CoinFLEX files for restructuring

The cryptocurrency exchange CoinFLEX announced they had filed for restructuring, a move that probably didn't surprise too many people after they stopped customer withdrawals in June, sued Roger Ver over $84 million they claimed he owed them in July, and then significantly cut staff in order to try to massively reduce their costs.

As tends to happen with insolvent exchanges, they are hoping to "compensate" their depositors with a mix of CoinFLEX-issued tokens and equity, rather than actual money or more liquid, established cryptocurrencies.

Nuri crypto exchange files for insolvency

The German cryptocurrency exchange Nuri, formerly known as Bitwala, filed for insolvency. Interestingly, they did not stop customer withdrawals—as have many exchanges who later announced they were insolvent—allowing its existing users to continue to withdraw funds and otherwise use their services.

Their announcement began by saying, "We would like to inform you about an important development that does not affect our services, funds or investments with Nuri," and throughout the post they stressed that customer funds were safe.

Nuri blamed the insolvency on everything from "the ongoing after-effects of the Corona pandemic" to "the economic and political uncertainties in the markets after Russia's invasion of Ukraine" to the more recent crypto bear market.

Curve Finance frontend compromised

Curve Finance's frontend at curve.fi was compromised, prompting users to give token approval to a malicious smart contract. Stolen funds were then transferred out to the FixedFloat cryptocurrency exchange and the Tornado Cash tumbler. It appears that at least 362 ETH (~$620,000) have been stolen.

Curve acknowledged the apparent exploit, tweeting at the iwantmyname domain platform to say they believed the issue was on their end. Around an hour after the issue was widely noticed, Curve announced the "issue has been found and reverted", and to use the alternate Curve Finance domain until DNS changes propagated for the affected domain. They also urged users to revoke any recent contract approvals they'd made on the Curve platform.

FixedFloat tweeted that they had been able to freeze 112 of the stolen ETH (~$192,000) that had been transferred to their platform.

Truth in Advertising sends letters to 17 celebrities about undisclosed promotion of NFTs

A collage of sixteen of the seventeen recipients of TINA's letters: Drake Bell, Tom Brady, DJ Khaled, Eminem, Jimmy Fallon, Paris Hilton, Eva Longoria, Madonna, Floyd Mayweather, Meek Mill, Von Miller, Neymar, Shaquille O'Neal, Gwyneth Paltrow, Logan Paul, and Snoop DoggSome of the recipients (attribution)
Non-profit advertising watchdog organization Truth in Advertising (TINA) sent letters to seventeen celebrities, urging them to follow FTC requirements on clearly disclosing when they are being paid to promote a brand. TINA had also previously sent such letters to Justin Bieber in relation to his promotion of the inBetweeners NFT project, and to Reese Witherspoon in relation to her endorsement of World of Women.

The celebrities who received letters from TINA were Drake Bell, Tom Brady, DJ Khaled, Eminem, Jimmy Fallon, Paris Hilton, Eva Longoria, Madonna, Floyd Mayweather, Meek Mill, Von Miller, Neymar, Shaquille O'Neal, Gwyneth Paltrow, Logan Paul, Snoop Dogg, and Timbaland.

At least 101 NFT Discord servers compromised in July

A fluorescent green skull with blond hair, a piece of cheese floating above its head, a rainbow connecting its eye sockets, and padded armorTasty Bones' Discord was hacked twice in July (attribution)
I've largely stopped covering crypto Discord compromises because they occur so frequently it would drown out everything else. OKHotshot has been keeping count, though, and according to them, at least 101 servers have been compromised in the month of July. Four of the projects—EY3KON, Tasty Bones, Universe by Barnabe, and Angry Dinos—were each compromised twice in that month.

"Animate your Bored Ape" scammers linked to more phishing attacks amounting to more than $2.5 million

Screenshot of an Instagram post promising to animate users' Bored Ape NFTs. Text reads "Wanna turn your Ape or Mutant into a cool GIF? - High quality - All attributes working - Only gas fees to pay (50$) boredapeyachtclub.github.io (LINK IN BIO) PM @exyt to get gas fees refunded!"Screenshot of an Instagram post promising to animate users' Bored Ape NFTs (attribution)
Crypto sleuth zachxbt has uncovered a French scam duo, Mathys and Camille, who he believes were behind the March "turn your BAYC animated" phishing scam in which they stole a collector's Bored Ape NFT and flipped it for 264 ETH (at the time worth $764,000). He has also tied them to four other Bored Ape holders who fell victim to fake "animator" phishing schemes that also stole pricey NFTs including Doodles and Mutant Apes. Among them, they lost NFTs collectively valued at $1.7 million. In his investigation, zachxbt also uncovered other crypto wallets that appeared to contain proceeds from other phishing scams, totaling around 497 ETH (~$851,000). "Undoubtedly there is more to uncover, but there is only so much that can be tracked through Tornado Cash," he wrote.

