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CFTC Requests Entry of Default Against Binary Options Gang

CFTC Requests Entry of Default Against Binary Options Gang

The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission is pushing for an entry of default against the perpetrators of a $103 million binary options scam. It claims that the time for the defendants in the case, which includes five entities and four individuals, to respond to the lawsuit has expired.

Yossi Herzog, Yakov Cohen and Shalom Peretz, as well as convicted Yukom CEO Lee Elbaz, have been sued by the US government since August 2019. The scheme involved the binary option brands Yukom Communications Ltd., Linkopia Mauritius Ltd., Wirestech Limited (BigOption), WSB Investment Limited (BinaryBook), and Zolarex Ltd. (BinaryOnline). These companies were based in Israel, the U.K., Mauritius, the Marshall Islands and other offshore jurisdictions and targeted investors in the U.S. and elsewhere.

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The complaint against these execs parallels and rests on the same findings as the criminal charges against Lee Elbaz, who was criminally convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud back in August.

The CFTC says the defendants used high-pressure sales tactics, manipulated their clients’ trades to force losses and generate profits for their companies, and ultimately misappropriated their money. The CFTC also said they concealed the operation’s true nature by using foreign names to open offshore bank accounts.

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In a separate statement, the CFTC said it had served all defendants that they have been sued in the US, either through emails to the companies or a legal notice published in The Times of Israel to inform Yossi Herzog, Yakov Cohen and Shalom Peretz.

However, as the watchdog seemingly failed to locate the three Israelis, they may not show up for the court’s criminal proceedings against them.

The four defendants and their associated brands were also named in other lawsuits that based on the same underlying facts as the CFTC’s allegations against Lee Elbaz, who was put behind bars for 22 years for her participation in a $140 million binary options scheme.

Her former bosses, who were also owners of the binary options websites BigOption and BinaryBook, together with 13 other employees, were charged with fraud in a Maryland court.

The defendants in the complaint are two business partners who allegedly had ownership interests in Yukom Communications and other related entities, Yakov Cohen, 27 and Yosef Herzog, 54. In addition, the complaint also names Ori Maymon, 33; Nissim Alfasi, 33; Elad Bigelman, 37; Runal Jeebun, 29; Sabrina Elofer, 28; Afik Tori, 27; Anog Maarek, 28; Oron Montgomery, 38; David Barzilay, 41; Gilad Mazugi, 36; Hadas Ben Haim, 34; Yousef Bishara, 32; and Nir Erez, 29.

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Tuesday Crypto Market Gainers: AGI, CRO, ARK, LBA, LSK

Tuesday Crypto Market Gainers: AGI, CRO, ARK, LBA, LSK

The mid-day cryptocurrency market update uses data from Messari’s OnChainFX — all market movers are based on the top small, mid and large-cap cryptocurrencies. More about the methodology can be found here. Crypto Market Update: Total Market Cap: $ 273.0 billion (-2.5%) Bitcoin Dominance: 65.4% (-0.4%) Top-20 Cryptocurrencies: Best Performers: Worst Performers:   Never miss our […]
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Chainalysis Expands Series B Funding With a Further $13M Funding

Chainalysis Expands Series B Funding With a Further $13M Funding

Blockchain intelligence platform Chainalysis has raised an additional $13 million to expand the company’s Series B round to $49 million. Behind the latest cash injection were Ribbit Capital and Sound Ventures.

Chainalysis has initially nabbed a $30 million investment in February 2019, led by venture firm Accel, a growth-stage venture capital firm, then raised a further $6 million from two major Japanese investors in April.

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The 75-person startup, which has offices in New York, Washington DC, and Copenhagen, provides financial institutions, cryptocurrency exchanges and law enforcement with a platform to detect and investigate cryptocurrency money laundering, fraud, and compliance violations.

Chainalysis is also selling its bitcoin-tracing technology and compliance software to banks and brokers to monitor and link digital identities to cryptocurrencies.

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The fund injection will be used to expand the startup’s operations including doubling down on its head count with the addition of software engineers, government sales, and other business roles.

