Autor Cointelegraph By Stephen Katte

Bizarre $600K Elon Musk crypto statue marketing stunt falls flat

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has seemingly given the cold shoulder to a $600,000 monument of him in goat form —  which was created as part of a bizarre crypto marketing stunt.Delivered to Tesla’s Austin headquarters on Nov. 26, the 30-foot, 12,000-pound metal statue of Elon Musk was part of a publicity stunt by the co-founders of the memecoin Elon Goat Token (EGT).The statue features the head of Elon Musk on the body of a goat that is riding a rocket. The statue also sees Musk wearing a dog collar with a Dogecoin (DOGE) token attached.We’re very proud of our accomplishments and commitment to #EGTWe’ve always had long term vision for $EGT and will continue to build the brand and utility. We feel our hard work can lead to Elon claiming #ElonGOAT and we will work towards this goal! Maybe have some fun too!— Elon Goat Token (@ElonGoatToken) November 27, 2022According to the EGT whitepaper, the whole project was engineered to be roadworthy and fastened to a 50-foot semi-trailer for transportation. The conceptual design was drawn and rendered in Los Angeles. The founders of EGT, who are self-described “Elon Superfans,” said in the project description on their website they were trying to do “something no other Crypto project has dared to do” to gain recognition and legitimacy for their project with an acknowledgment from Musk.Unfortunately for EGT however, the $600,000 monument has failed to gain any public acknowledgment from Musk himself, at least on Twitter. Despite this, it still got plenty of mainstream media coverage, including from the likes of The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider and The Washington Post.Plenty of Musk-themed tokens There isn’t much information about EGT and its purpose other than it was launched in Jan. 2022 on the Binance Smart Chain (BSC), and has been criticized for its Musk-centric marketing plan and lack of utility featured upon launch, according to its own whitepaper. The token is also one of many Elon Musk-themed tokens attempting to exploit the entrepreneur’s fame to market its token. Other Musk-themed tokens include Dogelon Mars (ELON) and spaceTwitterDoge and elonDogeTwit.As of the time of writing, EGT has 18,400 followers on Twitter, while Coingecko and Coinmarketcap both list EGT, but neither has data surrounding its market cap. Its price appeared to have spiked momentarily before dipping to month lows after the delivery of the statue.According to its whitepaper, EGT claims to now be working on having real utility in the decentralized finance (DeFi) space, having migrated smart contracts from BSC to the Ethereum blockchain. Related: It’s time for crypto fans to stop supporting cults of personalityOver-the-top publicity stunts have been a popular method for crypto projects over the years.In 2018 Ukrainian social network ASKfm launched an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) by leaving a wallet with 500,000 tokens at the top of Mount Everest, the highest mountain above sea level in the world. At the time, ASKfm calculated the tokens in the wallet at $50,000, a sum calculated by an estimate of their value once the pre-sale and ICO launch.Another stunt in 2018 saw the owner of the Epoch Cryptocurrency website Wong Ching-kit drop stacks of cash off a roof in Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong to promote a competition where participants could allegedly win large cash prizes. Most recently, Rahul Advani, APAC Policy Director of Ripple argued that crypto will need to move away from “hype cycles” and towards “building real utility.” He explained that the fall of FTX will prompt regulators and governments to scrutinize crypto regulations much more closely.

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Recent FTX hacks prove it was right to ‘secure’ its assets: Bahamian regulator

