While simply claiming in a lawsuit that a crypto token is a security does not necessarily constitute a firm decision that it is so, this has been enough in the past to lead exchanges to remove token listings. The 2020 lawsuit against Ripple and its XRP token led to the token widely being delisted from exchanges serving US customers.
After this was brought to BNB Chain's attention by crypto sleuth zachxbt, they tweeted that they "acted quickly (within 10 minutes) to ban the offending accounts and remove the posts. We've taken steps to secure the server and protect against any further abuse." However, less than an hour later they put out a new tweet announcing that the URL had been hijacked to redirect to a new server.
"This is a scam, and if you connect your wallet, you will lose your funds. Please exercise caution until we are able to confirm a resolution", they wrote.
The SEC, apparently unconvinced by Coinbase's usual spiel, filed a complaint with five claims for relief involving operating without registering with the SEC and offering unregistered securities by way of providing a cryptocurrency staking program.
Coinbase has responded with its usual bluster, and vowed to fight the lawsuit. They don't really have much choice, given their business is almost entirely predicated on being able to continue operating in the US. A tweet by Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong refers to "the US congress... introducing new legislation to fix the situation", suggesting he is hoping that Congress might bail him out of the mess he's in. Given the amount of lobbying Coinbase has been doing, and the apparent bought and paid for crypto advocates who sit in Congress, his hopes are not entirely misplaced, but we shall see. As with the lawsuit against Binance, this is not likely to resolve anytime soon, particularly if the companies both decide to fight in court.
- "SEC Charges Coinbase for Operating as an Unregistered Securities Exchange, Broker, and Clearing Agency", U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
- SEC v. Coinbase
- Tweet by Brian Armstrong
The complaint echoes some of the allegations made by the CFTC in a March lawsuit, including that Binance.US was primarily a front for Binance's international platform that was used to try to distract US regulators. However, it also goes farther by adding allegations around Binance's lack of controls around market manipulation, which the SEC alleges contradict public statements by Binance that they had sophisticated programs to prevent wash trading and other manipulative actions. The SEC even claims that the CZ-owned and -operated market maker Sigma Chain was engaged in substantial wash trading on the platform.
The SEC lawsuit was also a bit of a bombshell in its naming of some major cryptocurrencies as securities: SOL, ADA, MATIC, FIL, ATOM, SAND, MANA, ALGO, AXS, and COTI. These are the crypto assets associated, respectively, with the Solana, Cardano, Polygon, Filecoin,[d] Cosmos, The Sandbox, Decentraland, Algorand, Axie Infinity, and Coti projects.
Following the thefts, Atomic Wallet tweeted that they were aware of the reports of wallet compromises, and that they were attempting to learn more about the attacks, but had not yet confirmed any method of attack. They've since taken down the wallet software download page, likely out of concern that the software itself has been compromised.
Crypto sleuth zachxbt compiled a list of reported compromised Atomic Wallets, finding that multiple individuals lost multiple millions in the attack. The largest known individual theft so far involved almost $8 million in USDT (Tether); other individuals lost $2.8 million in USDT and 1,897 ETH (~$3.5 million).
Users of Atomic Wallet have been advised to transfer their assets to other wallets.
On June 6, both zachxbt and blockchain research group Elliptic speculated that the laundering strategy by the thieves resembled that of the North Korea-linked Lazarus Group, which has been responsible for other major crypto thefts.
The leaked key allowed the attacker to transfer ownership of project smart contracts to themselves, though they later returned ownership.
unshETH posted a message to the hacker, demanding they return 90% of the stolen funds. They threatened: "We want to be clear, and this is not a bluff: we know who you and some people connected to you (friends) are, and we will absolutely move forward with law enforcement if you have not returned the money by the deadline above. We don't want to do this to you or have to rope your friends in, and would prefer everything be settled and everyone just move forward, but if we don't get the funds back by the above-mentioned time, we will be left with no choice in order to protect our protocol."
"Sounds exactly like someone bluffing would say", wrote one commenter.
- "Team Behind Offshore Yuan, Hong Kong Dollar Stablecoins Detained by Chinese Police: Report", CoinDesk
- "独家：离岸人民币稳定币CNHC发行团队失联，或因涉案被司法部门带走", PA News (in Chinese)
Binance did not list the jurisdictions in which it would be ending privacycoin trading, but users in France, Spain, and Poland all reported receiving alerts. This suggested it could be related to the recent passage of the MiCA crypto legislation in the European Union. The resolution states: "The operating rules of the trading platform for crypto-assets shall prevent the admission to trading of crypto-assets that have an inbuilt anonymisation function unless the holders of those crypto-assets and their transaction history can be identified by the crypto-asset service providers operating a trading platform for crypto-assets."
