Říj 08

U.S. Senate Candidate Vows to Speak with President Trump About Clemency for Ross Ulbricht

Ross Ulbricht could have a powerful voice advocating for his freedom if U.S. Senate Candidate Eric Brakey is elected.


Cruel and Unusual Punishment?

Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road, is a less than 4 years into his double life sentence for his involvement in running the Silk Road exchange. Since his conviction, a Change.org petition has advocated for a reduction or re-evaluation of his sentence — many view the punishment as cruel and unusual. Still, the chances of the petition succeeding are slim to none. Upon sentencing, the court tossed an additional 40 years on top of Ulbricht’s sentence, and he is not eligible for parole.

Ross Ulbricht

To date, nearly 84,465 people have signed the petition stating that Ulbricht’s investigation and sentencing violates his Fourth and Sixth Amendment rights. The number continues to grow. Furthermore, allegations of investigative corruption, prosecutorial misconduct, and constitutional rights violations are cited as reasons for Ulbricht either needing to receive clemency or the right to appeal his case before the Federal Courts.

While the odds of ever walking freely are certainly stacked against Ulbricht, a recent petition by a U.S. Senate candidate for the state of Maine could bring the possibility of freedom a tad bit closer for Ulbricht.

The Silk Road Lives On

Republican Senate candidate Eric Brakey (D-ME) recently tweeted that Ulbricht has, “very clearly been treated unfairly by our criminal justice system.” In addition to signing his change.org petition, Brakey found the fact that “the judge considered pending charges during sentencing that were later dismissed due to corruption by federal investigators […] terrible.” Brakey has promised to raise the issue with President Trump “when I win election to the U.S. Senate this November.” Ulbricht and Brakey have now exchanged a series of tweets, and Ulbricht affectionately refers to Brakey as his “new favorite Senate candidate”.

The Supreme Courts Adds an Extra Nail to the Coffin

In June of 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Ulbricht’s petition for a writ of certiorari. This essentially permanently prevents Ulrich from appealing his punishment before the Supreme Court. This move motivated the Libertarian Party to draft and pass a resolution appealing to President Trump to provide a full, unconditional pardon to Ulbricht. 

Sen. Eric Brakey (D-ME)

Ulbricht’s involvement with The Silk Road marred the public’s perception of cryptocurrency, but as blockchain and cryptocurrency adoption by the wider public and international businesses has grown, the negative image has begun to dissipate. Furthermore, a growing number of people are also beginning to question the severity of Ulbricht’s sentencing as the drug policies of numerous states change, and the nature of online marketplaces evolves.

Do you think Ross Ulbricht should receive clemency from President Trump? Share your thoughts in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives, EricBrakey.com, Shutterstock.

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Bře 20

4 Ways Criminals Are Trying to Cash out Their Bitcoin

· March 20, 2018 · 2:30 pm

Due to the increased spotlight on cryptocurrency, criminals are finding it more difficult to cash out their Bitcoin for fiat, but they are finding ways to do so.


A common media portrayal is that of a criminal who plies their trade on the Dark Web and amassing a fortune in Bitcoin. It is true that the daddy of cryptocurrency can be used for all manner of illicit transactions, but an interesting phenomenon is now occurring. While some criminals have amassed a veritable fortune in bitcoins, they are finding it increasingly difficult to cash out the cryptocurrency to fiat. However, they are finding some ingenious ways to do so.

money

A Hard Knock Life

A recent report by Vice highlights this issue that criminals are having. People who conduct illicit business on the Dark Web, such as selling stolen information or malware, are making some serious money, but they are facing obstacles in converting that digital wealth into actual fiat currency.

The main reason for this problem is that cryptocurrency is the victim of its own success. The massive surge in value towards the end of 2017 shone a very bright spotlight upon the cryptocurrency sphere, catching the attention of law enforcement and regulatory bodies.

The increasing acceptance of cryptocurrency has led to more regulations being put into place, such as exchanges requiring verifiable information from its users. Law enforcement has also become more adept at infiltrating the seedy underbelly of the crypto sphere, not to mention keeping a sharp eye on large-scale transactions.