The Securities Commission of The Bahamas says the continued “hacking attempts” on FTX’s digital assets prove they made the right call to take control of the exchange’s assets on Nov. 12. In a statement on Nov. 23, the commission said the fact that FTX’s “systems were compromised, and that they continue to face new hacking attempts – reinforces the wisdom of the commission’s prompt action to secure these digital assets.”On the same day that FTX filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 11, the crypto community began flagging roughly $266.3 million worth of outflows on wallets associated with FTX. By Nov. 12, the outflows had ballooned to more than $650 million.Blockchain analysts have suggested that $477 million is suspected to have been stolen, while the remainder was moved to secure storage by FTX themselves. In its latest statement, the commission said while it suspended FTX Digital Markets (FDM) license to conduct business and stripped its directors of their power on Nov. 10, this was not sufficient in protecting customers and creditors of FDM.The commission further explained that due to the “nature of digital assets” and “the risks associated with hacking and compromise,” it sought an order from the Supreme Court to transfer all digital assets from FTX to the commission for “safekeeping.”The latest statement reinforces recent analysis from blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis, and Twitter crypto sleuth ZachXBT, who said that on-chain evidence suggests that the actions of the Bahamian regulator is not related to the alleged “FTX hacker.” Related: FTX’s ongoing saga: Everything that’s happened until nowThe commission has also lashed out at the Nov. 17 emergency motion by FTX Trading Limited, which called out the “Bahamian government” for “directing unauthorized access to the Debtors’ systems” after the commencement of Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings.“It is unfortunate that in Chapter 11 filings, the new CEO of FTX Trading Ltd. misrepresented this timely action through the intemperate and inaccurate allegations lodged in the Transfer Motion,” the Commission said.

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Aussies warned to avoid crypto paper wallets they find on the street

Australians have been warned to stay away from suspicious-looking fake Bitcoin paper wallets, which work by luring victims into accessing a lucrative crypto wallet but will ultimately drain them of their own crypto holdings.According to a Nov. 22 post on the Facebook page of the NSW Police Force, the scam starts as a paper cryptocurrency wallet with a QR code, which is made to appear like a legitimate Bitcoin paper wallet. These are strewn by scammers in public locations such as streets or parks. An example of the scam crypto paper wallets. Source: NSW Police Force An individual that locates the paper wallet and scans the QR code is directed to click on a link to access a crypto wallet with up to $16,000 Australian dollars ($10,000). The person is then asked to pay a withdrawal fee and provide their own wallet credentials that will purportedly allow them to transfer the balance into their own crypto wallet.”Once the withdrawal fee is paid and person’s crypto wallet details provided, the person’s cryptocurrency is stolen from their crypto wallets,” explained the NSW police. The authorities have advised the public to stay vigilant, and that anybody who finds a paper crypto wallet similar to this should not attempt to scan the QR code, access the account, or supply their private information.Instead, they should surrender the wallet to their local police station. This is not Australia’s first instance of a paper crypto wallet scam. Over three months ago, a user on Reddit created a thread reporting they had found a paper crypto wallet and flagged it as a possible scam. Dozens of other people from all over the country responded with their own stories of finding paper crypto wallets in the street, on the beach, and at parks. One user, Pinnymc, commented they almost fell for it because they could see the wallet address and the transactions on-chain. They said the website also appeared genuine. However, Pinnymc says they became suspicious because of the 0.5% transaction fee. “If this was a legit wallet I should be able to withdraw and the transaction fee comes out of the balance. It’s such a shame because this looks so legit,” said the user. Related: ‘Do not delay’ — ASIC warns Aussies to look for 10 signs of a crypto scamAustralians have already proven to be particularly susceptible to investment and crypto-related scams this year, losing 242.5 million Australian dollars to scammers so far in 2022, according to data from the Australian consumer watchdog’s Scamwatch website. The country’s federal law enforcement agency has also highlighted the criminal use of crypto as an “emerging threat” but says it’s a challenge to keep pace with criminals who are constantly changing tactics and methods.

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Texas to probe FTX endorsements by Tom Brady, Stephen Curry and other celebs

