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Crypto crime dropped 57% in 2020 but DeFi hacks surged: CipherTrace

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Crimes targeting the virtual currency sector decreased by more than half in 2020 according to blockchain security firm CipherTrace.

The firm’s 2020 cryptocurrency crime and anti-money laundering report revealed that losses from cryptocurrency theft, hacks, and fraud fell 57% in 2020 to $1.9 billion, due mainly to improved security systems. The same figure in 2019 hit a record $4.5 billion.

CipherTrace said that “massive exit scams” such as the PlusToken Ponzi dominated crypto crime over the past two years, with that scam alone netting $2.9 billion. In 2020, a similar scheme by some of the same culprits called WoToken defrauded investors out of $1.1 billion, accounting for 58% of the year’s major crime volume.

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The report found that fraud is the dominant cryptocurrency crime, followed by theft and ransomware. Dave Jevans, CipherTrace’s chief executive officer, told Reuters:

“Thefts from hacks against centralized exchanges continue to decrease as these financial institutions mature and adopt stronger security measures,”

However, 2020 saw a surge in decentralized finance related crime, the majority of which were “rug pulls”. That’s where a token is artificially hyped and inflated, with the creators and early investors pulling the plug after the pump leaving the latecomers out of pocket.

The report explained that some bad actors will liquidate the entire liquidity pool, leaving the remaining token holders with no liquidity and unable to trade, wiping out the remaining value of the token:

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“Half of all 2020 crypto hacks were of DeFi protocols—a pattern that was virtually negligible in all prior years—and nearly 99% of major fraud volume in the second half of 2020 stemmed from DeFi protocols performing ‘rug pulls’ and other exit scams in a pattern eerily reminiscent of the 2017 ICO craze.”

Due to being mostly unregulated, DeFi protocols have many exemptions from traditional enforcement regimes that centralized exchanges, money service businesses and banks face, Jevans added.

The report stated that 2020’s largest theft, the $281 million hack of the centralized exchange KuCoin, also involved the DeFi sector as criminals attempted to launder the stolen funds through Uniswap, the world’s largest decentralized exchange.

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Binance to Support the Incoming Polkadot Parachain Slot Auction

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  • Binance exchange will support the Polkadot (DOT) parachain slot auction.
  • The company plans to start the event in November, this year.
  • Doing this will help Polkadot achieve its ecosystem development.

Amid the waves blowing around the incoming Polkadot (DOT) parachain slot auction, Binance exchange has also announced that they are ever-ready to support the Polkadot’s parachain event.

With this synergy, Binance emphasized that it will soon start its Polkadot parachain slot auction program mainly in November 2021. Additionally, the month set to begin the event by the Binance team moves in line with the proposed Polkadot parachain slot auction date.

Meanwhile, Binance didn’t officially give the exact day and time that it will start the event. At the moment, the only news we have is that the team aims to start the parachain event in November.

To clarify, Binance intends to do its part and what it can to help influence Polkadot towards achieving its ecosystem development milestone. In turn, doing this will also push up the growth and adoption of the Polkadot parachain slot project to the mainstream.

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Also, for further info about the event, the Binance team noted that they will keep their eyes on it and provide the community with more updates.

Until then, the team assured that the community should expect a separate announcement in no time and more details than what they have disclosed now. In addition, Binance advised that the community should stay tuned as they are bringing more initiatives ahead.

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CFTC slaps Tether and Bitfinex with $42.5 million fine over misleading statements

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  • Tether is hit with $41 million in fines to settle allegations of misleading statements. 
  • Bitfinex was fined $1.5 million for facilitating retail transactions for American citizens. 
  • Tether has been under the lens of financial regulators over claims of stablecoin reserves for years on end. 

Financial regulators have investigated Tether and Bitfinex for criminal probe into bank fraud and misleading statements. Currently, over $62 million worth of Tether is in circulation, which is likely to impact the broad cryptocurrency market. 

Tether and Bitfinex hit by CFTC fines; there may be an impact on the crypto market

US regulators have accused Tether of making untrue or misleading statements. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) slapped a penalty of $41 million on Tether and $1.5 million on Bitfinex. 

Bitfinex was fined for allowing American citizens to transact on its exchange. The CFTC announced the penalties earlier today.  

Tether has played a key role in the crypto ecosystem, and the US Justice department’s focus is on the stablecoin’s activity in nascent stages following its launch in 2014. Federal prosecutors investigated transactions that were linked to crypto, and banks were unaware of their nature. 

