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New Wave of Cryptocurrency Misappropriation, Hacking, Theft and Fraud Targeting Users Massively in 2020


Crypto criminals have ramped up cryptocurrency theft, hacking, and fraud by a significant margin in the year 2020. They have amassed a sum of $1.36 billion in ill-gotten crypto from January 2020 to May 2020, according to the blockchain analytics firm. The year 2020 is recorded being on the track to become the second-costliest year of all in the history of crypto; only behind 2019’s record of $4.5 billion. The largest contribution in the year’s ongoing standings came from Chinese scam ‘WOTOKEN’ that allegedly scammed more than 700,000 users and stole over $1 billion worth of cryptocurrencies – 46,000 bitcoin, 2.04 million ethereum, 56,000 bitcoin cash, 292,000 litecoin, and 684,000 EOS.

Cryptocurrency is a virtual or digital currency that uses cryptographical functions to make financial transactions. In order to gain transparency and immutability, it makes use of blockchain technology. It is decentralized in nature as there is no central authority controlling or interfering in the processes that include making cryptocurrency exchanges directly between two parties using private and public keys. Equating to money in the real-world it attracts a large possibility of cyber fraud.

On June 2, 2020, CipherTrace released its Cryptocurrency Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Report covering the global trends and latest developments to fight money laundering, terrorism financing, and sanctions evasion. It highlighted the need for regulation and compliance while reporting that 74% of bitcoin in exchange-to-exchange transactions was the cross border and 88% of funds sent to exchanges in 2019 by US Bitcoin ATMs were offshore. Researchers also noted that phishing sites are the most popular COVID-19 related products marketed on the dark web.

“While only 9.8% of the dark market’s one-hop (direct) interactions went directly to exchanges, 30.7% of its two-hop (once removed) interactions went to exchanges—more than tripling the risk exposure to exchanges,” the report read.

In addition, cryptocriminals are also employing several new malware to target cryptocurrencies, an undocumented Trojan called ‘KryptoCibule’ has been found targeting various cryptocurrencies by replacing wallet addresses and stealing cryptocurrency-related files. Previously reported P2P botnet, FritzFrog attempted to brute-force SSH servers of government, education and medical institutions, and telecom players, with an objective of mining cryptocurrency via XMRig miner. Over two weeks ago, a new botnet, dubbed as TeamTNT was observed stealing AWS credentials from affected servers.

With the old techniques being upgraded and the new ones being continually introduced to mine illicit financial gains, cryptocurrencies have become one of the most increasingly targeted areas at present. Users are advised to stay perceptive to indicatives of criminal behavior.

The Blue Mockingbird Malware Group Exploits Vulnerabilities in Organizations' Networks


Another notorious crypto-currency mining malware has surfaced which allegedly has been infecting the systems of countless organizations. The group with the control of operations goes by the code name of “Blue Mockingbird”.

The researchers who discovered it have reasons to believe that the Blue Mockingbird has been active since 2019’s last month. Per them, it also targets “public-facing servers” that run “ASP.NET” apps that use the “Telerik framework” for their User Interface (UI) aspect.

Reportedly, the vulnerability that the hackers exploit in the process is the “CVE-2019-18395” vulnerability which is then employed to embed a web shell on the target’s server. Per the same report, later on they employ a version of “the Juicy Potato technique” to obtain the admin-access and alter the server settings to get access to the “(re)boot persistence”.

After having obtained complete access to a system, sources mention, the malware group installs a version of XMRRig which is a famous crypto-currency mining application particularly for the “Monero (XMR)” crypto-currency.

As per reports, if the public-facing IIS servers are linked with a company’s internal network, the malware group has a probability of trying to expand internally through an improperly-secured Server Message Block (SMB) connections or Remote Desktop Protocol ((RDP).

The exact number of infections that the botnet has caused isn’t all too clear but if an estimate was to be made the operations include 1,000 infections at the least. There also doesn’t seem to be a way to find the intensity of the threat.

Not many organizations out of the ones that were being observed by the researchers have been hit with this particular threat. And over a really little amount of time that they were tracked the above-mentioned number of infections surfaced.

Nevertheless, all companies alike are susceptible to this attack, even the ones that think they are safe and the number of infections could be more than estimated.

As per sources, the Telerik UI component which is allegedly vulnerable is a part of ASP.NET applications that run on their latest versions, even then the Telerik component may have versions that are out-dated but harmful to organizations, nonetheless. This component could exist in the applications used by a company and they might not even know about it leaving them endangered.

The Telerik UI CVE-2019-18935 vulnerability, per reports, has been widely let known as the one that is employed to embed web shells on servers. Another mentioned that this vulnerability is the most exploited and organizations need to better their firewalls to fight it. If for some reason the organizations don’t happen to have a web firewall they could always look for warning precursors in the server and workstation, reports cite.

FinCEN Chief Blanco warns of Wide Scale Virtual Currency Scams


Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is keeping a close watch on financial scams involving virtual currency payments as the COVID-19 pandemic opens new areas of exploitation said, Director Ken Blanco.