“Chainalysis has done terrific work providing blockchain analysis and tools to financial institutions, government agencies, and exchanges, while working to track, analyze, and disrupt illicit activity,” said Sigal Mandelker, General Partner at Ribbit Capita who alo joins Chainalysis as an advisor.

The New York-based firm is best known for its Chainalysis KYT solution for token issuers which helps them comply with regulatory requirements across different jurisdictions. Founded in 2014 by Jonathan Levin, Jan Moller, and Michael Gronager, Chainalysis invests across Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ether, Litecoin, and other top cryptocurrencies.

Chainalysis’ compliance software can help both crypto firms and law enforcement agencies detect suspicious activity in order to battle any related criminal activity. It uses pattern recognition, algorithms, and millions of open source references to “identify and categorize thousands of cryptocurrency services to raise live alerts on transactions involved in suspicious activity,” the company says.

“Chainalysis is founded on the belief that providing data insights into cryptocurrency activity will unite government agencies, exchanges, and financial institutions to fuel the industry’s growth. Ribbit Capital’s deep fintech, cryptocurrency, and government experience and Sound Venture’s commitment to creating safer digital environments through enterprise software make them natural partners as we continue our high-growth trajectory and global expansion,” said Michael Gronager, CEO and Co-Founder of Chainalysis.

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The Block Research says interest in Bitcoin now much lower than in 2017

The Block Research says interest in Bitcoin now much lower than in 2017

According to a recent report from The Block Research, online activity for Bitcoin is much lower than it was in late 2017

According to research conducted by The Block Research — Google searches, recent Twitter followers for cryptos and viewership on Bitcoin’s Wikipedia page are all far below the levels seen during the 2017 BTC bull run.

Additionally, the trade volume of Bitcoin/USD is lower than in 2017, which may suggest that the mass adoption of Bitcoin is further away than some have predicted.

While this may be a disappointing situation for some Bitcoin supporters, it could also mean that the biggest gains are still to come.

Marginal buyers and sellers set the price in any market. In the case of the Bitcoin market and cryptos more generally, lack of attention shown by The Block Research’s recent report would indicate that Bitcoin is no longer in bubble territory.

Bitcoin may be on the cusp of a big run higher

Bull markets tend to end with high levels of public interest, which is exactly what happened in 2017 when BTC prices almost reached $20,000. Now,, interest in Bitcoin is eight times lower than the week in 2017 when the token hit its highest price to date.

New Twitter followers for major exchanges such as Binance are also far lower than where they were in late 2017 and early 2018. Depending on the dates used for measurement, Twitter followers on similar exchanges are as much as 50 times lower today.

In short, the recent report shows a huge drop in market participants for the crypto industry compared to the heady days of 2017. Larry Cermak at The Block stated that even though there are fewer participants, the crypto framework has matured substantially in the last two years and there are now many institutional products available.

New tools for uncertain times

When Bitcoin prices were peaking in late 2017, there were few tools in place to take advantage of the blockchain, especially for people who need to be able to use the global fiat currency system.

While media engagement for cryptos may be lower today than a few years ago, there is a robust development culture for Bitcoin, Ethereum and many other tokens. Major investors like Paul Tudor Jones have also called for higher Bitcoin prices, and many have bought into it via direct investments or derivatives.

There is no way to know if prices will rise from here, but it is unlikely that the lack of interest in decentralised tokens signals the end of a bull run.

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Blockchain In The Game Industry | CoinGecko Virtual Meetup #3

Blockchain In The Game Industry | CoinGecko Virtual Meetup #3

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The gaming industry has the potential to build on blockchain and allow players to earn money. This is attractive to developers as they could increase their fanbase and broaden the community. However, there are challenges in terms of scalability and functionality.

So we invited 3 key industry leaders in our Virtual Meetup #3 on Wednesday, June 10 @ 10AM EST to discuss how blockchain can be applied and developed in the gaming industry.

Held monthly, CoinGecko’s Virtual Meetup is our live online community event where we explore different key topics in the crypto sphere and invite industry leaders to share their two satoshis.

In our discussion, we touched on the use of NFTs in blockchain games, which type of audience should developers target, whether interoperability between games is realistic, and what developers should consider when building games on blockchain.


