Mystery Hacker Walks Away with $200 Million in QuadrigaCX Bitcoin

• Over 100 bitcoin belonging to collapsed crypto exchange QuadrigaCX has left wallets tied to the exchange, with a majority flowing through a privacy tool.
• QuadrigaCX collapsed in January 2019 after its founder apparently passed away in India and it was revealed that the exchange owed thousands of customers around $200 million in crypto.
• Ernst and Young, the company’s bankruptcy trustee, revealed it had accidentally sent over 100 bitcoin to Quadriga’s cold wallets which it could not access. Last Friday, someone pulled all 104 BTC out and moved at least 70 or so of that to Wasabi Wallet, a privacy service.

In January 2019, the crypto world was stunned by the collapse of QuadrigaCX, a Canadian crypto exchange. The exchange’s founder and CEO, Gerald Cotten, had apparently passed away in India due to complications from Crohn’s disease. It later came out that the exchange owed thousands of customers around $200 million in crypto.

Ernst and Young, a Big Four auditor, was appointed as the company’s bankruptcy trustee and has spent much of the last few years investigating Quadriga, trying to find the company’s assets and recover what funds it could. The Canada Revenue Agency is also digging into Quadriga, checking on taxes the exchange may not have filed when it was operating.

In February 2019, EY revealed it had accidentally sent over 100 bitcoin (BTC) to what it described as Quadriga’s cold wallets, which it could not access. Last Friday, someone pulled all 104 BTC out. And promptly moved at least 70 or so of that to Wasabi Wallet, a privacy service. This implies that someone hacked the wallets of the collapsed exchange, raising further questions as to who is behind this and where the funds are going.

EY confirmed it wasn’t anyone on the auditor’s team, leaving the crypto community to speculate who the perpetrator might be. Many have suggested it might be an insider or an entity with access to Quadriga’s private keys.

It is still unclear what the implications of this news are for the creditors of QuadrigaCX. EY is still trying to trace the funds, but the fact that the funds were moved to a privacy wallet makes it difficult to track. The news has also reignited discussion around the dangers of centralized exchanges and the importance of keeping private keys safe.

It is likely that the funds will never be recovered, and it is a stark reminder of the risks of investing in crypto, particularly with centralized exchanges. QuadrigaCX is a cautionary tale, and one that will be remembered for years to come.

Brazil Approves Crypto Assets for Investment Funds: Access to Crypto Market Expands

• The Brazilian Securities and Exchange Commission (CVM) has approved the ability for investment funds to include crypto assets among their holdings.
• In order to be part of fund portfolios, crypto assets must follow a set of criteria established by a new law passed by Jair Bolsonaro.
• The criteria includes that the crypto assets must be traded in entities authorized by the Central Bank of Brazil or the CVM, or by a local supervisor in the case of operations abroad.

The Brazilian Securities and Exchange Commission (CVM) has taken an important step towards the adoption of cryptocurrency in the country. On Friday, the CVM approved the inclusion of digital assets in investment funds in the country. This move is expected to increase the access of many investors to the crypto market.

In a statement, the regulator explained that the decision seeks to allow funds to operate in the crypto segment while paying attention to controls related to the integrity and ownership of the assets. The CVM noted that it will enable funds to access the crypto segment in a secure and supervised manner.

In order to be part of fund portfolios, the CVM said that crypto assets must follow a set of criteria in line with a new regulatory framework established in a law enacted by the outgoing president, Jair Bolsonaro, on Thursday. The criteria includes that the crypto assets must be traded in entities authorized by either the Central Bank of Brazil or the CVM, or – in the case of operations abroad – by a local supervisor.

The CVM also noted that crypto assets must be issued and traded in compliance with the applicable regulations, including the Brazilian Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter Terrorist Financing (CTF) regulations. Additionally, the CVM requires that the crypto assets must be held in segregated wallets and that the funds must have systems in place to ensure that they can monitor the transactions they make in digital assets.

