Company begins selling Celsius-themed Monopoly game... three months after Celsius suspends withdrawals

A Monopoly game themed after the company Celsius, with a large Celsius logo in the middleCelsiusopoly (attribution)
After what USA Strong Head of Sales & Partnerships described as "months and months" of work, apparently the company had decided they had sunk too much effort into the Celsius-themed game of Monopoly to scrap the project, and opted to push ahead. What could be more fun to any of the large group of users who have significant funds locked up in the platform than gathering around the table to play "Celsiusopoly", which they can buy for $99 (if they have that kind of money to spare). The center of the board is adorned with the Celsius logo and the slogan "Do Good. Then do well", and there is a "HODL Mode activated" square that might have been a lot funnier before the company involuntarily activated "HODL mode" for all its users.

If you were wondering who might decide to sell such a product, well, USA Strong's founder and CEO is none other than Krissy Mashinsky, wife of Celsius founder Alex Mashinsky.

Both the announcement tweet and the game product page were taken down shortly after the announcement, likely due to the less-than-enthused response from Celsius users.

Investors face $11 million loss in VBit Technologies/Advanced Mining Group, an alleged crypto Ponzi scheme

The Philadelphia Inquirer published a report on VBit Technologies, later Advanced Mining Group, a company that promised investors to buy and operate Bitcoin miners on their behalf and pay them out the returns. Much of the group's operations relied on a system of "affiliates" bringing in more investors — a sort of suspicious triangular-shaped scheme — and executives and top-performing affiliates enjoyed lavish rewards including expensive wines, six-figure sports cars, and fancy vacations.

However, customers trying to withdraw their "rewards" saw increasing delays in receiving their payouts — days, then weeks, then an indefinite pause. A COO hired by the group left the company only three weeks later. On June 27, the group sent an email to its customers explaining that there was a "potential pending settlement" with the SEC — the first customers heard of the existence of any investigation — and that they would no longer serve customers in the U.S. On July 15, the company promised to refund customers what they paid to sign up with the program, but no refunds or further updates have materialized.

The company has faced lawsuits in Washington state and Delaware, and apparently operated for two years after executives had acknowledged they were violating securities laws. The Delaware lawsuit describes the operation as a Ponzi scheme, and alleges that the company sold packages that would have required far more computing power than the company actually had access to.

David Bowie NFTs anger fans

A screenshot of a tweet by the official David Bowie account, which reads "Out of respect for the people of the UK and Queen Elizabeth II, we will be postponing the 'Bowie on the Blockchain' sale. We will update soon." Another user has screenshotted the tweet and crossed out "the people of the UK and Queen Elizabeth II" and replaced it with "David Bowie", making it read "Out of respect for David Bowie, we will be postponing the 'Bowie on the Blockchain' sale."Tweet by Jonathan Dean (attribution)
The latest entry in "group launches NFTs, fans hate it" comes from the David Bowie estate, who decided that "Bowie on the Blockchain" would be a cool idea to raise money for charity.

A tweet from OpenSea announcing the project received some positive replies, and a lot of other NFT projects trying to promote Bowie-themed NFTs they'd included in their collections. However, the tweet from David Bowie Twitter account seemed to be received almost universally negatively, with many commenters writing that they wished the estate would just raise money for charity without getting into NFTs, and others writing that they didn't think Bowie would have supported NFTs.

On September 10, the account announced that "Out of respect for the people of the UK and Queen Elizabeth II, we will be postponing the 'Bowie on the Blockchain' sale. We will update soon."

Flash loan attack nets attacker $370,000 from several sources

An attacker using the Avalanche blockchain successfully executed a flash loan attack impacting one contract and several other liquidity providers. The attacker made around $370,000 in USDC from the attack.

Binance plans to convert USDC and other stablecoins into their own BUSD stablecoin

Binance users who hold USDC (USD Coin), USDP (Pax Dollar), or TUSD (True USD) will find their holdings "converted" into Binance's stablecoin, BUSD, on September 29. The three stablecoins that Binance plans to convert are the second, fifth, and sixth largest stablecoins on the market as of September 5.

Binance claims the move is to "enhance liquidity and capital-efficiency for users", but the conversion and Binance's related decision to stop trading on spot pairs involving those same stablecoins seems like an attempt to increase the status of its own stablecoin against that of rivals.

