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Fraudulent COVID-19 Vaccines Offered On The Dark Web For Up To $1,000 In Bitcoin

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The topic of working COVID-19 vaccines has been widely discussed ever since the virus started spreading globally last year. Although a few have already been approved, their distribution faces difficulties and delays. This has prompted fraudsters to take advantage by promoting vaccines on the dark web and requesting up to $1,000 per dose paid via bitcoin.

COVID-19 Vaccines On The Dark Web For BTC

Vaccines usually require years of research and testing before reaching people. However, the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic started a race among scientists worldwide attempting to produce effective vaccines in a short time. According to the New York Times, there’re 65 currently tested in clinical trials on humans, and 20 have already reached the final stages.

A few more have received approval, and distribution has begun as of December 2020. Nevertheless, the production in such massive quantities has caused delays, and some people have started looking for alternatives. This is where fraudsters utilizing the dark web come to play.

By citing a report from the cybersecurity company Check Point, CNBC said that the dark web has seen a large inflow of vendors claiming they sell approved and working COVID-19 vaccines.

Somewhat expectedly, the prices seem relatively high as a single dose of a vaccine could go for $250, $500, or even $1,000. The sellers have also requested all payments to be transferred via bitcoin.

“All the listings for vaccines required bitcoin for payment. Bitcoin used to be seen as an anonymous form of payment but has become much more traceable recently.” – reads the report.

A Few Issues With The Dark Web Vaccines

The vaccines advertised on the dark web carry several significant problems. Check Point’s investigation concluded that the sellers had not delivered the goods after receiving the payments.

Company researchers placed an order for one vaccine dose. Shortly after, the vendor contacted them on the encrypted messaging application Telegram and offered a vaccine that was made in China for $750 in bitcoin.

The researchers proceeded with the payment, provided their delivery address, but the seller erased his account, and the package has not arrived yet.

Other issues include listings that contradict official medical guidance on the required doses. Check Point contacted another seller who advertised an undisclosed COVID-19 vaccine for around $300 worth of BTC but claimed that the patient needs to inject 14 doses instead of the approved two doses.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/fraudulent-covid-19-vaccines-offered-on-the-dark-web-for-up-to-1000-in-bitcoin/

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Tether (USDT) January 15th Deadline on iFinex Case: Everything You Need to Know

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Many in the cryptocurrency field have recently discussed the upcoming January 15th date as an important consideration for the ongoing case between the office of the New York Attorney General (NYAG) and iFinex, the parent company of Bitfinex and Tether.

With this in mind, below is a comprehensive summary of what happened and what to expect on this date.

The NYAG v. iFinex Case: What Happened?

Back in April 2019, the office of the New York Attorney General alleged that the popular cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex lost $850 million and then used funds from its affiliated stablecoin operator Tether (the company that issues USDT) to cover the shortfall.

As CryptoPotato reported, later on, Tether issued a statement through a blog post which said that the allegations were written in “bad faith” and were also “riddled with false assertions.”

In May 2019, Judge Joel Cohen granted a partial stay on the NYAG office’s request for documents from the two companies until their hearing takes place on July 29th. During that hearing, the judge on the case, Joel Cohen, decided to extend the preliminary injunction as he was not ready to make a final decision on whether the case should go forward or be dismissed. Hence, he extended that injunction by 90 days.

In August, however, the NYAG presented new evidence on the case, alleging that apart from covering up the $850 million, Bitfinex and Tether had served New York customers for longer than they claimed. In part, the document stated:

The OAG has uncovered substantial ties between Respondents and New York concerning Respondents’ corporate operations; trading on the Bitfinex platform; the issuance, redemption, and trading of tethers; use of financial institutions to move money and process customer deposits and withdrawals; and representations to the market that might have been misleading.

Essentially, the NYAG also attacked Bitfinex’s LEO initial exchange offering, claiming that it “has every indicia of a securities issuance subject to the Martin Act, and there is reason to believe that the issuance is related to the matters under investigation,” meaning the alleged cover-up.

Additionally, the NYAG called iFinex’s motion to dismiss “an improper attempt to impede a lawful investigation.”

The Order to Turn in Documents

In September 2020, Judge Cohen ruled that Bitfinex and Tether must turn over documents detailing their financial relationship and history to the NYAG’s office. In addition to that, he also extended an injunction that barred Tether from loaning funds to Bitfinex by 90 more days.

However, on December 9th, 2020, Letitia James, the Attorney General, filed a document, asking Justice Cohen to extend the deadline to January 15th, 2021. James said that “the parties continue to cooperate on the production of documents in response to the 354 Order, and anticipate that the production could be finalized in the coming weeks.”

Why the January 15th Deadline is Important?

With this, we arrive at the time of this writing and the importance of the January 15th deadline. There are a few reasons for which this is a critical point in this case. First, it requires that iFinex produces the necessary information for the NYAG to continue its investigation and to further substantiate the merits of its claims.

