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Bitcoin Donations Pouring In for Russia’s Main Opposition Alexei Navalny

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Russia’s main opposition Alexei Navalny is once again on the spotlight having received up to 591 bitcoins valued at about $3 million at current market prices through his official donation address for his organization.

Alexei Navalny who faces so many backlashes from the Putin government in Russia and also political victimization and arrests even up to being banned from participating as a candidate in the last presidential elections in Russia against Vladimir Putin was recently reported by a pro-Putin television network to have most corruption investigative activities tied to huge donations pouring in alleging it to be involved in paid political hits.

Navalny runs an investigative center, the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), a whistleblower organization that regularly publishes alleged corrupt activities of government officials, not sparing high ranking officials such as the prime minister Dimitri Medvedev and  even the attorney general, Yuri Chaika

An anonymous Telegram channel on Monday known as “FBK Staffer’s Confession,” alleged the correlation between several huge donations to the Navalny organization’s wallet a few days before FBK published one of such investigation, alleging FBK is involved in paid political hits. This accusation was aired in major mainstream Russian media most of which are pro-Putin.

FBK through its chief of staff vehemently denied this allegation when contacted by Znak, a Russian news publication agency. Leonid Volkov FBK’s chief of staff  denied any connection between the transactions and its investigations, in his rebuttal he said the anonymous blogger “dragged the non-existent facts together in by the head and shoulders.”

Volkov continued:
“You can say that each time Encke’s Comet approaches the Earth it coincides with a big war: 1914 (First World War), 1941 (World War II) and 2014 (War on Eastern Ukraine). But its rotation period is three years, and it approached the Earth many times when there were no big wars.”

Navalny’s bitcoin wallet address conspicuously appearing on its official website have seen as much as 2000 transactions including donations and withdrawals since 2016 after receiving its very first donation. This is noticed as every transaction on the bitcoin address is open and transparent for everyone to see due to its decentralized ledger technology.

Navalny is not only the dissenting voice or movement in the Russian political space that has been involved in bitcoin donations, there are many others including Zona.Media and The Insider, as well as internet freedom movement Roskomsvoboda accept donations in bitcoin or ether but FBK appears to be the most prominent.

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Amour Reports Show that Dark Web Criminals are Selling Cash for Bitcoin at Ridiculous Rates

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Cloud security provider, Armour releases a second annual research report which shows that unscrupulous persons are selling cash for Bitcoin on the Dark web at a ridiculously high rate.

Cash for pennies on the dollar

The researchers took time to make a thorough inspection of 12 different hacker Market place which spanned over a period of 20 weeks, and fully confirmed the exchange of Bitcoin for cash at pennies on the dollar. According to the report markets on the dark web are blooming despite the increasingly stringent restrictions they have been faced with.

This discovery about the use of Bitcoin to aid in the laundering of funds by criminals was of more concern to the crypto community. The report stated:

 

“One of the cleverest services spotted was where a criminal can pay a seller $800 in Bitcoin and have $10,000 transferred to a bank account of their choice or wired to them via Western Union, a seamless turn-key money laundering service.”

 

Although 12 cents on the dollar might come off as a really exploitative rate of exchange for illicitly acquired funds, the Armor report claims that would be an attractive offer for criminals with less experience

Chris Hinkley, head of Armor’s TRU team, explained:

“For those scammers who don’t possess the technical skills and a robust money mule network to monetize online bank account or credit card credentials, this is an offer that can be very attractive…this clever service gives them an additional channel for monetizing the large amounts of financial data available on the underground.” He said.

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Bitcoin Was Facebook First Choice Before Libra – Bill Barhydt

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Bitcoin has revealed to be the first choice for Facebook’s cross border payment system. This revelation was made by Abra’s CEO Bill Barhydt. According to the CEO, Facebook wanted to integrate Bitcoin directly into its platform but that was not to be.

The decision to create Libra was informed by the unsuitability of the Bitcoin to support the volume of transactions which will flow through the Facebook’s ecosystem.

On June 16, 2019, Facebook released the Whitepaper of its cryptocurrency project revealing the Libra cryptocurrency and the Calibra wallet. This quickly created a wave of legitimacy to the cryptocurrency industry with clear evidence of the upshot of the prices of various cryptocurrencies with bitcoin notably rising upto $13,000.