Poolin suspends withdrawals from their wallet service

PoolinWallet is a crypto wallet service provided by Poolin, which runs the fourth-largest Bitcoin mining pool and third-largest Ethereum mining pool in the world. In the announcement they wrote that "Poolin Wallet is currently facing some liquidity problems due to recent increasing demands on withdrawals. But please be assured, all user assets are safe and the company's net worth is positive." The firm also urged users to ignore rumors of a rug pull.

Poolin users had been complaining about issues withdrawing from their Poolin wallets since at least August, which had sparked rumors of liquidity problems prior to the announcement. Poolin said in their announcement that they would announce their plans to resume withdrawals within two weeks.

Bitcoiner gets 6–15 months in prison, warns others about making peer-to-peer Bitcoin trades

Mark Hopkins, also known as "Doctor Bitcoin" or "Rizzn", announced on social media that he would be spending between 6 and 15 months in federal prison "for the crime of selling Bitcoin a few years ago". His charge carried a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment.

In 2019, his home was raided in connection to a Nigerian lottery scam, for which he converted between half a million and $1.5 million to cryptocurrency over the span of half a year. He was ultimately charged with "illegally operating a cash-to-cryptocurrency conversion business", to which he pleaded guilty (by his telling, in an attempt to get charges against his family members dropped).

Hopkins claims that "any time anyone with a crypto trades p2p (i.e., not with an exchange), they're legally liable under this statute as it's currently interpreted", though authorities have claimed that Hopkins knowingly aided the lottery scammer by telling them "I'm set up as a marketing company, so tell them you're paying for a marketing campaign".

Islamic State tests out NFTs

In the apparent "first known nonfungible token created and disseminated by a terrorist sympathizer", a supporter of the Islamic State has minted an NFT with a message praising an attack on a mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan. According to former U.S. intelligence officials cited by The Wall Street Journal the NFT is likely an experiment with new funding and channels for propaganda.

The token was briefly listed on OpenSea, Rarible, and various other marketplaces before those marketplaces took it down. However, because it was minted on the blockchain, the token itself cannot be removed. "It's very much an experiment...to find ways to make content indestructible," said Raphael Gluck, a co-founder of a jihadist research group.

Crypto scam watchdog group launches NFT project, which is then exploited

An illustration of a man in a brown suit, brown fedora, and sunglasses, smoking a cigar and holding a noose.Bad Guys promotional artwork (attribution)
The group Rug Pull Finder aims to combat fraud, scams, and hacks in the NFT space, often investigating crypto rug pulls and offering audits for projects and smart contracts. They decided to launch their own NFT project, "Bad Guys", which is themed around a group of baddies who steal NFTs.

Ironically, a flaw in the project's smart contract allowed individual wallets to mint many NFTs at once, rather than one per wallet, allowing two people to game the system and snap up more than 450 NFTs rather than the one they were allowed. Rug Pull Finder wrote that "An exploit was shared with us 30 minutes before mint went live. After reviewing it with 3 different dev teams, we did not believe the credibility of the information sent to us... We were clearly wrong, and we are truly truly sorry".

Rug Pull Finder announced that they had reached an agreement with the people who gamed the mint, and would buy back the 366 NFTs the duo still held for 2.5 ETH (~$4,000).

Crypto security researcher OKHotshot wrote, "I think its concerning when security minded projects like RugPullFinder get their discord breached and their code exploited yet they're offering those exact services to customers."

Georgian Coinbase customers take advantage of 100x price bug

Some Coinbase customers in Georgia (the country, not the state) took advantage of an hours-long price bug where a misplaced decimal point altered the exchange rate of the Georgian Lari (GEL) to 100x its actual value. Users were able to sell their cryptocurrencies for GEL to receive, in some cases, thousands of dollars more than the trades were worth. According to Blockworks, some users exchanged $150 worth of crypto for $15,000, more than three times the national average salary in the country.

Some users who took advantage of the bug and withdrew funds to their bank accounts found their accounts frozen shortly after, when Coinbase noticed the error and began working to claw back the funds. According to Coinbase, about 1,000 users took advantage of the error.

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