Some Savvy Criminals

This increased scrutiny has led criminals to try to cash out their Bitcoin. Swiss bankers have reported being contacted and offered a 10% payment if they could facilitate large-scale transfers; offers that they have, so far, rejected.

cybercriminal

However, criminals can be an ingenious lot at times. A few methods for cashing out their bitcoins were revealed to Vice. One such method is using Western Union. An online drug dealer says he uses services that will automatically transfer cryptocurrency to accounts belonging to Western Union. Then he uses another person to pick up the fiat.

Probably the safest way to cash out is to sell the Bitcoin to a trusted person in the real world. A malware seller tells Vice that he regularly sells cryptocurrency to a local person a few times per week, who then leaves a bag of cash on their porch a few hours after the crypto is transferred. Another method is to work with a company that charges pre-paid debit cards with cryptocurrency. Criminals note that the card issuer does not know what is being used to charge the card as another company handles that. If the card requires some documents, fake ones can be procured on the Dark Web.

Law enforcement notes that another viable option for criminals is to use a bank in Eastern Europe. Regulations dealing with cryptocurrency are much more lax in that particular region. In fact, Europe is currently known as a weak link when it comes to money-laundering and cryptocurrency. Even now, such enforcement is not high on the EU list of priorities, which is something that cybercriminals are very aware of. In addition, criminals are now moving away from Bitcoin and into other cryptocurrencies that are far more private.

Do you think criminals will always find a way to cash out their cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Pexels, Pixabay, and Bitcoinist archives.

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Úno 17

Chicago Trader Steals Over $2 Million in Bitcoin and Litecoin Cryptocurrency

· February 17, 2018 · 10:30 am

A Chicago trader is facing up to 20 years in prison for stealing over $2 million in Bitcoin and Litecoin cryptocurrency from his employer.


Most 24-year-olds would be quite happy to be attached to a new cryptocurrency unit for a major financial entity. That’s not a bad career path for someone who previously worked as a cryptocurrency trader in South Korea before joining Consolidated Trading LLC to become an assistant bond trader in July 2016. A new department looking to dive into the burgeoning crypto world is a great stepping stone for moving up. That is unless that person is a degenerate gambler. Such is the case of Joseph Kim, who stole over $2 million in Litecoin and Bitcoin cryptocurrency from his employer.

Chicago

Stealing Begins Almost Immediately

The cryptocurrency group was created by Consolidated in September 2017, and Joseph Kim joined the unit sometime during that month. He had his own personal cryptocurrency accounts, which he informed his employer of, and he was told to cease all personal trading to avoid a conflict of interest.

However, Kim transferred 980 litecoins (worth $48,000) on a weekend shortly after joining the new unit. When a supervisor found out, Kim said he transferred the coins to a “personal digital wallet for safety reasons” due to issues he was having with Bitfinex, the cryptocurrency exchange in Hong Kong. He then said that the coins had been transferred to a Consolidated wallet (which was untrue).

In November, the trader then sent 55 bitcoins (value of $433,000) from Consolidated into an unknown account. When confronted on this transfer, Kim said that the transfer had been blocked and that he was taking steps to unblock it. He later sent back 27 bitcoins into the corporate account, leaving 28 in his possession.

The Sizes Get Bigger

Eventually, Kim transferred 284 bitcoins (worth $2.8 million) from the company’s account into a personal wallet. He later sent back 102 of those coins into the Consolidated account, after which he then transferred the remaining 182 coins into a different account. Of that last amount, Kim lost a portion of it by personally trading.

Cryptocurrency gambling

When eventually confronted over all the transfers, Kim admitted to investing in short future positions using 55 bitcoins. He continued stealing cryptocurrency from the company to cover his margin calls, losses, and personal investments. After being arrested, Kim said that he was a degenerate gambler and admitted to converting the stolen Litecoin into Bitcoin for investment purposes.

Eventually, Consolidated managed to recover roughly 144 bitcoins from Kim’s various personal wallets. The financial company lost about $603,000 overall from the rogue trader’s gambling addiction.

