How Countries were duped to Invest in the Ponzi OneCoin

Cryptocurrencies have not yet been devoid of its reputation of being unsafe, and here we have a mind-boggling scam!

Ruja Ignatova, in 2016 at London, claimed that she has a product, a cryptocurrency that will be the “bitcoin killer.” The figures presented by her were rather alluring. What then followed is a case like never before. After a year in 2017, Ignatova was charged with fraud and money laundering, whose arrest is yet to be made. A scam worth a whopping $4 billion is what is arched in the history of duping in the crypto market.

What led to the successful pull off of such a dubious master plan? The methods employed by OneCoin Ltd to attract investors are crude. OneCoin adopted three key processes through which they could attract investments from various countries.

  1.   Multi-Level-Marketing (MLM)

MLM is the method where a commission is cut by agents who sell a product to their family and friends who then further sell them to others with a certain commission and referral rewards. It is also called the pyramid scheme. The product here was the fake coins, and the agents were various MLM experts, all of whom had their cuts. The marketing was operational all around the globe.

They claimed that they mined the coins through a centralized network through a personalized and private blockchain. Adding to that, they also stated that unlike bitcoins, OneCoin is backed by KYC and is much more secured.

  1.   Fake Representation

A website or tracker sorts kept showing that there were coins transferred to the ones who made the investments. The prices also kept showing to soar higher. Their organizers “programmed” the coins to show a jump from €0.50 ($0.56) to €29.95 ($33.68) approx.

  1.   Prima Facie

The website is till date intact with data and a YouTube channel.  It claimed that it was an innovation that will change the financial system. Tall claims backed with representations added to the whole furnishing of the lies.

When the big scam was exposed, investors from across the globe lost millions who invested with the hope that they would earn double returns. Much contrary to financial relief, to date, there is no sign or chance of any recovery. While few of the patrons of the scam are facing the legal heat, Ruja Ignatova is still on the run with OneCoin being active. This has been a reason for major concern in the cryptocurrency circuit for possible incidents in the future.

Religious Assurance, Personal Relationships cradle for OneCoin’s Dubious Operations

After leaving many in immense shock across the globe, the OneCoin scam was exposed. Upon investigation of its operations and its truth like the narrative to lure investors, many vulnerable people fell prey. What has come to the fore in the recent developments is shocking. The fake cryptocurrency company, which posted as an educational resource and an alternative to bitcoin, ran its operations using religion and faith as a bet.

Australia and New Zealand were one of the primary activity areas for the OneCoin fraudsters. The Samoan authorities have pointed their fingers at two churches with their bases in Australia and New Zealand.

Samoa’s Central Bank has claimed that the region’s community has been conned of tens of thousands of dollars by OneCoin. The representatives from the organization targeted members of Samoa Worship Centre and the Samoan Independent Seventh Day Adventist Church (SISDAC), where they sold OneCoin’s products through the church. The SISDAC has refused to have been involved with any such fraudulent activities with the “company.”

Members of the community have reported that the church refuses to accept the accusations where many members invested in OneCoin. The legal team of the churches has decided to charge the Samoan government with charges of defamation.

As per experts, OneCoin exploited the region’s customary values towards religion and elders to target the population. In MLM, one’s close relatives or friends refer you to sell products. One tends to buy something from them based on their word of mouth. The fact that people would not report on their relatives of conning them was used to OneCoin’s advantage.

After a tussle on how the cheated can contact the company for a response, some mailed to the company’s website, which remains unanswered. Legal notices have then been sent via social media to the proprietors.

A similar case was also observed in the U.K., where family ties were exploited in the means of MLM selling OneCoin’s fake cryptocurrencies. In particular, British Muslims were hit by a major blow as they were told that OneCoin falls under Islamic laws. The deaf community from Midlands and the orthodox Jewish groups in London too had invested in the scheme which they claimed to be a “once in a lifetime opportunity.” The same was adopted for various religious groups from Hong Kong to Palestine.

Ignatova and her associates of the scam used faith and beliefs as their trump cards to instill trust among people. No wonder the company managed to pool in the kind of numbers that it did in such a short span.

