International Authorities Bust Cryptocurrency Fraud Cartel

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Cryptocurrency Crime

U.S. and international law enforcement agencies combined to bust an international cryptocurrency fraud cartel. In total, 20 people were charged, The Next Web reported. 16 of those came from outside the U.S., and 12 of them will be extradited. Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski said that “the defendants allegedly orchestrated a highly organized and sophisticated scheme to steal money from unsuspecting victims in America and then launder their funds using cryptocurrency.”

The criminal conspiracy had defrauded Americans by listing products – usually cars – on online auction websites like eBay and Craigslist, only the item being sold didn’t exist. To make this scam seem more believable, the fraudsters had help from people based in the US. After the victims were convinced to pay, money was sent to the US-based associates who then converted the money to cryptocurrency before sending it on to their predominantely Romanian-based counterparts.

U.S. Businessman still Missing Despite Payment of Large Bitcoin Ransom

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Bitcoin Logo on physical gold coin

An American businessman who was kidnapped in Costa Rica remains missing, despite the payment of an approximately $950,000 ransom in Bitcoin. William Sean Creighton Kopko, who owns an online gambling platform, was taken in September. Three suspects were arrested in Zaragoza, Spain in November 2018, The Next Web reported. In total, 12 people suspected of involvement in the kidnapping have been arrested by police in Spain and Costa Rica.

After Kopko’s family paid the Bitcoin ransom, the kidnappers stopped communicating with them, went dark, and fled to Cuba. In early November 2018 three suspects returned to Spain which alerted the authorities. The three suspects were later arrested in Zaragoza, Spain after renting an apartment in the city.

Wall Street Journal Explores Criminal Side of Cryptocurrency

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Cryptocurrency Crime

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent piece exploring the criminal side of cryptocurrency. Long-time readers know I’m a fan of cryptocurrency, but this piece offers excellent insight on the dark side of this technology. Here’s a snippet:

For many criminals, cryptocurrency is less cumbersome than cash. Hackers hold computer systems hostage and demand instant, anonymous payment in bitcoin. Drug dealers sell in dark corners of the internet, obscuring their names and locations. Narcotics traffickers move and launder their profits with clicks of a mouse. “The cases have exploded,” says Gabriel Bewley, a special agent in the virtual-currency initiative at the Drug Enforcement Administration.

I’ve read some really awful attacks on cryptocurrency and Bitcoin in the last few weeks, pieces that are devoid of logic, knowledge, and understanding. What I like about this piece is that it covers this real problem with facts and without hyperbole. If you’re looking for some understanding on this issue, this is a great article to read.

Chuck Joiner Interviews Bryan Chaffin on Bitcoin Faucets, HomePod, and Apple's Communications Decisions

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I had the pleasure of being on MacVoices 18067 with Chuck Joiner this week. He interviewed me about Bitcoin faucets and my take on the HomePod. We also had a rip-roaring argument on Throttlegate, and how it was a self-inflicted communication error on Apple’s part, but it’s cool because in the end Chuck admitted I was right. OK, he didn’t exactly do that, but it’s always good talking with Chuck. Check it out.