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Beware! Scammers Are Out for Crypto Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

Beware! Scammers Are Out for Crypto Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Cybercrimes are on the rise amid the global coronavirus pandemic, and scammers are using crypto to facilitate some of their attacks.

As the world continues to battle with the deadly coronavirus pandemic, immoral cybercriminals are once again on the prowl. This time, they are using the chaos and fear through phishing techniques and sophisticated malware hacks to access people’s crypto holdings.

On March 27, residents in the United Kingdom received warnings from their local councils “to be on their guard against a series of scams attempting to take advantage of the coronavirus outbreak.” Scammers have been using other tricks to lure victims, including the use of false Bitcoin (BTC) donation channels, fake maps of the coronavirus’s spread that steal private data from computers and that install ransomware programs that can only be unlocked with Bitcoin.

Fortunately, regulators such as the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and various American states, in addition to local councils in the U.K., as well as the European Central Bank, have all issued warnings of investment scams.

False claims for Bitcoin

Some of the common schemes include scammers claiming to possess lists of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in a given area that they will sell to local residents in exchange for Bitcoin. According to research, this is done via phishing emails and texts that falsely claim to be from organizations such as the World Health Organization.

With email subjects such as “HIGH-RISK: NEW confirmed cases in your city,” the scammers trick unsuspecting users into opening the emails. The hackers then use malicious links in the email that, when clicked, steal users’ private data.

Scammers claiming to sell protective gear

As shoppers have been stocking up on essentials to prepare for a long quarantine, scammers have been busy for months on e-commerce sites like Amazon, selling counterfeit hand sanitizer and face masks. They charge high prices for items in demand, accept crypto payments and then never deliver the items to the customers.

The scammers have achieved this by luring customers away from trusted sites in order to take payments addressed to phony shipping labels. Finally, the scammers then liquidate the crypto funds using several different exchanges.

Hospitals have not been spared amid these widespread cyberattacks. Reports show that ransomware attacks have been prevalent in hospitals, as they are seen as soft targets. Due to the vital nature of hospital work, victims of cyberattacks who have critical IT systems encrypted by hackers are more willing to pay up whenever such criminals demand Bitcoin to regain access to needed equipment.

Cybersecurity experts have started forming groups such as the COVID-19 CTI League in order to combat ransomware attacks on hospital IT systems during the current coronavirus crisis.

Ransomware

A team of cybersecurity experts called Malware Hunters working together with Kaspersky security analysts have uncovered a new ransomware threat called CoronaVirus. The malware was discovered on a malicious website that claimed to provide downloads of WiseCleaner, a system-optimizing application.

Upon downloading the application, a malicious file activates the CoronaVirus ransomware, thereby encrypting the user’s computer. The hackers would then demand payment in Bitcoin to give back the user’s access to the computer.

Other scams

Other fraudulent tricks used by scammers include the use of coronavirus maps that infect users’ computers with malware. They inject code onto computers that gleans passwords and credit card numbers, as well as other important information stored in web browsers.

Other fraudsters have used articles that prompt users to subscribe to daily newsletters covering the pandemic only to expose their data to cybercriminals. To further take advantage of the global economic downturn, some have created investment and trading schemes that claim to give people an advantage in the market.

Why are scammers using crypto?

While commenting on why hackers and cybercriminals are increasingly facilitating their attacks using crypto, Alex Wilson, a co-founder of The Giving Block — an organization that equips nonprofit organizations to accept crypto donations — told Cointelegraph that Bitcoin is not the only way to extort money, adding:

“The more adoption Bitcoin gets, the more often bad people will also use it as more normal people begin to use it (proportionally). Criminals come to where honest people have their money, not vice versa. In general, illicit activity is much more prevalent in the traditional markets than in the crypto industry by a 10:1 ratio.”

Andrew Adcock, the CEO of crowdfunding platform Crowd for Angels, told Cointelegraph that the reason for the increased use of crypto in cyberattacks is because “the mechanics of Bitcoin ensure that no third party can trigger a ‘refund’ of a transaction.” This means that if a customer sends crypto to a hacker, they most likely won’t get it back.

Tips to avoid scams

In order to avoid falling victim to these scams, Wilson suggests users follow due diligence before submitting funds for any donation. He also warns that most professional nonprofit organizations looking for donations will never ask for a donation directly. Therefore, users should look out for wallet addresses posted on social media as a red flag. He also added:

“Only donate to registered charities to make sure your money is really being used the way you think it is. You can use sites like Guidestar.org or CharityNavigator.org to look up ratings of charities.”

