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Film producer pleads guilty in fraud investment scams | Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — A movie producer has pleaded guilty to several counts of fraud and money laundering arising from his fraudulent promotion of two cryptocurrency investment schemes, federal prosecutors said.

Ryan Felton, 48, entered the plea on the fourth day of his jury trial in his hometown of Atlanta on Thursday.

“The defendant used 21st century technology to perpetrate an age-old fraud: lying to investors to steal their money and fund his own lavish lifestyle,” U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said in a news release. “Felton’s conviction should serve as a warning to anyone who seeks to capitalize on emerging technology to victimize others.”

Investigators said Felton, in 2017, promoted an initial coin offering, or ICO, for an entertainment streaming platform promising to surpass Netflix. Prosecutors said he falsely promoted that Atlanta rapper T.I. was co-owner of the FLiK platform, the U.S. military had agreed to distribute the platform to service members, and FLiK was finalizing licensing deals with major film and television studios.

Instead of using investor funds to develop the platform, Felton used around $2.4 million from investors to fund an extravagant lifestyle. He bought a $1.5 million home, a Ferrari, a Chevy Tahoe, and about $30,000 in diamond jewelry, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia said.

Felton promoted a second ICO for a new company in 2018. Investigators say he raised more than $200,000 for CoinSpark and again diverted money to his personal bank account.

“The technology has advanced, but the crime remains the same, and those who invest in cryptocurrency must be wary of opportunities that appear too good to be true,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI is committed to protecting investors from sophisticated cryptocurrency scammers that seek to capitalize on the novelty of digital currency.”

Felton pleaded guilty to 12 counts of wire fraud, 10 counts of money laundering, and two counts of securities fraud.

Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date before U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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Film producer pleads guilty in fraud investment scams | National

ATLANTA (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a movie producer has pleaded guilty to several counts of fraud and money laundering arising from his fraudulent promotion of two cryptocurrency investment schemes. Ryan Felton entered the plea on the fourth day of his jury trial in Atlanta on Thursday. Prosecutors say the defendant used 21st century technology to perpetrate an age-old fraud: lying to investors to steal their money and fund his own lavish lifestyle. Investigators said Felton promoted an initial coin offering in 2017 for an entertainment streaming platform called FLiK, and diverted about $2.4 million from investors. They say he also raised more than $200,000 in 2018 while promoting a second company.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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FBI offers $100,000 reward for information on “Cryptoqueen” Ruja Ignatova, adds her to Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list

The FBI announced Thursday that it has added Ruja Ignatova — also known as “Cryptoqueen” — to its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. Ignatova is accused of creating a fake Bulgarian-based cryptocurrency company and defrauding investors out of nearly $4 billion. 

According to the FBI, Ignatova is the just the 11th woman to be added to the list in the organization’s 72-year-history. Authorities have now offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to her capture. 

“There are so many victims all over the world who were financially devastated by this,” Investigating Special Agent Ronald Shimko said in statement Thursday. “We want to bring her to justice.”

According to the FBI, Ignatova and her partner created a cryptocurrency company called OneCoin in 2014, which they claimed would be a “bitcoin killer.” Investigators said Ignatova promoted the company through a “multi-level marketing strategy” that encouraged initial investors to sell packages of OneCoin to friends and family. 

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Ruja Ignatova’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives poster

FBI


Shimko said that Ignatova used the excitement over cryptocurrency to lure in consumers who didn’t fully understand how cryptocurrency worked. 

“OneCoin claimed to have a private blockchain,” Shimko added. “This is in contrast to other virtual currencies, which have a decentralized and public blockchain. In this case, investors were just asked to trust OneCoin.” 

Investigators believe that Ignatova may have been tipped off that she was under investigation by U.S authorities. She was charged on October 12, 2017, and traveled from Sofia, Bulgaria, to Athens, Greece, on October 25 — but she hasn’t been seen since. 

Months later, a superseding indictment charged her with one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and securities fraud. 

Ignatova is 42 years old and was described as having “brown eyes and dark brown to black hair,” the FBI said, noting it’s possible she may have changed her appearance. The FBI also said she may be traveling with armed guards. 

Ignatova speaks English, German, and Bulgarian. She may be traveling on a fraudulent passport and has known connections to Bulgaria, Germany, Russia, Greece, and the United Arab Emirates. Shimko noted that before she disappeared, Ignatova lived a lavish lifestyle.


