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Bitcoin Scam Mastermind Tortured and Killed in India

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Bitcoin Scam Mastermind Tortured and Killed in India

Shady deals and unresolved disputes with business associates may have cost Abdul Shakoor, a 24-year-old entrepreneur from India’s southern state of Kerala, his life.

Shakoor is believed to be the mastermind behind a now-botched get-rich-quick Bitcoin scam that stripped investors of about $68 million (INR 485 crore).

Get-Rich-Quick Bitcoin Scam Gone South

According to local media reports, Shakoor used to run two Bitcoin exchanges named ‘bitjax.BTC’ and ‘BTC.bit.shukoor’ in his home state. He had reportedly raised nearly $68 million in investments from residents of several neighboring cities including Malappuram and Manjeri.

While BeInCrypto is yet to independently verify this information, it is possible that Shakoor and his associates lured unsuspecting newcomers into making sizeable investments in Bitcoin (BTC) without properly disclosing the risks surrounding the asset class.

Troubles started brewing for his erstwhile-thriving business in early 2018 when the price of Bitcoin started hitting one low after another. Both of Shakoor’s exchanges started losing money, which then set off alarm bells among many of his investors.

Rift Among Scammers

Sensing a backlash, Shakoor fled all the way across the country to the northern city of Dehradun earlier this month. He remained there in hiding along with at least nine associates.

At that point, it was only a matter of time until the relentless hounding from investors and law enforcement agencies caused a rift in the group. Some of Shakoor’s associates started asking him for money so they could pay investors back.

The mastermind of the scam, however, refused to cooperate, claiming that he had lost his entire Bitcoin stash in a cyber attack. Not convinced, the others hatched a plan to force Shakoor into giving away his Bitcoin wallet credentials.

On Aug 26, they tied Shakoor to a chair at their rented house in Deharadun and started torturing him for the password, albeit unsuccessfully. His condition had worsened significantly by Aug 28, which is when the group panicked and dropped Shakoor off in front of the emergency ward of a local hospital where he was later declared dead.

Arun Joshi, an officer with Dehradun Police commented:

“His killers took him to two hospitals in the city as he fell unconscious but when doctors at both facilities declared him dead, they fled leaving his body behind.”

Five of the accused have been reportedly nabbed by the city police while the rest are currently on the run.

What’s your take on this rather unfortunate story? Do you think such incidents could have been easily avoided had India’s regulators used their precious time spreading awareness about cryptocurrencies rather than stomping the whole asset class with absolute contempt? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Scam News

Dream Network Is Suspected Of Manipulating Reddit Posts to Promote Crypto Projects

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Dream Network Is Suspected Of Manipulating Reddit Posts to Promote Crypto Projects
Dream Network Is Suspected Of Manipulating Reddit Posts to Promote Crypto Projects

A Reddit usar has published the results of an investigation into the manipulation of cryptocurrency sentiment and statistics.  

The user published a list of 50 accounts it dubbed the “Dream Network” which used particular types of manipulation that have become common on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter.  

Indeed, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have broadcast a series of videos that explain the phenomenon and the types of manipulation used. The Reddit users’ investigation focused on two distinct methods – astroturfing and vote manipulation – which were both used to promote projects on the website’s “r/CryptoCurrency” and “r/CryptoMarkets” discussion threads.

Creating fake accounts to post messages that present the illusion of grassroots support for a project is called Astroturfing. Using this method, members of the so-called Dream Network allegedly published posts on Reddit intending to manipulate readers into believing an organic discussion was taking place in praise of a particular project. The author of the report said that accounts from the Dream Network “shill all the same projects and companies”. These included: Dreamr, Bitmax, Moozicore, Bora, Contentos and Ultra Token. The report added:

“While this is not smoking gun evidence that these projects solicited the Dream network’s shilling services, I would not say I have ever seen a legitimate project wrapped up in astroturfing at this level.”

Registered Reddit users can vote all links up or down based purely on whether they like them or find them interesting. Vote manipulation is against Reddit rules and, again, the Dream Network is said to have used its multiple accounts to increase vote scores on the various projects it was promoting. The report said:

“It’s not hard to see the profit motive and value present in manipulating crypto stats, sentiment, and discussion. As you can imagine, this is a lot of work that crypto mod[erator]s do.”

Various subreddit administrators have noted they will ban the Dream Network accounts to prevent them from manipulating their communities. Social media companies are taking an increasingly serious stance against manipulation – particularly following allegations in the past couple of years that rival parties or even foreign powers are using such techniques to manipulate opinion during general elections.  

