board of Directors as part of the agreement.

Chicago based Evertas insurance has raised $2.8Million in a recent seed round. The insurance company, formerly known as BlockRe, was founded in 2017 by current CEO J Gdanski. They have zeroed in on the crypto realm, helping their clients reduce exposure to crypto-related risks offering expertise in insurance, Blockchain, investigation, and financial audits.

The seed round was led by Morgan Creek, an investment advisory firm that offers customized investment management facilities to institutions, wealthy individuals and families. Other investors in the investment round include Plug n Play, Kailash Ventures, RenGen, Vy Capital, and Wavemaker Genesis.

Notably, the founder and CEO at Morgan Creek, Mark Yusco, will onboard the Evertas Insurance board of Directors as stipulated in the deal. The funds raised are set to be used in an expansion plan of their customer base and product market.

According to Evertas CEO, being the only crypto-focused insurer places them at a prime position to capitalize on the lucrative crypto space, especially now that the governments across the world are turning their eyes to the industry.

Evertas’ spokesperson – Phil Anderson – highlighted that they are looking to venture into extending their vault services to cold and hot wallets for their clients. Their clientele will be comprised of mostly institutional investors, crypto exchanges, and extremely rich investors.

They were recently greenlighted by Bermuda Monetary Authority to commence operations in the jurisdiction operating as a class 3A insurer. As a small scale insurer, they are required obligated to have at least a million dollars as its minimum capital and surplus.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Bitcoin Scammers Have Stolen $24 Million in First Half of 2020: Whale Alert Report

In the first six months of 2020, scammers made off with about $24 million in bitcoin, as per the Twitter bot Whale Alert’s latest report.

These scams involved giveaways, sextortion, fake exchanges, fake ICO’s, bitcoin recovery, video scams, Ponzi schemes, fake tumblers, malware, and so on.

Over the past four years, $38 million worth of Bitcoin has been stolen by scammers (excluding Ponzi schemes), out of which $24 million belongs to the first half of this year alone.

The scam market, which is characterized by high profits, no taxes, minimal effort, and zero risks, will be “grown over twenty-fold since 2017 to annual revenue of at least 50 million US dollars” by the end of 2020, predicts Whale Alert.

Whale Alert noted that the “most successful scams” made more than $130,000 in a single day with just one-page website, a BTC address, and YouTube advertising. One scam managed to rake in over $1.5 million over six months, promoting a fake exchange with an amateurish website riddled with spelling errors.

The “Giveaway” is another successful one that features celebrities like Elon Musk, netting around $300,000.

According to the crypto tracker, it’s only a matter of time that a professional team of scammers will start using systems like deep-fakes. The latter being a technique where a person’s face is superimposed over another person in an image or video, which it says “will surely revolutionize the scam market.”

The origins and destination of these scam proceeds have been traced to some of the top exchanges, payment providers, and gambling sites who willingly or unknowingly participate in these crimes.

It is high time that we act as a community, or “the reputation of blockchain might not be able to recover in the long run,” said Whale Alert.

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Author: AnTy

Robinhood Raises Another $320M in Series F; Trading Apps Valuation Soars to $8.6 Billion

The crypto-friendly mobile trading app, Robinhood, has raised another $320 million in its new funding round. This takes the total amount of funds raised in its Series F funding round to $600 million, and its overall valuation to a whopping $8.6 billion. The investment round was led by the likes of TSG Consumer Partners and IVP.

The Series F funding round was announced by the company in May and raised around $280 million at that time, where the funding round was led by Sequoia Capital, along with participation from firms such as NEA, Ribbit Capital, 9Yards Capital, and Unusual Ventures.

The Robinhood app has been riding high on the success of this pandemic period. With the app registering whopping traffic, given that it allows users to trade and buy cryptocurrency, making it an excellent way for beginners to venture into the crypto space. The firm has reported the creation of more than 3 million funded accounts by May, suggesting the popularity of the application.

The Robinhood App may be seeing a great deal of success in 2020, but it also has its fair share of controversies, especially multiple outages and shutting off the app at peak hours. It also reportedly led to the suicide of one 20-year-old user Alexander Kearns. He found his Robinhood wallet balance at -$730,000 while trading options after one of the many shutdowns of the application.

The co-CEOs of the firm Vlad Tenev & Baiju Bhatt soon wrote a blog post expressing their condolences for the loss of Keams and also promised to upgrade the interface and added layer of authorization required to trade options. The firm also donated $250,000 towards suicide prevention. An excerpt from the blog post read:

“It is not lost upon us that our company and our service have become synonymous with retail investing in America and that this has led to millions of new investors making their first investments through Robinhood. We recognize this profound responsibility, and we don’t take it lightly. We aspire to innovate, lead, and go beyond the status quo.”

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Author: Hank Klinger

Incentivized Web3 Data Privacy Project, HOPR, Raises $1 Million Led by Binance Labs

Binance Labs, the incubation venture of Binance exchange, led a seed funding round of $1 million for decentralized privacy-focused HOPR. Apart from Binance Labs, other firms that invested during the seed funding round include Focus Labs, Spark Digital Capital, Caballeros Capital, and Synaitken. BinanceX, an early stage development platform, has also awarded a fellowship to the startup earlier.

HOPR is a privacy centered blockchain startup that incentivizes the data through a token-incentivized mixnet solution.

Gin Chao, Binance’s Strategy officer, said that the team at BinanceX and HOPR have been working on this privacy solution for quite some time now. He said:

“The team from BinanceX met HOPR over a year ago at Paris Blockchain Week, and we have got to know the team. We will be making much fewer investments, and these are the sorts of projects we will be focused on, in areas that we feel have a sort of immediate product-market fit.”

HOPR is also set to become a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) under the law in Switzerland and has the right set of tools to become a pioneer in decentralized privacy management. Chao said:

“I think it’s the right type of problem to be solving at this time, and HOPR’s solution is a great fit in terms of the ethos of blockchain and having an eventual decentralized organization with a token to address the problem.”

HOPR a New Network Layer Protocol For Safe Exchange of Data

Sebastian Bürgel, the co-founder of HOPR, said that their protocol is not another on-chain privacy solution but a network layer protocol similar to Tor, which facilitates a safe exchange of private data. HOPR would incentivize the participants with the native token to enhance the privacy of the network.

In a traditional system, when two systems are communicating with each other, they are confidential to third parties like telcos and internet service providers (ISPs). On the other hand, in the HOPR system, the data moves from one relay node to another, and each receiving node mixes the data with other traffic, and then it is passed on to the next node.

“Anybody can participate and be paid for the service of relaying traffic and thereby creating privacy for you,” said Bürgel. “You are paid in HOPR tokens similar to how miners get paid ETH on Ethereum.”

He further commented on the incentivization of the network participants suggesting right now it’s quite challenging to estimate as the network is decentralized so that the network participants would take the final decision. Burgel said:

“We imagine this is going to be a kind of marketplace. I think it should be comparable to a VPN subscription, which is an order of like $10 a month, so for some reasonable usage, it should be in that range.”

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Author: Hank Klinger