And perhaps what’s even more important, however, is the nature of the documentation. In essence, iFinex has to produce materials on the process by which they determine whether, when, and how to issue and redeem tethers, banks, documents, and communications regarding specific issuances and redemptions, as well as trading activity on the Bitfinex trading platform regarding tethers and bitcoin.

This is a landmark case for the entire cryptocurrency space as USDT is the most popular and biggest stablecoin on the market. The company issuing it has been involved in many scandals in the past, with many questioning the fact that it’s actually backed by USD.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/tether-usdt-january-15th-deadline-on-ifinex-case-everything-you-need-to-know/

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Following Coinbase And Bakkt: Winklevoss’ Gemini Reportedly Considers Going Public

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Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are reportedly exploring the option of making their cryptocurrency exchange Gemini public. The brothers could follow the steps of other US-based digital asset-related companies with similar intentions, such as Coinbase and Bakkt.

Gemini To Go Public?

Bloomberg reported today that the founders of the US-based crypto exchange Gemini are open to the idea of going public.

“We are definitely considering it and making sure that we have that option. We are watching the market, and we are also having internal discussions on whether it makes sense for us at this point in time. We are certainly open to it.” – said Cameron.

Gemini, based in New York City, employs over 350 people. The exchange obtained a trust charter from the New York State Department of Financial Services shortly after its establishment and is licensed as a money transmitter in multiple US states.

Making a company public has been a hot topic within the cryptocurrency industry lately. Firstly, the largest US exchange Coinbase announced such plans with an estimated value of nearly $30 billion.

More recently, Bakkt, the Bitcoin futures trading platform owned by the Intercontinental Exchange, stated similar plans after a merger with a special acquisition company. Bakkt’s estimated enterprise value is at approximately $2.1 billion.

Gemini Releases A Credit Card With Crypto Rewards

The exchange also announced that it will launch a credit card that will provide users with cryptocurrency rewards. Dubbed Gemini Credit Card, it will enable up to 3% back in bitcoin and other digital assets. The rewards will be automatically deposited into the cardholder’s Gemini account.

The card comes after Gemini acquired Blockrize – a company specializing in building such products. The distribution will start later in the year, and the statement informed that there’s already a substantial waitlist with over 10,000 people requesting early access.

The card will work like traditional ones and will be available to US residents in every state while also accepted in merchants that accept regular cards.

“The Gemini Credit Card will make it easier for any consumer to invest in bitcoin and other cryptos without changing their existing behavior. Rather than deciding how and when to buy crypto, customers can do so when making their everyday purchases. We are excited to welcome the Blockrize team to Gemini and work together to continue to mainstream crypto.” – commented Tyler Winklevoss.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/following-coinbase-and-bakkt-winklevoss-gemini-reportedly-considers-going-public/

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FinCEN Extends Comment Window on Proposed Crypto Regulations

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With the initial deadline for comments long expired, FinCEN has decided to extend the comment period for its proposed controversial crypto regulation for an additional 15 days.

FinCen Sets New Deadline

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), an office of the U.S. Department of Treasury, announced the news of the extension via a press release on Thursday (Jan. 14, 2021). FinCEN’s earlier deadline was set on January 4, 2021.

Following the different requests for extension, it appears that FinCEN would not be hasty to implement the proposed regulation. The extension is beneficial for the industry, as affected entities can have time to analyze the proposal. Since the initial comment period, the bureau has received thousands of comments and is ready to receive more feedback.

An excerpt from the press release reads:

“FinCEN is providing an additional 15 days for comments on the proposed reporting requirements regarding information on CVC or LTDA transactions greater than $10,000[…] that involve unhosted wallets or wallets hosted in jurisdictions identified by FinCEN. FinCEN is providing an additional 45 days for comments on the proposed requirements that banks and MSBs report certain information regarding counterparties to transactions by their hosted wallet customers, and on the proposed recordkeeping requirements.”

The Proposed Regulations

FinCEN’s proposed crypto regulation required that cryptocurrency exchanges would keep records and verify “the identity of their customers if a counterparty uses an unhosted or otherwise covered wallet and the transaction is greater than $3,000.” Also, exchanges are expected to submit to FinCEN transactions that exceed $10,000.

However, the proposal saw pushback from the crypto community, with many saying that the rule was harmful to the industry. Companies like Jack Dorsey’s Square and Andreessen Horowitz opposed the rules, with Square noting that it could create unnecessary friction between crypto users and regulated entities.

Other comments noted that the original 15-days comment period was too short. As reported by CryptoPotato, days after FinCEN released its planned regulatory policy, U.S. crypto exchange Coinbase asked for an extension of the comment period.

According to Coinbase, the comment time frame was rushed and asked the bureau to instead consider a 60-day time frame. Also calling for an extension was a U.S. Senator and several members of Congress. The lawmakers also asked for an extension between 15-60 days to give concerned parties time to evaluate the proposed rule.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/fincen-extends-comment-window-on-proposed-crypto-regulations/

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