NFL quarterback Tom Brady and NBA point guard Stephen Curry are reportedly among the celebrities facing a probe from the Texas financial regulator over their promotion of the now-bankrupt crypto exchange, FTX. Joe Rotunda, director of enforcement at the Texas State Securities Board reportedly told Bloomberg in a Nov. 22 report that the Texas State Securities Board is scrutinizing payments received by celebrities to endorse FTX US, what disclosures were made and how accessible they were for investors.Rotunda however noted that while the watchdog was taking a “close look at them,” the celebrities’ endorsements of FTX were not an “immediate priority,” but would be part of the “regulator’s larger probe into FTX’s collapse.”Both Brady and Curry have also been named in a Nov. 15 class-action lawsuit against FTX, along with former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried.The lawsuit alleged that they “controlled, promoted, assisted in, and actively participated” in FTX Trading LTD and West Realm Shires Services Inc.Others named in the class action include model Gisele Bundchen, the Golden State Warriors basketball team, NBA player Udonis Haslem and co-creator of Seinfeld Larry David. Cointelegraph reached out to the Texas State Securities Board for comment but did not receive a reply before publication.Related: The SEC should be aiming at Do Kwon, but it’s getting distracted by Kim KardashianIn the past surveys have found that nearly half of retail investors will follow digital asset advice from the social media accounts of celebrities and influencers without question, and this has seen more than a few use their influence to shill crypto products and projects. In October, reality TV star Kim Kardashian was fined by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for “touting on social media” about the EMAX without disclosing she was paid $250,000 to post about it.Kardashian has neither admitted to nor denied the SEC’s allegations, but settled the charges and agreed to not promote any cryptocurrency assets until 2025.

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HashFlare founders arrested in 'astounding' $575M crypto fraud scheme

The two founders of the now-defunct Bitcoin cloud miner HashFlare have been arrested in Estonia over their alleged involvement in a $575 million crypto fraud conspiracy.HashFlare was a cloud mining company created in 2015, which purported to allow customers to lease the company’s hashing power in order to mine cryptocurrencies and gain an equivalent share of its profits. The company was seen as one of the leading names in the business at the time, but shut down its mining operations in Jul. 2018. However, according to a statement from the United States Department of Justice citing court document, the entire mining operation, run by founders Sergei Potapenko and Ivan Turõgin, was part of a “multi-faceted scheme” that “defrauded hundreds of thousands of victims.” This included convincing victims to enter into “fraudulent equipment rental contracts” through HashFlare and persuading other victims to invest in a fake virtual currency bank called Polybius Bank.The pair is also accused of conspiring to launder their “criminal proceeds” through 75 properties, six luxury vehicles, cryptocurrency wallets, and thousands of cryptocurrency mining machines.U.S. Attorney Nick Brown for the Western District of Washington called the size and scope of the alleged scheme “truly astounding.” “These defendants capitalized on both the allure of cryptocurrency and the mystery surrounding cryptocurrency mining, to commit an enormous Ponzi scheme,” he said. The HashFlare founders have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 16 counts of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering using shell companies and fraudulent invoices and contracts, and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Two Estonian Citizens Arrested in $575 Million Cryptocurrency Fraud and Money Laundering Scheme— Criminal Division (@DOJCrimDiv) November 21, 2022HashFlares’ parent company HashCoins OU was founded by Potapenko and Turõgin in 2013, while HashFlare launched mining services in 2015. It initially offered contracts for SHA-256 (Bitcoin) and scrypt. ETHASH (ETH), DASH, and ZCASH options followed. According to the indictment, the pair claimed HashFlare was a “massive cryptomining operation,” however, it’s alleged the company was mining at a rate of less than 1% of what it claimed, and was paying out withdrawals by purchasing Bitcoin (BTC) from third parties, rather than gains from mining operations. By Jul. 2018, HashFlare announced a halt to BTC mining services, citing difficulty generating revenue amid market fluctuations. Customers were not reimbursed for the remainder of the annual contract fees, which they had paid upfront. Other crypto assets available in the platform’s portfolio continued to operate as normal. Allegations of the company being fraudulent were made but never proven in an official capacity. Related: Russian bill would legalize crypto mining, sales under ‘experimental legal regime’The last public communication from HashFlare came through in 2019 through an Aug. 9 post where they announced they were suspending the sale of ETH contracts because the “current capacity has been sold out.”The company promised to resume activities in the “very near future” and teased further announcements, but nothing was ever publically disclosed about what had happened and HashFlare quietly disappeared.The FBI is now investigating the case and is seeking information from customers who opted into the alleged fraudulent schemes of HashFlare, HashCoins OU and Polybius.The 18-count indictment for Potapenkos and Turõgins alleged involvement was returned by a grand jury in the Western District of Washington on Oct. 27 and unsealed on Nov. 21.

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