As we are stuck in an unfortunate period of emergency, these scammers are exploiting this vulnerability from extortion, ransomware, and the sale of fraudulent medical products, to initial coin offering investment scams.

“This type of cybercrime in the COVID-19 environment is especially despicable, because these criminals leverage altered business operations, decreased mobility, and increased anxiety to prey on those seeking critical healthcare information and supplies, including the elderly and infirm,” the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network chief told the virtual Consensus Blockchain Conference in a video conference.

Blanco stressed on the need for collaborating with other law enforcement agencies and working together to beat this issue by generating much-needed funds to help the recipients and for financial survival.
 “The need for our collaboration is clear and undeniable,” he stated.
He further delved into the cyber crimes occurring because of COVID-19 as much of the population and government employees are working from home these cybercriminals are attacking vulnerabilities in remote applications like VPN (virtual private networks) and remote desktop protocol in order to steal information. Blanco advised companies to pay due diligence and advise the same to the customers.

"Financial institutions should consider the risks of the current environment in their business processes, and the appropriate level of assurance needed for digital identity solutions to mitigate criminal exploitation of your products and platforms.”

FinCEN has also worked with other law enforcement initiatives like the Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) and National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force (NCIJTF) in cases like criminals exploiting crypto for the purchase of fentanyl.

The virtual currency business has to be very vigilant and properly scrutinized as there are a number of miscreants persistently attacking their onboarding and authentication processes. FinCEN, since 2013 has received nearly 70,000 Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) of cryptocurrency fraud alone. During COVID-19, this threat becomes ten fold.

Attention! Fake Extensions on the Chrome Web Store Again!


Reportedly, Google was in the news about having removed 49 Chrome extensions from its browser’s store for robbing crypto-wallet credentials. What’s more, after that, there surfaced an additional set of password-swiping “extensions” aka “add-ons”, which are up for download even now.

Per sources, the allegedly corrupt add-ons exist on the browser store disguised as authentic crypto-wallet extensions. These absolutely uncertified add-ons invite people to fill in their credentials so as to make siphoning off them easy and the digital money accessible.

Reports mention that the security researchers have affirmative information as to 8 of the 11 fake add-ons impersonating legitimate crypto-wallet software being removed including "Jaxx Ledger, KeyKeep, and MetaMask." A list of “extension identifiers” which was reported to Google was also provided.

Per researchers, there was a lack of vigilance by the Google Web Store because it apparently sanctions phisher-made extensions without giving the issue the attention it demands. Another thing that is disturbing for the researchers is that these extensions had premium ad space and are the first thing a user sees while searching.

According to sources, much like the Google Play Store with malicious apps, the Google Web Store had been facing difficulty in guarding itself against mal-actors. There also hadn’t been much of a response from their team about the issue.

One solution that was most talked about was that Google should at the least put into effect mechanisms in the Chrome Web Store that automatically impose trademark restrictions for the store and the ad platforms in it.

Per sources, Google’s Chrome Web Store “developer agreement” bars developers from violating intellectual property rights and also clearly mentions “Google is not obligated to monitor the products or their content”. Reports mention that as per the ad policy of Google, it could review trademarks complaints from trademarks holders only when it has received a complaint.

Google heeding all the hue and cry about the extensions did herald more restrictions with the motive of wiping away traces of any fake extensions and spammers creating bad quality extensions that were causing people trouble.

The alterations in the policy will block the spammers and developers from swarming the store with similar extensions and elements with questionable behavior. Word has it that because of hateful comments the Chrome Web Store was “locked down” in January.

But, as promising as it may be, allegedly Google has been making such promises about the Chrome Web Store security strengthening for more than half a decade. So no one can blame researchers for their skepticism.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Names Used for Fake Celebrity Endorsement of Bitcoins?


While the Coronavirus pandemic has practically driven people to stay locked up in their homes and spend a lot more (in some cases almost all) of their time online, the possibilities for cyber-criminals have only flourished.

Cyber-security experts have realized this and made a note out of it that everyone knows the kind of danger is lurking in their cyber-world.

From elaborate scams to phishing attacks that target the victim’s personal information, there is a lot of people who need to be cautious about it.

The Cryptocurrency industry is going through a lot due to the current crisis the world is in. The 'crypto-partakers" are being particularly on the hit list with something as attention-grabbing as purportedly “celebrity endorsement”. The latest bait names for this attempt happen to be that of charming Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.

Well-known personalities’ names like Bill Gates, Lord Sugar and even Richard Branson have been misused to lure people in as a part of similar scams. It is not necessary for the people mentioned to belong to a particular industry. They could be anyone famous for that matter.

The scams are so elaborate that once fooled the victims can’t even trace the mal-agent and. The latest scam, per sources, employs a fake report from the “BBC” mentioning how Prince Harry and Meghan Markle found themselves a “wealth loophole”.
Per sources, they also assure their targets that in a matter of three to four months they could convert them into millionaires. Further on, allegedly, it is also mentioned that the royals think of the Cryptocurrency auto-trading as the “Bitcoin Evolution”. It reportedly also includes a fake statement to have been made by Prince Harry.