1. How did our guests get into blockchain?

Our guests were drawn to blockchain for different reasons.  Roham first ventured into bitcoin in 2013. Prior to CryptoKitties, Roham’s previous company, Axiom Zen, was building on top of Bitcoin as early as 2014. It wasn’t until 2017 when a new wave of apps built on Ethereum that he released CryptoKitties.

Aleksander’s love has always been games. Prior to Axie, he was a professional e-sports competitor. His first introduction to blockchain games was Cryptokitties.

Sandeep wanted to work on the scalability aspect as he found that developers had difficulty building on top of certain platforms. So he and his team at Matic Network created a new way of building a game via the Layer 2 platform, which has been adopted by many third-party developers. Sandeep and his team seem to be set on their mission of providing scalability on Ethereum.

2. The current state of blockchain games

Truth be told, the technology is still at its infancy but that could change within the next year. Aleksander tried to scale Axie with Loom Network but it didn’t work out as well as he hoped. He believed that the hunger for profit won’t carry a project very far and instead developers need to have an intrinsic motivation or a real passion for the game itself.

Furthermore, developers also need to have a more holistic approach and provide better scalability solutions.

“Providing better scalability solutions is the way forward as well as having a higher level of understanding of the why behind decentralization,” said Roham.

Sandeep added that with the improved technology, it’s now a good time for developers to build experiences with a decentralized model in mind. And if the overall architecture is elegant and robust, it could potentially work.

3. Who will be the audience of blockchain games — gamers or crypto natives?

Aleksander believes that we need to expand the crypto bubble because we can’t grow inside our niche. So we have to find a way to get gamers on board the blockchain experience. 

Sandeep suggested creating a fun-to-play game first and gradually move the players into the blockchain space by showing them the benefits such as earning money or assets.

“The two important things to consider are the functionality of digital asset and the social context,” added Roham.

He has seen a 386% increase in conversion when speaking about the benefits rather than the technology. In reality, users are more interested in the benefits of blockchain, such as the buy & sell aspect and real money trading on the marketplace, rather than the fact that it’s decentralized.

Ultimately, different value propositions should be targeted to different groups of people at different parts of their journey.

4. Why don’t game companies build the game first and then build on the blockchain?

Roham thinks that it’s because the current way that developers build the game works. Adding an open economy element would break the current design as it can’t be retrofitted into most existing economies. So creators need to think from the ground-up and build new kinds of experiences to give value to the existing community.

“If you have a venture funding to back you up, you can tap into ecosystems that will emerge in terms of infrastructure and scaling”, added Aleksander. “Alternatively, you can go to the pre-sale route where you start selling NFTs and assets.”

However, the latter would require a different mindset from the beginning. It also depends on the economy of the game company and the scale that it wants to achieve.

5. Would the Non-Fungible Token (NFT) concept work in blockchain games?

“NFT is a perfect vehicle of digital identity,” said Aleksander. “In Axie, NFTs are used as work tokens with a play-to-earn concept.”

Sandeep believes that it’s a fundamental concept that will stay, as it is unique, rare and truly belongs to someone. He also suspects that there will be more NFTs than currencies as we see more and more things being converted into the form of NFTs, which will eventually be modelled onto a blockchain.

“In the blockchain world, almost everything is fungible,” explained Roham. “If everything becomes tokenized, they will all become NFTs.”

Suffice to say, all of our guests believe that NFTs will be more common than currencies once this can be applied further.

6. On the challenge of interoperability between games

Interoperability is not as straightforward as we may think. The challenge with multiverse is the game design. It wouldn’t make sense to bring in a certain feature of a game, such as the use of a weapon, to a different game that doesn’t use a similar weapon.

The solution to this, as Roham pointed out, is two-fold:

  1. Extensibility i.e. building on top of an existing product or recreate potential product from scratch.

  2. Think bigger than games. If someone has their own identity and assets as well as access to decentralized marketplaces, then they could switch to different platforms seamlessly.

Aleksander added that there needs to be an entity inside the game that balances the assets and determines the worth of something. But Sandeep argued that it’s impossible to have every possible asset listed on the standards as gaming involves a lot of imagination.