Adcock also recommends users take several precautionary steps to avoid scams. Users should ask themselves a couple of questions before proceeding: Is the origin of the message unknown, and has the email come from a generic address and not from a company? If unsure where the link will lead, do not click on it. Hovering over the link should show the destination. Adcock concluded: “Remember that age-old saying: ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’”

Few scams have worked out

The good news is that despite the rise in the number of coronavirus- and crypto-related scams, a number of governing bodies around the world have moved quickly to issue warnings against them. For businesses, however, Adcock advises that:

“There is a fine balance that needs to be found so that genuine companies are not penalized whilst spammers are combated.”

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JPMorgan Says Bitcoin Is 25% ‘Undervalued’, Terra FUD Overdone

JPMorgan Says Bitcoin Is 25% ‘Undervalued’, Terra FUD Overdone

As we detailed previously, the collapse of the Terra USD and the Luna token,…

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JPMorgan Says Bitcoin Is 25% 'Undervalued', Terra FUD Overdone

As we detailed previously, the collapse of the Terra USD and the Luna token, within a year of the collapse of Iron Finance and the TITAN token, once again brought out the obituaries for crypto broadly, and raised the FUD over the stabilisation mechanisms of stablecoins (most specifically 'algorithmic' style). As a reminder, we can classify stablecoins into three broad categories: fiat-backed, crypto-backed, and algorithmic.

It has also soured sentiment among crypto investors...

As JPMorgan's Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou notes in his latest report, most flow and positioning metrics also turned very negative.

The chart below shows the 4-week rolling flow into bitcoin and ethereum publicly traded funds. These funds capture a significant component of the institutional impulse as many institutional investors are either not willing or not permitted to invest directly in crypto assets via digital wallets.

In the fund space bitcoin funds including ETFs saw the largest outflow since May 2021.

The crypto fund flow impulse has been normalizing over the past year after peaking at the beginning of 2021 and has been mostly negative this year.

In the futures space, JPM's position proxy for CME bitcoin futures is approaching oversold territory. The equivalent indicator for ethereum has also declined to below neutral...

These flow and positioning metrics, Panigirtzoglou suggests, provides a good entry point for long term investors.

The JPM strategist also notes that, thus far, however, there seems to have been relatively limited spillovers to other stablecoins and the Total Value Locked in DeFi projects beyond Terra appears to have been relatively resilient.

Panigirtzoglou concludes by noting that the past month’s crypto market correction looks more like capitulation relative to last January/February and going forward JPM sees upside for bitcoin and crypto markets more generally.

Our previous projection that the bitcoin-to-gold vol ratio will settle to around 4x this year stills holds...

Our fair value for bitcoin based on a volatility-ratio of bitcoin-to-gold of around 4x would be $38k significantly above its current price.

Additionally, JPMorgan's bullish stance is reinforced by Glassnode's MVRZ Z-Score, which assesses when Bitcoin is undervalued/overvalued based on its "fair value", and is nearing the green zone that had preceded the crypto's massive rebound rallies, as shown in the chart below...

JPMorgan reiterates four reasons behind the emergence of crypto as an alternate institutional asset class.

  • First, the pandemic by inducing unconventional monetary policies and by boosting money supply created additional demand for an “alternative” currency. After the Lehman crisis, the role of an “alternative” currency was played by gold. After the virus crisis, this role was played by both bitcoin and gold.

  • Second, the fact that bitcoin and cryptocurrencies survived the long winter of 2018/2019 and their market value did not go down to zero as many crypto critics were predicting at the time, increased confidence among institutional investors that there is enough residual demand ascribing value to cryptocurrencies.

  • Third, the corporate sponsorship of bitcoin that started emerging in the summer of 2020 with Microstrategy, Square, PayPal, Tesla further boosted institutional investors’ confidence into bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

  • Fourth, the pandemic accelerated the shift towards digitization and cryptocurrencies are expanding in tandem with the adoption of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) as they represent the fuel for powering DLT networks.

Going forward Panigirtzoglou believes that the trajectory for VC funding would be crucial in helping the crypto market to avoid the long winter of 2018/2019. If VC funding dries up from here as a result of the loss of confidence from the collapse of Terra’s ecosystem, then a return to the long winter of 2018/2019 would look more likely for crypto markets.

Thus far there is little evidence of VC funding drying up post Terra’s collapse.

