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Regulation News

US Congress Calls On Financial Crime Director – To Look Deeper Into Blockchain

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US Congress Calls On Financial Crime Director - To Look Deeper Into Blockchain
US Congress Calls On Financial Crime Director - To Look Deeper Into Blockchain

The United States House of Representatives has passed a bill that calls for the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to study blockchain technology in its fight against financial crime.

On Sept. 19, the House passed the bill “Advancing Innovation to Assist Law Enforcement Act,” which requires the Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Kenneth Blanco, to carry out a study on the use of emerging technologies, such as blockchain technology, within FinCEN. The bill reads:

“The Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) shall carry out a study on […] whether AI, digital identity technologies, blockchain technologies, and other innovative technologies can be further leveraged to make FinCEN’s data analysis more efficient and effective.”

The Senate received the bill on Sept. 23 and referred it to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs FinCEN Director Kenneth Blanco urged casinos to follow the guidelines of the financial crime-fighting agency in regards to suspicious convertible virtual currency (CVC) activity. Blanco said that casinos dealing with crypto payments should consider how they will conduct due diligence on CVC transactions and blockchain analytics, adding:

“I encourage casinos to closely review both documents on FinCEN’s website to see how we are addressing this industry and its interactions with others in the financial sector. Casinos should be filing SARs when they encounter suspicious CVC activity and any cyber events that affect, facilitate, or conduct transactions. We know that casinos are targets for cyber and cyber-enabled criminal activity such as ransomware attacks and business e-mail compromise schemes.”

Blanco briefed several members of the U.S. House of Representatives on the potential for Libra’s use in crimes such as money laundering, and illicit financing activities. Blanco talked about current research into artificial intelligence and machine learning and their use in regulating cryptocurrencies.

Altcoin News

Rumor That Russia Will Investigate an Allegedly Fraudulent TON Offering in UK

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Rumor That Russia Will Investigate an Allegedly Fraudulent TON Offering in UK
Rumor That Russia Will Investigate an Allegedly Fraudulent TON Offering in UK

Shortly after lifting the country’s Telegram ban, Russian authorities began investigating potentially fraudulent offerings involving the company’s unlaunched token, Gram. The token was at one time meant to serve a new blockchain ecosystem known as the Telegram Open Network, or TON. Reports indicate that Russian prosecutors are set to investigate a British firm that allegedly sold fraudulent tokens related to Telegram’s terminated blockchain project. The news was reported on July 3 by the local news agency, Baza.io. 

According to the report, the action was brought to a local investigative committee by “several Russian entrepreneurs” that claimed to have purchased $11.7 million in Gram tokens. Telegram CEO Pavel Durov officially announced closure of the TON project on May 12. At that time, the Russian investors reportedly attempted to terminate their contract with the British company. Allegedly having Russian roots itself, the unnamed British firm reportedly wrote off $1.5 million in commissions, having returned just $10.2 million to investors, according to Baza.

This news comes soon after Telegram apparently settled its long-running legal battle with American authorities over the company’s $1.7 billion initial coin offering, or ICO. The ICO involved roughly $400 million in investments from United States citizens. On June 26, the U.S. court’s final judgment required Telegram to return $1.2 billion to investors. Telegram purportedly has already repaid the amount, with some U.S. investors confirming that they received a 72% refund. This amount is in line with Telegram’s original reimbursement scheme.

Russia’s interest in Gram comes against the backdrop of some meaningful regulatory changes. After two years of unsuccessful efforts to block Telegram messenger in the country, Russian authorities suddenly decided to lift the ban on June 18. The decision came just a few weeks before Russia conducted a seven-day long constitutional vote — the results of which could potentially allow President Vladimir Putin to extend his 20-year rule until 2036.

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Regulation News

A New Study Reveals Indonesia Was Hit Hard By Crypto-Centric Attacks

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A New Study Reveals Indonesia Was Hit Hard By Crypto-Centric Attacks
A New Study Reveals Indonesia Was Hit Hard By Crypto-Centric Attacks

Research from Microsoft reveals that Indonesia had the highest malware encounter rate across the Asia Pacific region in 2019. They conclude that this indicates a surge in cryptojacking and ransomware attacks. The report shows that the region continues to experience a “higher-than-average” encounter rate for ransomware and other malware attacks, posting figures 1.6 and 1.7 times higher than the rest of the world, respectively.

Indonesia had a 10.68% malware attack rate during 2019. While this does represent a 39% decrease, the figures remain two times higher than the regional average, Microsoft says. Regarding ransomware attacks, Indonesia is now ranked in second place in terms of encounter rate at 14%. This is 2.8 times higher than the average registered across other countries in the region. Cryptojacking encounter rates stood at 10% in 2019, two times higher than the regional and even global average. They had the highest encounter rate across the Asia Pacific region and ranked #4 globally. Haris Izmee, president director of Microsoft Indonesia, commented:

“While recent fluctuations in cryptocurrency value and the increased time required to generate cryptocurrency have resulted in attackers refocusing their efforts, they continue to exploit markets with low cyber awareness​ and low adoption of cyber hygiene practices.”

Microsoft Intelligence Protection researchers raised concerns about the increase of COVID-19 themed attacks across every country in the world. They note that there has been at least one incident per country, with the number of successful attacks in high-outbreak countries on the rise. Most COVID-19 related cyberattacks are delivered via malicious email attachments or URLs. Hackers often impersonate global entities with key roles in the pandemic like the World Health Organization, or WHO, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, and the U.S. Department of Health.

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Exchange news

UK High Court Shut Downs Allegedly Fraudulent Crypto Exchange

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UK High Court Shut Downs Allegedly Fraudulent Crypto Exchange
UK High Court Shut Downs Allegedly Fraudulent Crypto Exchange

The UK High Court has appointed the Official Receiver as liquidator of the cryptocurrency trading platform, GPay Ltd. According to an announcement published by the UK Insolvency Service on June 30, the crypto exchange showed signs of being “nothing but a scam”.

The firm, also known previously as XtraderFX and Cryptopoint, advertised its services online and through social media channels. The Insolvency Service claims that the ads falsely alleged the service was endorsed by entrepreneurs who appeared in an unnamed UK primetime TV show and a high-profile money saving website. After complaints received by the local authorities, the Insolvency Service proceeded with confidential inquiries into GPay’s activities. These revealed that at least 108 clients claimed to have lost around £1.5 million ($1.84 million) while trading on the platform.

David Hill, a chief investigator for the UK Insolvency Service, commented:

“GPay persuaded customers to part with substantial sums of money to invest in cryptocurrency trading. This was nothing but a scam as GPay tricked their clients to use their online platform under false pretenses and no customer has benefited as their investments have been lost.”

The Court also received reports that clients were denied withdrawal requests if they had not actively traded their deposited funds within GPay. GPay’s case concluded on June 23, 2020 with a petition presented by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, or BEIS. Recently, the United Kingdom Advertising Standards Authority, or ASA, and the Internet Advertising Bureau, or IAB, launched a new system to detect and remove fraudulent online ads.

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