Investors seek to recoup around $35 million from Canadian "Crypto King" in his early 20s

Aidan Pleterski and a woman with her face blurred stand in front of a lime green Lamborghini in what appears to be an upscale suburbAidan Pleterski with one of his many cars (attribution)
"[I] was a 20-something-year-old kid" said Aiden Pleterski, when asked why he kept his "investment" scheme going when he knew he couldn't repay his existing customers. Although he once described himself as the "Crypto King" in several articles he paid to have run, Pleterski is now undergoing a bankruptcy process and facing multiple lawsuits, where creditors are trying to first find and then recoup the more than $35 million they've collectively entrusted to him.

So far, the court has seized two McLarens, two BMWs, and a Lamborghini—only a few cars out of the eleven luxury cars Pleterski owned, plus another four he was renting. Investors have also asked about the $45,000-a-month lakefront mansion he was renting in Ontario, watches, and gold bars, hoping they could be liquidated to repay some of his debts.

Pleterski had promised investors that he would invest on their behalf, taking 30% of any capital gains, with a goal of achieving 10–20% gains biweekly. He also promised that any loss on the initial investment would be paid back in full. Pleterski had made some money in crypto as a teenager, but according to him, he lost most of the money he was given to invest in late 2021 and early 2022 "in a series of margin calls and bad trades". An investor claims that at one point, he was given pictures and videos of financial statements showing an account with $311 million, but when he checked with the company supposedly maintaining the account, they said they had no accounts with that kind of funds. So far, the court and investors alike have struggled to untangle Pleterski's mess—according to him, he was unorganized and didn't track his finances or debts.

UK financial regulator warns against FTX exchange

The United Kingdom's Financial Conduct Authority issued a warning that FTX is not authorized by them, but is targeting consumers in the UK. "Almost all firms and individuals offering, promoting or selling financial services or products in the UK have to be authorised or registered by us," they wrote in the announcement, noting that FTX is not. Because of this, "you are unlikely to get your money back if things go wrong".

A spokesperson from FTX said they believed that "a scammer is impersonating FTX", which they said they thought led to the warning. However, that statements in the warning are accurate: FTX is not registered with the FCA, and they serve UK customers.

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.

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.

Thai SEC punishes Bitkub CTO for trading Bitkub Coin on insider information

The Securities and Exchange Commission in Thailand took action against Samret Wajanasathian, the chief technology officer of the Thai crypto exchange Bitkub. The SEC fined him 8.5 million baht (~$234,000), and said they would bar him from serving as a director or executive at any crypto firms for a year.

The SEC reported that Wajanasathian had purchased around $61,000 of Bitkub Coin ($KUB) just before it was publicized that the Siam Commercial Bank would purchase a 51% stake in Bitkub. After the announcement, the value of KUB rose 100%.

Earlier that week, the SCM had announced they would not be following through on purchasing the planned $500 million stake in Bitkub, due to concerns over "various issues" that were raised by the Thai SEC.

Whistleblower website alleges that the creators of the Avalanche blockchain paid lawyers to attack competitors

Kyle Roche sitting in a dim restaurant setting, speaking and gesturing. A caption on the video reads "I'm just a crazy motherfucker".Roche in one of the secretly recorded videos (attribution)
An anonymous whistleblower website called "CryptoLeaks" has alleged that Ava Labs, the company behind the Avalanche blockchain, paid lawyers to sue competitors and obtain confidential information through legal discovery. The site includes secretly recorded videos of Kyle Roche, a founding partner of the Roche Freedman law firm which has filed class action lawsuits against numerous companies including Solana, Binance, and others. In some of the surreptitiously recorded videos, Roche is visibly drunk.

"A pact was formed that involved Ava Labs granting Roche Freedman a massive quantity of Ava Labs stock and Avalanche cryptocurrency (AVAX), now worth hundreds of millions of dollars, in exchange for Roche Freedman agreeing to pursue a hidden purpose," the site claims.

The site does include video clips of Roche saying some surprising things, although the clips are very short and devoid of context. The whole thing should be taken with a grain of salt.

Ava Labs founder Emin Gün Sirer dismissed the claims on the site as "conspiracy theory nonsense". Roche published a statement about the " numerous unsourced false statements and illegally obtained, highly edited video clips that are not presented with accurate context", in which he said that his statements about filing class action suits at the behest of Ava Labs were "false, and were obtained through deceptive means, including a deliberate scheme to intoxicate, and then exploit me, using leading questions. The statements are highly edited and spliced out of context."

CEO of Ragnarok metaverse game admits to treasury mismanagement, including nearly $2 million in trading losses and exorbitant salaries

Pixel art characters stand in a bar setting with a tiled floor made from hexagons. There are cardboard boxes, a jukebox, and a cook behind the bar.Ragnarok screenshot (attribution)
Ragnarok is a metaverse role-playing game that launched its character NFTs in April 2022. The project received $1.75 million in seed funding, plus another $17.5 million from NFT sales and royalties.

On August 26, CEO Fanfaron published a Substack post providing a breakdown of the project's finances, which he began by saying, "As a previous business owner, and because Ragnarok is a startup and not a DAO, our initial plan was never to operate our finances in public, which is why we have historically been closed and unwilling to share full accounting of our balance sheet." As the post went on, it became clear there might be other reasons they were reticent to publish it.