In an email to his superiors at Consolidated, Kim said:

It was not my intention to steal for myself. I was perversely trying to fix what I had already done. I can’t believe I did not stop.

Investment gambling is real, and cryptocurrency is just a new avenue for some to indulge in the practice. The US Attorney has charged Joseph Kim with wire fraud, which could net him up to 20 years in prison. Kim has also made history, of a sort. He’s the first person in Chicago to be charged with wire fraud in regards to cryptocurrency.

Do you think that we’ll see more cases of traders pilfering cryptocurrency to fuel their gambling addiction in the future? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Pixabay and Bitcoinist archives.

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Úno 16

Optioment Bitcoin Scam Triggers Europe-Wide Manhunt

· February 16, 2018 · 10:30 am

After possibly thousands of investors got burned by arbitrage-trading company Optioment last year, Austrian authorities have asked Interpol to help track down the fraudsters responsible for the Bitcoin scam.


Another Bitcoin Scam Burns Buyers

European authorities are on the hunt for criminals involved in defrauding thousands of individuals and losing over $100 million worth of investors’ Bitcoin.

According to reports, Optioment ran a now-defunct website while holding large-scale events in Austria — in which the company advertised itself as a “private Costa Rica-based Bitcoin fund” promising unrealistic returns. Law firm Lansky, Ganzger & Partner claims Optioment promised weekly interest payments upwards of 4 percent on long-term Bitcoin deposits, with the added incentivization of inviting new users.

Optioment apparently paid out returns on a timely basis at the beginning of its operation, which boosted investor confidence and encouraged users to reinvest in the scheme. Sometime around the massive bull run in November and December of last year, however, the returns stopped coming, and the fraudulent scheme collapsed.

Spokeswoman Christina Ratz told Bloomberg that prosecutors in Vienna are consolidating “hundreds of complaints” against the fraudulent company, and Die Presse originally reported that upwards of 10,000 individuals have been victimized, resulting in roughly 12,000 lost bitcoins — currently worth an estimated $118.5 million at the time of this writing.

Interpol

According to Bloomberg, no arrests have yet been made, but Interpol has been asked to investigate individuals in Denmark, Latvia, and Germany.

Reinforcing European Rhetoric

The hunt for Optioment’s operators comes at a time when some European countries are calling for a crackdown on cryptocurrency.

French Finance Minister Bruno le Maire and interim German Finance Minister Peter Altmaier have gone on record to state that cryptocurrencies are risky for investors and threaten long-term global financial stability.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has also expressed concerns over cryptocurrency’s criminal usage, stating that she is looking “very seriously” at cryptocurrencies “because of the way they are used, particularly by criminals.”

EU

Additionally, European Central Bank board member Yves Mersch has recently stated that cryptocurrencies are “not money, nor will they be for the foreseeable future.”

Most recently, the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) have also recently issued a press release warning consumers of the dangers associated with buying cryptocurrency.

Do you think scams like Optioment are permanently damaging the reputation of cryptocurrency in Europe and around the world? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/@Plani and Bitcoinist archives.

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Úno 11

New Jersey Cracks Down on Fraudulent Bitstrade

· February 11, 2018 · 7:00 am

Following the fallout from fraudulent Ponzi-scheme Bitconnect’s demise, New Jersey has officially ordered cryptocurrency investment entity Bitstrade to stop offering unregistered and fraudulent securities in the state.


New Jersey regulators have uncovered yet another fraudulent cryptocurrency investment company.

The announcement comes by way of Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs and has been ordered by the Bureau of Securities after an investigation found Bitstrade to be in violation of New Jersey’s Uniform Securities Law.

ponzi scheme

Bitstrade was found to have sold unregistered securities while guaranteeing upwards of 10 percent daily returns, despite lacking a proper registration to sell securities in New Jersey.

