Korean authorities raid seven cryptocurrency exchanges in relation to Terra investigation

Korean police cars parked outside an office building at nighttime. A lit "Upbit" sign is visible.Korean police executing one of the raids (attribution)
Prosecutors working on the fraud case around the May Terra/Luna collapse raided seven cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea including Bithumb, Upbit, and Coinone. They also raided eight other offices and residences in connection to the investigation. The investigators are reportedly looking for evidence to determine whether Terra founder and CEO Do Kwon may have intentionally spurred the collapse of the ecosystem.

$20 million taken from Raccoon Network and Freedom Protocol in likely rug pull

20.8 million BUSD, a dollar-pegged stablecoin on BNB Chain, was transferred from Raccoon Network and the Freedom Protocol on July 19. Security firm PeckShield identified the incident as a scam perpetrated by the people running the projects, although Raccoon Network has tried to claim the transfers were the result of a hack.

Raccoon Network is a metaverse project. Freedom Protocol invested in the project in late June, and announced they would be working together. Freedom Protocol is a defi project that advertises an 183,394.2% APY "compounded by scientific calculations".

$7,500–$300,000 NFT-holders-only club set to open in SF, holders still have to pay for their food

Artist rendering of a building with curved Japanese-temple-like roofs, amidst a park surrounded by skyscrapersArtist's rendering of the Sho Restaurant (attribution)
Salesforce Park, a suspended park area underneath the Salesforce Tower, has been described as intentionally unwelcoming to the many unhoused San Franciscans it looms atop. Parts of the new restaurant intended to loom over Salesforce Park are even more ostentatious and exclusive—people will need to pay between $7,500–$300,000 to gain access to the members-only Sho Club at the Sho Restaurant, which is set to open in autumn 2023.

The Sho Restaurant does plan to allow members of the public as well as NFT holders, and even the holders will still have to pay for their food. NFT holders also get access to the exclusive Sho Club, and things like "Access to all future Sho Club lounges" (no such lounges appear to be in planning). Those who pay $15,000 or $300,000 for top two tiers of NFTs receive access to perks including a "Monthly curated omakase members dinner (food & beverage not included).

FBI warns of fraudulent crypto apps that have stolen an estimated $42.7 million

The FBI's Cyber Division issued a notification about fraudulent cryptocurrency investment apps that are successfully being used to defraud American investors. The scammers typically claim to offer cryptocurrency investment services to their targets, then convince them to download mobile apps that resemble genuine crypto trading apps (sometimes mimicking actual exchanges). The apps typically show the users' accounts increasing in value, but when users try to withdraw funds they find they're unable. Sometimes the apps defraud their victims even further by claiming they need to pay an additional "tax" before they can withdraw.

The FBI stated they had identified 244 victims, and estimated the total loss associated with these fraudulent apps to be around $42.7 million.

Bexplus crypto exchange closes, gives users only 24 hours to withdraw funds

The cryptocurrency exchange Bexplus announced that "due to force majeure, Bexplus will stop service from now on". Users were told to close their open positions and withdraw any funds within only a 24-hour period, before positions would be automatically closed and the withdrawal service would become unavailable.

Only four days prior, on July 14, Bexplus had published a press release offering "rewards worth up to $5,000 to new users who sign up and make their first deposit". The project also promised its users up to 21% interest on bitcoin kept with the exchange. Bexplus had also promised a 100% match on deposits to the platform, up to 10 BTC (currently priced at $235,550).

BlockFi offers employee buyouts to further reduce headcount one month after cutting 20% of staff

The cryptocurrency lender BlockFi is reportedly offering employees buyouts—sorry, a "voluntary separation program"—in an effort to reduce their headcount even further. Those employees receive 10 weeks of paid leave, 10 weeks of continued health insurance, and unemployment eligibility if they resign.

The move came only a month after BlockFi laid off 20% of their employees, or around 170 people. The company appears to be struggling to stay afloat, soliciting $400 million in loans from Sam Bankman-Fried's FTX crypto exchange and signing a deal with FTX that gives the exchange the opportunity to acquire them.

Gemini lays off second round of employees in less than two months

After laying off 10% of its workforce in the first week of June, Gemini has performed a second round of layoffs. The layoffs have not been announced externally, nor were they widely communicated internally, according to employees who spoke to TechCrunch. One employee said that 68 members, or 7% of the employee base, were no longer in the company Slack channel on Monday morning.

The week prior, an internal operating plan document was shared to the anonymous employee platform Blind, which outlined a plan that would reduce company headcount to around 800—a 15% reduction. The plan was taken down shortly after. Gemini co-founder Cameron Winklevoss wrote in a Slack message that the leak was "super lame", and wrote that "friendly reminder that Karma is the blockchain of the universe — an immutable ledger that keeps track of positive and negative behavior."

Anthony Scaramucci's SkyBridge Capital suspends redemptions from crypto-exposed fund

SkyBridge Capital, an investment firm founded by Anthony Scaramucci, reportedly suspended redemptions from its "Legion Strategies" fund. Around 18% of the $230 million fund is allocated to crypto-related investments, including Bitcoin and Sam Bankman-Fried's private FTX crypto exchange.

The fund is down 30% YTD. According to Scaramucci, the suspension was to avoid "damag[ing] investors that want to stay in the funds" if many investors decide to exit in a less than "orderly" fashion.

Binance faces €3.3 million fine for operating in the Netherlands without registering

Binance, the world's largest crypto exchange, was fined €3.3 million ($3.35 million) by De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) for operating in the Netherlands without the required registration. According to NOS, the fine was higher than most fines imposed for this type of infraction, partly due to Binance's enormous size. The regulators had issued a public warning about Binance operating without registration in August 2021.

The fine was imposed on April 25, 2022, and Binance filed an appeal in June. This is not Binance's first time playing fast and loose with regulatory bodies—in February, Binance halted activities in Israel due to being unlicensed. In December 2021, the Ontario Securities Commission released a statement to say that Binance wasn't registered in the province, but Binance continued to operate there anyway for several more months.

Police shut down the AEX crypto exchange

The AEX crypto exchange paused all withdrawals on June 16, estimating a 36-hour outage "to avoid unnecessary panic withdrawal". Then, instead of re-enabling all withdrawals, they re-enabled them in a piecemeal fashion, with several announcements each day that withdrawals were enabled for some extremely minor altcoins, but never for the more popular cryptocurrencies.

Then, on July 17, the exchange released a new announcement: "Due to cooperation with the police investigation, the platform has suspended related services... Please wait for the police announcement." They also wrote in the post, "AEX reserves the right of final interpretation of this announcement", and below the signature wrote, "The closer you look, the further you see."

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