In late June, Binance announced that they had reversed their decision, and would continue to offer the tokens.
Binance issued a statement that the firings were related to poor performance and "cultural fit", an unlikely explanation for such a substantial cut.
In January 2023, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao had stated that Binance planned to grow its employee count by 15–30% in 2023, even after more than doubling its employees in 2022. In March, responding to rumors of layoffs, Binance stated that they were "not planning any layoffs" and that in fact they planned to hire more than 500 employees by mid-year.
The amount is owed by affiliate OneTeam Partners. In April, Sportico reported that sports NFT platform Dapper Labs had discussed restructuring its deal with the NFL and NFLPA due to an extremely rocky year. So too had DraftKings, which had signed a deal with the NFLPA for its "Reignmakers" player trading card NFTs.
"Charity NFT project" by supposed cancer patient raises $117,000 with stolen art before being exposed as a fraud
Several hours later, the project creator deleted her Twitter account, and crypto sleuth zachxbt unearthed evidence that the pixel art she had been selling as NFTs had been stolen from various others. Altogether, the "Pixel Penguins" NFT project she promoted raised around 63.5 ETH (~$117,000).
Wang later apologized for promoting the scam, claiming that he had tried to do due diligence but had been in contact with her for over a year, and had spoken on the phone with someone claiming to be her art teacher. However, zachxbt wrote, "Seems some people called it out last year. Not sure how much he actually 'verified'".
According to The Information, MoonPay never disclosed that $150 million of the Series A funding was used to purchase shares from insiders including Soto-Wright, and never went to the company. Several weeks after the funding round, Soto-Wright purchased a $38 million Miami mansion.
In June 2022, Bybit settled a complaint from the Ontario Securities Commission for operating an unregistered platform and offering unregistered securities to Ontarian investors. The company disgorged CA$2.5 million (US$1.9 million) as result. At the time, the OSC stated that Bybit was working to come into compliance with the OSC's requirements.
Apparent whitehat exploits El Dorado Exchange, claiming developers built in a backdoor to steal user funds
The attacker promised to return all funds, minus a 10% "white hat fee", if the developers "admit to manipulating the prices", and also offered to disclose other vulnerabilities they claimed to have found in the project.
The project founders wrote in response: "Yes we acknowledge making an ill-advised decision to manipulate the price. However our intention was to blacklist those who had previously exploited the system, fully aware that all transactions are recorded on the blockchain. We did not aim to misappropriate users funds as this would leave a traceable record. We will promptly remove the problematic bomb contract."
The exploiter began returning funds shortly afterwards.
The exchange offered no estimate of when withdrawals might be re-enabled.
After the attack, Jimbos Protocol tweeted "We are aware of the exploit regarding our protocol and are actively in contact with law enforcement and security professionals. We will release further information when possible." They also sent an on-chain message to the exploiter, offering to stop all investigations if the hacker returns 90% of the stolen funds.
The stolen ₦2 billion would have been worth around US$4.8 million based on the value of the Naira at the time of the theft.
Four executives were arrested in connection to the investigation in April, under suspicion that they had received ₩2.4 billion (~$2.2 million) in bribes in exchange for listing dozens of coins.
Coinone is one of the most popular South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges. In July 2022, it was among the seven exchanges raided by Korean authorities in the wake of the Terra/Luna collapse, as the country began applying harsher scrutiny to crypto platforms.
However, Unbanked also let on that their closure was more related to an investment falling through than to any regulatory issues. The company wrote that a $5 million investment was never delivered, and that the company had "exhausted all options" funding-wise.
- "Unbanked will be winding down", Unbanked
The decision comes amidst broader troubles for DCG, which is embroiled in the bankruptcy proceedings of its Genesis subsidiary. Earlier in May, DCG missed a $630 million payment to Genesis.
The scam was helped along by ben.eth, a Twitter personality who retweeted one of the tweets by the compromised account in which Aoki appeared to endorse a token created by ben.eth. According to crypto sleuth zachxbt, multiple followers of ben.eth were impacted by his retweet, which zachxbt characterized as "quote tweet[ing] a phishing scam posted by the compromised @steveaoki account for clout". Ben.eth ultimately promised to reimburse his fans who lost money thanks to his tweets.