Bitstrade also failed to disclose what have been deemed “key material facts” to prospective investors, including an official address, the names of its executive officers, the company’s financial status, potential risks to investors, and how investors’ money is used. Attorney General Grewal stated:

The Bureau’s action today reinforces our commitment to protecting investors as they navigate the uncharted and largely unregulated domain of cryptocurrency-related investments. We want to make sure that investors tempted to cash in on the cryptocurrency rage aren’t being lured into sending funds to an anonymous internet entity without knowing where the funds are going or how they’ll be used.

A visit to Bitstrade’s official website indicates that all signs indeed lead to a Ponzi scheme.

The company claims to be registered in the United States and purports to guarantee “outstanding returns” by “working as an investment pool, collecting multiple lower value investments and grouping them into one single HUGE investment, using those funds to trade on the stock market”—without any actual information as to how they use investors money.

BitConnect Sued By 6 Investors Who Lost Over $700K

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. According to Sharon M. Joyce, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs:

What makes Bitstrade’s fraudulent offer potentially more harmful for unsophisticated investors is that cryptocurrency is virtually anonymous, so there is no recourse for investors to recoup their losses. We’re reminding investors to be extra vigilant about fully vetting what is being sold before investing with cryptocurrency.

The Bureau additionally found Bitstrade’s Redland, California and Scottsdale, Arizona addresses to be falsified.

According to Christopher W. Gerold, Chief of the Bureau of Securities, “Bitstrade is a prime example of a company seeking to capitalize on the cryptocurrency craze. Regulators, including the Bureau, are actively responding to fraudulent crypto-cloaked securities offerings.”

Bitstrade requires purchases be made with Bitcoin.

Do you think Bitstrade is a Ponzi scheme? Do you agree that state regulators should actively try to prevent individuals from investing in fraudulent companies? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives.

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Led 28

Masked Gunmen Steal ‘Fortune’ in Bitcoin in Daylight UK Robbery

· January 28, 2018 · 9:00 am

The very first UK Bitcoin robbery occurred when four armed men broke into a home and forced a crypto trader to transfer a “fortune” in Bitcoin.


The meteoric rise of Bitcoin over the course of 2017 featured a number of positive effects. A lot of people made a good deal of money, and media and public interest in cryptocurrency reached new heights. However, a downside to such attention is that criminals now see physically stealing Bitcoin or money used to buy crypto as a viable way to make money. A family in the UK found this out the hard way when four armed men broke into their home and forced the husband to transfer his bitcoins.

UK Bitcoin robbery

Terrifying Ordeal

It’s being called the first Bitcoin robbery in the UK, and it took place in Moulsford, Oxfordshire, a wealthy enclave, during the morning hours. The criminals broke into the home belonging to a cryptocurrency trader and his family.

The criminals were armed with handguns and wearing balaclavas. They tied up the trader’s wife and put the couple’s baby outside in a pram before forcing the trader to transfer over a “fortune” in bitcoins. (The exact amount that was stolen has not been disclosed.)

The criminals then fled, and the police manhunt began immediately after. A police helicopter was used in an effort to locate the hoodlums, but to no avail. Nearby schools were put on lockdown. Police are asking for any camera footage that shows four suspicious males in the area during the early morning hours.

One woman apparently saw the criminals. She describes:

I saw four young men in black tracksuits with the hoods pulled up, crossing the road to the property where it took place. They were aged 18 to 25, dark-skinned and super-fit. They jumped over the fence on the other side of the road. I didn’t see any gun, but that’s what people locally are saying – and that the men wore balaclavas which I didn’t see either, just the hoodies pulled up.

Bitcoin robbery

Media Hyperventilates on Bitcoin

Fortunately, no one in the family was injured during the Bitcoin robbery. Since the media has no blood and gore to wheeze on about, they’re drudging back up the same old tired talking points that Bitcoin is used mainly for illicit means.

Naturally, this is ludicrous as the blockchain is pure transparency. The UK-based cybersecurity firm Elliptic recently released a report that shows less than 1% of all Bitcoin transactions originate for criminal reasons. Of course, hard facts do little to hinder media speculation on Bitcoin and illegal activities.