Stellar Lumen v/s Ripple – Similarities & Differences

Ask a layman about the similarities/difference between Stellar Lumen and Ripple; he may appear lost, haven’t heard these words; but ask him if he has listened to the word Cryptocurrency – it might ring a bell. You shall come across the various cryptocurrencies available at present, two of which are Stellar Lumen and Ripple XRP. Stellar and Ripple are both technologies that allow for the transfer of funds, and Lumen & XRP are their own Cryptocurrencies.

 

Similarities between Stellar Lumen and Ripple XRP

These cryptocurrencies are developed by the same person – Jed McCaleb! Ripple was created by a team comprising of David Schwartz, Jed McCaleb, and Chris Larsen in 2012, and Jed McCaleb created Stellar Lumens in 2014. Well, that’s not the only similarity between them. Let’s dig deeper, shall we?

The codes used for both technologies are almost similar. They use a distributed ledger protocol for processing transactions, making it slightly difficult to differentiate them and also processing them at lightning speed, which makes both of them suitable for international payments and transfers. Also, unlike Bitcoins, where you have miners, both Stellar and Ripple do not use miners. In Bitcoins, miners are rewarded to motivate them to download the client to their device, which helps in strengthening the network for Bitcoins. Stellar and Ripple, due to the technology users, do not allow the netizens to run the course.

 

 

Differences between Stellar Lumen and Ripple XRP

One would indeed say, looking at the similarities, that they are almost a mirror image of each other, but that is so not the case. Albeit they seem similar, they do have attributes that keep them apart. One of the stark differences in the audience for whom these technologies are intended for. Ripple, on the one hand, targets the Banking and Financial Institutions aimed to resolve the issues of liquidity. On the other hand, you have Stellar, which looks towards helping the unbanked populace – particularly those in poorer countries with no access to any of the daily financial services/requirements viz. saving bank accounts, loans, credits, etc. Although both the technologies allow for cheap and faster transfer of money/funds, while dealing in Ripple, institutions have to deal with the high cross-border payments which are absent in Stellar.

 

Conclusion

Based on the preceding paragraphs, you probably are much clearer about these two technologies, their resultant cryptocurrencies, the technology used, and their similarities and differences. Although similar, Stellar shall appeal to the unbanked while Ripple will continue to attract the Banking & Financial Institutions.

Zcash vs Monero

When it comes to cryptocurrencies, and which one to choose, the options to choose from are far from few. All of them are different in terms of the purpose which they were made and their technical specifications. The two coins that we are going to discuss today are Zcash and Monero. We will be drawing a comparison into their histories and operational modes. It will help you make a well-informed decision as to which one to invest in.

1.    Operations

Monero and Zcash were created to be used as coins or currencies. The developments of these projects aimed at the coins being used for payment purposes. In Zcash, the transactions between users can be either private or public. It depends on the request of the sender if they wish to take an individual option. In Monero, transactions are at all times in a private mode. People use private transactions as they are not comfortable disclosing the transaction amount publicly.

2.    Speed

When it comes to speed, we have to observe the rate at which block times are created in Zcash and Monero. Monero takes about two minutes for a block time to register. This means new blocks get organized at the rate of two-minute frequency. When we compare it to Bitcoin, it is approximately five times faster in creation. In Zcash, the block creation time is of two and a half minutes. These extra 30 seconds make it slower to transact with than Monero but faster than Bitcoin. Zcash is about four times faster than Bitcoin. Many times, the blockchain transaction depends upon the network speed as well. The transaction takes time to complete also depends on whether the transaction is public or private, and private ones take longer due to the anonymity layer around them.

3.    Adaption

Adaption is also a primary concern when we compare two different blockchain projects. In the case of Zcash and Monero, adaption rates differ from each other majorly. Zcash is used as a general option on the regular internet and dark web. Monero however, is very popular on the dark web than Zcash. This is because compared to Zcash, Monero is very easy to use. Monero has a smooth usage characteristic that can be connected to conventional computer systems as well.

 

We have covered the main points in this article, which should give you a good idea in terms of choosing which blockchain cryptocurrency you want to select.

 

What are Stellar Lumens (XLM) used for?

