Web3 influencer Elena tries to sell NFT collection of stolen art

Pixel art of three test tubes containing green, pink, and gold liquid on a dark purple background. On the right is a screenshot of identical pixel art from vecteezy.com Atomic Ordinals NFT on left; source of stolen artwork on right (attribution)
Web3 influencer Elena announced she would be launching an NFT collection titled "Atomic Ordinals", which would be inscribed on the Bitcoin blockchain. She claimed that the 200 images "fus[ed] my love for medicine and artistic expression fueled by a passion for emerging tech and education." She wrote, "I've spent countless hours pouring my heart and soul into each piece 🥺" The NFTs were set to mint for 0.05 BTC, meaning the collection would have earned her around 10 BTC ($300,000) if it minted out.

As it turned out, Elena had actually directly copied the pixel art from various sources. When accused of copying it, she published a screen capture video claiming to show that she had created the artwork "pixel by pixel", but people were quickly able to find the true sources of the artwork.

Eventually, she came as close to an admission as she is apparently going to get in an announcement that she would be pausing the sale: "I have heard your concerns about the art and I will be working to fix the file quality and any images that might be seen as 'copied' as they were only retraces and I never had any ill intent whatsoever."

Binance cancels registration in the United Kingdom

Binance's footprint is shrinking even further, as the company has canceled its registration with the United Kingdom's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This means that the company will not be able to perform any regulated activities in the country.

Binance had applied for registration after being warned by the FCA in July 2021 to seek registration before launching its business in the region.

Since the beginning of June, Binance has also announced it will exit the Netherlands and Cyprus amid regulatory issues.

Financial Times alleges Crypto.com is trading against its own customers

A report out of the Financial Times alleges that the Singapore-based Crypto.com exchange runs proprietary trading and market making teams. This is a controversial activity — though not uncommon in the crypto world — because of the conflicts of interest that are introduced when these functions are combined with those of an exchange. Speaking to CNBC about similar activities by other exchanges, US SEC chair Gary Gensler said, "These trading platforms, they call themselves exchanges, are commingling a number of functions. In traditional finance, we don't see the New York Stock Exchange also operating a hedge fund, making markets."

Sources cited by the FT allege that Crypto.com made "absolutely dramatic sworn statements that Crypto.com was in no way involved in trading" to other trading houses, and claim that employees were asked to lie about the existence of internal market makers. Crypto.com has refuted these allegations, and acknowledged that they run a market maker.

"This is not a controversial practice," Crypto.com said about the controversial practice.

Machi Big Brother sues zachxbt

A grey outline of a penguin with four eyes, on a black backgroundzachxbt's avatar (attribution)
Crypto personality and creator of C.R.E.A.M. Finance Jeffrey Huang, aka "Machi Big Brother", has filed a defamation lawsuit against crypto sleuth zachxbt. Huang alleges that zachxbt has defamed Huang with false claims via a Medium article that accuses Huang of multiple pump-and-dump schemes that enriched Huang to the tune of 22,000 ETH (~$38 million at today's prices).

Huang is also annoyed at zachxbt's observations about the multiple hacks of C.R.E.A.M. Finance, which zachxbt wrote had been exploited three times "due to negligence". "Putting aside that Cream Finance was exploited two, not three times", Huang hilariously writes in the lawsuit, taking issue with the fact that zachxbt supposedly intentionally omitted that some funds were returned and that Huang claims to have been no longer involved with the project by that point. It's not made clear in the lawsuit which of the three hacks recorded on Web3 is Going Just Great — to the tune of $37.5 million (February 2021), $25–30 million (August 2021), and $130 million (October 27, 2021) — supposedly didn't happen.

Wyre finally shuts down

The crypto payments platform Wyre finally announced they would be winding down "due to market conditions". This came after a January announcement from the CEO, where it was not entirely clear whether the company was shutting down or just massively "scaling back".

Wyre had been a partner of Binance US, through which Binance was able to accept USD deposits. However, Binance US is now the target of SEC regulatory action, and has suspended US dollar deposits. Wyre wrote in their announcement that the closure "is not due to any regulatory agency direction". Sure thing.

Binance to leave the Netherlands after failing to obtain license

As they are wont to do, Binance set up shop in the Netherlands without getting permission from the country's regulators. However, after being warned and then fined €3.3 million (~$3.35 million) in January, they apparently finally decided it was time to try to comply with requirements.

Sadly for them, they were unable to obtain a VASP registration in the country, and their "many alternative avenues to service Dutch residents in compliance with Dutch regulations" didn't pan out either. They announced that, effective immediately, they would no longer be accepting new customers from the region. Existing customers in the country will soon be only able to withdraw assets, and will not be able to purchase assets or trade on the platform.

Binance US cuts staff following SEC lawsuit

The US arm of Binance has cut around 50 positions, amounting to approximately 10% of its US employees. In a message to employees, Binance.US CEO Brian Shroder explained, "Because of our preparation for a prolonged and very costly legal battle, the Board asked Management to right-size our organization and reduce our burn rate to ensure long-term viability".

Shroder is, of course, referring to the recent lawsuit from the SEC as well as a lawsuit from the CFTC that was filed in March.

Binance looks to exit Cyprus

Although Binance's Cyprus arm was only registered in October 2022, the company is already looking to deregister in the country. According to Binance, they're pulling back in smaller EU countries in order to "focus on our efforts on fewer regulated entities in the EU", where they will need to come into compliance with the recent MiCA legislation by the time it comes into effect.

CoinEx settles with New York for $1.7 million

The Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange CoinEx has agreed to pay $1.17 million in refunds to investors and $600,000 in penalties for failing to register as a securities and commodities broker-dealer and for falsely representing itself as a crypto exchange. The lawsuit was initially filed in February, and alleged that the company "engaged in repeated and persistent fraudulent practices".

The company is also banned from operating in the state going forward. The agreement requires CoinEx to implement geoblocking to prevent people with New York IP addresses from accessing the platform, and prohibits the company from creating new accounts for US customers or allowing US customers to do anything other than withdraw their assets.

FPG halts withdrawals after $15–20 million hack

The institutional cryptocurrency broker Floating Point Group (FPG) announced to customers on June 14 that they would be suspending all activity on their platform following a "cyber security incident" that had occurred on June 11. "While the loss at this point is still being investigated and analyzed, the number as we understand it today is between $15M-$20M in cryptocurrencies lost," they wrote on Twitter.

The group announced that they were working with "the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, our regulators and Chainalysis" to investigate the attack. The group had previously earned SOC 2 certification for its cybersecurity controls.

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