While the rise of cryptocurrencies is tremendous, there is a dark side. There’s been a number of recent criminal attacks upon individuals with a connection to crypto. There has been a kidnapping and multiple accounts of robberies over the last month or so. Sadly, such instances are likely to continue as long as cryptocurrencies continue to gain in value.

Are you worried about the seeming rise of Bitcoin robberies? What can be done to stop them? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Pxhere and Bitcoinist archives.

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Led 27

FBI Warns About Bitcoin Murder Scam

· January 27, 2018 · 7:00 am

A new extortion scheme has caught the attention of the FBI in which a Bitcoin scam is undertaken through an emailed death threat.


There are lots of ways that crooks try to extort money from their victims via the internet. Some of their tricks of the trade include sending infected emails or remote hacking. However, a new extortion attempt is proving to be downright scary and has attracted the attention of the FBI. Basically, the extortion attempt is a Bitcoin scam in which the victim is threatened with murder unless they pay up.

Scared for Your Life

One victim told her story to the media. She said that she received an email that said, “I will be short. I’ve got an order to kill you.” Her only recourse to supposedly save her life was to pay the would-be-assassin $2,800 in Bitcoin.

Needless to say, the victim was scared to hell by this murderous Bitcoin scam. She told the media:

I knew no one was tracking me. But I found myself as I was on my way to work looking around. Are any cars following me? Does anyone look suspicious?

Online Death Threats Not Uncommon

While one would think that such an incident would be rare, it’s actually more common than you think. The victim contacted the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center over the death threat.

death threat emails

About the agency’s website, FBI agent Laura Eimiller says:

We receive an average of 800 complaints a day in the United States on that site. We believe it represents about 15 percent of the scams that are actually taking place, so it is heavily underreported.

Agent Eimiller goes on to say that if you’re online, chances are that you will be victimized multiple times with various scams and threats. She adds that the current Bitcoin scam involving death threats is easy money for criminals as they rely upon volume.

FBI

She states:

If only 1 percent of people send money to them, there’s no overhead for them. That is money in the bank.

Police authorities say that even educated professionals have been lured in by the emails. The reason being that the emails containing the death threats have been carefully constructed. In short, this isn’t your old Nigerian scam email. Plus, having a death threat show up in your inbox is enough to freak any sane person out.

While the internet does allow us instant communication and access across the world, it does open us up to attacks from bad guys just using a keyboard. The best thing to do if you get such a murderous Bitcoin scam email is to not answer it. Contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and register a complaint.

Have you ever received a death threat in an email? If so, what did you do? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Pixabay, Wikimedia Commons, and Bitcoinist archives.

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Led 25

Ottawa Police Hunting for Armed Bitcoin Robbery Suspects

· January 25, 2018 · 8:00 am

Police in Ottawa, Canada, are on the manhunt for armed Bitcoin robbery suspects who staged an attempted daylight robbery of a Bitcoin financial business.


The world of crypto can become a dangerous place at times. This usually occurs when someone ventures out to personally buy bitcoins from an buyer they do not know, all the while carrying quite a bit of cash. Yet even a cryptocurrency business is not a safe guarantee, as was evident by Ukrainian police seizing crypto assets from the Forklog founder recently. The latest incident of a Bitcoin robbery took place in Ottawa, Canada, where armed men tried to rob a Bitcoin business.

Gunning for Bitcoin

On January 23rd, three men entered a Bitcoin financial business located in an industrial park in Ottawa at around 11am. (So far, the business has not been named in media reports.) All three men were armed with handguns.

The robbers took control of four employees that worked at the business and bound them. One of the bound employees was hit in the head with a pistol during the ordeal. (The employee later required some medical attention at the hospital.) A fifth employee was not detected by the criminals, and he was able to contact the police.

