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Cryptocurrency Fraud is Evolving; Bitcoin ATMs Mitigate Risk 

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Cryptocurrency Fraud is Evolving

In one of the more overlooked aspects of the crypto ecosystem, it appears that the bulk of illicit activities are shifting from hacks and thefts to cryptocurrency fraud and scams.

CipherTrace, the crypto-surveillance, and analysis firm released a report at the end of Q4 2019 that revealed hacks and thefts had decreased by 66 percent in 2019 while fraud and misappropriation of funds surged by 533 percent. And beneath the COVID-19 hysteria of 2020, hacks in the crypto sector have been eerily isolated. 

Outside of a few exploited flaws in P2P exchanges and DeFi flash loan vulnerabilities, the headline-grabbing hacks of exchanges for hundreds of millions of dollars have been absent so far this year. Is the industry due for another massive hack, or are stringent KYC/AML processes, regulatory crackdowns, better security practices, and blockchain surveillance working? 

KYC/AML Improvements Are Reducing the Appeal of Crypto Exchange Laundering 

2020 is far removed from the no-KYC wild west days of the early-mid 2010s where anonymous altcoin casinos preponderated and the Dark Underbelly of Cryptocurrency Markets thrived. 

Today, bitcoin and the crypto ecosystem is becoming institutionalized with a surfeit of derivatives (e.g., options, futures, perp swaps, etc.) available on regulated exchanges. 

Most of the leading exchanges adhere to the demands of the regulatory regimes in their locales, whether they be in the US or some more obscure locations like Seychelles. Conventional wisdom would indicate that the growing adherence to stricter KYC/AML enforcement has reduced the appeal of major crypto exchanges for money laundering — a sentiment mirrored by CipherTrace’s most recent report. 

Many exchange venues are also embedding self-regulatory procedures into their business models. For example, exchanges are increasingly tapping blockchain surveillance companies to avoid regulatory ire when it comes to money laundering, regulators are dealing out enforcement dictates for AML compliance, and regulatory arbitrage is becoming harder for exchanges to manage. 

Even more grassroots access venues to crypto assets, like Bitcoin ATMs, are fully regulated under US KYC/AML laws. 

For example, Bitcoin ATM provider, Bitcoin of America (BOA), with more than 250 locations in 17 states, is a registered Money Services Business (MSB) with the Treasury Department. And the company’s compliance standards have already proved fruitful in mitigating fraud at a high level.  

For instance, in one case in September 2019, a BOA customer placed an online order for $500k in BTC. The transaction size raised the compliance level (e.g., identification requirements, etc.) along with increased scrutiny on the transaction by the team. Upon closer examination, the BOA team discovered that the customer had a restitution order against him in the state of California for a previous fraud scheme. 

BOA personnel subsequently notified the corresponding FBI office and alerted the agency that the transaction may be used to circumvent the restitution order. The FBI issued a seizure warrant for the funds, distributing to the victims of the previous scam. 

Bitcoin of America and other alternative fiat-to-crypto exchange services have strict command over fraud prevention. Wires and online transfers require ID And other personal info that increases in tiers in lockstep with the transaction amount increases. 

As the avalanche of KYC/AML processes continues to take the exchange market by storm, exchanges become less appealing for hackers. 

Gone are the days of absconding with $500 million anonymously. Exchanges thoroughly identify users withdrawing sizeable amounts, and blockchain surveillance companies like CipherTrace can trace and blacklist stolen assets on public blockchains. 

As a result, crypto hackers have turned into crypto fraudsters, or maybe fraudsters simply have their moment to shine. For example, debacles like QuadrigaCX, where roughly $200 million was “misplaced” by the founder, count as fraud. With reduced incentives for third-parties to maliciously steal funds from an exchange due to surveillance risks, inside jobs are becoming more commonplace. 

Inside jobs may be the new normal, especially when you consider the vastly improved security practices of most industry exchange venues. 

Better Security Practices are Forcing Hackers to Get Creative 

Unsurprisingly, many of the biggest crypto exchange hacks are inextricably linked to poor security standards of exchanges. Lousy security practices ranged from storing significant sums of customer deposits in hot wallets to a lack of multi-signature authorization for large withdrawals. 

Times are different now. 

Regulated custodians like BitGo are widely tapped by many of the leading exchanges, and self-custody digital asset management platforms like Ledger Vault are rapidly becoming the new standard. These services offer secure multi-signature authorization mechanisms, deep cold storage, and other conditional flows required to mitigate any potential exogenous threats to pilfer customer funds. 