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Crypto Made Convenient With BoostX, Ethereum Launchpad, and Gate.io Launchpad | Features

The crypto market is flooded with downward trends, rug pulls, and volatility that validates the scepticism it attracts from investors. Given the range of surprises the crypto world holds, the introduction of launchpads has been a breath of fresh air for investors. Launchpads add a layer of certification to the crypto tokens they offer a gateway to. 

Why Support New Cryptos?

Given the current state of the crypto market, several crypto investors are turning towards tokens that are new and offer lesser volatility as opposed to the big tokens. New tokens, in their presale phase, offer low-price investments and potentially exponential profits.

Since new tokens are subject to warranted scepticism, launchpads add a level of legitimacy which makes investing in cryptocurrency easier and more secure. With endless potential, new tokens offer a great opportunity for portfolio diversification.

Some launchpads also make the opportunities of fintech available to the common public. They bring fresh creativity and inclusivity to the crypto ecosystem.

 

Here’s a list of crypto launchpads you must check out if you are eyeing new tokens with their futuristic features:

 1. BoostX

BoostX is a multi-chain launchpad dedicated to assisting crypto startups in raising finances and cultivating a loyal investor base. This platform now has the most advanced launchpad technology on the market. It prides itself on providing easy access to the most attractive presales in the market.

Pac-Man Frog, Calyx Token, Quitriam Finance, Securipop, Parody Coin, and other crypto opportunities are currently accessible at BoostX. The launchpad has a comprehensible list of tokens with lucid details of their pricing, presale dates, direct links to presale webpages, etc. Other than making investment easier for crypto enthusiasts, BoostX is also enabling fintech developers to expand their potential and rewrite the scene of crypto as we know it.

2. Ethereum Launchpad
The Ethereum Launchpad is a new platform that allows you to create your own cryptocurrency or token. It enables you to establish a new currency or token and sell it to the general public through an Initial Coin Offering (ICO).

The most attractive feature of the Ethereum Launchpad is that it provides a convenient platform for people to become validators, which further enables them to take an active part in the decision-making process for the Ethereum blockchain. The Ethereum blockchain powers the launchpad, which employs smart contracts to oversee the sale of your crypto token.

By easing out the process of creating cryptocurrencies, Ethereum Launchpad eliminates the risk of a rug pull as the crypto is built on a reliable platform.

3. Gate.io Launchpad

This launchpad is a token launch platform by Gate.io exchange. It happens to be a multi-chain liquidity enhancer that is decentralised.

The Gate.io Launchpad allows blockchain companies to raise funds, harness marketing, and build a follower base by selling tokens. The token sales for participants are fairly based on a first-come, first-served basis.

Fetch.AI, Harmony, and Celer Network are some of the ICOs that have been launched on the Gate.io Launchpad.

Launchpads add a level of convenience to your crypto journey in addition to cushioning investors against the risk of crypto scams. It is highly advised to carry out sufficient research before making investments on the blockchain.

Find exciting presales here:

https://www.boostx.finance/

 

 

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the writers and do not reflect those of Peacefmonline.com. Peacefmonline.com accepts no responsibility legal or otherwise for their accuracy of content. Please report any inappropriate content to us, and we will evaluate it as a matter of priority.

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3 Vancouver Island men charged in dark web cryptocurrency drug trafficking ring

Three Vancouver Island men are facing multiple charges in connection with a dark web drug-trafficking ring, funded by cryptocurrency.

Kien Trung Pham, Kerry Chang and Gordon Brooks were arrested on Feb. 4, 2020, about a year after police launched an online undercover investigation into an international dark web organized crime group that used the vendor name “AlwaysOverweight.”

The trio is scheduled to appear in Nanaimo provincial court on June 7, police said in a Tuesday news release.

Read more:

B.C. becomes first province to remove criminal penalties for possession of some hard drugs

The dark web is accessed through special anonymizing and encryption-enabled browsers that hide the user’s digital footprint.

According to B.C. RCMP, AlwaysOverweight used cryptocurrency and encrypted messaging applications to cover its tracks. Meanwhile, it trafficked illicit drugs, including methamphetamine, oxycodone, MDMA, Xanax, and what it claimed was heroin, but in fact, was fentanyl mixed with cutting agents.

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The Mounties’ federal serious and organized crime cybercrime operations group penetrated the criminal entity’s digital barriers and identified a Nanaimo address as the vendor’s physical location. Pham, Chang and Brooks were identified as suspects as the investigation evolved to “street-level drug transactions,” police said.


