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Hong Kong cryptocurrency custodian Hex Trust targets profitability, fresh funding in 2024 as virtual-asset market rebounds

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Hong Kong cryptocurrency custodian Hex Trust targets profitability, fresh funding in 2024 as virtual-asset market rebounds
After cutting costs throughout 2023, Hex Trust sees the cryptocurrency market’s revival ‘directly translating into profitability’ for the firm Hex Trust chief executive Alessio Quaglini said the company also plans to start discussions on a new funding round Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency custodian Hex Trust is looking to turn a profit and raise fresh funding on the back of a recovery in the virtual-asset market, despite potential regulatory…
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Bitcoin Technical Analysis: BTC Bulls Attempt to Push Prices Higher Post-Halving – Markets and Prices Bitcoin News

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Bitcoin Technical Analysis: BTC Bulls Attempt to Push Prices Higher Post-Halving – Markets and Prices Bitcoin News
Bitcoin Technical Analysis: BTC Bulls Attempt to Push Prices Higher Post-HalvingAs bitcoin fluctuates within a defined range, Monday’s technical analysis reveals a mixed bag of signals from oscillators and moving averages. Traders face a nuanced landscape on April 22, 2024, as various charts suggest both caution and opportunity. Bitcoin Bitcoin’s (BTC) price today stands at $65,974, with a 24-hour trade volume of $19.6 billion and […]
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NFTs, crypto & a web of deceit: How a Bengaluru digital artist was duped

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NFTs, crypto & a web of deceit: How a Bengaluru digital artist was duped

Bengaluru: A dubious website, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and cryptocurrency payments formed the crux of a scam that saw a 71-year-old digital artist in East Bengaluru getting conned into paying about Rs 1.58 lakh over a non-existent sale.

Shivaprasad R (name changed), a practising chartered accountant (CA), said he began doing digital art during the Covid-19 pandemic and nearly 50 of his paintings were part of several exhibitions in Bengaluru. His works were also uploaded on his Facebook and Instagram accounts.

In October 2023, a person claiming to be an NFT art dealer on Facebook introduced Shivaprasad to www.nfttradeplace.com — a marketplace for NFTs which are digital certificates of ownership for unique items like art, music, etc. stored on a blockchain that works as a digital ledger. Unlike cryptocurrencies, NFTs are distinct and cannot be exchanged on a like-for-like basis.

The “art dealer” told the artist that he was interested in his paintings and offered to buy them. Next, “negotiations” were held through Facebook and email, and 42 Ethereum (ETH) — a type of cryptocurrency worth approximately Rs 1.09 crore as of April 17, when the complaint was filed — was decided as the price.

“The bill was quoted by the victim during the negotiations,” a cybercrime investigator told DH.

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Shivaprasad listed four paintings — Climactic, Wuhan Effect-1, Welcome to Kashmir and Climactic (second copy) — with 10, 10, 10 and 12 ETH as going rates, respectively. On February 1, 2024, he made the first payment and sent 0.115 ETH, equivalent to Rs 21,653.72, as “Gas Fee” or transaction fee.

“The victim made the payment from his crypto wallet, which he set up at the scammer’s behest,” the investigator said. As the sale was completed, Shivaprasad raised his first withdrawal request of 6 ETH. He waited for a few days, but no transaction was made. When he checked again, Shivaprasad was asked to pay a “delay fee” as he had held up the withdrawal of the cryptocurrency.

“This delay fee was never discussed nor was it exhibited on the website,” Shivaprasad said in his complaint. “Helpless, since I did not have ETH in my wallet, I asked if I could make the delay fee payment in Indian rupees,” he said.

The fraudsters accepted Shivaprasad’s request and as instructed on the website, the victim made four payments to Mohammed Ekramul Haque and Mohammad Farooq through bank and UPI transfers on February 5 (two payments of Rs 25,000 each), February 6 (Rs 22,000), and February 9 (Rs 50,000).

The last payment of Rs 15,000 was made to SK Humayun through PhonePe on March 15. “Even after making the above-said payments, the website kept asking me for further payments for the withdrawal of 6 ETH,” Shivaprasad said. He added that he hadn’t raised a request for the balance cryptocurrency as he was worried about more demands for payment.

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His request to deduct the delay fees from the amount of sale and remit the rest was ignored. 

On April 17, he reached out to the cyber police who opened a case under 66C (punishment for identity theft) and 66D (punishment for cheating by personation by using computer resources) of the Information Technology (IT) Act and 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

“The first red flag was when the victim had to pay money in the form of fees,” an officer said. “It is highly difficult to trace cryptocurrency trails. As of now, bank details and domain details of the email address used by the scammers have been sought,” the officer said.

The sale that wasn’t 

The scam centred around a website posing as a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace Conman targets senior digital artist, feigning interest in his work Negotiations made through social media and email, with a high cryptocurrency price set for the art Despite completing the sale, fund withdrawal blocked by a ‘delay fee’ Multiple payments extracted from the victim under various pretexts.

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(Published 22 April 2024, 02:17 IST)

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Bankman-Fried Agrees to Help FTX Investors Sue Celebrity Crypto Promoters

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Bankman-Fried Agrees to Help FTX Investors Sue Celebrity Crypto Promoters

A group of FTX investors has agreed to drop legal claims against Sam Bankman-Fried.

In exchange, the disgraced former crypto exchange CEO will cooperate in the investors’ suits against other defendants stemming from FTX’s collapse, including various celebrities paid to promote the exchange, according to court documents filed Friday (April 19).

The settlement, first reported by Bloomberg News, comes weeks after Bankman-Fried was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the fraud that led to the multibillion dollar collapse of FTX in November of 2022.

Former investors and customers in FTX have sued some of the people who endorsed the company when it was flying high, alleging they helped further the exchange’s fraud.

According to the settlement, the plaintiffs believe Bankman-Fried has “knowledge and other information” the plaintiffs find valuable in that case. As part of the agreement, Bankman-Fried would also hand over non-privileged documents that list his assets and his investment in artificial intelligence (AI) startup Anthropic, as well as an affidavit certifying his net worth as negative.

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He will also turn over any information he has on venture capital firms that invested in FTX and attorneys and accountants who worked for the company.

Even before criminal charges were filed against Bankman-Fried, a group of investors sued FTX’s celebrity endorsers — a group that includes Tom Brady, Gisele Bündchen, and Shaquille O’Neal — for securities law violations, claiming they failed to conduct proper due diligence.

The suit was filed in federal court in Miami in November 2022, days after FTX declared bankruptcy and weeks before Bankman-Fried was accused of using customer funds to finance investments, real estate purchases and political donations.

Last week’s settlement came days after Bankman-Fried appealed his conviction and sentence, part of what could be a yearslong process.

A report April 11 by Reuters noted that Bankman-Fried’s former lawyer, Mark Cohen, argued at a conference that day there was a disparity between his ex-client’s 25-year sentence and Binance founder Changpeng Zhao’s for violating anti-money laundering laws, which will likely be no more than 18 months.

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The 25-year sentence was less than the 40- to 50-year prison term that prosecutors were seeking, but far more than the five to six years pushed by Bankman-Fried’s lawyers.

“At the end of the day, the criminal justice system thrives only if it’s seen as fair,” Judge Lewis Kaplan said when announcing the sentencing. “People need to feel it is fair, or we’re back to trial by combat. The punishment must fit the seriousness of the crime. And this was a serious crime.”

 


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