Of the $25bn VC funding YTD, almost $4bn came after Terra. Panigirtzoglou ends on a positive note, saying that "our best guess is the VC funding will continue and a long winter similar to 2018/2019 would be averted."

On the same day, major venture capitalist Andreessen Horowitz announced the closing of its fourth cryptocurrency fund at $4.5 billion. Also on Wednesday, crypto-focused venture firm NGC Ventures launched its third blockchain fund with $100 million raised from investors that included Babel Finance, Huobi Ventures and Nexo Ventures.

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/26/2022 - 05:45

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The Effect Of Sentiment On The Bitcoin Price

Social sentiment is often correlated to the bitcoin price and can have a snowball effect for price movements, both to the upside and downside.

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Social sentiment is often correlated to the bitcoin price and can have a snowball effect for price movements, both to the upside and downside.

Dang Quan Vuong is a trader and market analyst at King Stock Capital Management.

Potential new investors who have lately joined the Bitcoin network have expressed social interest in the asset. Whether you’re selling or buying bitcoin, your actions inherently have an impact on whale behavior. In this article, we’ll focus on how social sentiment affects whale behavior and how it connects to price volatility.

Looking at social volume (the sum count of content that mentions Bitcoin-related terms at least once, particularly on Reddit, Twitter and Telegram), we can see that social volume and bitcoin price has a positive correlation. So, what exactly is the justification for this phenomenon?

Bitcoin’s price is closely associated with social volume. (source)
Social volume AI is linked to bitcoin’s price. (source)
Active Telegram users are also correlated to bitcoin’s price. (source)

Accordingly, Google Trend data suggests that rising social volume has piqued public curiosity and prompted them to conduct their own searches for bitcoin. It shows that the amount of bitcoin mentions and references on social media is connected to public interest in bitcoin and may have influenced the public’s investment decisions.

Google trends are connected to social volume. (source)

As evidenced by the number of unique active addresses and transaction volume, social sentiment has an impact on the entire network activity. The daily cumulative count of unique addresses, including senders and receivers, is proportional to social volume, although there is a significant divergence when bitcoin is close to a bottom.

The relation between daily active addresses and bitcoin’s price. (source)

Similarly, as market participants become more active during an uptrend from the bottom, the total amount of bitcoin sent over the network in a given interval often increases, while it remains relatively low during a downtrend.

Transaction volume increasing indicates that the market is more active. (source)

Trading volume directly reflects bitcoin’s price as a result of heightened activity, and investors behave more aggressively during bull runs and less aggressively during bear markets.

Higher volume in uptrend and lower volume in downtrend. (source)

In social psychology, the snowball effect is a process that begins with a minor state and progressively grows in significance or size. The vivid portrayal is when a snowball rolls down a snow-covered mountainside, collecting additional snow, gaining more weight and momentum until it finally comes to rest. The spread of bitcoin on various social media platforms can have a similar effect, as more and more attention is given to it, causing bitcoin to gain increased public awareness and, in consequence, the snowball effect occurs. The higher the bitcoin price rises, the more publicity it receives, which again boosts buying momentum.

An upsurge in social media content would be a plausible reason for a group of traders and investors impacting the bitcoin price. They go to buy bitcoin and are confronted with stimulating content from social media. This would draw greater attention to the positive aspects of Bitcoin and make more people aware of it. The euphoria grows as more individuals enter the market. More and more people become involved as a result of the increased attention and the cycle continues over and over again.

The market continues to rise until it reaches a critical point where it stays in a condition of equilibrium and no longer rises due to a lack of buying impetus. It is because reduced social interest marks the maximum of upwards momentum and the start of a downward trend thereafter.

Whales, as many know, play a pivotal role in market movement because they have the ability to drive bitcoin’s price, so it’s important to determine when they enter the market. As shown in the following figures, the total number of whale transactions over $100,000 and $1 million rises in the rally and falls in the decline. The charts reveal that whales are more active during uptrends and less active in downtrends except for the panic sell in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whale transactions over $100,000 increasing is often a signal for an initiated move up. (source)
Whale transactions over $1 million increasing often results in a bounce back. (source)

In a specific interval of time, the ratio of total coins transferred in profit to total coins transferred in loss grows in uptrends and drops in downtrends. It means that profit increases during an upswing until it reaches its peak. Then it goes down until most investors are in the red, at which point the trend reverses.