Click to play video: '‘This is a major step forward’: B.C. to remove criminal penalties for possession of some hard drugs'



‘This is a major step forward’: B.C. to remove criminal penalties for possession of some hard drugs


‘This is a major step forward’: B.C. to remove criminal penalties for possession of some hard drugs

The day police arrested the suspects, they executed search warrants on two Nanaimo homes and seized a variety of drugs, packaging, mailing envelopes, documents, cash, computers and data storage devices.

Pham was later charged with 11 counts of trafficking a controlled substance and four counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking. Brooks faces seven counts of both charges, and Chang was charged with one count of trafficking a controlled substance.

“The dark web is just one of the tools that organized crime uses to avoid detection, and so police need to continuously evolve their technical capabilities to stem the flow of toxic drugs into our communities,” Supt. Richard Bergevin said in the release.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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Peterborough police retrieve victim’s $100,000 lost in cryptocurrency scam – Peterborough

Peterborough police are warning residents to be very wary of cryptocurrency investment deals after a resident recently lost $100,000 in a scam.

The Peterborough Police Service say its fraud department launched an investigation after a resident reported investing more than $100,000 in cryptocurrency before learning that it was a scam.

City police, with assistance from the OPP, were able to determine the funds were still electronically accessible as they had not yet reached the point of not being attainable.

Read more:

Crypto market’s crash could send shockwaves through the financial system

Police say as a result, with the assistance of a crypto exchange, the investigators were able to return the funds to the city resident.

“While Peterborough police is thrilled to be able to return the money to the resident, it is recognized that this is not the norm, and the return of funds is not considered a seizure by police,” police stated Friday.

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Visit Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre for more information on crypto currency investment scams. Police advise anyone who believes they have been victimized to call Peterborough police at 705-876-1122 or file an online fraud report.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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London Police: Crypto Crime is Spiking Because of Phone Snatching

The London police are reporting an uptick in phone-snatching crimes involving crypto crime, where the perpetrator takes physical hold of a victim’s phone to access their crypto wallet, according to The Guardian.

According to the police, thousands of pounds worth of cryptocurrency have been stolen by thieves who have violently grabbed mobile phones from unsuspecting victims on the street. The incidents have ranged from being held at gunpoint to being attacked by groups of crypto muggers.

The irreversible nature of crypto transfers also makes the crime highly appealing to opportunistic thieves. “If I get robbed and they force me to make a bank transfer, the bank can trace where the money has gone and there are all sorts of comebacks. You can reverse the transaction,” David Gerard, author of the crypto book Attack on the 50 Foot Blockchain, told The Guardian.


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First bankers, now lawyers: cryptocurrency industry’s latest hiring frenzy

The cryptocurrency industry is ramping up efforts to recruit more legal talent as it faces increased regulatory pressure while looking to be accepted by and become part of mainstream finance.

Crypto exchanges and companies are poaching attorneys left and right, from both law firms and other crypto companies, bringing them in-house to help navigate an evolving regulatory landscape while helping to curb outside legal expenses, industry participants said. Law firms, which are sometimes losing their partners to in-house positions, are also building up their crypto practices to maintain that valuable expertise.

The increased demand for lawyers also marks a turning point for crypto, whose early supporters often expressed scepticism of regulation. The industry has been expanding rapidly with hopes of attracting more mainstream investment opportunities and many are embracing the stance that they want regulatory clarity.

“In [the crypto] space, the consensus is you need to have someone in-house early,” said John Wolf Konstant, a senior consultant at technology-focused legal recruiting firm Whistler Partners. “Especially since investors are going to require that, you need to have someone there to help chaperone the process and to make sure everything is buttoned up from the start.”

READ Meet six former bankers who quit for crypto: ‘My phone rings off the hook’

Competition is also driving up salaries in the crypto space at a faster rate than in the larger in-house legal market, particularly for senior-level positions, Konstant said. Total annual packages, including tokens and equity, can run into seven figures at the very top of the market, he added.

Marco Santori, chief legal officer of Kraken, tweeted in February that the San Francisco-based crypto exchange was looking to hire 30 lawyers in the next three months. He added that he would like to hire 60, “but honestly I don’t know how to get it done”.

“Kraken legal is fully on track with its hiring goals since my comments in February,” Santori said last week in an email. “We are attracting the best lawyers from both traditional finance and white-shoe firms. The brain drain is real and we couldn’t be happier with it.”

Lawyer Jorge Pesok recently joined crypto-based nonprofit HBAR Foundation, which gives out grants to projects, as its chief legal officer after about 10 months as general counsel and chief compliance officer at crypto exchange Tacen. Before Tacen, he was at law firm Crowell & Moring.