Meanwhile, rumors swirled that the Multichain team had been arrested by Chinese police, though there doesn't seem to be much corroborating evidence of this.
The issues and the rumors sparked a drop in token price of around 30%. Several large parties also appeared to distance themselves from the project and its token, including the Fantom Foundation, which withdrew 449,740 MULTI (~$2.4 million) in liquidity on SushiSwap.
On May 31, Multichain issued a statement that "we are currently unable to contact CEO Zhaojun and obtain the necessary server access for maintenance", and wrote that even more bridges were being impacted by the same issues as in the previous week.
On May 23, crypto sleuth zachxbt tweeted that the project appeared to have executed their exit scam, bridging around 31.6 million Tether to various addresses. Platform users began to report that they could not withdraw funds.
The attacker has already drained locked votes and sold some of the $TORN tokens, which are governance tokens that both entitle the holder to a vote but also were being traded for $5–$7 around the time of the attack. The attacker has since tumbled 360 ETH (~$655,300) through Tornado Cash to obscure its final destination. Meanwhile, $TORN plummeted in value more than 30% as the attacker dumped the tokens.
The attacker now has full control over the DAO, which according to crypto security researcher Sam Sun grants them the ability to withdraw all of the locked votes (as they did), drain all of the tokens in the governance contract, and "brick" (make permanently non-functional) the router.
Croatian cryptocurrency investment company BitLucky reportedly collapses; more than $75 million allegedly missing
Some have expressed the opinion that BitLucky was a Ponzi scheme all along, given the unreasonable promises of 5–25% monthly returns. The editor of a crypto news outlet also expressed that "there was a 'line of [red] flags'", including that Burazer never wanted to appear in the media or have his picture shown online.
- "Najveća domaća kripto prevara? Riječanin klijentima uzeo 70 milijuna €. Upravo je u bijegu", Jutarnji list (in Croatian)
- "DeFi protocol WDZD Swap exploited for $1.1M: CertiK", CoinTelegraph
The funds are not at risk, but it will take at least a week before the funds are unstuck because any code change requires a DAO vote. "Considering governance times, if approved, the fix will be applied in approximately 7 days from now: 1 day of delay to start voting, 3 days of voting, 1 day of timelock on Ethereum, and 2 extra days of timelock on Polygon," explained a post by Bored Ghost Developing, a contributor to Aave.
Phishing-as-a-service company "Inferno Drainer" steals assets nominally worth $5.9 million in three months
One Inferno Drainer victim lost assets worth around $417,000. They later sent an on-chain message to the thief, writing: "you are ruining my life and for me this money was a lifetime's work, I won't have enough my family..." They asked the attacker to return 50% of the funds stolen from them, offering to not report the scammer to Interpol and other authorities in return, and even offering to "sign a contract allowing you to use legally the stolen crypto".
However, Grumpy Cat's owner owns trademarks associated with Grumpy Cat, and it seems she has become aware of the coin. On May 18, she minted an NFT and transferred it to the Grumpy Cat Coin deployer address. The NFT image is a copy of a cease and desist letter representing Grumpy Cat Limited. The letter describes the coin offering as a "blatant and willful infringement of our client's trademark rights", and insists that the coin creators stop all activities related to the coin offering or face legal action. The letter also mentioned that the URL of the project website —
grumpycat.fyi — was a violation of the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. The project subsequently changed its domain to
gccoin.fyi in an apparent effort to avoid this issue.
Simultaneously, a message addressed to holders of the Grumpy Cat Coin was posted to Grumpy Cat's Twitter account, describing the token as a "desperate, sad attempt to scam unwitting traders" by "SlumDoge Millionaire and their cohorts".
The New York Attorney General found that Coin Cafe's misleading fee structure was still in effect even after the company obtained a BitLicense from the Department of Financial Services.
The project had been audited by blockchain security firm CertiK, and displayed the "audited by CertiK" badge on their website. This added to criticisms of CertiK, who have come under fire for auditing multiple projects that later turned out to be scams. CertiK defended themselves, writing that, "As an auditor, we cannot force projects to implement our recommendations, but we can clearly and publicly call out vulnerabilities where we find them". They argued that they had identified vulnerabilities within their audit that ultimately allowed for the exploit, including the high degree of centralization and the upgradability of the smart contracts.
