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The Man Who Lost Access To Bitcoins Worth $245 Million

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Investing in cryptocurrencies carries risks of its own. Apart from the highly volatile price, investors who store their funds on external wallets (and not exchanges) need to save and protect the information that will enable them to access the assets.

In case someone loses their private keys (essentially a password for the wallet), this could spell disaster. Such could be the case with Stefan Thomas and his bitcoins worth more than $240 million.

7,002 Bitcoins Could Be Forever Lost

The NY Times recently covered the story of the German-born programmer living in San Francisco. Back in 2011, he produced an educational video called “What is Bitcoin?” for another BTC fan, who sent him 7,002 bitcoins for his services.

However, Thomas didn’t pay much attention to his new holdings as they had a little-to-no value at the time, and he lost the digital keys to the wallet. But in the following ten years, bitcoin’s price has exploded, and the 7,002 coins are now worth about $240 million.

As such, Thomas has made several attempts to access the funds. The wallet, called IronKey, allows users ten attempts to guess the password. If they fail, it will encrypt the content forever. Thomas has already used eight of his most commonly used passwords but hasn’t succeeded.

“I would just lay in bed and think about it. Then, I would go to the computer with some new strategy, and it wouldn’t work, and I would be desperate again.”

From Desperation To Blame To Acceptance

After his latest desperation phase following another unsuccessful attempt, Thomas would blame the unique nature in which bitcoin operates. He blasted the famous narrative “be your own bank,” which carries significant risks in similar situations.

“This whole idea of being your own bank – let me put it this way: Do you make your own shoes? The reason we have banks is that we don’t want to deal with all those things that banks do.”

He added that if banks’ customers have issues accessing their funds, they could quickly turn to the institution and get help. In contrast, the decentralized nature of BTC, meaning there’s no central authority behind it, lacks such services.

While some, such as Thomas, see this as a disadvantage, others believe that it allows them to freely access their funds from any part of the world with just an internet connection.

Although Thomas has two more attempts left at guessing his password, he has already entered the last phase of the five stages of dealing with grief – acceptance.

“I got to a point where I said to myself, ‘Let it be in the past, just for your own mental health.’”

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/the-man-who-lost-access-to-bitcoins-worth-245-million/

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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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Bulgarian Crypto Exchange Owner Sentenced To 10 Years in Prison for Laundering $5 Million

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A Bulgarian national was sentenced to serve ten years in prison after a major crypto-related fraud. Not long ago, the man was convicted in a transnational multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud over 900 American citizens.

An Auction Fraud That Victimized over 900 Americans

According to an official announcement by the United States Department of Justice, Rossen G. Yossifov, a 53-year-old man, had defrauded hundreds of American citizens during a well-masterminded illegal endeavor.

He managed and promoted the so-called RG Coins – a cryptocurrency exchange headquartered in Sofia, Bulgaria. Now, the US court has sentenced him for conspiracy to commit a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) offense plus a conspiracy to commit money laundering.

During the crime, Iossifov and his Romanian co-conspirators, part of the Alexandria Online Auction Fraud (AOAF) Network, engaged a large-scale online fraud. They organized a false auction that victimized at least 900 Americans during its course.

As CryptoPotato reported, Iossifov was officially charged with participating and dictating the international fraud a few months ago. 

Providing Favorable Crypto Exchange Rates To Victims

According to initial court documents, the scammers made everything seem legit, providing invoices with trademarks of reputable firms to their victims.

One of the primary ways to lure people into the scam was that the conspirators designed their scheme to cater to criminal enterprises by providing better exchange rates to the AOAF Network members.

The Romania-based fraudsters posted false advertisements to popularize online auctions for expensive goods and vehicles that did not exist. They had also established call centers to offer customer support to advise client questions and “alleviate concerns over the advertisements.”

When convinced, victims had to fulfill a payment. Domestic associates of the criminals would accept the money, convert them into cryptocurrency, and transfer them to foreign-based money launderers. As per the announcement, Iossifov was the final gear that facilitated the last stage of the scheme.

Some of the trial’s evidence revealed that, in less than three years, Iossifov had laundered nearly $5 million in cryptocurrency for just four of his partners.

“This represented over $7 million in funds defrauded from American victims. In return, Iossifov made over $184,000 in proceeds from these transactions”, read the official court publication.

Apart from Iossifov and the five co-operators, so far, 17 more members of the Romanian crime network will face court for their role in this scheme. Seven others have already faced sentences with verdicts between 30 to 96 months. Three of the members of the scam are fugitives.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/bulgarian-crypto-exchange-owner-sentenced-to-10-years-in-prison-for-laundering-5-million/

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