“The market is hot,” Pesok said, adding that he received four job offers before he chose HBAR, primarily because of its commitment to sustainability, and he wasn’t even looking for a new position. “Everybody is looking for talent,” he said, adding that for HBAR, even the simple grants it makes require help, given the nuances of cryptocurrency and the regulatory scrutiny around the industry.

Recruiter Whistler Partners said about 10% to 15% of all recent placements have been in the crypto or financial technology sectors, with firms hiring for both in-house counsel and law firm positions, according to Konstant, who himself was a lawyer before moving to the recruiting field. He said the firm was working on six to 10 in-house legal jobs in the blockchain or fintech space over the past year at any given time.

Konstant said there is a great deal of competition for all legal talent across sectors, where candidates for in-house roles may receive multiple offers. But “for the crypto space, it’s more pronounced,” he said, adding that there is a huge demand for those with specialised knowledge in crypto and previous experience working at law firms that specialised in crypto or having built in-house crypto-focused teams.

As with most other jobs, firms operating in the crypto sector would prefer to hire someone with some relevant direct experience, but most expect to train new legal staff on the job as they learn about the specific projects each firm does.

Gregory Lisa, who most recently was a partner at law firm Hogan Lovells in Washington DC, joined decentralised financed-focused company Element Finance as its first chief legal officer in December. Lisa, who previously worked as a regulator at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, said his new position at the 25-person startup, which builds open-source protocol for fixed- and variable-yield tokens, offers him the chance to focus on the growth of one company, versus a portfolio of clients as an external counsel. His responsibilities now include engaging with regulators and law enforcement and managing internal legal issues.

READ Why crypto firms are hunting for exec talent at Washington’s revolving door

“You really get a chance to write the script and to engage with companies at an early stage,” Lisa said, adding that he has also stayed on as a special adviser for Hogan Lovells to help with the transition.

Cathy Yoon joined crypto technology company MPCH at the end of March as its chief legal officer after less than a year as general counsel of crypto exchange INX. She said she had no intention of moving jobs, but was interested in helping build blockchain infrastructure that could more easily support and onboard additional blockchain assets, which isn’t possible currently. So far, her day-to-day work includes managing internal corporate matters, such as the structuring of legal entities and intellectual property issues, and facilitating meetings with potential investors and customers.

The increasingly competitive job market also demands more lawyers who are “very commercial,” Yoon said, since crypto companies want to bring in attorneys early on to brainstorm with tech teams on what problems their products are meant to solve. “There has been a shift from lawyers being seen as ‘keeping us out of trouble,’ to becoming important members of the management team,” she said.

READ Fintech Files: Meet the disrupters, how to make $1m in crypto, and a new arms race

Law firms, some already struggling with a shortage of talent, are beefing up their crypto services as well, sometimes looking to acquire a whole team from other firms.

Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe is looking to build “a complete offering” of services for blockchain firms, from helping with entity formation to advising on regulatory issues, according to Daniel Forester, a partner at the firm and leader of its fintech practice. The law firm, with roots in the traditional technology sector, currently has about 20 partners leading its crypto-related work and is looking to lure current regulators and candidates or teams from other law firms or in-house positions, he said.

Facing increasing competition for legal talent, Forester said Orrick continues to focus on retaining employees, including those at the associate level. “There are more positions than people,” he said of the legal industry as a whole. “The key to long-term success is retention.

Write to Mengqi Sun at mengqi.sun@wsj.com

This article was published by The Wall Street Journal, part of Dow Jones


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Man convicted of drug charges must forfeit cryptocurrency | News

BOSTON (AP) — A man convicted of drug charges in federal court in Boston has been ordered by a judge to forfeit about $2 million worth of Bitcoin, the first judicial forfeiture of cryptocurrency in the federal District of Massachusetts, prosecutors said.

Binh Thanh Le, 25, of Brockton, described by prosecutors as the leader and organizer of a sophisticated drug trafficking operation that did its business on the dark web, was also sentenced last week to eight years in prison, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston.

Le was indicted in June 2019. According to court records, he received large quantities of drugs in the mail from international sources, including ecstasy, Ketamine and Xanax. The drugs were sold on the dark web and shipped to customers throughout the U.S., prosecutors said.

Le was arrested in March 2019 when he met with undercover agents at a Norwood hotel to exchange $200,000 worth of Bitcoin for cash. More than 19 kilograms (42 pounds) of ecstasy, almost 7 kilograms (15.5 pounds) of Ketamine, nearly a kilogram (2 pounds) of cocaine and more than 10,000 counterfeit Xanax pills were seized during the investigation. He pleaded guilty in September.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.




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