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Busted: FBI Spots Belgian Policeman Buying Grenades, Guns on the Dark Web

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After warrants were issued for his arrest, a Belgian policeman was apprehended in a police operation after the FBI spotted him purchasing grenades and handguns on the dark web.

A 35-year-old Belgian policeman, from the city of Charleroi in Belgium was arrested in late September by local authorities after the FBI spotted him purchasing handguns and grenades on the dark web.

According to Belgian publication NordEclair, a federal special police squad turned up on a neighborhood street shortly after midday to arrest the accused police officer at his home before transferring him to the offices of the Federal Police of Charleroi.

Darknet

The Public Prosecutor’s Office in the city issued a dual arrest warrant for the officer. The local policeman, who belonged to the GSA (the Security and Intelligence Group), evidently knew enough about the dark web to purchase weapons and explosives on the internet. An investigation revealed that several weapons ordered from the dark web had reached the accused policeman, via post.

Indeed, during the arrest, a number of weapons were reportedly obtained by arresting officers at his home, revealed the Brussels Times.

The investigating judge has charged the accused with illegally importing weapons and two counts of attempted murder. The weapons were reportedly purchased by the policeman as a part of a plan to kill two acquaintances, reports say. Other publication sources cite that the potential targets were the boyfriends of two of his ex-girlfriends.

Law enforcement agencies haven’t always been technologically adept in understanding how dark net marketplaces work, although such a notion is changing of late, as evident with the FBI tipping off Belgian authorities about one of their own buying weapons illegally online.

The most notable examples of law enforcement agents turning rogue to engage in criminal activities are that of FBI agents Carl Force and Shaun Bridges, from the infamous Silk Road case.

Carl Force, a former federal agent who admitted to charges of money laundering, extortion and obstruction of justice saw a sentence of 78 months in prison. Force is alleged to have siphoned off funds up to $400,000 in bitcoin.

The case of Shaun Bridges, a former Secret Service agent who stole over $800,000 in bitcoins during the Silk Road investigation to siphon it into an account at now-defunct bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, ended with a sentence of 71 months in prison.

Images from iStock and 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 stars on average, based on 1 rated postsSamburaj is the contributing editor at Hacked and keeps tabs on science, technology and cyber security.




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BlockState Interview Part One: Institutional Investment Framework Story

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The mainstream media narrative has shown an uncompromisingly negative bias towards institutional crypto investment of late and it only seemed fair that we got in touch with some people who have professional expertise in the field.

BlockState is a platform that aims to deliver a modular blockchain-based legal and technological infrastructure for financial institutions which combats the low interest and return rates offered by traditional asset classes.

We spoke to the three co-founders: Paul Claudius, Michael Weber and Samuel Brack regarding the nature of the project. In addition to how they met and how it all started, their current status, and their plans for the future.

BlockState in Brief

On their website, the BlockChain team states that their intention is to provide “a technological and legal bridge between blockchain technology and financial markets.”.

It is an infrastructural platform upon which organisations within these sectors build or inform their own solutions – and is unashamedly focused towards providing products for the institutional investment crowd.

On the One Hand…

When asked about the ethics, technological approach and modus operandi of BlockState, Managing Director Paul Claudius was eager to provide a comprehensive, dichotomised summary.

“On the one hand we are creating the basis for institutional investors to access the digital assets markets.

“Investment banks can’t simply open a wallet on their phone and start buying crypto-assets. They need a range of services and processes in place to make sure that they abide by regulation and their internal requirements.”

The BlockState consensus is that there are insufficient frameworks in place to mitigate the obstacles faced by companies unfamiliar with the many intricacies of the crypto-space at present.

This is not to mention the prohibitive nature of the past progression of technological and regulatory standards, which are largely non-standardized.

… And On the Other

The ‘other hand’ to which Paul refers to is the lack of blockchain or cryptocurrency integration at product or service levels within the institutional market.

For this reason: BlockState posits the second half of its service as an offering to:

“help institutions leverage blockchain to improve their existing processes… helping them tokenize financial products and using smart contracts to govern their execution… [to] save massive amount of resources while making their systems more transparent and efficient.”

In theory all transactions will be immutably recorded on the blockchain, which will ensure that all parties involved can access this data and that all transactions will be processed quickly.

Performance can distinguish a winning cryptocurrency from a useless dud.

The Three Musketeers

In addition to Paul Claudius, we got the opportunity to speak to fellow founding members Michael Weber and Samuel Brack.

Paul specialises in Strategy and Business Development, whilst Michael’s role is to take the lead on Product Development and Project Management duties. Their specialisms are Strategy and Business Development, and Product Development / Project Management (respectively).