The post revealed that Fanfaron had lost $1.827 million buying ETH during the crypto downturn: "I made mistakes by buying ETH multiple times when I thought it was an advantageous investment for the project, but then to protect downside risk and with the plan to reinvest at a better time, I sold our position in ETH, multiple times.."

It also revealed that the project is paying its team members apparently enormous salaries: $5.4 million in team compensation, plus another $1.5 million spent to buy out a co-founder. "We’re a scrappy startup," he wrote, after also acknowledging that he pays himself $50,000 a month ($600,000 a year)—a number he already reduced by $600,000 from his original salary of $1.2 million per year. He ultimately promised in the post to pay back his trading losses.

As for the game, well, it exists, which means it's already ahead of a lot of crypto games. They launched an alpha version of the game in late July after multiple delays, with Fanfaron explaining, "Our vision was to create something similar to WoW... we were, however, overeager and optimistic with regards to how much time it takes to create such a world." The alpha is a multiplayer pixel art world where characters can walk around and talk to each other, and interact with buildings. Battling, leveling, quests, missions, and breeding are apparently all yet to come.

Researcher zachxbt alleges that teenager who stole crypto worth $37 million in 2020 is responsible for a spate of crypto-related Twitter hacks

BirdPartner - The Secret Twitter Panel
Today, I will start to lease out access to my exclusive Twitter panel. This support hub allows you to request usernames, ban accounts, restore access to stolen/locked accounts, report instances of rule violations, and more.
Due to the extreme nature and power of the panel, access will be restricted to a limited amount of users at once. There are several packages; each becoming more discounted the bigger package you buy.Post on SWAPD advertising access to Twitter panel (attribution)
In 2020, a Canadian teenager used SIM swapping to steal US$37 million in Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash from a single person. Canadian police announced his arrest in November 2021 after he tried to buy a rare gaming username, also writing that they had seized around $5 million of the stolen funds.

Now, crypto investigator zachxbt thinks the same individual is indirectly responsible for a slew of compromised Twitter accounts that have then been used to promote crypto scams, including those of Beeple, DeeKay, and others. According to zachxbt, he has been selling access to a Twitter admin panel, which allows employee-level access to Twitter tools. This might explain how many of the accounts were compromised despite being protected by multi-factor authentication. According to zachxbt, "It’s still unclear as to how Redman gained access to the panel to make elevated requests & reset passwords. As of now it appears the method stopped working".

Hodlnaut seems to have lied about their Terra exposure

When Terra was collapsing in May, concerned users of the Hodlnaut lending platform asked whether the firm was exposed. CEO JT wrote on Twitter, "Hodlnaut as a firm did not take any losses on UST, users who held/bought UST on our platform did". Their social media manager wrote, "[Holdnaut] had 0 company exposure to [Anchor Protocol]", referring to the Terra-based lending protocol.

However, documents from the legal proceedings surrounding the now-underwater firm revealed that Hodlnaut had 317 million UST, which it liquidated at a loss when the previously dollar-pegged UST hit $0.85. In the filing, they wrote, "Due to the market's lack of liquidity, the average exit price of UST to USDC was around 42 cents on the dollar, resulting in realized losses to Hodlnaut Trading Ltd of about USD 189.7M. As a result, Hodlnaut's total debt to depositors of USD 500M became backed by realisable assets of around USD 315M as of 13 May 2022 due to the de-pegging event."

DegenTown NFT project rug pulls after promotion from Magic Eden

Cel shaded illustration of a humanoid figure with purple skin smirking. They have a roof of a house on their head with Japanese characters and lanterns hanging from it, and are wearing a grey cape with a black clasp. Behind them is fire and a night sky with a large moon.Degen Degen #4901 (attribution)
DegenTown, a collection of brightly-colored cel shaded humanoid figures, launched with much promotion from Magic Eden on their Launchpad minting service. Magic Eden aims to provide collectors with a level of trust in the project by requiring creators to disclose their identities to the company.

DegenTown first suffered issues in July, when the project's Twitter account was allegedly hacked, and users were tricked into approving a contract that drained their wallets. One individual behind the project promised they would compensate the users whose wallets were drained, but never did.

The project ultimately rug pulled instead, with Magic Eden acknowledging it in a blog post and Twitter thread on August 17. They wrote that they were "urging the original Degen Town founders to return the funds"—however, this is complicated somewhat by the fact that the identity of one of them is not known to Magic Eden. They explained, "Our prior policy was that we doxxed founders. NFTRamo claimed to be an advisor but we learned that he was actually the founder of the project and used being an advisor as a way of skirting our doxxing processes." This is not the first time their identity verification process was sidestepped—they introduced it after a serial rugpuller used their platform to anonymously sell and then rug pull another NFT project, but that same person was able to do it again only a few months later.

The DegenTown project minted 8,000 NFTs for 3 SOL apiece, bringing in $923,000. Beyond that, the creators took 7.5% in royalties on secondary sales. Magic Eden has said that they were able to get one of the two founders to return the funds they'd earned from the mint, and that they planned to use them to compensate buyers.

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