Hackers are acutely aware of this dilemma. Naturally, they have shifted focus to DeFi hacks like the BZx attack. Flash loan attacks are likely to become the new normal as they essentially allow hackers to capitalize with massive sums at little cost. However, zooming out, DeFi liquidity pools and protocols contain vastly fewer aggregates of assets than their centralized exchange counterparts. 

Hackers will have to get creative probing DeFi KYC protocols, but the days of repetitive strings of high-profile centralized exchange hacks may be waning. That’s a net positive for the industry. 

Inside jobs are likely to continue in popularity, however, but that’s no different than the legacy financial world. Fraud is much more commonplace in banking that overt hacks on banking security layers, which may end up reflecting the new standard in the crypto ecosystem. 

Either the lack of headline-snatching hacks in 2020 is portending that we’re due for another big one, or KYC/AML processes and better security practices are working well. If that’s the case, look for more QuadrigaCX scandals than CoinCheck-style hacks. 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Bitcoin

Is Bitcoin Esport Betting the next big thing in BTC Casinos?

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Bitcoin Casinos

Ever since the creation of the first sport games, people started enjoying the betting process. As the sports grew more popular around the world, so did the betting community and other than the physical betting shops, online sportsbooks have also started to emerge. Around 5 years ago the crypto gambling industry also made strides to join the fun and Bitcoin Casino started pouring its resources into providing proper sportsbook experience for their communities of players. For several years the things were steady and the concept of Bitcoin Betting was growing exponentially. Although recent events have significantly halted the progress of sports and betting, the new alternative started gaining traction in the gambling world, and that alternative was the Esport Betting. 

How did Esport Betting become so popular?

The beginning of 2020 was unprecedented for the history of mankind and all the global business, including the gambling industry. In the month of March, most of the sports stopped because of the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic and betting services witnessed huge losses. That’s where the Bitcoin Casino industry found a viable alternative in the virtual sport segment. Because of that, Esport Betting has become increasingly more popular and the biggest BTC Casinos started providing a huge selection of tournaments in their sportsbook section.

How to participate in Esport Betting?

Esport Betting is basically the same process as the usual sports betting.…

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Bitcoin is Steadily Changing Our Lives in the Greatest Ways Possible

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Bitcoin

Bitcoin has already brought our world some of the most incredible innovation we have seen, but the best is yet to come. 

Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, blockchain. While often regarded as mere industry buzzwords are actually the fundamentals of something far greater. Things like borderless currency, decentralized business, open-source software, collaborative technology, shared computing. These are just a scant few of the underlying principles that are taking our technology and daily lives into the future. Should these sciences be embraced, it will be a bright future indeed. 

It has become ever more transparent that humans today are living in fear. If nothing else, 2020 has brought the tidal wave of anxiety and distrust that many live in the shadow of, to a terrifying apex. We are all just waiting for the crash. While some flock to literature, or social media, or their favored news outlet, others flock to exchanges. Using platforms like the newbie friendly Bitvavo to place their bets on the future, on what could be, and what already largely is. Bitcoin and the technology that underpins its innermost workings are a preparation for a better tomorrow. An investment in a future that is already changing our lives today. 

The Point Behind the Hype 

In 2008, when Satoshi Nakamoto wrote the bitcoin white paper, few paid attention. It took years to…

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Bitcoin

AAX Crypto Exchange Announces Massive Growth Numbers in August

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AAX Exchange

As the crypto market continues to surge, new traders continue to enter the market on a daily basis.  One of the first questions that new traders have is where should they trade crypto.  While there are countless options for buying and selling digital assets, traders need to exercise extreme caution and perform due diligence to avoid scam exchanges as well as places that have limited or no volume.  While the main platforms such as Coinbase, Binance, and Bittrex will always have significant volume, their fees are known to be on the expensive side.  AAX, a next-generation cryptocurrency exchange with the lowest futures fees in the world, represents a compelling alternative that traders should consider.

Growth Announcement

A few of the most important issues to consider when deciding whether to use an exchange are the number of users and the volume.  On August 7, AAX announced that in a little over two weeks, the exchange doubled its user base bringing the grand total of registered users to over 200,000.  At this rate, AAX may surpass the million mark later this year which would be an incredible achievement and is most certainly due to a variety of factors including extremely low fees and revolutionary technology.

Institutional-Grade Exchange

When AAX decided to build its platform, it set out to meet the demands of both institutional and retail investors.  In order to achieve that goal, the exchange operates at the highest possible…

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