Sam Altman's Worldcoin project incentivizes a black market for biometric data taken from people in developing nations
Sam Altman's Worldcoin project, a dystopian effort to use chrome orbs to scan the irises of people (often in developing nations) in exchange for vague promises of crypto compensation, is encountering even more difficulties. In April 2022, BuzzFeed News and MIT Technology Review both published in-depth reporting on some of the technical and ethical issues the project has run up against.
Now, the project is facing reports that people in China, who are not allowed to sign up legitimately, have been purchasing iris scans from individuals in Africa and Southeast Asia in order to circumvent the restriction. According to the news outlet BlockBeats, Chinese individuals have been engaging in "eyeball speculation": buying biometric data scanned en masse from villagers in Cambodia, Kenya, and elsewhere by people who then sell it for $30 or less, allowing the buyer to receive the associated Worldcoin payout (currently ~$20).
Worldcoin has said they are rolling out various measures to try to discourage this activity, including changing the in-person sign-up process. However, the project acknowledged that they have not figured out how to prevent this, writing: "Despite these precautions, it is important to acknowledge that they do not entirely safeguard against collusion or other attempts to bypass the one-person-one-proof principle. To address these challenges, innovative ideas in mechanism design and the attribution of social relationships will be necessary."
According to the grand jury indictment, Shetty planned to put the funds into cryptocurrency positions that "could have yielded returns of 20 percent or more annually", and planned to return 6% to Fabric, keeping the difference. This so-called "investment" contradicted the conservative investment strategy that Shetty had helped to draft for Fabric, and he concealed both the existence of the transfer and his involvement with HighTower.
Shetty "lost virtually all of [Fabric's] money" "within a matter of weeks", at which point he fessed up to Fabric. Shetty had placed all of the funds into protocols based around the Terra stablecoin, which collapsed dramatically only a month later.
Shetty has pled not guilty, and has been released on bond.
hitbtc.comapproved transactions to swap their crypto assets, only to find the site drained their wallets.
Other concerns arose regarding the discovery of the assets. Some were worried about possible conflicts of interest, particularly in relation to Kim's 2021 proposal of a bill that would delay taxation of crypto profits. Others were worried about the source of the funds used by Kim for crypto trading; Kim claims he did not receive money from anyone to use for trading, and obtained the money through the sale of stocks.
On May 10, the Democratic Party recommended Kim sell his crypto holdings, and launched an investigation. Kim said later that day that he would perform the sales, and "transparently disclose data to the investigation team and undergo the inquiry faithfully".
On May 14, Kim resigned from the Democratic Party "for a while", continuing to deny the allegations but expressing wishes to not burden the party and its members over the controversy.
The subsequent day, Korean authorities raided the offices of Korean crypto exchanges Bithumb and Upbit in connection to the scandal, seeking transaction records and other information. Kim was reported to use those services for his crypto wallets.
Now, the company has announced that the project will be paused "for the indefinite future", blaming "lack of clarity" and "regulatory confusion" in the United States. The company simultaneously announced "SOL 4 Cocks", in which they will repurchase the Mecha Fight Club NFTs for 18 SOL (~$380). The NFTs had originally minted for 6.969 SOL (~$290 on mint date).
Irreverent Labs' website and social media now describe the company as an AI firm building "text to 3D and video prediction tools that facilitate the creation of AI-generated 3D content".
The decision was announced only a few weeks after the US Department of Justice announced charges against a group of individuals including Chorlian. Chorlian was charged with conspiracy to commit securities price manipulation and wire fraud in connection to an alleged scheme to manipulate the market for the HYDRO crypto token. If convicted, Chorlian faces a maximum of five years in prison.
- Tweet thread by Andy Chorlian
- "Paradigm-Backed NFT Ownership Platform Tessera is Shutting Down", CoinDesk
- Press release by the Department of Justice
A spokesperson stated that the delisting was a reaction to "the most up-to-date regulatory guidance and the latest industry developments". The decision is likely related to mounting industry pressure, and statements from SEC Chair Gary Gensler that most crypto assets are securities.
This is only the latest in a string of events involving regulatory pressure on Binance. In April, Binance canceled the acquisition of the bankrupt Voyager platform by its Binance.US arm, citing a "hostile and uncertain regulatory climate in the US". This move came shortly after a March lawsuit from the US CFTC against Binance and its CEO. Elsewhere, Binance closed its derivatives arm in Australia in April, citing issues with the Australian securities regulator.
In June and October 2022, the Aragon DAO — that is, all holders of the $ANT token or (later) their delegates — voted on several proposals supporting a move to place the Aragon treasury under DAO control. The treasury is a pool of crypto assets currently priced at around $174 million. However, the tokens continued to remain under control of the Aragon Association.