The overconfident scammers also declare that there is no other application that performs the trading with the accuracy like theirs. Reportedly, on their website, there are banners with “countdowns” forcing people to think that there are limited period offers.

According to researchers this is one of the many schemes desperate cyber-criminals resort to. People not as used to the Cryptocurrency industry and the trading area, in particular, are more vulnerable to such highly bogus scams and tricks that the cyber-criminals usually have up their sleeves.

Bitcoin Prices Are Off The Charts!


Bitcoin, our favorite digital currency has experienced a certain kind of unbelievable hike, all of a sudden. It has profited across several markets with a spike of 12% in its price solely in the last week, mention sources.

Word has it that the Bitcoin price has risen around 6% in the last 24-hour trading duration, overtaking next to all main indices, even the stocks throughout Asia and Europe.

Bitcoin and other forms of digital currency including cryptocurrency have escalated around the globe owing it to the Coronavirus lockdowns.

Per sources, The Bitcoin price has outgrown the $7,000/Bitcoin level and is ascending to “$7,170 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange”.

As if they knew things were going to go south, the Bitcoin investors were up and about right from the start of this year. In fact, surveys indicate that the Bitcoin price has a high probability of rocketing up to $20,000/Bitcoin in 2020.

The basic foundational facets for a better Bitcoin system exist today owing to various developmental projects in the crypto industry. An in case of such massively unprecedented crisis investors would want to fall back upon digital currency

Asian and European markets furthered their reserves by 3% and 2-4%. Researchers mention that Bitcoin purchases could have a positive effect on the stock markets.

History has it that the Bitcoin price has seen a major upswing before from a low $1,000 to a high $20,000 in a matter of a year.

Investors are in genuine awe with this ascent in the prices of Bitcoin and see this as a new opportunity for cryptocurrency in general because of the fresh interest the market has shown for it.

Per analysts, this year investors may need to rethink their current cryptocurrency store and even pile up more of it in case of increased demand because of risk assets.

Everyone understands that if the things were to stay the way they are there is a strong chance for a longer period of intense recession.

This has given birth to questions regarding the effect of COVID-19 on the economy and the part Bitcoin could play in it.



Cryptocurrency Profit Reaches $182.62 Billion, Bitcoin Rises upto 10% in 24 Hours


According to data by Coindesk, the cryptocurrency value suddenly increased on Tuesday. And this comes as a matter of surprise as the whole trade market is suffering heavy losses due to coronavirus pandemic. Witnessing this sudden increase in the Cryptocurrency's value, Bitcoin eventually rose up to 10% in a single day, as trading prices reached $6,569.17 around noon, Singapore time.


Meanwhile, Ethereum's value has increased by 7%, whereas XRP witnessed a jump rate of over 5% in its prices.

The total value of the cryptocurrency trading market- Market Capitalization, recorded a surprising leap of $14 Billion to $182.62 Billion within a mere 24 hours at 11:47 am Singapore time, says the data of the website Coinmarketcap.com.

The entire Cryptocurrency market suffered severe losses at the start of March. On 8th March, the whole business failed when oil prices took a hard fall. Furthermore, on 12th March, the Cryptocurrency lost $93.5 of its value within a day, and even worse, Bitcoin suffered a 48% fall in its prices.

As observed, the growth of Cryptocurrency is marching foot by foot with the Equity market. Since recent years, people have started viewing Bitcoin as 'digital gold,' having complete faith that investing in it even under times of economic slowdown can be profitable. Unfortunately, Bitcoin, like the Equity market too, started suffering losses and became a risk asset, especially since the start of this year.

"We're seeing some bullish bitcoin price action today along with other asset classes after the Fed announced unprecedented measures yesterday to shore up the economy. It will be interesting to see how bitcoin fares in such an environment. Given this is its first test as a haven asset in a market downturn and is yet to be proven," says Vijay Ayyar in a conversation with CNBC.

 Key takeaways:
  • Bitcoin rose over 10% in 24 hours, earlier exchanging at $6,569.17. 
  • Ethereum and XPR also witnessed an increase in their prices. 
  • The market value rose from $14 Billion to $182.62 within a day.
  • The cryptocurrency market took a hard beating at the start of March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Bitcoin crashes 20% within an hour amid Coronavirus mayhem


The price of cryptocurrency Bitcoin tumbled drastically, losing 20 percent of its value within an hour. The value of Bitcoin came below 600 dollars, the lowest since 2019 because of the cryptocurrency crash.


Many other cryptocurrencies were also affected with significant losses and Bitcoin losing one-third of its value. Ethereum is down 27% in 4 days, making it the worst-hit cryptocurrency.

Several experts and cryptocurrency analysts are blaming the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak for the crash and plumbing of the global economy. "Bitcoin has fallen as cryptocurrencies become caught up in the turmoil we're seeing in traditional markets," Simon Peters, a market analyst at online trading platform eToro, reports The Independent.