Tornado Cash added to U.S. sanctions list

The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) added Tornado Cash to its SDN list: a list of "Specially Designated Nationals And Blocked Persons" with whom U.S. individuals and organizations are prohibited from doing business.

Tornado Cash is the most prominent cryptocurrency tumbler (or "mixer") and has been used in a multitude of instances to launder proceeds from cryptocurrency hacks and scams. In a press release, the Treasury Department named the North Korea-sponsored Lazarus Group's $625 million hack of Axie Infinity in March, the $100 million theft from Horizon Bridge in June, and the $190 million hack of the Nomad bridge in August as contributing to the decision.

Although Tornado Cash had claimed to be complying with sanctions in the wake of the Axie hack, the Treasury Department wrote in their press release that, "Tornado Cash has repeatedly failed to impose effective controls designed to stop it from laundering funds for malicious cyber actors on a regular basis and without basic measures to address its risks".

Tornado Cash is also widely used to maintain privacy in a world where transactions are publicly visible, and it remains to be seen how the cryptocurrency ecosystem will react to this major development. Tornado Cash is also relatively decentralized in its operations, meaning it may be difficult for the sanctions list to be kept up to date and for the sanctions to be enforced.

Bitcoin mining operation Riot Blockchain earns more money in July by not mining, effectively mines without paying for power

An aerial photo of large warehouse-style buildings, electricity infrastructure, and shipping containers on a large dirt plotRiot Blockchain's Rockdale, Texas facility (attribution)
The Bitcoin mining firm Riot Blockchain produced 318 BTC in July, valued at around $6.88 million, from its mining operations located in central Texas. The firm also received $9.5 million in power credits for switching off their power-hungry Bitcoin miners during all-time-high energy demands in a month where the state has been experience extreme heat waves.

A press release from Riot proudly announced that "Riot curtailed a total of 11,717 megawatt hours in July, enough to power 13,121 average homes for one month", as though it is acceptable that they are normally using this amount of electricity solely to churn out Bitcoins.

They also wrote that "When applied to anticipated power costs for the month, the power credits and other benefits are expected to effectively eliminate Riot’s power costs for July"—meaning that Texas residents are effectively subsidizing the cost of Bitcoin mining whether they like it or not. Meanwhile, the Texas Tribune and The Dallas Morning News report that many Texans are paying 50–70% more for electricity than this time last year.

Hodlnaut halts withdrawals

Crypto lending firm Hodlnaut announced they would be suspending withdrawals "due to recent market conditions". They also announced they would be withdrawing their license application with the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and that "Hodlnaut is therefore no longer providing regulated digital payment token (DPT) services, ie our token swap feature. For the avoidance of doubt, Hodlnaut will also cease all borrowing and lending services."

In an FAQ attached to the announcement, Hodlnaut told users that "it will not be a short process" to re-enable withdrawals and token swaps.

No one wants to admit to owning the WazirX crypto exchange

Tweet by Nischal Shetty, quote-tweeting a tweet by Changpeng Zhao.

CZ tweet reads: Sad that these have to be debated on Twitter:
Binance provides wallet services for WazirX.
WazirX domain is transferred to our control.
We were given a shared access to an AWS account.
We could shutdown WazirX. But we can't, because.. 1/2

Shetty's tweet reads:'We could shut down WazirX' - Proves you have control
'Shared access of AWS' - You have ROOT access of AWS! Anyone with root access controls AWS
'WazirX domain transferred to our control' - Good to see you confirm that
Only control now is Zanmai, why are you not taking it?Tweet by WazirX founder Nischal Shetty (attribution)
After India froze the assets of the WazirX cryptocurrency exchange due to suspicions they were enabling money laundering, suddenly no one wants to admit to operating it.

Despite a 2019 blog post by Binance titled, "Binance Acquires India’s Leading Digital Asset Platform WazirX to Launch Multiple Fiat-to-Crypto Gateways", Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao ("CZ") tweeted that "Binance does not own any equity in Zanmai Labs, the entity operating WazirX", and that besides wallet services and an off-chain transaction integration, "WazirX is responsible all other aspects of the WazirX exchange". These statements were disputed by Nischal Shetty, the founder of WazirX, who stated in no uncertain terms that WazirX was acquired by Binance. "Binance owns WazirX domain name. Binance has root access of AWS servers. Binance has all the Crypto assets. Binance has all the Crypto profits", Shetty wrote on Twitter.

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