Samuel Brack is the cryptocurrency brains of the operation and performs something of a hands-on position, donning the title of Chief Technology Officer. He sits in a more hands-on position, acting as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for BlockState.

Before BlockState

Paul recalls that the executive leadership team had “all already knew each other” before the BlockState project even began.

Whilst he and Michael Weber had made acquaintance whilst studying together at the ESPC Europe business school, Michael had met up with Samuel Brack as they were co-founding partners on a prior blockchain based project entitled ‘Goodcoins’.

Whilst they have sold their stake in Goodcoins since, Samuel at least considers his time on the project to have equipped him a knowledge which has been brought forth to BlockState.

Beginners Luck?

On a more personal level: Paul Claudius described his first interaction with the world of cryptocurrency as being the moment in 2012 in which a friend had recommended Bitcoin to him as a potential investment.

He has not disclosed exactly how much Bitcoin he purchased in 2012 but if story is true, considering the token’s contemporary value of $13: Paul would have made a profit of a whopping 51614.53% on his investment. No matter the amount invested.

Products, Pains and Peers

Michael Weber (product lead and project management professional) broke down the trio of primary services / product lines that BlockChain focuses on as being “asset management, dept capital, and derivatives” – with a perceived overlap between the three.

This is as well as the ability for tailoring packages for clients from these tested specialisms.

If these products names appear distinctive yet simple, then you would be correct. Of course, this is one of the main objectives of marketing – however it does not help a company to distinguish itself from its peers.

“While most focus on very specific needs, our infrastructure integrates solutions at every level of the financial product lifecycle, from issuance to reporting always with a view to improving current products on the market.”

This isn’t an easy task however, with obstacles to full-automation rearing their heads alongside undesirably long payment clearance times,

“Some of the major pain points specific to the asset management and derivatives markets and resource consuming operations are settlement and clearing, which can take up to 30 days… with manual processes like getting signatures and manual transactions.”

With a Little Help From My Friends

The three musketeers of BlockState with whom we have already spoken are supposed to possess their own unique-yet-compatible inventories of skills and experience. If the team has any luck it will prove a winning combination.

Three men cannot rule an empire alone however and as the popular idiom goes: successful leaders fill the gaps in their expertise by surrounding themselves with knowledgeable advisors. Following this, BlockState boast a roster of advisors who may just fit the bill for now.

They include (according to Paul):

  • “Patrick Storchenegger, co-founder of the Ethereum Foundation in Zug, is our advisor on legal questions. He brings years of experience from blockchain, capital market law and international tax and business consultancy…
  • “Andrea Voinea, who helped to structure the first Gold Exchange Traded Fund, is a seasoned professional from the asset management market…
  • “Ludwig Schrittenloher, who spent nearly six years at Credit Suisse, offers a breadth of knowledge in DCM and structuring…
  • “[and] Martin Schröder, currently a Director in an investment firm, is an expert in derivatives and also very knowledgeable in capital markets and structuring.”

Estimated Time of ETN

Looking not to the past or present, but forward to what the future may hold for BlockState (or at least, what they plan to happen), we asked Paul Claudius some closing questions in an attempt to reach some conclusions on what may come next…

“At the end of September, we will launch the CTF15 Exchange Traded Note, and it will also be listed on a major European Stock Exchange – to be announced soon…”

An Exchange Traded Note (or ETN) is “a type of unsecured, unsubordinated debt security”

Final Words

Perhaps more exciting even is the fact that the team are currently in the process of preparing the launch of an ‘Equity Token Sale’, issued as part of the company’s equity in a public sale.

According to Paul, it will be “one of the first companies ever to tokenize their equity in a fully regulated and compliant manner, driving the adoption of security tokenization in the financial space.”

Paul, Simon and Michael parted our discussion by asking to remind readers of a forthcoming event at which all three will be attending: the Delta Summit in Malta, which takes place from October 3rd to the 5th.

Stay tuned for the second part of this interview coming soon: in which the team will deliver their commentary on recent news, the present situation; and future predictions on the market and industry.

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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Altcoins

Crypto Exchanges: Looking For Guaranteed Results

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The word guaranteed is never to be used anywhere investment advice is offered.  So please think of my use of the term as just one person’s opinion. But after doing some weekend reading, I think there should be a way to achieve extraordinary gains that are virtually assured for a very long time.

Back in the glory days of the dotcom period the wisdom of the time was simply stated: invest in the plumbing. That included names like Cisco and Intel.  These were the folks that facilitated high speed traffic on the Internet. Even after the dotcom bubble burst, the plumbers continued to rake in the dough.