Armed Hosers on the Loose

The criminals then fled the business empty-handed. Police noted that one of the Bitcoin robbery suspects fled into a nearby ravine. They were then able to track him down and arrest him. The suspect has been identified as 19-year-old Jimmy St-Hilaire. He’s been charged with the following crimes:

  • Five (5) counts of robbery with a firearm
  • Five (5) counts of point a firearm
  • Five (5) counts of forcible confinement
  • Wear disguise
  • Conspiracy to Commit and indictable offence
  • Carry concealed weapon
  • Possess firearm while prohibited
  • Possess weapon for committing an offence
  • Possess loaded regulated firearm

The other two criminals are still on the lam, and the police are putting on a massive manhunt looking for them. The Ottawa police are also looking for a person of interest who was in the business when the robbery began but who later fled the scene. People who work at other businesses within the industrial park have been shaken by the Bitcoin robbery attempt, especially as it took place during daylight hours.

One wonders what the criminals were hoping to gain from the robbery. It may be that the business had cash on hand to handle cryptocurrency buying and selling. Perhaps they were hoping to force the employees to transfer funds to a specific address. Whatever the reason for the robbery attempt, it is fortunate that the employees were not seriously hurt.

Overall, the public’s fascination with Bitcoin, along with the massive gains it made in 2017, have emboldened some criminals to physically rob or even kidnap people in order to obtain some ill-gotten gains.

Will crypto robbery attempts become an everyday occurrence? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Twitter/@JudyTrinhCBC and Pexels.

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Led 14

Pay Up or Else! Indiana Hospital Latest Victim of Ransomware Attack

· January 14, 2018 · 7:15 am

Hancock Regional Hospital in Indiana is the latest victim of a ransomware attack by hackers who are demanding a payment in bitcoins.


Technology is definitely a two-edged blade. The lightning-fast speed offered by the internet allows for people to connect instantly with each other from all over the world. Movies can be streamed, video conferences attended, and online games played due to the innovations made in tech over the last twenty years. On the flip side, such connectivity also allows criminals to target individuals and businesses from anywhere in the world just by the use of some malicious code. The latest example of this is a hospital in Indiana that has suffered a ransomware attack.

Hospital Held Hostage

Hackers making ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly commonplace. Sadly, even hospitals are now being targeted by criminals. Hancock Regional Hospital, located in Indiana, revealed that they had been attacked last Thursday evening.

Hospital employees were aware of the attack immediately. However, hackers were able to affect the hospital’s internal operating systems, email system, and electronic health records. Hospital officials stress that no patient information was compromised. The hackers demanded a sum of bitcoins to release the systems, but the hospital has refused to pay. (The total amount of the demanded ransom has not been released.)

Using Pen and Paper

The hospital initially had an IT incident response company look into the matter, but it turns out the attack was beyond their scope. Now the FBI has been called in.

Fortunately, the hospital is still able to function despite the ransomware attack. However, they are now forced to keep pen and paper records.

The official statement from Hancock Regional Hospital about the hacking attack states:

Hancock Regional Hospital has been the victim of a criminal act by an unknown party that attempted to shut down out operations via our information systems by locking our computer network and demanding payment for a digital key to unlock it. Unfortunately this sort of behavior is widespread in the world today, and we had the misfortune to be next on the list. We are working closely with an IT incident response company and national law enforcement. At this time, we are deep into the analysis of the situation and see no indication that patient records have been removed from our network. In addition to excellent performance by our IT Department, our clinical teams have performed exceptionally well, and patient care has not been compromised. Our doors are open at Hancock Regional Hospital.

A Growing Problem

Hancock Regional Hospital is the latest in a long line of businesses and entities that have suffered a ransomware attack. Credit agency Equifax was hit with a $2.3 ransom demand back in September. Then the Sacramento Regional Transit system was attacked in November, with the hackers demanding a single bitcoin in ransom. Last December saw the county government of Mecklenburg, North Carolina, having their server files held for a 2 bitcoin ransom.

It’s a given that ransomware attacks are going to continue. The fact that every government agency, business, and health care facility are all connected online provides an abundance of victims that hackers can target, no matter where they’re located in the world.

Do you think the hospital should pay the ransomware demand? Will such attacks increase in frequency in the near future? Let us know what you think in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Pixabay, Pxhere, and Bitcoinist archives.

