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$4 Billion Bitcoin Money Laundering Scheme Sees First Indictment by U.S. Jury

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Controversy has swept the bitcoin community after a Russian man was indicted by a U.S. jury for using digital currency to launder more than $4 billion for criminal networks.

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Russian “Mastermind” Apprehended

Alexander Vinnik – the alleged “mastermind” behind the money laundering scheme – was arrested in a small village in northern Greece on Tuesday following an investigation led by the U.S. Department of Justice. Just 24 hours later, the Russian national was indicted by a U.S. jury as being the operator of BTC-e, a bitcoin exchange used to launder money for drug traffickers and cyber criminals.

Reuters reports that the website Vinnik was running had “7 million bitcoins deposited, and 5.5 million bitcoins in withdrawals.”

Vinnik has been on the U.S. Ministry of Justice watch list since 2011. Authorities have also linked him to the failure of Mt. Gox, whose collapse in 2014 raised fears about the imminent demise of the cryptocurrency system.

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Also Read: Alleged BTC-E Admin Arrested for Laundering $4 Billion in Bitcoin

Cyber Crime: Bitcoin’s Enduring Legacy

Although bitcoin’s image in the mainstream has improved over the past three years, some of its detractors view it as nothing more than a conduit for illegal activity, with money laundering being only one example. The federal take-down of Silk Road in 2013 highlighted the extent to which cryptocurrency was being used to evade the authorities.

In 2016, a high-profile breach of Hong Kong-based exchange Bitfinex also shone negative spotlight on the crpytocurrency market, raising concerns about a lack of insurance protocols.

Bitcoin Prices Stable

The indictment of Vinnik had little impact on the cryptocurrency market, with bitcoin prices trading around 2,675.00, according to Bitstamp. That represents a gain of 2%. Prices fluctuated between $2,550.00 and $2,601.00 during the Asian session.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 354 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Bitcoin

Is the Tokyo Whale Planning His Next Big Move?

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Roughly 16,000 units of bitcoin were transferred from the Mt Gox wallet this week, igniting speculation that the ‘Tokyo Whale’ was planning his next fire sale.

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Mt Gox Liquidation

The CryptoGround monitoring service reported Thursday that nearly $141 million worth of BTC was transferred out of a wallet associated with the now defunct Mt Gox, once the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. The motivation for the transaction is not clear but there’s strong reason to believe that the trustee in charge of liquidating Mt Gox is planning his next sell order.

According to Twitter account associated with CryptoGround, it is unclear whether the coins have been sold.

“Looks like 16k BTC from Mt Gox were consolidated to this address We obviously don’t know if they were sold or just moved for some other reason,” tweeted Alistair Milne, a bitcoin entrepreneur.

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Nobuaki Kobayashi, the so-called Tokyo Whale, has been tasked with offloading all remaining assets associated with Mt Gox. The trustee has already sold $400 million worth of bitcoin and bitcoin cash since September. Roughly $1.9 billion worth of digital currency remains to be sold.

Whale Sightings and Market Prices

Cryptocurrency traders are naturally curious about Kobayashi’s ongoing efforts to liquidate wallets linked to Mt Gox. The fear is that oversized sell orders could spark a sharp decline in bitcoin’s market value, making the digital currency harder to evaluate.

According to analysts, Kobayashi may have been partially responsible for the market’s sharp downturn on Wednesday. However, this has not yet been confirmed.

Bitcoin’s multi-week rally has prompted several sell orders from some of the world’s largest cryptocurrency wallets. Last week, whales unloaded a combined $100 million in BTC after the digital currency skyrocketed above $8,000. Bitcoin’s third-biggest wallet offloaded 6,600 units of the digital currency last week, followed by a sell order of 6,500 for anonymous wallet 3D2oetdNuZUqQHPJmcMDDHYoqkyNVsFk9r.

While the trades were associated with a sizable drop in prices, bitcoin quickly regained momentum en route to fresh highs above $9,000. The digital currency briefly returned to those levels on Thursday before consolidating around $8,900 on the major exchanges.

Interestingly, the trade that ignited bitcoin’s bullish reversal may have been placed by a whale, or a large institutional investor. Bitcoin prices first crossed $7,000 on Bitfinex before the rally extended to other exchanges.

The cryptocurrency market peaked at $437 billion earlier this week, having gained roughly $188 billion from the Apr. 6 swing low.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 354 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Analysis

Crypto Update: Correction Continues but Uptrend Not in Danger

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The major cryptocurrencies are consolidating in a choppy range today following yesterday’s sharp pullback, with the total value of the market stabilizing near the $400 billion level. All of the largest coins found support above key support levels, keeping the bullish trend intact, as the overbought readings are being cleared.

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While the correction will likely continue and our trend model is still only neutral from a short-term perspective in the case of most of the coins, the underlying trend is positive, and we expect the recovery to resume after the dip.

BTC/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

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Bitcoin fell below the $9000-$9200 support/resistance zone during the pullback, but it remained above the $8400 level that marks the previous swing high. The MACD indicator is still showing a downswing, but it is now in neutral territory, and the coin could already be ready to resume the uptrend and aggressive traders could enter new positions, using the overnight low as a stop loss level. Below $8400, further support is found near the $7650 level, while targets are ahead at $10,000 and $10,500.

ETH/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Ethereum found support just below the $600 level and moved back to the vicinity of the $625 support level holding within the steep short-term uptrend.  A break below the trendline is still likely, and a test of the $555 to $575 zone is possible after the strong rally. That said, ETH, one of the leaders of the upswing is expected to resume the recovery after the correction, and long-term investors should hold on to their coins despite the move. Further support is at $500, with targets still ahead near $735, $780, and $845.