"Previously seen as a possible safe haven in difficult times, investors now seem to be selling out to take back liquidity in case the coronavirus spreads even further. In a time of uncertainty, many investors might feel it is better to own cash or gold rather than more speculative cryptocurrencies like bitcoin."

The virus declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization on Wednesday has made the global economy standstill with continuous losses and falling stocks.

The Independent reports, "One economic forecaster, who predicted the 2008 global financial crash, warned that another crash is on the way. Jesse Colombo described coronavirus as “the one-two punch” that will send the economy “hurtling towards recession”." 

Experts say that the cryptocurrency prices will keep falling down further, an unfortunate turn to those who were relying on the cryptocurrency for market flow in difficult times.

This drop means that around 50 billion dollars have been lost from Bitcoin's whole value. It is the most drastic and severe crash since Bitcoin's inception. 

Though the cryptocurrency market is always volatile, researchers say that it's not the end. They are comparing the crash with 2017, when Bitcoin value shrewd by 20,000 dollars and it recovered. They say that the price and economic graphs are very similar and thus the cryptocurrency will make a comeback.

And famous whistleblower Edward Snowden backs the claim tweeting, "This is the first time in a while I've felt like buying bitcoin. That drop was too much panic and too little reason."

Hackers Attack IOTA's Trinity Wallet, Company Shuts Down the Network


The hackers attacked the IOTA's cryptocurrency wallet and stole all the funds. The theft happened by exploiting a vulnerability in the IOTA's networks. Attack took place on 12th February 2020, and the company informed about the incident via its official account on twitter. The tweet said that the IOTA is presently investing an attack on its trinity wallet. IOTA has advised its users not to share or use the Trinity Wallet on their desktop until the case has been solved. According to the news, the IOTA is currently working with cybersecurity experts and law agencies to go to the roots of the problem that has caused the cryptocurrency theft.


The company, on its official website, announced that because of the theft of funds, it has shut down its 'Coordinator' node for a while to protect the users. The Coordinator works as a final checkpoint for safety assurance of the transactions that take place on IOTA's network. According to the company, the decision to shut down the Coordinator node is to protect any further fraudulent transactions that might take place on IOTA's network. IOTA says that the hackers chose to attack the high profile accounts first, and then moved on to smaller accounts, and so on until the transactions were stopped by the coordinator.

“The attack pattern analysis showed that the halt of the coordinator interrupted the attacker’s attempts to liquidate funds on exchanges,” said the IOTA's official website. “The stolen funds have been purposely and repeatedly merged and split to obfuscate the investigation, and with the current token exchange rate as well as exchanges’ KYC limits in mind. We received additional feedback from more exchanges (not all yet), confirming that none of the identified transactions has been received or liquidated.”

As of now, IOTA's network system is still not active, and the company is still investigating the issue. Cybersecurity experts and members of the IOTA say that the hackers found a vulnerability in the Trinity wallet and were thus able to launch the attack. IOTA hasn't announced anything about the amount stolen but the experts believe it to be around $1 Million IOTA coins or more.

Hackers used the websites of Russian government agencies to extract cryptocurrency


According to the deputy head of the National Coordination Center for Computer Incidents of the FSB, Nikolai Murashov, encryption viruses decreased their activity last year and were replaced by malware. In particular, these programs have changed for crypto-jacking or hidden cryptocurrency mining.

Murashov noted that the software for hidden mining uses up to 80% of the free power of the device, and the user may not know about it. According to him, the seizure of server capacities of large organizations for the purpose of mining cryptocurrencies threatens to severely reduce their productivity and harm their main activities.

Murashov said that hackers attack not only large companies but also ordinary users, for example, by mining through a browser while visiting infected web pages. Browser companies have already begun to struggle with this problem. So, in April of last year, the Mozilla Firefox introduced protection against crypto-jacking.

In addition, the number of installations of shadow miners on computers of ordinary users has increased. Last year alone, more than 50,000 such incidents were recorded.

"The scope of activities of shadow miners expanded over the past year. Hackers started using new software that is difficult to track because of the special code structure. Some applications are developed specifically for government servers and gaining control over them. Programs use computing power for mining, but administrators can only notice this during a detailed audit," said Murashov.

In Russia, the most high-profile incident last year was an incident with miners who mined cryptocurrency on the computers of the nuclear center in Sarov. The attackers, who turned out to be employees of the organization, used the equipment for their own purposes for several years.

Companies around the world are being attacked by ransomware viruses and crypto-jacking. Recently, a cybersecurity company Proofpoint, reported that in 2019, more than half of all public and private organizations in the United States were subjected to virus attacks and phishing. In this regard, regulators are beginning to take decisive action.

Malware Against Crypto-Currency Businesses; Microsoft and Apple are Targets Alike


“AppleJeus” operation was the first time “macOS” users were made victims by Lazarus. Herein, a manipulated application was used to target potential victims. Apparently, Lazarus used customized malware, especially for macOS users.