P/L of daily transactions is almost highest near the top and lowest near the bottom. (source)

In summary, the premise of upswing momentum is the growing social sentiment as new investors eagerly enter the market. This self-fulfilling prophecy has historically been attributed to the acceleration of traded volume. When the Bitcoin community thinks the market will move higher in an uptrend, more purchase orders are placed, causing the market to trend upward. Meanwhile, whales are likely to distribute their holdings to newcomers before forcing them to sell them at a loss after a period of time. As a result of the growing public interest, the network value expands until there is no more buying momentum and then bitcoin eventually gets dumped. This cycle is set up to repeat itself periodically.

This is a guest post by Dang Quan Vuong. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.

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Daily Crunch: a16z literally doubles down, announces $4.5B crypto fund IV

Hello friends and welcome to Daily Crunch, bringing you the most important startup, tech and venture capital news in a single package.

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To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

It’s Wednesday the 25th of May, 2022, and we are devastated by the events of the last couple of days. It’s hard to put together a newsletter about tech against the backdrop of a school shooting. Big news events impact everyone differently, so please remember to give yourself and those around you a bit of extra space. We love you. — Haje and Christine

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Going, going gone: Twitter confirmed that its former CEO Jack Dorsey stepped down from the company’s board today. No, it’s not a surprise. He and the company were vocal about when his final days would be. We assume Dorsey is happy with how he is leaving things.
  • No crypto slowdown to see here: Even with a grim cryptocurrency market report, there are still dollars to be raised if you are developing viable blockchain infrastructure. StarkWare Industries grabbed 100 million of them, bringing the company’s valuation to $8 billion, essentially a four-time boost from its previous round. Why is blockchain infrastructure so important? Why, integrity of the whole system of course, Jacquie reports.
  • Creepy crawlers: What’s half a millimeter wide and crawls? We’re sure there’s so many gross things running through your mind right now, but in this case it is a remote-controlled crab “robot” created by some geniuses at Northwestern University. Not sure what use there is for a teeny crab, but it’s cute anyway.

Image Credits: Northwestern University / Northwestern University

Startups and VC

In startupland, it’s all crypto all the time today. Lucas covers how a16z announced a $4.5 billion Web3 fund less than a year since it announced its $2.2 billion crypto fund III. Meanwhile, Volt Capital debuts a $50 million fund, also backed by a16z.

DJ Gabeau, one of Snapchat Stories’ earliest engineers and founder of Web3 social network Primitives, told TechCrunch that he thinks NFTs can be an enjoyable way for people to connect, Anita reports.

As members of the Terra community try to pick up the pieces from its currently defunct economy, Polygon launches a fund to entice the dozens of developers who had projects built on the inoperative blockchain, Jacquelyn reports.

And finally, the IRS’s tax partner ZenLedger was already off to the races, but it is leaning on the accelerator with a $15 million series B, Anita reports.

Don’t worry, there’s nonblockchain news too:

Despite regulatory roadblocks, these four US cannabis investors are planting seeds for tomorrow

The cannabis industry is doing very well in the United States.

A state-by-state patchwork of regulations has created a limited market for public and private companies that handle grow operations, distribution and transportation, inventory control, testing and point-of-sale software.

Budtenders are a frequent sight at California weddings, but Anna Heim found that the industry still has a long way to go before it reaches maturity, largely because federal laws continue to prevent cannabis-related business from using traditional financial services.

To learn more about the underlying market forces and hurdles facing entrepreneurs and investors in this maverick industry, she spoke to four investors:

  • Jacqueline Bennett, managing partner and co-founder, Highlands Venture Partners
  • Yoni Meyer, partner, Casa Verde Capital
  • Matt Hawkins, managing partner and co-founder, Entourage Effect Capital
  • Emily Paxhia, managing director, Poseidon Investment Management

(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

In anticipation of a possible reversal of abortion privacy law Roe v. Wade, a group of Democratic congressional members penned a letter to Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai, urging the company to consider changing the way it currently collects and retains cell phone location data records. Carly reports the fear is that it could become a tool for “far-right extremists looking to crack down on people seeking reproductive health care.”

Apple says its iOS App Store supports some 2.2 million jobs and was responsible for a 118% increase in U.S. small developer earnings over the past 2 years. Sarah and Natasha provide some analysis of the numbers, noting, “these figures highlight how important the App Store is to a wide range of global developers. That, in turn, could also help demonstrate why a system this large and powerful could also be due for more regulation and competition.”

Speaking of Apple, if you live in Maryland and have an Apple Wallet, you can store your driver’s license or state ID there. The state became the second, behind Arizona, to offer the feature.

Don’t miss these equally exciting stories from today:

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