The new law is a major step forward for the crypto industry in Brazil, as it will open the door to institutional investors and expand the access of many investors to the crypto market. The CVM expects that the new framework will enable funds to participate in the crypto segment in a secure and supervised manner.

The approval of the new regulations is the latest development in the crypto space in Brazil. In recent months, the country has seen a surge in the interest in cryptocurrency, particularly with the emergence of new players such as exchanges and payment processors. The new regulations are expected to further boost the adoption of cryptocurrency in the country.

Low Crypto Adoption Can Lead to More Informed Decisions

• Pareidolia is a phenomenon where people see patterns where there aren’t any, often with helpful effects in the wild.
• Association fallacies are used to resist progress and can be seen in crypto, where the actions of one bad actor can overshadow the positive impacts of the technology.
• David Z. Morris of The Giving Block argues that the lower adoption rate of crypto is beneficial, as it allows for more thoughtful and informed decisions to be made.

The world of cryptocurrency has been met with both excitement and trepidation. It has been heralded as a revolutionary technology that can bring about great change, yet it has also been criticized for its lack of adoption, its uncertain legality, and its susceptibility to malicious actors. But what many don’t realize is that the low adoption rate of cryptocurrency can actually be beneficial.

David Z. Morris, co-founder of The Giving Block, explains this concept in his article „There’s Less Money in Crypto, and That’s a Good Thing.“ To begin, Morris examines the phenomenon of pareidolia, which is the tendency to see patterns where there are none. In the wild, this can be helpful in detecting predators, but when it comes to decision-making, it can lead to faulty conclusions. Morris then discusses how association fallacies are used to resist progress, and how this can be seen in the crypto space, where one bad actor can undo the progress of the whole industry.

Morris then argues that the lower adoption rate of cryptocurrency is beneficial, as it allows for more thoughtful and informed decisions to be made. He explains that the instinct to see nefarious patterns where there are none, combined with default bias (preferring the devil you know to the devil you don’t), can lead to irrational decisions. With a low adoption rate, people have more time to research, analyze, and explore the potential of cryptocurrency without being overwhelmed by the hype.

Ultimately, Morris believes that cryptocurrency is a technology that can bring about great change and that its lower adoption rate is beneficial, as it allows for more informed decision-making. He argues that while one bad actor can taint the whole industry, the positive impacts of cryptocurrency should be celebrated, as it has already changed the lives of many around the world. By taking the time to carefully research and analyze the technology, we can ensure that the potential of cryptocurrency is realized and that the misdeeds of one don’t deny the future of many.

2 Million Investors Lose Funds to Rug Pull Scams: Report

• A new report from blockchain risk monitoring firm Solidus Labs shows that fraudsters deployed over 117,000 scam tokens from Jan. 1 to Dec. 1, 2022, a 41% increase over the full 2021.
• 8% of all Ethereum tokens and 12% of all BNB Chain tokens are programmed to execute rug pulls.
• Almost 2 million investors have lost funds to rug pull tokens.

The blockchain industry is one of the most volatile in the world, and 2022 has proven to be one of its worst years yet. A new report from blockchain risk monitoring firm Solidus Labs has revealed that fraudsters deployed over 117,000 scam tokens in the first eleven months of the year, a 41% increase from the entire 2021.

One of the most popular methods of scamming digital-asset markets is known as the “rug pull.” This involves creating a token, funding its liquidity pool, and then removing all the liquidity after an initial rush of people buy the token. Unfortunately, such scams have gone undetected in the past, and Solidus Labs‘ report reveals that 8% of all Ethereum tokens and 12% of all BNB Chain tokens are programmed to execute rug pulls.

The report also showed that fraudsters have used crypto-to-fiat exchanges to both seed their scams and launder their proceeds, depositing and withdrawing a total of $11 billion worth of ETH from 153 different centralized finance (CeFi) exchanges. As a result, almost 2 million investors have already lost their funds due to rug pull tokens.

The numbers are staggering, and it’s clear that the blockchain industry needs to take steps to combat fraudulent activities. Solidus Labs believes that traditional approaches to scam identification are inadequate, and that new technologies and methods are necessary to identify and stop such scams. With the right measures in place, the blockchain industry can protect investors and ensure the integrity of the market.