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Former probes remained confidential, according to sources close to the Department of Justice (DoJ). A criminal probe is one of the key developments in the crackdown on cryptocurrencies by regulators. 

Over $62 billion worth of Tether tokens are in circulation; proponents believe it is too big to fail. In a statement, Tether stated:

Tether routinely has an open dialogue with law enforcement agencies, including the DOJ, as part of our commitment to cooperation and transparency.

In light of recent events, however, Tether is faced with a more significant challenge, safeguarding the interests of the crypto community by not failing. Traders across fiat-crypto exchanges and peer-to-peer platforms exchange their fiat for stablecoins to access the cryptocurrency ecosystem. 

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If Tether fails, the inflow of stablecoins to exchanges could be impaired, triggering a drop in capital inflow to Bitcoin. 

In their concurring statements, CFTC was quoted:

The settlement with the Tether respondents finds that there were misrepresentations regarding the assets backing tether, specifically that the USDT tokens were backed 1-to-1 by US dollars. The evidence establishes that this assurance provided to tether customers was not 100% true, 100% of the time.

Tether officials are held accountable by the CFTC. Further, the CFTC has applied a commodities’ definition to stablecoins. Regulators are concerned that enforcement actions may confuse their role in cryptocurrency and stablecoin regulation. 

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The CFTC’s statement reads:

In a recent speech, SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce asked an important question when it comes to the US regulators’ review of stablecoins: Are we fighting for investors or are we fighting for jurisdiction? This question is front-and-center in my mind as I consider these settlements.

Tether believes that,

As Tether represented in the Order, it has always maintained adequate reserves and has never failed to satisfy a redemption request.

Tether has suggested that the CFTC’s findings regarding Bitfinex are related to its activities before December 2018. The stablecoin issuer is focused on resolving the matter and moving forward. 

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The statement reads as follows:

We are grateful that the market has consistently demonstrated its trust and confidence in Tether. We will continue to earn that confidence and lead the industry in innovation and transparency.

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Crypto Market Cap Gained $90B: Bitcoin Taps $60K, SOL up 8% (Market Watch)

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After a six-month hiatus, bitcoin met the coveted $60,000 level before retracing by roughly $1,000. Ethereum went above $3,800 briefly.

Bitcoin skyrocketed by roughly $3,000 in hours following positive reports coming from the US and touched $60,000 for the first time since April. Some altcoins have also joined the ride, with ETH exceeding $3,800 and Solana spiking by more than 8%.

BTC and $60K Met Again

Just two days ago, bitcoin had retraced hard and was close to breaking below $54,000. This came after an unsuccessful attempt to overcome $58,000 for the first time in roughly five months.

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However, the bulls hadn’t given up yet and initiated another impressive leg up yesterday, as reported. This time, BTC reclaimed the aforementioned level and kept climbing upwards.

BTC went as high as $58,500 before another brief retracement drove it back below $57,000. At this time, though, reports emerged claiming that the US Securities and Exchange Commission could greenlight a Bitcoin Futures ETF as early as next week.

The implications of such a significant development in the US led to an immediate price surge. BTC added more than $3,000 of value and touched $60,000 for the first time since April this year.

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As of now, bitcoin has lost around $1,000 of value, but its market cap is still above $1.1 trillion. The dominance over the altcoins has increased to just shy of $46%.

BTCUSD. Source: TradingView
BTCUSD. Source: TradingView

ETH Reached $3.8K: SOL Up by 8%

Ethereum struggled in the past few weeks as it was unable to break above $3,600 decisively. It even retraced by a few hundred dollars but went on the offensive yesterday and continued north today. As a result, the second-largest crypto broke above $3,800 for the first time in months but it was short-lived and is back below it now

Solana is another impressive performer on a 24-hour scale. SOL has surged by 8% in a day and trades well above $160. Uniswap’s 4% increase has driven UNI to $26, but the rest of the larger-cap alts have stalled or retraced.

Binance Coin, Cardano, Ripple, Polkadot, Dogecoin, Terra, and Avalanche are all slightly in the red.

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Cryptocurrency Market Overview. Source: Quantify Crypto
Cryptocurrency Market Overview. Source: Quantify Crypto

The top 100 largest coins have a new representative in the face of NuCypher. NU has exploded by more than 500% in a day and has neared $2, but many community members speculate on Twitter that it could be a pump and dump scheme.

Polygon has increased by 25% to $1.6. The total crypto market cap is above $2.4 trillion for the first time in months as well, after a $90 billion rise in a day.

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