Per leading sources, the malware had been so fabricated that it released the current and the next-stage payload automatically without any manual actions required. For attacking Windows users a multi-stage infection procedure was fabricated.

Reportedly, compromising “crypto-currency” related business was the major objective of “AppleJeus” and Lazarus at large. The macOS malware employed the source course only to structure “macOS” installers. Allegedly, “QtBitcoinTrader” was used.

However, the hackers at Lazarus altered the macOS malware. For starters, it no more has an encryption/decryption network communication routine as per reports.

In another case, the .NET malware was disguised as Wallet updaters like “wfcwallet.com” and “www.chainfun365.com”. Herein, the multi-stage infection took place but in a different way.

Later on files of the likes of “rasext,dll” and “msctfp.dat” are uploaded onto the target’s system. Allegedly, the Remote Access Connection Manager was also into play.

Per sources, there was another case where a highly altered form of the macOS malware was at work. Similar to other cases, the fake website and application were being called by the attacker. The apparent differences as per reports in the attack are as follows:
o The malicious application was hosted via “GitHub”.
o The post-installation script of the macOS malware was different as well.
o This version used “ADVobfuscator” to hide its code.
o The author of this modified macOS malware utilized “Object-C” and not QT framework.


In a different attack, the post-install script was the same as the previous attack; the author here had used “SWIFT” for the development of the malware. The method of data collection was changed and then the conduct authentication began. According to sources, the “auth_signature and auth_timestamp” parameters were used to deliver the second payload. The current system time of the device is acquired by the malware and then it’s combined with the “12GWAPCT1F011S14” hard-coded string and an “MD5 hash” is created. The hash is used as the “auth_signature” parameter and the time is used as the value of the “auth_timestamp” parameter. These values can be reproduced as well and finally, the second payload is uploaded.

Apart from all the macOS cases, there was a Windows incident as well. Per sources, a version of the “UnionCryptoTrader” was found. Allegedly, the “Telegram messenger” was at play. The infection procedure was pretty much the same as one of the previous cases with an add-on. A final backdoor payload was done. This version showed numerous exchange rates for crypto-currency.

Reportedly, the Windows malware uploads the encrypted “msctfp.dat file” and loads all the configuration values. Later an extra command is executed as per the contents of the file. Finally, the malware communicates with the C2 server, a post request is sent.

Several parameters are sent and according to the response code from the C2 server, the “POST” request is sent through along with the encrypted data and a random value that could be used to identify individual victims.

Innumerable fake websites were found still in action. The fake websites were crypto-currency oriented but could easily be identified as fake if looked at with a keen eye.

Part 2 of the “AppleJeus” had its victims spread across, Poland, China, Russia, and the US with most of them related to businesses involving crypto-currency.

Lazarus group has been quite a matter of talk for a very long time. It especially continues to be a matter of concern for the cyber-world.

The AppleJeus and other malware that exist and would exist in the future are evolving by the hour. Crypto-currency associated businesses are the key and foremost objects of Lazarus and other threat actors and hence need to be more vigilant than ever.


Development Team Suffers Cryptocurrency Theft Worth $4,80,000


Hackers stole records relating to the extension unit of an unknown blockchain recently, taking cryptocurrency worth $480,000, which is known as an obscure token called NULS. The developing team working on NULS confirmed on Twitter that it suffered a hacking attack. Earlier in the morning, the company tweeted that around 2 million NULS ($4,80,000) were stolen from its account. From the amount that was stolen, the development team says that more than half the amount lost in the theft has been liquidated to other cryptocurrency forms, amounting roughly to $131,600.



The company is planning to 'Hard Fork' the transaction network and blockchain, a measure that stops the cryptocurrency once and for all. Fortunately, the incident didn't have a hard effect on the price of NULS. The reason for the theft is said to be a vulnerability found in software version 2.2. The reason for having little effect on its value might be due to the value dropping down already at over 95%, following the all-time high before the incident was exposed. The users that use NULS are requested by the company to update their software to the latest version available, as to prevent themselves from any hacking issue.

Similar to the incident when Ethereum also 'Hard Forked' to retrieve its taken cryptocurrency:
The acknowledgment of the NULS team to this issue of theft is nostalgic for how core developers of Ethereum countered the problem of 'DAO' hacking incident in the year 2016. The DAO (Digital Decentralized Autonomous Organization) was supported by active agreements that worked likewise to an enterprise funds stock but was driven by the investor. Certainly, following the incident in which Ethereum worth $40 Million was stolen by the hackers from the DAO, Ethereum development divided the blockchain separately into 2 divisions.

In the 1st division, the users stirred by the theft could recover the Ethereum funds. Meanwhile in the 2nd division resumed upholding the initial variant of the block-chain record known as 'Ethereum Classic.' To this day, that specific Hard Fork incident is still a controversy amid the critics, practicing it as evidence of the unification concerning Ethereum‘s administration. Fortunately, NULS is not as popular as Ethereum, so the hard forking step won't cause much of a controversy for the company.