SEC Boosts Crypto Regulation with Near-Doubled Enforcement Team in 2023

• The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is continuing to regulate crypto assets by enforcement in 2023, with a nearly doubled team size.
• The SEC believes that the “vast majority” of crypto assets are securities, while non-fungible tokens may be investigated.
• SEC Chair Gary Gensler is taking an approach similar to his tenure at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), disregarding industry opposition and leveraging existing frameworks.

Crypto-assets have been on the rise for the past decade, since Satoshi introduced the world to the peer-to-peer electronic cash system called Bitcoin. As the crypto-asset sector grows, so does the need for regulatory oversight. In the U.S., the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) are the primary crypto-asset market regulators. After one of the most eventful years in crypto to date, what can we expect from these two agencies in 2023?

The SEC is leading the charge when it comes to crypto-asset regulation, and in early 2022 the agency nearly doubled the size of its crypto-asset enforcement team. SEC Chair Gary Gensler believes that the “vast majority” of crypto assets are securities, with only a few that may not be. While Gensler has said that he may not “think CryptoKitties is a security,” the SEC is reportedly still investigating non-fungible tokens.

The SEC regards many crypto assets as a type of security called an “investment contract.” According to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in SEC v. W.J. Howey & Co., an investment contract is a contract, transaction or scheme whereby an investor invests money in a common enterprise with a reasonable expectation of profits to be derived from the entrepreneurial or managerial efforts of others.

Chair Gensler’s approach to regulating crypto assets is similar to his approach when he was previously chairman of the CFTC. During his tenure at the CFTC, Gensler implemented new swap market regulations under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was enacted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. His SEC tenure is similarly disregarding industry opposition and leveraging the existing futures regulatory framework.

With the SEC’s enforcement team nearly doubled in size, and the agency’s Chair taking a firm stance on crypto-asset regulation, we can expect the agency to remain a major player in the crypto-asset space in 2023. The CFTC is also expected to play a key role in crypto-asset regulation, with the agency’s chairman pushing for more transparency and accountability in the crypto-asset industry. As crypto-assets continue to evolve, so too will the regulatory landscape surrounding them.

Wash Trading Rampant in NFT Market: Over $30B Traded Illegally

• A recent report has revealed that wash trading is a major problem in the non-fungible token (NFT) market, accounting for 58% of total NFT trade volumes on Ethereum in 2022.
• The researcher used four filters to weed out odd trading behavior that most likely pointed to wash trading.
• Over $30 billion of NFT trading volume from all time could be linked to wash trading, representing about 1.5% of all trades that have taken place on Ethereum.

The non-fungible token (NFT) market has been growing exponentially in recent years, with the trading of digital collectibles such as CryptoKitties and NBA Top Shot packs becoming increasingly popular. Unfortunately, with the rise of this new trading market comes the rise of market manipulation, particularly in the form of wash trading.

Wash trading is a form of market manipulation where the buyer and seller in a transaction are the same or collude together. It is an illegal practice, but one which has unfortunately become increasingly common in the NFT market. To better understand the scope of the problem, a recent report compiled on blockchain data site Dune Analytics has revealed some startling statistics.

According to the analysis, wash trading accounted for over half (58%) of the total NFT trade volumes on Ethereum in 2022. The tactic peaked in January, with wash trading accounting for over 80% of the total NFT trading volume that month. To understand how prevalent the practice has become since the NFT markets emerged, when all of the filters were applied over $30 billion of NFT trading volume from all time could be linked to wash trading. This number is staggering, though it only represents about 1.5% of all trades that have taken place on Ethereum.

To identify wash trading activity, the researcher used four filters. First, they filtered out obvious trades of NFTs between the same wallet address. Second, they looked at back-and-forth trades of the same NFT between two different wallet addresses – one of the most common wash trading tactics. Third, if a wallet address had purchased the same NFT three or more times, it was flagged as a wash trade because of the unlikeliness of the situation. Finally, if a buyer and seller in an NFT transaction had wallets that were first funded by the same wallet, it was obvious that there was a connection between them and was therefore flagged as a wash trade.

