CEO of Titanium Blockchain Infrastructure Services pleads guilty to securities fraud

CEO Michael Stollery of Titanium Blockchain Infrastructure Services (TBIS) pled guilty to securities fraud in connection to a $21 million cryptocurrency scam. The company promoted its BAR token during 2017–2018, and did not register with the SEC for its ICO. TBIS made false claims including that they had ties to companies including Apple, Boeing, and IBM, and offered various services that did not actually exist. At least 75 people participated in the ICO, giving TBIS a combined $21 million, some of which went directly to Stollery's bank account and personal expenses like a condo in Hawaii.

Brazilian authorities challenge NFT company Nemus after it claims ownership to land in the Amazon, allegedly pressures Indigenous people to sign documents they could not read

Aman in a polo shirt stands in the rainforest with a sign reading "NFT"Image from Nemus's "Non-Fungible Territory" press release (attribution)
Nemus is an NFT project already described in W3IGG for its plans to become "Guardians" of the Amazon rainforest and saviors of its Indigenous populations by selling Ethereum NFTs and reopening a Brazil nut plantation.

On July 20, they issued a press release claiming that "the World’s First Non-Fungible Territory has been officially renamed by indigenous people in Brazil in coalition with Nemus". The company claims to own 41,000 hectares (~100,000 acres) of land in the Amazon.

On July 25, Brazil's Federal Prosecution Office (MPF) issued a statement that they had demanded Nemus provide proof of ownership of the areas they claim, clarification on the projects they've been promising online they would undertake, and proof that they've received authorization by the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) or any other public body that would allow them to operate in the area and engage with various Indigenous groups.

According to the MPF, members of Indigenous groups in the area reported the company had violated their rights. They also explained that Nemus had expressed to them their plans to use heavy machinery to open an airstrip and build a road in order to access Brazil nut groves in the area. Apurinã leaders alleged that company representatives had pressured Indigenous people who do not read well to sign documents, and did not provide them with copies.

After five years in prison for a Ponzi scheme and a lifetime ban from the pharmaceutical industry, Martin Shkreli announces his new venture: a web3 drug discovery platform

Martin Shkreli sits at a table, arms crossed and smirkingMartin Shkreli (attribution)
Martin Shkreli, sometimes known as "Pharma Bro", earned notoriety after obtaining the patent for an anti-parasitic drug and hiking the price from $13.50 a pill to $750. An FTC lawsuit ordered Shkreli in January 2022 to return almost $65 million in wrongfully obtained profits, and banned him for life from the pharmaceutical industry.

In 2018, he was sentenced to federal prison for unrelated securities fraud; a U.S. Attorney stated he "essentially ran his company like a Ponzi scheme". He spent five years in prison, and was released in May 2022.

Shkreli is also banned from the securities industry, and from serving as an officer or director of any publicly traded company.

If this was anyone other than Martin Shkreli, I might have been surprised to hear that, only a little over two months out of prison and while still staying in a halfway house, Shkreli is launching a "web3 drug discovery software platform".

$4.5 million taken from Teddy Doge project in apparent rug pull

The Teddy Doge defi project saw its token price plummet over 99% as 30 billion TEDDY were transferred from the project's deployer and distributed to various wallets, which then converted the TEDDY to over 10,000 BNB ($2.56 million) and 2 million BUSD, a dollar-pegged stablecoin.

Although the project admins blamed the theft on an outside attacker, writing on Telegram that they were "not certain whether it is a bug in our cross-chain bridge or a leaked developer wallet", that is a common refrain by developers who rug pull their own projects.

Attacker makes off with $1.1 million after successful governance attack on the Audius web3 music platform

An attacker was able to create and pass a governance proposal to transfer out 18.5 million AUDIO tokens from the community treasury. They then successfully swapped these for 705 ETH (~$1.1 million).

Audius halted the token and smart contracts while they patched the bug, and brought the network back online shortly afterward. The attacker had found and exploited a vulnerability in the way the contracts were written which allowed them to rewrite the governance voting rules and delegate 10 trillion AUDIO tokens to themselves for voting purposes. They then used those tokens to pass the malicious proposal. The contracts had been audited by OpenZeppelin and Kudelski, but neither group caught the vulnerability. Audius stated that a plan for dealing with the loss of community funds was still under discussion.

GameStop's new NFT platform features an NFT mimicking a victim of 9/11

A rendering resembling the famous "The Falling Man" photo. A man in an astronaut suit falls headfirst, with a striped background resembling a tall office tower.Falling Man NFT (attribution)
GameStop's brand new NFT platform, which launched on July 12, is off to a less than promising start. Unlike some other NFT platforms like OpenSea, Gamestop does not allow just anyone to create and list NFTs—creators have to apply and be approved individually.