Stellar Lumen is an inhouse native asset founded by Jed McCaleb in early 2014. A common misconception is that Stellar is an offset of the Ripple. The two, however, have a lot of differences and are very different from each other in terms of essential operation. The founder and developer, Jed McCaleb himself had clarified his stand. He had stated that they are two independently different codes. Stellar is more advanced and has numerous fixes and improvements from the classic Ripple. The primary differentiator in the vision and goal of Stellar was how it fit into the future of Cryptocurrency.

Let us look at what Lumens is and how does Stellar Lumens (XLM) work?

We know that unlike any other cryptocurrency, Stellar has a design innovation in which it creates its own tokens. These tokens are called lumens. The lumens are created with a specific role to play in the network they are a part of. Each account in Stellar has to have a certain prescribed amount of lumen associated with it at any point in time during its operation.

The need for lumens to be introduced was simple. Stellar’s ledger was often barraged with spam, junk, or its database was infiltrated as it didn’t have any nominal barriers. Due to this, the efficiency of Stellar’s payments would be at an all-time low. Stellar introduced its SCP or Stellar Consensus Protocol. The SCP decentralized the network, and the ledger was evenly panned out across the web. Usually, with other cryptocurrencies, banks act as a third party to ensure the transaction is completed by exchanging one currency and changing it to another.

Stellar does this through what they penned as Anchors. Anchors are nothing more than money deposit boxes. They act as an intermediary bridge between the exchange of one currency to another. So basically, all the transactions in Stellar are done in the form of credit. The network has its currency in the way of lumens. Lumens are used to denominating network requirements. Stellar has over 4 million accounts to date. All of them use lumens to conduct transactions and maintain a minimum balance in their Stellar account. Lumens are exchangeable. For example, they act as a pseudo currency. If you want to trade in dollars to rupees, lumens can be exchanged as Indian rupees to complete peer to peer responses.

This is the way the Stellar lumens work.

Blockchain Competition

The crypto market is soon becoming crowded with new businesses that are centered on it. The technology or the blockchain for the cryptocurrency industry is of paramount importance. Even before talking about the value propositions of cryptocurrencies, it is the role of the blockchain that has to be understood first.

It is because of the volatile nature of the cryptocurrencies that most of the new ventures in the crypto market are mainly dealing with blockchain. Cryptocurrencies are merely the application of this fast-growing technology. The turnovers seen in this market are equally commendable. With such advantages in one’s consideration, it is only legit to have competitions rising in this sect.

Now, the competition in this fairly new sect is also rising. The need to cut an edge is also elevating. Some of the ways that can be adapted to stay relevant and kicking in the market are as follows-

  • Be the innovator

For a new market and a business in one such requires new innovation. A fresh flux of ideas is what is going to keep the business relevant. Considering the classic example of BitGo and the early days of Bitcoin, it used 2-3 multisig wallet technology and emerged as a pioneer. Not only did it store cryptocurrencies but it also helped in exchange for other enterprises.

 

  • Regulation and compliance

Regulatory compliance is one of the big advantages for existing businesses that see new entrants every day. They are completely compliant. National regulators demand more and more from financial institutions and start-ups are interested in investing in cryptocurrency. This means that they need to put in more to be fully in the circle of all regulations.

 

  • Refine processes

This means handling all processes in a new and improved way. The processes should be both internal which can involve any operations within the company and external which deals with the customers. The processes can only leverage up to provide more and more benefits. Perhaps adding on the provision of adding other cryptocurrency exchanges apart from its routine service can be an excellent method through which customers would keep in the usage of the company’s services.

 

  • Patent breakthrough and unique technologies

One of the biggest accounting and consultation giants Accenture subscribes to this method. They have a version of the blockchain which they solely claim to be theirs and no one else can sabotage that. The technology of the editable blockchain for example. It sounds like almost being untrue but it speaks of the stored data that is enabled with the provision of being able to be amended.

 

Competition is inevitable, but it is up to the companies to spot the void.

Largest Bitcoin Hack in Dollar Value

Investing in cryptocurrencies is not a cakewalk. The peripheral view of the gamete seems pretty alluring and attractive. It may be so but the costs of the odds are equally even. One must be thoroughly aware of all that is involved in the cryptocurrency business.

