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Dark web drug dealer pleads guilty, agrees to help track other dealers

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En route a world beard growing competition in Texas and caught as soon as he landed in Atlanta in August of 2017, Gal Valerius, a competitive beard grower and cyber whiz from the Brittany region of France, was confirmed to be ‘OxyMonster’.

On Tuesday at a hearing in Miami, he pleaded guilty for helping run a massive online drug market, overseeing the sales of kilos worth of coke, meth, heroin, fentanyl, and oxycodone. Accessing the dark web via TOR browser and using Bitcoin or its cousin altcoins for transactions virtually guarantees anonymity.

Under his plea agreement, Valerius would be cooperating with the Federal prosecutors and Drug Enforcement Administration, in the hope of reducing his life imprisonment sentence in exchange for his insider knowledge.

The arrest, back in 2017, was the end result of an investigation of multiple agencies – DEA, FBI, IRS, Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. He was accused of being a drug kingpin on the dark web, acting as an administrator for Dream Market, a marketplace for illegal narcotics including cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines, and counterfeit consumer goods and stolen data.

He was traveling with his wife from France to Texas and landed in Atlanta, and upon landing his laptop was seized. The laptop revealed that he was the person behind the moniker ‘OxyMonster’, and also showed that he sat on a pile of Bitcoin worth $500,000.

Furthermore, Valerius was reported to have played the role of moderator on Dream Market, an online platform that allows drug buyers and sellers to anonymously strike deals throughout Europe and the US. It is more than just a marketplace for illicit drugs, providing technical assistance, resolving disputes and posting ratings of vendors on their platform. The authorities were only able to zero in on his identity because of the bitcoin address of ‘OxyMonster’ and analyzing the incoming and outgoing transactions from this address, the Miami Herald reports.

Cybersecurity firm ‘Recorded Futurehasve found that criminals on the dark web are using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin for their illegitimate business transactions. However, the Bitcoin is much more expensive now, and charges more fees for transactions, than it once used to. This has lead the criminals to opt for Bitcoin’s alternatives, or altcoins, the most popular being Litecoin and Dash, which Recorded Future reports is a digital coin that 30% and 20% of dark web vendors accept, respectively.

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Crypto market overview: Tether issues drag Bitcoin and major altcoins down

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  • Bitcoin and major altcoins continue to drag out their miserable experience in tight ranges.
  • Tether is losing popularity despite that the volatility is over.

Cryptocurrency market is still trapped in a range, however, all major coins seem to be creeping down with the total value of digital asset market reduced to $209B.

BTC/USD is changing hands at $6,406, losing about 0.44% since this time on Monday. Listless trading evaporates speculative interest towards the digital coin No.1, though both volatility and trading activity might return once $6,400 handle is broken.

Ripple’s XRP is down 1.5% in recent 24 hours, changing hands at $0.4578 with a bearish bias. More downside may be in store for XRP/USD, once $0.4500 is cleared.

Ethereum in unmovable at 204 handle. The second largest coin by market value shows no signs of squeezed in the range between $200 and $207.

Litecoin is trading at $52.21, mostly unchanged both on a day-to-day basis and since the beginning of Tuesday.

Ripple effect of Tether issues

Unexpected Tether volatility caught traders by surprise at the beginning of the previous week. While the dust settled and all major coins returned to the safety of their ranges, the incident can have more profound consequences than a couple of wild swings on the market. Traders are spooked by such behavior of a stable coin that is meant to be just that – stable. That’s why many of them have opted out for other digital assets or other stable coins,

“For traders, the instability of Tether provides an interesting conundrum of whether to opt into other more regulated stable coin options such as Gemini dollars, Circle dollars or True USD, which offer the same 1:1 to USD option to Tether, but with more apparent robustness and security,” says Aditya Das, economist at Brave New Coin.

“Liquidity and availability have likely been Tether’s greatest driver of value and popularity, but with a new number of stable coin options tradable on major exchanges like Huobi and Okex, the stablecoin flippening may continue to unfold.”

What will come out of it? We shall wait and see.

 

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Bitcoin slides under $6,400 as Dogecoin creator says institutional investors will kill the industry

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  • BTC/USD is creeping lower, but the momentum is weak so far.
  • Jackson Palmer believes institutional investors will do more harm than good.

Bitcoin is changing hands at $6,393. Despite range bound trading, the biggest cryptocurrency has lost over 2% in recent 7 days and moved to trade at the lower line of the recent channel. While the longer-term picture confirms the indecisiveness on the market, the further decline may tilt the balance in favor of Bitcoin bears.

Bitcoin’s short-term technical picture

BTC/USD has moved under SMA200 (1-hour) and psychological $6,400, which might lead to a more extensive sell-off once the breakthrough is confirmed. The next downside target is produced by $6,355 (October 19 low) and $6,300 handle. Once below, the bears will have a chance to push the coin towards critical $6,200 and possibly $6,060 (the recent low).

On the upside, we need to return above $6,400 and see a sustainable movement above $6,480. In this case, the recovery may be extended towards $6,500 that capped the upside since  October 16.

No institutional investors, please

While the industry is frantically waiting for institutional money, Jackson Palmer the creator of a joke coin Dogecoin believes that it will kill the industry by turning in into Wall Street 2.0. Recently he posted a tweet where he confessed that he did not understand why people were so enthusiastic about institutional investors.

“The institutionalization of cryptocurrency will heavily re-centralize both power structures and token distribution. So you can say goodbye to much of the original vision for the technology.”

He is also worried by the fact that 1% of all cryptocurrency wallets hold 55% of all the Bitcoins in the circulation. He is sure that institutions will deepen the divide and inequality of digital assets distribution.

BTC/USD, 1-hour chart

Source: fxstreet

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Physically settled Bitcoin futures to go live on ICE’s Bakkt platform on December 12

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  • ICE published a press-release with a proposed date of Bakkt platform launch.
  • The futures will be traded in dollar terms with settlement agains USD, EUR, and GBP.

The Intercontinental Exchange, a parent company of the New York Stock Exchange revealed that it would launche Bitcoin Futures on Bakkt platform on December 12, according to the official press release published on Monday.

Bakkt will offer physically settled bitcoin futures contracts and hold Bitcoins to back the futures in the ICE Digital Asset Warehouse. The contracts will be cleared through anouther ICE subsidary, ICE Clear US.

“Each futures contract calls for delivery of one bitcoin held in the Bakkt Digital Asset Warehouse and will trade in U.S. dollar terms. One daily contract will be listed for trading each Exchange Business Day,” the press releas goes.

The minimum price movement will be set at $2.5, while  Block Trades may be executed at $0.01 per Bitcoin.

Why is it important?

Bakkt is supposed to provide a regulated ecosystem for institutional players that want to get exposure to digital assets and stay compliant with the regulatory requirements. Moreover, the unlike the rival platforms, Bakkt will offer deliverable futures against three major fiat currencies (Euro, USD, GBP). CBOE and CME have only non-deliverable futures for Bitcoins.

Source: fxstreet

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