Bitcoin fraud worth $ 359M caught by the Brazil Police


The Brazilian police have found what is said to be an alleged Bitcoins fraud that stole $ 359M from the sufferers. "The Brazillian state police have been able to counter the anonymous operation and have caught 9 criminals," says the Parana state government in a statement. "Growing concern in crypto-currency businesses has been followed by an increase of scams,” the report states. “The absence of supervision and attention along with large levels of distraction, unfamiliarity, cross-perimeter activities, and other characteristics crucial to the cryptocurrency business reveals possible dangers to the users," says Brazilian Congressman Aureo Ribeiro.


The 4 months inquiry exposed five hundred personalities from over 6 states that have fallen prey to the Bitcoin grant fraud. However, the figures could go up to 5000 persons. “It was obvious that the plan was a fraud when the victims got a notification from the organization, informing the users that the investors would not be able to debit their money for 6 months,” says the Parana state government's statement.

The company responded to the situation by saying it too had suffered a scam estimating $5 million. But the investors' withdrawal money was delayed even after 6 months passed, and that's how the company was caught red-handed.' According to one of the victims, a fraud had promised everyday returns up to 4% on investments. The people arrested for the theft are accused of money laundering, scam, counterfeit and unlawful connection. 

Cryptocurrency Frauds happened recently-

Sadly, it is not the first instance when people have fallen prey to the cryptocurrency scam. "In May, a cryptocurrency fraud gang had was locked down for theft of $200M from over 50,000 victims," reports Hard Fork. Criminals pretended to give crypto-currency grants assuring people 15% of profits for their money. "During the time, the firm had collected about $215M through February 2019, however, police concluded the figure could be around $250M," says Federal Revenue Service.

The police in April caught an individual on doubt that he was running drugs racket gang and stealing money through Bitcoins. In the region Porto Alegre, Southern Brazil, the police officials have discovered a secret drug lab having Bitcoin digging facilities.

Stantinko botnet's strategy now shifts to crypto-mining


Stantinko botnet that's been involved in various criminal ventures has now added a Monero crypto-mining module to its arsenal. Stantiko has since 2012 carried out a range of criminal activities like fraud, ad injections, social network fraud and brute-force password-stealing attacks to Soviet nations targeting Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. But lately, researchers at ESET, discovered that a major source of Stantinko’s monetization since at least August 2018, comes from Monero crypto-mining module.


ESET describes the module as, "highly modified version of the xmr-stark open-source crypto-miner," Stantinko’s mining module, dubbed CoinMiner. Stantinko is so powerful that it can "exhaust most of the resources of the compromised machine." ESET elaborate, that each sample of the model is unique and compile a different module for every victim. "This module’s most notable feature is the way it is obfuscated to thwart analysis and avoid detection," said ESET. CoinMiner. Stantinko is divided into four logical parts with distinct capabilities. The main component does the actual mining, and the other three parts perform the following functions-
•suspending other (i.e. competing) crypto-mining applications
•detecting security software
•suspending the crypto-mining function if the PC is on battery power or when a task manager is detected, to prevent being revealed by the user CoinMiner.

Stantinko doesn't communicate with the mining pool directly, rather it uses a proxy with IP address derived from the description texts, of YouTube videos. This module communicates with the proxies by the hashing algorithm that takes place over TCP and encrypted by RC4. It adapts to adjustments of algorithms to mine the most profitable cryptocurrency. YouTube when alerted of the scam by ESET, removed the offending channels.

Preventing Detection
CoinMiner.Stantinko is very smart in preventing detection, it removes itself in the presence of a competitor. It temporarily suspends mining if there’s no power supply. "Our discovery shows that the criminals behind Stantinko continue to expand the ways they leverage the botnet they control," Hrcka concludes. "This remotely configured crypto-mining module, distributed since at least August of 2018 and still active at the time of writing, shows this group continues to innovate and extend its money-making capabilities."

As Venezuela's economy plunges, citizens turn to hacking and cybercrime for easy money


Cybercrime is on a rapid rise in Venezuela as an effect of the country's economic and political turmoil, according to a report released Thursday by IntSights, a global threat intelligence company. More and more people are being driven into the underground criminal world as it provides a lucrative alternative to make money.



IntSights analysts found sophisticated and systematic operations working to steal personal information of individuals from Latin America, such as bankers and retailers and they either sell the information online to the highest bidder or use it further to dig more data. These hacks and data gathering operations are quite profitable and remunerative for Venezuelans, as they sell it for cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, a better alternative to the drowning national currency-Venezuelan bolivar.

Venezuela, once amongst the richest countries in Latin America, with large oil reserves and gold mines has now become a mere shell of its former self as decades of corruption and socialist rule have plunged the economy. The political condition of the country is also severe as there have been ongoing protests and rebels against President Nicolás Maduro from last year. This hyperinflation in Venezuela has caused a deterioration in the national currency and thus citizens have turned to cryptocurrency.

The International Monetary Fund says inflation of the Venezuelan bolivar, the country’s currency, is expected to hit a startling 200,000 percent this year. A cup of coffee that cost 150 bolivars in November 2018 now costs 18,000 bolivars, according to Bloomberg (Quoting nbcnews).