On May 9, 2023, the Aragon Association announced that they would not be following through with the treasury change, and instead would be "repurposing the Aragon DAO into a grants program". They attributed the decision to "coordinated social engineering and 51% attack" on the DAO that began shortly after a small portion of the treasury assets were transferred.
A week before the announcement, Aragon also banned a group of token holders from the group's Discord channel. Aragon characterized the group as appearing "coordinated" and alleged the group was "engaging in harassment". They claimed the group were members of the "Risk Free Value Raiders", which they described as "a sophisticated, well-resourced, and coordinated group of actors that target crypto projects with an imbalance between the value of their token and treasury". They also accused the group and its members of coordinating governance attacks on other DAOs, including Invictus DAO and Mango Markets. Aragon wrote that they believed the RFV Raiders were aiming to "[extract] value from Aragon for financial profit" rather than pursue the DAO's goals of supporting developers building DAO infrastructure.
One of the banned members told a different story, publishing and later taking down a statement in which he claimed that they were trying to get answers to questions about why the Aragon team was so slow to enact the DAO vote. "We find these bans, failure to empower the community with treasury transfers, and overall lack of transparency to be frustrating and against the ethos of both what DAOs are meant to be and what Aragon team members have repeatedly said they stood for. However, these actions have become a common pattern for Aragon," he wrote.
On May 11, Aragon apologized for how they handled the crisis, unbanned the banned Discord members, and announced that they would "keep following a gradual [treasury] transfer approach, making sure it aligns with the mission of the project", but continued to characterize the members as attackers and reiterated that "we won’t stand for hostile and coordinated attacks".
Everledger had in the past raised US$37 million in funding. AUD$3 million (~US$2 million) of that funding came from the Australian government's blockchain grants program in 2021.
- "Government and Tencent-backed Aussie blockchain firm collapses", Australian Financial Review
Bittrex used to be a much larger presence in the US, enjoying more than 20% of US market share in 2018. It has since dropped to below 1%.
The entity that filed for bankruptcy in the US is Bittrex, Inc., which is separate from Bittrex Global. "This announcement does not impact Bittrex Global, which will continue operations as normal for its customers outside the U.S.," said a Bittrex spokesperson.
In the most recent hack, around $7 million was stolen as attackers discovered a vulnerability in the contracts of the DEI token. Some of the attackers were apparent whitehats, who executed the exploit to safeguard the funds until they could be returned to a secure address. As of May 8, $5.5 million of the $7 million stolen had been returned.
On September 6, Binance announced that they were working to return the frozen 1,909 ETH to the people who had purchased it in the funding rounds.
The WSB coin launched as an "official memecoin of r/wallstreetbets". The whitepaper explains the token allocation, saying that "It's the fairest launch memecoin you will find with no team allocation and no presale. Just a free airdrop and some coins for the community. 10% of the $WSB supply is reserved as a treasury for the r/wallstreetbets sub to do with as they please. I’m sure they will spend it wisely and definitely not waste it gambling or convincing each other to drink their own urine." Compelling!
The token launched, and quickly achieved a $50 million "market cap". However, on May 3 the token suddenly lost 90% of its value as one of the token creators, "zjz", dumped a massive quantity of the tokens allocated to the team, trading them for 334 ETH (~$635,000).
zjz has claimed that he only sold the tokens because another creator — "WSBMod" — was secretly draining the token by creating huge airdrops and then claiming them for himself. WSBMod, on the other hand, claims that zjz's actions were theft, and has threatened to involve the police and FBI.
Crypto sleuth zachxbt has since gotten involved in the fray, and along with another prominent crypto figure has joined a multi-sig wallet to try to help secure the funds' return without giving any of the creators involved in the dispute unilateral control.
Chastain was asked to resign by OpenSea in September 2021 after a Twitter user discovered apparent evidence that he had been engaging in insider trades. He was arrested and charged with money laundering in June 2022.
Chastain unsuccessfully argued in his defense that information about which NFTs would be prominently featured on OpenSea wasn't insider knowledge, and "nobody told Nate that he couldn't use or share that information". However, prosecutors argued that attempt to use anonymous accounts to make the trades suggested that he knew what he was doing was wrong.
This case has been described as the first NFT-related insider trading case, and could set a precedent for other similar charges.
It's not clear when precisely the change went into effect, but reports of the limitation began appearing in April 2023.