In a report by Oxford University’s Oxford Internet Institute published in July 2018, it was suggested that much of the growth comes from political parties who have learned such techniques and strategies that were deployed during Brexit and the 2016 US Presidential election. Co-author of the report, Samantha Bradshaw, said:

“We estimate that tens of millions of dollars are spent on this type of activity. Some of the money may be spent on legitimate advertising on social media, but there is certainly a growing industry for fake accounts, online commentators, and political bots.”

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Altcoin News

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Videos News update 16th Sept 2019

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EOSPlay Hack Nets Gamer $110K
A hacker spent $1,000 in EOS to steal more than $110,000 in cryptocurrency through an exploit of EOS gambling game EOSPlay. A supposed bug in EOSPlay allowed the attacker to steal 30,000 EOS by using EOS REX, a major decentralized financial (DeFi) service enabling EOS lending in exchange for extra CPU on the EOS blockchain. How will this affect faith in EOS?

Square Crypto – Supporting Open Source Projects
Bitcoin (BTC)-supporting payments service Square Crypto is giving the first of what will be many grants to support open-source Bitcoin projects to BTCPay Foundation.
“BTCPay represents everything we love about open-source bitcoin projects. It exemplifies the ideals of our community and promotes adoption by letting merchants accept bitcoin, control their private keys, and self-validate their coins. It also creates powerful real-world applications for bitcoin without sacrificing user experience or requiring trusted third parties.”
So will square set the pace for new blockchain projects in the future?

Aventus Building Blockchain Application For Ticket Industry
The digital assets-focused blockchain-based protocol, Aventus, revealed its next code release Aventus Classic designed to create a more equitable and transparent ticketing industry. The release of the new ticketing protocol goes hand in hand with a $15,000 prize competition for blockchain developers. In partnership with The Satoshi Awards, developers are asked to build a blockchain-based ticketing system, where the winner will be awarded $15,000 worth of Ether. The winning build will be presented at The Satoshi Awards’ in mid-2020. Will blockchain technology help to guard against fraud and other issues in the ticket industry.

Venezuelan Crypto – The Petro – Out Performed By Bitcoin
The largest bank in Venezuela, the state-owned Bank of Venezuela, has now launched services to facilitate transactions in the country’s state-issued oil-backed virtual currency, which is called the Petro. According to Decrypt, Bank of Venezuela customers have reported a new module integrated into the management interface of their accounts so they can now register for a digital wallet that supports the Petro.

Coinbase Pro To Launch Support For Dash Token
The major cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has announced that its professional trading platform Coinbase Pro will launch support for DASH token next week.
The launch of DASH trading is planned for 9 AM Pacific Standard Time on Sept. 17. The company also noted: “Once sufficient supply of DASH is established on the platform, trading on the DASH/USD, and DASH/BTC order books will start in phases, beginning with post-only mode and proceeding to full trading should our metrics for a healthy market be met.”
How will this affect the future of DASH and also Coinbase moving forward?

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277 Arrested in Philippine Police Raid Alleged Cryptocurrency Scam

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277 Arrested in Philippine Police Raid Alleged Cryptocurrency Scam

Philippine police have reportedly raided the offices of an alleged cryptocurrency scam that was targeting investors in China.

According to a Sept. 15 report by local news outlet Inquirer.net, agents from the Bureau of Immigration, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission and the National Police’s Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group raided the offices of Grapefruit Services Inc. in Pasig City on Sept. 11.

Authorities reportedly received a tip from the Chinese Embassy, which claimed that the firm had already defrauded thousands of investors in mainland China.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said that the Chinese government canceled the passports of all the employees, which made them illegal workers in the Philippines. Officials arrested 277 employees of the firm, all of whom are Chinese nationals.

Special economic zone

An unnamed source told Inquirer.net that Grapefruit is an authorized service provider of Golden Millennial Quickpay Inc. Ltd., which operates under a special license from the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA).

CEZA — a government-owned corporation — oversees the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport, which is a special economic area in the north of the country. Also known as the Cagayan Freeport, the zone aims to attract foreign and local investment. The Philippine government began allowing cryptocurrency firms to operate there in April 2018.

Inquirer.net states that the firm was operating outside of the designated zone, and thus had run afoul of Philippine financial regulations.

Special regulations for cryptocurrencies

At the beginning of this year, the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission (PSEC) postponed the issuance of final regulations for initial coin offerings (ICO), has introduced a draft version in August 2018.

In the draft, the PSEC stated that the tokens emitted during an ICO should be classified as securities, and “therefore, these should be registered with the Commission and necessary disclosures need to be made for the protection of the investing public.”

In February 2019, CEZA introduced a set of rules governing digital asset token offerings. The rules were designed to regulate the cryptocurrency industry and protect investors, affecting such issues as the acquisition of utility and security tokens.

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