Fast forward to 2018, why should we not follow the same logic? Please don’t ask why I didn’t ask this question long ago. Here is what caught my attention.

There is a new study out prepared by The Status Group that makes some incredible projections for the immediate future.  Here are their headline making forecasts.

  • We expect crypto trading volume growth of +50% through 2019, and a 9% CAGR through 2028
  • Crypto trading volume is set to overtake U.S. Corporate Debt trading volume this year, and is on track to be ~10% of U.S. Equity trading volume
  • We estimate exchange trading fee growth of 50%+ this year, from $2.1B last year to well over $3B in 2018
  • The top 20 exchanges account for over 75% of total crypto market trading volume
  • BTC is the base pair for ~1/3 of global crypto volume, USDT 22%, ETH 12%

Always Be Cautious of Forecasts

With no disrespect meant, are the forecasters at The Status Group really serious?  Well, 2019 isn’t that far off so we will know soon enough. But the point is, how do we get involved in the growth of trading rather than pure speculation on crypto prices?

Take the case of the two largest players: Bitmex and Binance.  Over the past 30 days, the two exchanges have traded over $125 billion in value.  That is just in the last month or $1.5 trillion annually. This is only the top two.  If the five largest were included, the monthly total rapidly approaches $200 billion.

Bitmex stands out from a recent article titled: Bitmex Co-Founder is the Youngest British Self-Made Billionaire. Brilliant ideas and hard work deserve and that is why Ben Delo, Samuel Reed and Arthur Hayes are billionaires. But try to buy into Bitmex, good luck.

But there is #2 Binance (BNB) whose token can be traded on the Binance exchange. According to ICOMarks, the market cap of BNB is just a little over $1.1 billion. Back in January, BNB reached $22 but has since tumbled to just $10 -marking a drop of roughly 60%.

Putting that into perspective, that is just a bit less than the average crypto has done this year. But before you doze off, consider this. Changpeng Zhao, BNB founder, just reported second quarter profits of $200 million.  That amounts to 2,757% over the $7.5 million earned in the first quarter.

In other words, BNB’s market cap is equal to just five times the profits in the first six months. If BNB were listed on the New York Stock Exchange and received an average valuation, it would sell for about 23 times earnings.  There may be many reasons why the value of BNB is so low but if it continues to generate such sizable profits, somebody is going to take notice.

As we noted, there are probably lots of reasons why the asset value has fallen nearly as much as the average crypto this year.  This is where I would love to hear from you. Just like back in the post dotcom days, the plumbing companies made the most money.

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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4.4 stars on average, based on 106 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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Selling Pressure Hits Bitcoin, Altcoins Following Large Rally

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Cryptocurrencies declined across the board on Monday, as the market returned to a defensive posture following a $38 billion inflow over the past six days. Losses affected all major assets but were largely concentrated in altcoins and tokens.

Market Update

From a peak of around $230 billion on Friday, the cryptocurrency market cap has fallen back to $218.4 billion. The brisk selloff began around 00:00 UTC on Monday; the market would go on to lose roughly $8 billion over the span of six hours.

Trading volumes have held steady over the last 24 hours with $13.7 billion transacted on virtual currency exchanges.

All major assets were down on Monday, with XRP and Stellar XLM each declining more than 11%. Both currencies were the top performers last week. XRP is currently trading at $0.517 and XLM is sitting at $0.2556.

Ethereum slipped 5.1% to $232. Bitcoin cash was down 7.3% at 464. EOS, which was briefly overtaken by Stellar in the market cap rankings, declined 6.6% to $5.67.

Losses in bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market cap, were more contained. BTC is down 2.1% over 24 hours to $6,607. Bitcoin’s price crossed the 50-day moving average on Friday and is currently testing that key level.

Pullback Expected

A pullback was expected for the leading altcoins after demonstrating spectacular growth over a short period. XRP posted a three-fold increase in price last week while Stellar XLM added a third to its value in roughly the same period. Cardano was also among the top performers a ADA began its long recovery from a 96% retracement.

Fundamentals were a major catalyst behind last week’s rally but appear to be absent from the recent reversal, reinforcing the view that technical re-positioning was largely responsible. Sharp corrections are common for cryptocurrencies after a large run-up in prices.

With the pullback, bitcoin’s share of the overall market has returned above 52%. Bitcoin’s dominance rate approached six-week lows on Sunday as altcoins and tokens outpaced the leading digital currency.

BTC trade volumes are holding above $4 billion, a figure that is generally consistent with rising prices. Bitcoin’s price action this week could be influenced by expiring CME futures contracts. The September futures contract is set to expire on Friday.

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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4.6 stars on average, based on 612 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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