The findings of this report are a stark reminder of the need for greater regulation in the NFT market, to ensure that the market is truly a level playing field and that buyers and sellers alike can trust that the transactions they are making are legitimate. Additionally, it is important for NFT buyers to be aware of the risks of wash trading and to do their due diligence before making any purchases. With the right precautions and regulations in place, the NFT market has the potential to become a safe and legitimate trading market for digital collectibles.

Mythical Games Sues Execs for Stealing $150M, Layoffs Follow

• Mythical Games has filed a lawsuit against three former executives for breaching fiduciary duty and stealing plans for raising capital.
• The lawsuit requests that the executives return the stolen funds, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.
• Mythical Games recently laid off 10% of its staff due to the crypto winter.

Mythical Games, a Web3 gaming studio, has recently filed a lawsuit against three of its former executives for allegedly breaching fiduciary duty and stealing plans for raising capital. The lawsuit names Senior Vice President Chris Ko, Chief Operating Officer and Head of Games Matt Nutt, and co-founder Rudy Koch as defendants and seeks to recoup $150 million stolen by the executives and funneled into their new firm, Fenix Games.

In late 2019, Ko, Nutt, and Koch were tasked with acquiring investors for Mythical’s venture capital wing, Mythical Ventures. After announcing their departure from the firm in November, the executives announced that Fenix Games had received funds from Cypher Capital, a lead investor the executives had previously been working with to obtain capital for Mythical Ventures. As a result, Mythical Games has filed a lawsuit on 10 counts, including fraud and breach of contract, as well as requests for restraint against the stolen funds‘ use, compensatory damages, and punitive damages.

In addition to the lawsuit, Mythical Games has recently been facing further financial difficulties due to the crypto winter, leading to the firm laying off 10% of its staff. Last year, Mythical had raised $150 million in a Series C round led by crypto VC Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). In a statement, head of communications at Mythical, Nate Nesbitt, said that “We believe very strongly in the protection of our intellectual property and corporate assets. In this instance, it was necessary to take these steps to rectify this situation and protect the company’s corporate interest, as is our duty to our employees and investors.”

The lawsuit against the three former executives marks a major milestone for Mythical Games, as the firm seeks justice and accountability. However, the financial difficulties the firm is currently facing will likely continue until the crypto market recovers. Fenix Games did not respond to CoinDesk’s request for comment by publication time.

$250 Million Bond: Sam Bankman-Fried Breaks Record with Collateral

• Sam Bankman-Fried walked out of federal court on Thursday after posting a $250 million bond, the largest ever pretrial bond.
• The bond was not paid in cash, but instead was secured through collateral.
• Bankman-Fried was released on house arrest while awaiting trial on multiple fraud charges.

On Thursday, Sam Bankman-Fried made history. The prominent founder of financial services firm FTX walked out of federal court with a record-breaking $250 million bond. Bankman-Fried had been arrested on multiple charges of fraud and was facing a trial. However, his family was able to secure his release on a surety bond.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Roos described the bond as “the largest ever” pretrial bond. Typically, a bail bondsman charges between 10-15% of the bond amount in cash for a surety bond. In this case, 15% of $250 million would have been $37.5 million. However, Bankman-Fried did not pay a dime in cash. Instead, he pled collateral in the full amount of the bond. If he failed to appear in court, the pledged collateral would be forfeited to the court.

Fortunately, Bankman-Fried was able to post the bond and was released on house arrest while he awaits trial. He returned to his parents‘ home in Palo Alto, California, where he will remain under close supervision. The legal implications of the case are far reaching, as former SEC Enforcement Branch Chief and Bragança Law Attorney Lisa Bragança discussed in the media.

While the decision to post the bond was certainly a remarkable one, it is yet to be seen what the outcome of the trial will be. Whatever the result, Bankman-Fried has made his mark on history with this unprecedented bond.