Crypto Twitter Roundup, Feb. 13: Crime and Sometimes Punishment
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Crypto Twitter Roundup, Feb. 13: Crime and Sometimes Punishment

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9 months ago

From attempted laundering of billions of dollars worth of BTC to minor pump and dump schemes, this week has brought to light the vibrant criminal underworld of crypto.

Crypto Twitter Roundup, Feb. 13: Crime and Sometimes Punishment

This week has been a period of relative calm for the crypto markets, with little price movement to either side. While most cryptocurrencies are in the red over the seven-day period, many of them are only down by single-digit percentages. Others still have defied the trend and actually gained some value.

Bitcoin (BTC) is up 1.64% since last Saturday, to trade at $42,181.08. At the same time, Ethereum (ETH) and Binance Coin (BNB) are down by 3.77% and 5.45% respectively, trading at the $2,904.65 and $399.36 marks.
Shiba Inu (SHIB) is this week’s unexpected high performer, up more than 20% over the last seven days and trading at $0.00002815 at the time of writing.
The global crypto market cap is down, but not by much: it has declined from $1.905 trillion a week ago to $1.885 trillion today, a loss of just one percent.
With not much exciting going on in the markets, let’s turn to Twitter for this week’s biggest story: the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has seized over 94,000 Bitcoin out of the almost 120,000 stolen from the crypto exchange Bitfinex in August 2016. The overall heist was worth $72 million then, and the coins seized this week are valued at about $3.6 billion at today’s prices.
What’s especially interesting about this case — which is reportedly the largest single seizure of assets in the history of the DoJ — are the supposed masterminds partly behind the scheme — a New York City hipster couple, Heather Morgan and Ilya Lichtenstein. The two have been arrested on suspicions of trying to launder the funds stolen from Bitfinex and will now, if convicted, face up to 20 years in prison.

Lichtenstein’s online persona is a cookie-cutter “serial entrepreneur” whose Twitter feed is full of uninspired and unoriginal posts promoting crypto and adjacent industries:

Morgan, on the other hand, is much more fascinating: known by her stage name Razzlekhan, she similarly describes herself as a serial entrepreneur, but also as a rapper and a surreal artist. And if you, for some reason, doubted the “surreal” claim, those doubts are sure to be dispelled by watching just a few of Morgan’s acts:

The legal landscape of crypto is a hard one to navigate indeed, as evidenced by Marco Santori, the chief legal officer of Kraken — the fourth largest crypto exchange by daily trading volume — who had announced in a tweet this week that he’s looking to hire no less than 30, but potentially up to 60 new lawyers for the firm over the next three months. Lawyers on a job hunt, take note:
Another hip-hop artist who got caught (although not in a legally consequential way) engaging in a questionable crypto scheme this week is Gunna, a mumble rapper from Atlanta, U.S. In a tweet on Jan. 31, Gunna had promoted a crypto metaverse project Pushin Peth — it was rug pulled just two days later, prompting the rapper to claim that his Twitter account was hacked and deny any personal association with the project.
Evidence to the contrary that emerged this week, however, suggests that the promotional tweet was actually a behind-the-scenes deal between Gunna and the team behind Pushin Peth, designed to pump the price of the digital asset before an abrupt dump:

Speaking of pump and dump schemes, Twitter user Šimon Svatoš conducted a thorough analysis of the Banter Capital investment group’s portfolio of digital assets this week. Banter Capital is a Twitter account with over 40 thousand followers that describes itself as investing in “protocols that change the world” and regularly posts what specific cryptocurrency projects it has put money in.

When presented with a collection of 25 assets that have gone to near zero after the group had invested in them, Banter Capital’s response was to explain that their strategy involves putting 15% of their funds into high-risk degen (short for “degenerate”) projects that are likely to fail but are expected to produce immense returns in the rare cases of success.

What Banter has omitted in its response is that in almost every case, they have bought into an asset shortly before its major — and only — peak in price and subsequent crash and “death.” Their strategy might “work well” for them, as they’ve put it, but whether it will work for anyone coming after them remains an open question:

The above story should serve as a cautionary one for many crypto investors, especially considering how the scene tends to reach unhealthy levels of obsession with emulating the strategies of the more successful players:

Well, that does it for today’s non-NFT-themed tweets, as the crypto conversation continues to be largely gripped by the topic of non-fungible tokens.
Gamestop (GME), an electronics and video game retailer that was featured in our previous roundup for its announcement of a new NFT marketplace, was awarded $100 million worth of Immutable (IMX) tokens for the trouble — Immutable will serve as the platform for GME’s promised NFT service.

It has been revealed this week that those tokens were, for some unknown reason, unvested, leading Gamestop to dumping $30 million worth of them immediately after the large surge in price, in the process wiping out all of the price gains produced by the announcement of the partnership:

Samsung is another electronics brand that had announced an NFT initiative this week: the company is planning to launch a “sustainability-themed” scavenger hunt in the Decentraland crypto metaverse project, where participants will plant virtual trees, among other activities.
Decentraland runs on the Ethereum blockchain, which, according to the most recent estimates, consumes about 238 kilowatt-hours of electricity per every single transaction, corresponding to an amount of CO2 emissions sequestered by 2.8 real tree seedlings planted and grown for ten years, according to the calculator provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The question of enforcing the property rights of images associated with NFTs is becoming more relevant; at the moment, there is no mainstream solution of ensuring that if a person owns a non-fungible token, nobody else can use the image paired with it — forcing some people to invent ad hoc solutions.

One user, for example, has decided to self-organize into a sort of one-man NFT police force, taking the time out of their day to patrol Twitter in search of violations of NFT usage rules and politely inform the perpetrators of their transgressions:

While some are fighting the noble fight of securing the legitimacy of the NFT space with their own two hands, it truly remains an uphill battle. Indie video game platform Itch.io, which was a host to more than 400,000 games as of Aug. 2021, had revealed its position on the digital asset class this week, calling the entire industry an exploitative scam:

Even the actual scammers in the NFT space are seemingly getting tired of the ease with which they are allowed to perpetrate their schemes. The person (or people) behind the defunct Doodled Dragons project (which ended with a tweet proclaiming that "our charity will instead now be... my bank account") have revealed themselves to also be behind another rug pulled NFT collection, Balloonsville.

This time, the scammers taunted their victims by openly admitting that the entire project was an illicit scheme from the start and that they will continue using the Magic Eden platform, based on the Solana (SOL) blockchain, for more similar scams in the future:
The NFT space really is intense enough to make anyone age years in the span of months. Gary Vee, a highly popular influencer known for his business mentorship content and promotion of a grindset lifestyle that has been described as “demented,” has been active in the crypto space for the last months.
At one point Vee had said that 50 hours spent researching NFTs on Twitter, YouTube and Discord are worth more than any college education, no doubt influencing his appearance in this meme:
Finally, the popular animated sitcom series South Park makes a return this week with some harsh mockery of Matt Damon and his starring in the “fortune favors the brave” commercial for Crypto.com, after having already mocked the NFT industry last December:
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