Interoperability between games seems to be a challenge that would require a longer time to solve. 

7. Advice for developers looking to build games on Blockchain

Aleksander: You have to make a decision on how integrated you want your community to be. Once you give people assets or are selling assets, you have a responsibility towards them. Create a strategy around the community and make sure that if you’re selling NFTs, keep doing the same thing so that people don’t get upset.

Sandeep: Focus on building up a good game and the blockchain side of things can be added.

Roham: Respect the community. And when building ecosystems, treat the early players as ambassadors and community leaders because they are the ones who will help you build on the ecosystem.


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Why Millennials’ Big Bet on EV Stocks Could End in Tears

Why Millennials’ Big Bet on EV Stocks Could End in Tears

  • Half of the top ten equities on Robinhood over the past 30 days are electric vehicle stocks.
  • The excitement over clean energy stocks could end in pain and regret.
  • The EV sector faces multiple risks, including pandemic-related disruption.

Electric vehicle (EV) equities are the new pot stocks for millennials in the second-half of 2020.

Over the past 30 days, 50% of the top ten stocks on Robinhood have been the makers of electric vehicles and fuel cells.

These are Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), Nikola (NASDAQ:NKLA), Workhorse (NASDAQ:WKHS), Nio (NYSE:NIO), and Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG).

Over 120,000 Robinhood investors have added Tesla to their portfolio in the past 30 days. | Source: Robintrack

Robinhood’s flavor of the month is continuously changing. The current bullish attitude towards EV stocks among millennials appears to be driven by a wave of good news in the sector, including better-than-expected sales and new revenue opportunities. Piling on these stocks could end in tears, though. Here are three reasons why.

1. Lofty valuations of EV stocks

Most electric vehicle stocks are trading at high prices. For instance, Tesla’s forward price-to-equity ratio on September 30, 2019, stood at 43.29. At the beginning of July, this figure stood at 303.03.

Tesla’s forward P/E has jumped over seven times in under one year. | Source: @NorthmanTrader/Twitter

Tesla’s market cap currently exceeds Toyota’s, making it the world’s most valuable carmaker. Toyota (NYSE:TM) sold slightly under 11 million vehicles last year while Tesla delivered under 300,000 units.

The other EV stocks aren’t in a better position, either. According to analysts, Nio’s fair market value is $7.50. Its stock price is approaching $12 for overvaluation of roughly 60%.

On the other hand, Workhorse Group’s stock price is trading at over 14,000 times its sales. Despite revenues falling 50% last year as debt grew, Workhorse stock is up nearly 500% year-to-date.

Analysts place Plug Power’s fair value as “overvalued.”

When sanity returns to the equities market, the pullback could be severe for EV stocks.

2. Legacy carmakers will fight back fiercely against Tesla and Co

Nearly all traditional carmakers are planning or already have an electric version of their legacy cars. This will increase competition, putting makers of purely electric vehicles on the defensive.

Norway, the world’s most important battery electric vehicle market outside of China, already provides a glimpse of how it’s likely to play out. There, Tesla has lost its first-mover advantage with traditional carmakers now leading in EV sales.

Traditional carmakers are aggressively fighting to position themselves for a future after fossil fuels. | Source: CleanTechnica

3. Low oil prices are making ICE popular

The oil demand destruction has led to lower gas prices. Last month the International Energy Agency projected that oil demand would fall by 8.1 million barrels per day in 2020. With the pandemic not easing anytime soon, oil demand is likely to remain depressed.

As the upfront costs of battery-powered EVs re higher than those of internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, depressed oil prices are bad news for EV stocks in the foreseeable future.

Low oil prices are a risk for battery electric vehicles. | Source: @GasBuddyGuy/Twitter

At this point, millennials’ EV stock bets are dubious or, at best, purely speculative. While Tesla and Nio have some history of production and sales, there are those like Nikola that still have zero revenue.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com and should not be considered investment or trading advice from CCN.com. The author holds no investment position in the above-mentioned securities.

Last modified: July 7, 2020 6:37 PM UTC

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