The values attached and the latest trends have to be studied on a regular basis to keep unpleasant scenarios at bay. There has been a fall in the cryptocurrency investments and that is mainly because of the increase in the number of fraudulent cases and hacks. The instability and uncertainty of the market drive many investors to pull away from making any further investments. Those who are existent investors have been subjected to immense panic and worry. The cryptocurrency market has seen some terrible hacks that have given reasons enough for people to frown upon the cryptocurrency market-

  • Binance

In May 2019, this buzzing bitcoin exchange was hacked off 7000 Bitcoins worth $40 million. The breach was possible as hackers could access the API keys of the users. Along with the private keys, the hackers also got access to 2FA codes. The hackers used various techniques to conduct the breach via phishing, viruses and other attacks. The team had issued a statement claiming that all the lost money will be recovered through their fund. It is one of the recent and value intensive loss that the cryptocurrency industry has faced so far.

  • Gox

This Japan-based Bitcoin exchange has been hacked twice. Once in 2011 and other in 2014. In 2011, the hacker was successful in collecting the credentials of the exchange’s auditor. 2609 Bitcoins were transferred to an address whose key was not known. This led to the suspension of the operations of Mt.Gox for some time but they could regain a foothold. Then again in 2014, when Mt.Gox was handling most of the world’s transactions, the amount stolen was huge enough to make the company go bankrupt. It reported a loss of 750,000 bitcoins which were of the worth around $350 million. All investors lost their funds and no recoveries could be made.

  • Bitfinex

This 2016 hack is considered the second-largest hack ever in the history of cryptocurrency. The breach claimed 170,000 bitcoins worth around $72 million. The hackers got a hand into the wallet form of the Bitfinex. Bitfinex however issued BFX tokens which were redeemable by investors.

Bitcoin Theft Iceland

It is said time and tide waits for none. But in today’s digital age, it’s time, tide and money that waits for none. Making the right sort of investments has become extremely crucial in such a capacity. To fetch the right kind of portfolio to park funds, a study is required. For something fairly as new as the cryptocurrencies, the odds are not quite in one’s favor.

To understand the world of cryptocurrencies what is actually a necessity is to be aware of what are the terms. How suitable is it for you? The cryptocurrency is not very famous among the trusted investments around the world. The Iceland bitcoin heist proves the lack of security and risk that investing in bitcoins comes with. Iceland’s loot of 600 powerful computers that dealt with cryptocurrencies is considered one of the most mammoth thefts in the state. Iceland emerged well with digital currencies due to the flourishing geothermal powers. This made Iceland quite susceptible to frauds and thefts. When something this large scale happens and the values of cryptocurrency is seen to fall starkly. It raises serious concerns about whether or not it is considered to invest in cryptocurrencies any further.

Fraud like this can be a big scare. Few things hence stand to be considered before investing in the cryptocurrency market-

  • Invest amount that can be affordable to lose

The only money that is spare and extra and does not pinch to be lost should be invested. Huge amounts with the aim of returns is a big no. The market is extremely volatile and is subjected to huge risks. Thefts like that of Iceland can be fatal for investors. There is no scope of any recovery.

 

  • Study well

Before going onto making any investment. A complete understanding of the market should be gained. The best way to do this is by not getting influenced first hand by people and doing your own research. Your financial capabilities must align with the sort of investment that you plan to opt for.

  • Diversify wealth

Not all the money should be vested under one type of investment. Some may be allotted to other areas like real estate, shares, mutual funds, deposits, etc. It is better to lose a quarter of wealth than everything at all. This step is extremely vital as many people commit the mistake of storing all the disposables in one place.

 

These three simple steps would help you be safe and secured to fight with unpleasant scenarios like that of the Bitcoin heist.

Israel Cryptocurrency

Israel is a country situated in the middle east on the banks of the Mediterranean Sea. Tax Authorities of Israel declared that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will not be considered as legal currency. But it would be considered while calculating the income tax. Gains received from the sale of cryptocurrencies are taxable @25%. Also, the individual who mines cryptocurrency and trades Bitcoin would be considered as a professional and they have to pay corporate tax on income & VAT @17%.

