U.S. Representative Ted Budd (R-NC) has sponsored a new piece of legislation aimed at creating an agency tasked with combating the use of cryptocurrencies in terrorist financing.
The bill — H.R. 296 — is co-sponsored by Reps. Warren Davidson (R-OH), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Byron Donalds (R-FL), and Darren Soto (D-FL) and was introduced on Wednesday.
Apart from creating the task force, the bill also seeks to:
“Provide rewards for information leading to convictions related to terrorist use of digital currencies, to establish a Fintech Leadership in Innovation and Financial Intelligence Program to encourage the development of tools and programs to combat terrorist and illicit use of digital currencies, and for other purposes.”
Following the introduction, the bill was referred to the Committee on Financial Services and the Committee on the Budget for preliminary deliberations. Rep. Budd is a known supporter of crypto and blockchain in Congress.
In 2019, Rep. Budd championed the call for greater clarity in the country’s crypto tax laws. He also introduced a couple of bills to the house aimed at improving the regulatory standard of the industry in the U.S.
While Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism continue to be a major anti-crypto talking point for several government agencies, cryptocurrency forensic data points to limited adoption of virtual currencies by terrorist organizations. Back in May 2020, blockchain intelligence outfit Chainalysis debunked claims that ISIS owned about $300 million in Bitcoin.
However, the U.S. Justice Department has reportedly seized crypto funds allegedly belonging to ISIS and Al-Qaeda terrorist networks. In June 2020, reports also emerged that ISIS-affiliated media platforms were collecting donations in Monero, a popular privacy coin.
Meanwhile, Chainalysis has published a report stating that some participants in the recent riot at the U.S. Capitol received large Bitcoin donations from a French computer programmer a month before the incident. According to the crypto forensics firm, the donor, now deceased, had a history of supporting causes that espoused far-right political and social ideologies.
U.S. law enforcement officials are reportedly investigating the possible links between the donations and the planning of the riot.
Members of WallStreetBets Forum Alleged in Telegram Crypto Scam Stealing $2M in BNB and ETH
Members of the popular WallStreetBets Reddit forum were suspected of a presumable cryptocurrency fraud that could have caused losses of no less than $2 million. By creating a designated Telegram group, they duped investors by guaranteeing remarkable returns through capitalizing on the recent crypto market rally.
The Core of the Hoax
Per a report by Bloomberg, alleged members of the WallStreetBets Reddit Forum used the Telegram messaging service to execute a blatant scam. A particular account by the name of ”WallStreetBets – Crypto Pumps” presented users the chance to purchase a new token certified as WSB Finance before it was listed on crypto exchanges. The operation is known as a pre-mine sale.
The essence of the fraud was connected to the recent cryptocurrency boom as bitcoin and most altcoins skyrocketed in value lately. With some of the digital assets reaching 1,000% gains, the targeted WSB members conned investors into sending money without asking questions and with the potential of netting huge profits.
The notorious account also urged users to transfer popular cryptocurrencies such as Binance Coin (BNB) and Ethereum (ETH) to a designated crypto wallet and then to reach its ”token bot” to gain WSB Finance coins.
However, the perpetrators never dispatched those coins. Furthermore, another message on Telegram revealed that the people who had already issued a payment had to send an equivalent amount again or they would risk losing their initial investment.
After executing the hoax, more than 3,451 Binance Coins were withdrawn on Tuesday (May, 4th) from the wallet inside the Crypto Pumps messages.
Since the price of BNB at that point was approximately $625, the fraud caused losses of more than $2.1 million. Following the scam, thousands of people expressed their frustration and tried to expose the individuals behind the account. Moreover, the quantity of the other cryptocurrency – ether – still remains a mystery.
Two weeks ago WSB admins warned about offers that might try to take advantage of the forum’s name in order to allure the crypto audience. The ”WallStreetBets – Crypto Pumps” account has been removed from Telegram but whoever managed it left a message that might stun the affected victims:
”Buying Lambo now.”
South Korean Crypto Exchange Accused Of $1.5 Billion Scam
The South Korean cryptocurrency exchange platform V Global was accused of luring 40,000 people into illicit multi-level deceit. The entire scheme amounts to more than 1.7 million won, which equals $1.5 billion.
As reported by the Korean officials, the police raided many places in the country related to a virtual cryptocurrency exchange, and its notorious CEO – known as LEE – alleged to fundraising without regulatory permission. The authorities blocked the exchange’s cash deposits as a part of the investigation.
In total, the Gyeonggy Nambu Police Agency reported that it searched the exchange’s headquarters in southern Seoul along with 21 other places and froze more than $214 million left in the account.
Another report from today shed more light on the developments. According to Yonhap News, the name of the organization is V Global. The Korean police are examining the accusations against them for fraud under the Certain Economic Crimes Weighted Penalty Act, the Similar Receiving Act, and the door-to-door sales business.
The main accusation against the exchange is gaining a deposit of 1.7 trillion won ($1.5 billion) from 40,000 members in the period between August 2020 and January 2021. The announcement revealed that most of the people were elderly or housewives with no experience in cryptocurrency trading.
Too Good To Be True
The investigation revealed that the exchange urged investors to entrust their funds to an account and lured the members that the expected return would be three times higher than the initial investment. According to the authorities, there was a pyramid element in the scam as the exchange promised to grant an introduction fee of 1.2 million won ($1,065) for every newly recruited member.
The report affirmed that the trading venue paid some members in the form of a block. Therefore, people who signed up earlier received funds from individuals who entered the exchange later.
Moreover, the Korean police seem confident to deal with the fraud case as it revealed its intention to confiscate 240 billion won ($214 million) left in the V Global account as of the 15th last month, even before the prosecution process.
Georgia’s central bank is exploring ‘Digital Gel’ CBDC
The National Bank of Georgia said that it is considering launching a central bank digital currency.
In an announcement today, the central bank hinted at the issuance of a central bank digital currency, or CBDC, in an effort “to enhance efficiencies of the domestic payment system and financial inclusion.” The National Bank of Georgia, or NBG, said it would be inviting fintech firms and other financial institutions to participate in the project, named Digital Gel after the symbol for the country’s fiat currency, the lari.
“CBDC holds the promise to unlock the tremendous value of innovative business models for the benefit of society,” said the announcement. “The introduction of CBDC could increase financial intermediation efficiency, help introduce new financial technologies, facilitate financial inclusion, and reach previously unbanked populations.”
However, the bank mentioned the possibility of risks in the launch of a CBDC in the Republic of Georgia given the “new and potentially disruptive technology.” The NBG said it may conduct extensive testing of the CBDC in a controlled environment to ensure a smooth rollout, but did not provide any details regarding a timeline for launch.
With a population of roughly 4 million and a gross domestic product of approximately $15 billion, a nation like Georgia falls at the smaller end of countries exploring CBDCs. The Bahamas officially rolled out its Sand Dollar central bank digital currency in October, while China has been piloting its digital yuan in select cities prior to a full-scale launch. In the United States, Fortune 500 company Accenture announced this week it would be partnering with the Digital Dollar Foundation to conduct CBDC trials.
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