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Pro 12

Media Hyperventilates and Dubs Owner of Bitcoin ATMs the Bitcoin Bandit

· December 12, 2017 · 3:15 am

In the never-ending cycle of mainstream news casting the worst possible light upon Bitcoin, the owner of a UK Bitcoin ATM company has been dubbed the Bitcoin Bandit due to his criminal past.


Mainstream coverage of Bitcoin has always been pretty checkered. While some media outlets undertake responsible journalism to understand what cryptocurrency is and why people are flocking to use it, other outlets prefer to tie Bitcoin to criminal gangs, drug purchases, and money laundering. The most recent example of this is the Daily Mail dubbing the owner of a Bitcoin ATM business in the United Kingdom the “Bitcoin Bandit.”

A Violent Past

The Daily Mail was quite breathless in their account of Landry Ntahe, the owner of a Bitcoin ATM company in the UK called BCB ATM. From their account, the company owns and operates 19 Bitcoin ATM machines in various cities throughout England. However, it’s Ntahe’s criminal past that draws the attention of the news outlet.

From all accounts, Ntahe was sentenced to prison back in 2009 for his involvement in two violent robberies that saw the victims tortured. One of the victims had had his toes crushed with pliers whilst another had his teeth pulled out before having a metal pole rammed down his throat.

Pretty horrific stuff, but Landry Ntahe says that he did not take part in the violence and was only the driver. At the time of his conviction, Ntahe was 20 years old and was sentenced to five years in prison, of which he served two-and-a-half. His partners in crime, Arnold Epono (age 20) and Ashley Edwards (age 21), were convicted on 12 counts of robbery, fraud, and false imprisonment. They received indeterminate sentences.

Media Loves Linking Bitcoin to Crime

Since his release, Landry Ntahe seems to have cleaned up his act. He learned about Bitcoin from YouTube videos and started his company, BCB ATM, with loans from his family. When asked about his crimes, he told the Daily Mail:

I was young, naive and ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’ve learned a lot since then and it’s given me further drive to make a success of life. I have gained a teaching qualification. I am now able to show others that you can get a second chance in life.

While the history of Ntahe is pretty lurid, one could say that he’s become a productive member of society and has steered away from a life of crime. Of course, the Daily Mail then goes into overdrive to link cryptocurrency to criminality.

They note that the frenzy surrounding the price of Bitcoin has led to a lot of investors speculating on the cryptocurrency, thus leading to an increased demand for easy access to it. They note that Bitcoin ATMs do not have to be registered in the UK, which, naturally leads to fears of Bitcoin being the “currency of choice of criminals.” The news outlet notes that payments can be made across borders to “criminal associates,” who can withdraw the money or use it on the DARK WEB!

Bitcoinist_Dark Web Drug Marketplace Bitcoin

The Daily Mail goes on to say that many of the 12 firms operating Bitcoin ATMs in the UK appear to not have any offices or have registered with the Companies House. They also note that many of the businesses only have a mobile phone number on their website. Of course, the most damning bit of information is that one of the ATMs owned by BCB ATM is located in a cannabis store! (Gasp!)

When pressed about the possibility of illegal activity associated with Bitcoin, Ntahe said:

People use bitcoin ATMs for various reasons, and sadly a minority of people do use it for unlawful purposes, like money laundering. As an industry, we must do more to make bitcoin secure and safer to use.

Overall, the crimes associated with Landry Ntahe are bad, and I’m not sugarcoating that. Yet it does appear that he has turned his life around, but the media just can’t help themselves at times to paint all of cryptocurrency with a criminal brush.

Could Bitcoin be used for bad things? Of course. But the same could be said for gold and fiat currency. I think a lot more dollars are spent on drugs in a single large city than Bitcoin for the same purpose in its entirety. It’s actually quite humorous to read such overly dramatic pearl-clutching about Bitcoin, but the sad reality is that many people will take such hack journalism as gospel.

Do you think Landry Ntahe has paid his debt to society and be allowed to operate Bitcoin ATMs? What do you think about the media’s coverage of cryptocurrency? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Linkedin, Pixabay, and Bicoinist archives.

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