From the above, it is evident that the Israel government doesn’t encourage cryptocurrency trading but the recent trend of the uprising crypto market is really tough to avoid. Thus, in this article, we will talk about some of the top Israeli influencers of this market who are trying to revolutionalize the scene.

1) Eyal Hertzog- is an Israeli businessman who is the co-founder and project architect of Bancor ( a decentralized network deals in liquidity), which allows us to hold and convert any Etherium token.

2) Guy Benartzi- is also a co-founder of Bancor. He is the founder of AppCoin and some other networking tools.

3) Moshe Hogeg- He is the CEO of Sirin Labs (developed first open-source blockchain all-in-one PC & smartphone). Also, he is the co-founder & chairman of Singulariteam – Venture cap investment fund focused on blockchain-based cryptocurrency.

4) Meni Rosenfeld- Being the Chairman of the Israeli Bitcoin Association, he established the first bitcoin exchange of Israel, Bitcoin.

5) Guy Corem- Currently he is the CEO of DAGlabs (solves adaptability challenges using protocols). Also, he has experience working with Israeli and Global Bitcoin communities.

6) Galia Benartzi- She is the Business developer of Bancor Network belonging from Israel and also, the co-founder & VP of AppCoin.

7) Uriel Peled- An Israel born CEO of CoinTree, a leading cryptocurrency venture involved in investment banking and development of blockchains.

8) Leonid Beder- Israeli cryptography expert (system security, cryptocurrency system, blockchain protocols, implementations) associated with companies such as CoinTree, Kik Interactive and Orbs.

9) Nimrod Lehavi- Board member of Israel Bitcoin Association & CEO of Simplex, which facilitates Bitcoin exchanges, broker website, wallet app with full transaction security to sell Bitcoin by using a credit card.

10) Yoni Assia- Israel entrepreneur who is the founder and CEO of eToro (largest social media investment network) offering trade and investment in cryptocurrency.

Other than the above 10 prominent names, many other influencers in Israel contributed significantly to this cryptocurrency industry and escalated to its current revamped version. For this remarkable contribution of Israel, it has got the title of a startup nation of digital currency also.

Bitcoin Phishing

Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency released in 2009. The sign of the currency is similar to Thai Baht. With the help of some popular cryptocurrency trading platform, you can trade in Bitcoin. The most important reason for Bitcoin’s tremendous popularity is its return rate. It has a record of providing a return of 142% within a year.

Now phishing can be described as a malpractice/scam which is done by sending an email to the target victim in the name of renowned companies. The purpose of this mail is to get the information from the victim to execute the fraudulent activity.

For example – you get an email in the name of your bank. The theme of the mail is the same as the mail you receive from your bank end. So, you didn’t doubt. The mail instructs you to click on a given link to reset your password on an immediate basis for security purposes. Hence you clicked the link to do so. Then it will pop-up a window that looks accurately identical to your bank portal where your bank user name and password are asked. Normally you will enter the user name and password then the page will be broken or show some message to try again later. Now they have your net banking credentials to proceed with the scamming activity.

Apart from this, the attacker can also corrupt some popular websites and build pop-up dialogue boxes to have the login information or it can simply happen due to mistaken installation of any ransomware or malware.

Therefore Bitcoin phishing can also be defined in a similar way where the scammer steals your user name and password by deceiving you and utilize that information to steal all your investment.

Preventive Measures to Avoid Bitcoin Phishing:

Related companies and service providers should educate and make their customers and clients aware of this kind of attack. Also, users should be trained to identify phishing emails, links and attachment files. Cyber invaders always update themselves for newer theft techniques. So, you should also keep updating your knowledge.

Here are some signs by which you can identify a phishing mail:

  • Unbelievable offers /discount is stated to attract the customer.
  • The sender mail address(domain) will be not linked with the website.
  • Spelling mistakes and grammar errors will be there.
  • Fear of security and account closure are stated to make you hurry.
  • Some links will redirect you to a different website when clicked on.
  • You might receive fishy attachments or some without any preview.

Finally, we could conclude that awareness is the only way to be in a safe zone. Also, you can try the two-step verification process, web browser filters to avoid high-risk mails or biometric login options, OTP based login options to avoid such a scenario.