In a Podcast hosted by Peter McCormack, in the interview, Barhydt revealed that Facebook had bitcoin as its first choice. This would have exposed the billions of users on its platforms to cryptocurrencies which the industry greatly desired. Mass adoption.

Creating Libra was a carefully thought out plan as indicated by Barhydt’s believe of the Facebook blockchain team whom he described as “These are smart people”

According to him, they have examined Lightning Network, Bitcoin and came to the conclusion that Bitcoin is not optimized to be a payment network instead it is best suitable to be a digital cash at the moment.

The inability of Bitcoin to scale so as to accommodate more transactions per seconds was the reason why the Bitcoin community saw a split in august 2017. Since no consensus was reached, Bitcoin divided into two with one faction deciding to increase the block size -Bitcoin Cash (BCH) whiles the other part retaining the original block size – Bitcoin Core (BTC).

Still facing stiff setbacks from scrutiny of regulators after it released its whitepaper despite the arsenal of powerful corporations in the Libra association, Facebook revealed in its whitepaper that Libra will launch in January 2020.

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Alleged Capital One Hacker Accused of Secretly Mining Cryptocurrency

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A massive-scale hack has been discovered, the hack which was said to have been perpetrated on a credit card issuer, Capital one who also allegedly suffered the hack of its cloud customers servers in order to mine cryptocurrencies.

On Aug 28, a court filing was released and revealed that Paige A. Thompson the perpetrator has received an indictment on charges of both perpetrating the Capital One breach and of unauthorized hacking into the servers of her employer’s cloud services customers for the purposes of cryptojacking.

The rise of Cryptojacking

With the term cryptojacking being used to refer to as a stealth mining attack by installing malware which harnesses the processing power of an individual’s computer for mining purpose without his/her consent.

With cryptojacking specifically, we see that this software quietly takes a portion of your computer’s processing power depending on how they are programmed and use it to solve complicated algorithms. When these algorithms are completed units of cryptocurrency are deposited into a wallet which must have been pre assigned usually by the one associated with the writing of the program.

The alleged victims of the scheme

Although the court filings do not contain the name of Thompson’s former employer, there has been a recent report which shows that the company in question is Amazon Web services. All three victims involved were said to have engaged the cloud computing services of the firm at some point. This was how the data theft was carried out.

“My cryptojacking enterprise”

In order to successfully carry out these covert mining activities, Thompson had allegedly taken advantage of the fact that some customers had misconfigured the web application wall on the servers which they had rented and contracted.

She was said to have obtained credentials for accounts that had permission to view and copy data stored by their own customers on their cloud servers which she scanned for any valuable personal identifying information. She had used the access she had to the server for her own benefit which included cryptojacking. The court filing did not contain any detail as to how profitable her mining activities were.

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25-Year-old pleads Guilty to Running Unlicensed Crypto Exchange.

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Kunal Kalra, a 25-year-old from West wood Los Angeles has been said to have pleaded guilty to federal charges of having exchanged over $25million in cash and cryptocurrencies.

Kunal, also known as  “Kumar,” “shecklemayne” and “coinman,” was indicted on Friday, August 23 for allegedly trading cash and cryptocurrencies including drug dealers partially via his Bitcoin ATM kiosk.

The exchange was a front for other illegal activities

Kalra was said to have agreed to engagements in other illicit activities such asd distributionof methamphetamine, operating an unlicensed money transmitting virtual platform, laundering money and failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering instrument.

According to an announcement made by the U.S Department of Justice last Friday, Kalra had said that he has agreed to plead guilty to the offence of converting Bitcoin for cash for criminals, drug dealers who acquired cryptocurrencies from trading narcotics on the dark web, as well as a number of other persons involved in various illicit activities. He had also confessed that he used platforms such as Localbitcoin and a company known as Paxful.

It was alleged that Kalra had been running this cryptocurrency exchange from May 2015 through October 2017. The justice department also went ahead bro say that without the implementation of an anti-money laundering program, Kalra facilities these kinds of transactions with a commission knowing fully well that the proceeds came from drug trafficking.

As at the time of this report the law enforcement agency had already seized about $889,000 in liquid cash from Kalra, about 54.3 Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, worth more than half-million dollars.

The announcement also said that the maximum sentence that Kalra stood a chance of facing was life imprisonment.

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