These hackers are based in Venezuela and neighbouring countries like Colombia and they don't seem to be hiding unlike experienced hackers from Russia and China. Information about the operations, their phone numbers and where to find them is easily available.
“They don’t seem too concerned about hiding,” Charity Wright, an analyst at IntSights said. “I think it’s because they don’t sense law enforcement will do anything.”

The law enforcers have also turned a blind eye to the victims, as they are more concerned about handling the political turmoil, the reports said.

There has been heavy censorship in the country with bans on CNN, major newspapers, VPN's. Social networks like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter, and messaging apps like WhatsApp are the major means of communication for the people. Cybercriminals can also be found easily on these platforms collaborating and looking for work.

"The Venezuelan underground has risen to the surface with the anarchy and chaos of the Maduro regime,” said Tom Kellermann, head of cybersecurity strategy for cloud computer company VMware and a global fellow for cyber policy at the Wilson Center. These crimes comprise large-scale email phishing and malware campaigns, sensitive data being sold on public websites and over the dark web.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia to develop a mechanism for the seizure and confiscation of cryptocurrencies


Russian law enforcement agencies, together with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, to prepare proposals for the arrest of cryptocurrencies by 2021.

A representative of Group-IB confirmed the information that such a measure is being discussed together with other proposals to combat IT crimes.

"Cryptocurrency must be recognized at the legislative level as either a product or a cash equivalent so that it can be confiscated further", said Konstantin Golikov, the co-owner and CEO of the platform Dailyrich.ru.

"If the law enforcement agencies begin to discuss the confiscation of cryptocurrency, they actually launch a mechanism for the legalization of cryptocurrency in Russia. But, in my opinion, the Bank of Russia will seriously resist this," said Golikov.

However, in international practice, there are already many precedents for the confiscation of cryptocurrency by a court decision, despite the fact that the regulation of cryptocurrency is not legislatively introduced.

Even now, Russian courts and investigators have to deal with cryptocurrencies, despite the fact that virtual money does not have official status. For example, the Central Bank insisted that the hidden income from the Russian markets can be withdrawn to other countries through cryptocurrencies. In addition, in February 2019, the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation extended the punishment for the legalization of criminal proceeds to electronic assets.

Recall that in 2018, President Vladimir Putin said that Russia should "carefully and cautiously" monitor the sphere of cryptocurrencies. At the same time, the position of the Central Bank of Russia was that electronic money can not be a means of payment. An interesting fact is that in Belarus, in 2017, a decree “On the Development of the Digital Economy” was adopted, which recognized cryptocurrency as property.

Binance to assist Ukraine in regulating the crypto currency industry


The largest cryptocurrency exchange Binance intends to help Ukraine in developing methods for regulation the cryptocurrency industry. This means that the company's specialists see great potential for the development of the crypto industry in Ukraine.

The company said that they signed a Memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine. The Ukrainian government said that such cooperation will significantly improve the legal status of cryptocurrencies in the country. It is expected that the platform will begin work in the country before the end of the year.

As part of the partnership, Binance, together with the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, intend to create a working group that will discuss further plans for the regulation of the crypto industry and the formation of the digital market in Ukraine.

Moreover, Binance will develop effective mechanisms designed to transfer rights to various virtual assets through a distributed network, as well as create favourable conditions for investment and business activities.

Changpeng Zhao is confident that the legal status of cryptocurrencies will improve the Ukrainian economy, as well as create the basis for additional investments.

The Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, Mikhail Fedorov, is confident that cooperation with the largest cryptocurrency exchange will open the opportunity for transparent work with companies in this industry and create a comfortable environment for them.

He also believes that the entry of Binance into Ukraine will be a strong driver for the crypto-system and the legalisation of cryptocurrencies.

"This is an additional hundred of millions of taxes that our state will receive. For fans of cryptocurrency and those who work in this direction, this is a very big signal that Ukraine has appeared on the world map of cryptocurrencies," said the head of the Ministry of Digital.

“We are pleased that Binance has become interested in neighbouring countries. We hope that they will reach Russia as well,” commented Denis Onatsik, director of Deecrypto Store & Club.

However, in Russia, the regulation of the cryptocurrency market is regularly postponed due to disagreements among the members of the working group and the tough position of the Central Bank, which is categorically against the legalization of cryptocurrencies on open platforms.

An interesting fact is that in the spring of 2019, Binance suffered from a hacker attack, they stole $41 million in bitcoins.

Facebook and China on Developing Global Digital Currencies in Emerging Markets


Reportedly inspired by Facebook's announcement to head the launch of a crypto-currency run by the non-profit Switzerland-based Libra Association in 2020, the Peoples' Bank of China reported recently that it was working with a digital currency upheld by the Yuan.

This proposed digital currency by China is said to bear a few similitudes to Facebook's Libra, which is what has shaken Facebook’s cryptocurrency plans.