EOS Holding Up Well Amid Broad Correction

EOS/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

EOS has been spearheading the broad rally in the segment, and the coin got close to the prior all-time high before the current correction, being the largest coin to do so since January. Although the currency retreated somewhat from the highs, it remains from a short-term perspective and traders should use tight stop losses or reduce their positions as correction risk is high here.

IOTA is the closest to giving a short-term buy signal among the majors, as it began the correction earlier and found strong support near the previous swing high, while there are no negative outliers that would hint on a failed rally off the recent multi-month lows. With that in mind, long-term investors could still use the current correction to boost their altcoin holdings.

Featured image from Shutterstock

Disclaimer:  The analyst owns cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but doesn’t engage in short-term or day-trading, nor does he hold short positions on any of the coins.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 234 rated postsTrader and financial analyst, with 10 years of experience in the field. An expert in technical analysis and risk management, but also an avid practitioner of value investment and passive strategies, with a passion towards anything that is connected to the market.




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Bitcoin

Stocks Money is Flowing into Bitcoin

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Despite what is looking to be an outstanding earnings season on Wall Street, stocks yesterday took a major hit. At the same time, Bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies soared.

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It’s not that it’s unusual for Bitcoin and the Dow Jones to move in opposite directions. In fact, it happens quite frequently. What’s interesting here is that the volumes of the Bitcoin futures on Wall Street saw a major spike yesterday.

The CBOE futures contract that expires on May 16th has been trading between 1,700 and 4,000 Bitcoins over the last week. Yesterday it traded a total of 6,653 BTC.

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The CME contract (expiring this Friday) usually trades less than 15,000 coins, saw the volume spike up to 23,405 Bitcoins. This means that between the two exchanges yesterday’s volume was more than 60% above their weekly averages.

Though it’s still a bit early to draw concrete solutions, this does seem to indicate that at least some of the money that came off the stock market yesterday ended up in the world’s favorite cryptocurrency.

@MatiGreenspan
eToro, Senior Market Analyst

Today’s Highlights

  • Trumpcron
  • Fed Research on Bitcoin
  • Ethereum Hacked

Please note: All data, figures & graphs are valid as of April 25th. All trading carries risk. Only risk capital you can afford to lose.

Traditional Markets

It was interesting to watch the awkward body language between Donald Trump and his French counterpart over the last three days. However, even though the pair now appear to be friends, it doesn’t seem like much has been accomplished as far as any substantial policy change. At least, nothing that would improve the mood in the markets.

At the moment, the US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is on his way to China to see what he can do about avoiding an all-out trade war. This is typically something that the Secretary of State takes charge of, but with Rex Tillerson out of the picture, the Trump White House appears to be a bit understaffed.

One thing that seemed to cause some worry in the stock markets and may have been a catalyst for at least some of the selling was the Bond Yields, which spiked up early in the New York trading session.

Here we can see the US 10 Year Yield since the financial crisis. That 3% level has been a psychological pain point that has not been crossed since 2011.

Fed Research on Bitcoin

This research really speaks for itself but I did want to mention this outstanding report that was just published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

It gets a bit complicated but their general conclusion seems to be that Bitcoin is a very good middle ground between governments who have the obligation to control money flows as best they can and citizens who have the incentive for money to be more independent.

I must admit that it did take me a few minutes to wrap my head around this graph but once I did it really makes a lot of sense.

It’s really incredible to see such outstandingly positive research coming from a central bank in the United States. This really fits into the narrative that I’ve personally been advocating for a while now, that Bitcoin should be an excellent compliment to the current global monetary system.

Ethereum Hacked

A few of Google’s servers fell yesterday causing a disruption in Internet service in some parts of the world.

This is not all that uncommon and the incident is still being investigated. The bigger issue is that it seems some hackers managed to exploit the downtime to hijack MyEtherWallet.com (MEW)

MEW is the main website that many crypto enthusiasts use to store their Ethereum and Ethereum based tokens, so this is kind of a big deal. Some people who tried to access the website at that time were redirected to a lookalike phishing site that then gathered their login information (private keys) and emptied their wallets.

Word quickly spread throughout the cryptowebs and a patch was quickly released. All in all, it seems that only 216 ETH was stolen.

This is a reminder that in these early days of crypto and blockchain we must remain alert. Always check the URL of the website you’re visiting and if you do see any security warnings like the one below, please do not ignore them.

The crypto-market was in the thrall of a raging bull run but it does seem that the hack may have stopped it in its tracks. The initial reaction in Ethereum (yellow circle) was quite small…

…but it does seem that this morning we’re seeing a wider pullback across the board this morning.

Over the next few hours, we should be able to get a good test of cryptotrader sentiment and see how dedicated they are to buying the dips.

Have an amazing day ahead!

This content is provided for information and educational purposes only and should not be considered to be investment advice or recommendation.

The outlook presented is a personal opinion of the analyst and does not represent an official position of eToro.

Past performance is not an indication of future results. All trading involves risk; only risk capital you are prepared to lose.

Cryptocurrencies can widely fluctuate in prices and are not appropriate for all investors. Trading cryptocurrencies is not supervised by any EU regulatory framework.

Best regards,
Mati Greenspan
Senior Market Analyst

eToro: @MatiGreenspan | Twitter: @MatiGreenspan | LinkedIn: MatiGreenspan | Facebook:MatiGreenspan

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 72 rated postsSenior Market Analyst at Etoro.com.




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