One of their artists, "Jules", created an NFT clearly modeled after The Falling Man, a well-known photograph of a man falling from the upper floors of the World Trade Center during the September 11 attacks in New York City. The NFT is also titled Falling Man, and pictures a model in the same position, but wearing an astronaut suit.

Not only is GameStop selling an NFT of the victim of a tragedy, it's a featured image when Googling "GameStop".

Celsius customers send letters to the judge in the bankruptcy case

Correspondences of my email sent to support on 15 Jun 2022:  To: support@celsius.network Cc: ceo@celsius.network  Dear Alex and Celcius support, I am writing this email to ask for your special consideration to allow me to make a small withdrawal on my BTC held in Celcius. I understand that Celsius made the decision to pause withdrawals in a volatile market condition, but do hope that you review my case and give me special permission.  I am 5.5 months pregnant with my third child. I am expecting to give birth in early October and I do need the fund to pay for the hospital, doctor and baby items such as cot, clothes, nappies etc. I also need the fund to pay for school fees for my two other schools aged children.  I have attached a recent scan of my baby and a letter from my obstetrician confirming my pregnancy and planning for admission into the hospital.  Scan of my baby that am carrying: [ultrasound photo of a fetus]Email to Alex Mashinsky and Celsius support (attribution)
Celsius customers have begun to send letters to the judge presiding over Celsius Network's bankruptcy case in the Southern District of New York. More than fifty letters have been entered into the docket since July 15, and new letters are continually being added.

Many customers write of being convinced by Alex Mashinsky personally, particularly in his weekly "AMA"s where he regularly claimed that Celsius was a safe platform with substantial reserves that could cover any potential losses. Mashinsky often denigrated traditional banks, referring to Celsius as a better and safer option.

Some of the letters are particularly heartbreaking, with customers referring to suicidal ideation or saying that they've been too ashamed to share the news of their financial losses with their family. One woman included a copy of an email she sent to Mashinsky and Celsius support, pleading for them to allow her access to her crypto, and including an ultrasound photo of a baby. "I do need the fund to pay for the hospital, doctor and baby items such as cot, clothes, nappies etc. I also need the fund to pay for school fees for my two other school aged children," she wrote.

Founder of My Big Coin convicted of $6 million crypto fraud

Randall Crater, founder of the cryptocurrency company My Big Coin, was convicted of multiple charges including wire fraud for a crypto scheme in which he stole more than $6 million from investors. Crater falsely marketed his business, which he operated between 2014 and 2017, as operating "a fully functioning cryptocurrency backed by $300 million in gold, oil and other valuable assets", which he fraudulently stated was partnered with MasterCard. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Crater used the $6 million in stolen funds "for his own personal gain and spending on goods, including hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of expenses on antiques, artwork and jewelry".

Former Coinbase product manager charged with tipping off co-conspirators about tokens that were about to be listed on the exchange

Ishan Wahi, a former product manager for Coinbase, was indicted on two charges of wire fraud and two charges of wire fraud conspiracy for allegedly tipping off his brother and friend to make trades based on his insider knowledge.

Wahi allegedly used his access to highly confidential information around which cryptocurrency tokens would be listed and when the news would be announced to tip off his brother and friend, who would then use multiple anonymous Ethereum wallets to purchase large quantities of the token before the prices spiked on the news. According to the press release, the two took positions in at least six tokens before Coinbase announced in April 2022 that they would be listing them on the exchange. The DoJ said that the scheme had generated approximately $1.5 million in gains. The DoJ acknowledged a "Twitter account that is well known in the crypto community", likely referring to Cobie, who identified the suspicious activity.

The DoJ also reported that when Coinbase's director of security operations contacted Wahi in May asking him to attend a meeting regarding the suspicious activity, Wahi purchased a one-way flight to India in an attempt to flee the country. He was stopped by law enforcement.

Each of the charges (four against Wahi, two each against his brother and friend) carry a maximum sentence of 20 years. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York stated in the press release, "Today's charges are a further reminder that Web3 is not a law-free zone... fraud is fraud is fraud, whether it occurs on the blockchain or on Wall Street."

Blockchain.com lays off 25% of its employees

The cryptocurrency exchange Blockchain.com announced they would be cutting 25% of their employees, or around 150 people. They attributed the decision to the crypto market conditions, as well as the need to compensate for financial losses—likely alluding to the $270 million loss they're facing due to a loan to the now-insolvent Three Arrows Capital crypto hedge fund.

Blockchain.com also announced that they would close their Argentina-based offices, cancel plans to hire in several countries, and cut executive salaries.

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