Analysts and crypto industry pioneers are highlighting geopolitical ramifications of China propelling a digital currency first — particularly if Libra hits a 'brick wall' with U.S. controllers. The Chinese digital coin could be utilized across significant payment platforms, including China's omnipresent WeChat and Alipay. The Peoples' Bank of China "has expedited its development of a Central Bank Digital Currency” after Libra's announcement in June, state the RBC Capital Market analysts.

RBC analysts Mark Mahaney and Zachary Schwartzman said in a research note “If U.S. regulators ultimately dismiss Libra and decide not to draft regulation to encourage Crypto innovation in the U.S., China’s [Central Bank Digital Currency] may be strategically positioned to become the de facto global digital currency in emerging economies, largely through Alipay, WeChat, UnionPay, and other messaging & payment apps,”

The U.S. Treasury Department has thusly labeled China as a currency manipulator — a complaint that could be exacerbated if a Yuan-supported cryptocurrency takes off.

Now that the U.S. and China are locked in an impasse on trade, and a battle for predominance in 5G, the mobile network promising faster data speeds, the cryptocurrency would add to a long list of existing pressures between these global superpowers.

UNICEF won't convert Bitcoin and Ethereum : will accept donations in cryptocurrency


UN's children's agency UNICEF has launched a Cryptocurrency Fund Programme, in this all donations will be made through cryptocurrency- limited to Bitcoin and Ether. According to this new Cryptocurrency Fund Programme, when the organization receives a donation in Bitcoin or Ether, it will not convert it to fiat currency rather distribute it in the same form. This is part of UNICEF's project with blockchain technology and to fund open source technology projects through cryptocurrency.


"This is a new and exciting venture for UNICEF. If digital economies and currencies have the potential to shape the lives of the coming generations, we must explore the opportunities they offer. That's why the creation of our Cryptocurrency Fund is a significant and welcome step forward in humanitarian and development work," Henrietta Fore, Director, UNICEF, said in a statement. This approach by UNICEF, couldn't have come at a better time, as Henrietta Fore, Director UNICEF says, "Humanitarian and development work cannot continue without contributions in whichever format people are most comfortable with".

And this would also assist cryptocurrencies, giving them a positive boost. Cryptocurrency, that is virtual money is the only form of global money presently, and is believed could be the currency of the future. Bitcoin continues to influence the macroeconomy and more and more industries and businesses are incorporating this technology into their functionality. Now, UNICEF is also amongst one such organization with its Cryptocurrency Fund Programme. In this program, UNICEF supports donations in only Bitcoin and Ethereum as these are the leading cryptocurrencies in the global market.

Depending on the success of the program, more currencies would probably be added in due time. The first donation to the UNICEF Cryptocurrency Fund Programme will be made by Ethereum Foundation to fund three grantees of the UNICEF Innovation Fund, as well as a project coordinated by the GIGA Initiative to connect schools to the Internet globally. It is unsure which amounts will change hands but the contribution will be done through the French National Committee for UNICEF. It is a big boon for cryptocurrencies, and collaboration between charitable organizations and cryptocurrency can be a big step forward into the new era of change and technology.

Bitcoin No More the World's Most Used Cryptocurrency, as Tether Takes Over

If someone were to ask you "what's the world's most used cryptocurrency?” you'd probably say "Bitcoin," which accounts for 70% of the world's market value digital assets. But in reality its Tether, which is now the world's most used cryptocurrency.

Although precise numbers on trading measures are arduous to get in this misty business environment, statistics from CoinMarketCap.com point that the Tether is the highest daily and monthly valued cryptocurrency, even though its market capitalization is 30% less.



In April, Tether's profit outdid Bitcoin for the first time, and since early August, it has steadily exceeded it at the rate of $21 billion per day, says CoinMarketCap.com. With its steadily trading volume nearly 18% greater than Bitcoin, Tether has no doubt become one of the most significant coins in the crypto sector.

It's also the leading cause why governors view cryptocurrencies with skepticism and have set a halt on crypto exchange-traded supplies among distress of business administration.

"Without Tether, we would have suffered a heavy cost of the regular amount -- about $1 billion or higher depending on the information reference, ” says Lex Sokolin, co-head, global financial technology at ConsenSys, which extends blockchain technology services.

"Few concerning possible tappings of dealing in the business may begin to drop off,” says Lex.

The reason being is Tether is the most accepted steady coin around the globe, as it avoids price fluctuations through stocks. Tether is also a road to the crypto market for most of the world's existing businesspeople. 'For instance, in China, a trading giant where cryptocurrency is outlawed, people can comfortably spend for cash with tethers on the tables without any uncertainty or mistrusts,' says Lex 'and furthermore they can swap it for bitcoins and distinct cryptocurrencies.'

Is it safe? 

However, many people don't truly rely on Tether, says Thaddeus Dryja, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. People think of Tether as some money in their account, without actually realizing that they are using it, he says.

'Some trades unspecified their folios, to send the idea that customers are holding money rather than Tethers,' said Thaddeus.