Displaying items by tag: SEC

Thursday, 21 January 2021 12:33

$ 400M INVESTMENT SCAM - FENITA LA COMEDY FINIKO

The illegal Finiko service started operating at the end of 2017. It was positioned as an automatic profit-making system. Currently, it is represented by Cyfron FNK LTD, registered in the state of Saint Lucia (no license is required to work with cryptocurrencies).

The site in the .ru domain zone is not available. There is a working mirror of “thefiniko” (in the .com zone). The user agreements on both sites are identical. What is noteworthy is that the platform offers gaming programs that mimic investment programs. And the internal CFR token is not an official currency and has no financial value. The company does not bear any responsibility.

This approach allows Finiko to work without loss since 2017. In November 2018, the platform launched an active advertising campaign. The scammers offered to buy an apartment or a car, pay off another loan for 35% of the cost. The peak of active use of the service occurred at the end of 2019. This was accompanied by the visibility of the accrual of funds to users. However, few users were able to withdraw real funds...

There are the main signs of a financial pyramid: lack of regulation, registration in an offshore company, short life (the cost of the CFR token is close to zero), very high profitability (promised more than 200% per year), enticing and expensive website design, a lot of good reviews.

Finiko, the only known cryptocurrency, has a huge number of wallets in Bitcoin and Ethereum. The largest crypto wallet received 12099.294 BTC (almost in 2.5 years). It may have been used for trading on the stock exchange. More than 129 thousand wallets involved in the activities of the illegal service have been identified. The main large (used for receiving / sending) wallets are monitored by the services of the SICP platform.

In the darknet, there is a forum where enthusiasts are working to identify large Finiko wallets and select private keys to them. In total, Finiko attracted more than $300 million from the population (according to SICP experts, more than $400 million)!..

Analysis of recent transactions shows that the funds are withdrawn mainly on the Asian cryptocurrency exchange, managed from Russia. If you or your loved one suffered from the activities of Finiko, please contact CryptoCERT (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Source: sicp.ueba.su

Published in INVESTIGATIONS
Saturday, 26 December 2020 12:21

ADDED CUSTODIAN XAPO CRYPTOCURRENCY WALLETS

Users of the SICP platform have access to a pool of Xapo wallet addresses for analysis, with user marks of owners (the largest received 231,834.287 BTC), which was launched in the jurisdiction of Hong Kong in 2013. Already in 2014, support for debit cards for operations with cryptocurrencies was implemented. In 2015, the headquarters was moved from the USA to Switzerland.

In August 2019, Coinbase acquired the Xapo custodian (for about $ 55 million). Thus, Xapo came under the control of Coinbase Custody, making the relatively young custodian of the crypto exchange the world's largest storage of cryptocurrencies by capitalization. Today, he holds over $ 7 billion for over 120 large clients in 14 countries.

In 2020, the company moved its operations from California to Gibraltar, which offers a regulatory framework for cryptocurrency companies. The changes in Xapo come amid litigation after the custodian was accused of circulating stolen funds…

So, according to a lawsuit filed by German citizen D. Novak, Xapo and the Indodax cryptocurrency exchange contributed to the turnover of stolen cryptocurrencies. It also reveals that Xapo holds 19.99 BTC from the stolen assets, and the Indodax exchange has 476.69 BTC.

By the end of 2020, the crypto custodian (owned by crypto exchange Coinbase) plans to restructure its business and become a digital bank. Represented by legal entities in the United States (Xapo Blockchain Limited) and Gibraltar (Xapo Gibraltar Limited) and meets the regulatory requirements for financial services, virtual asset providers, electronic money and security.

Source: Xapo

Published in INVESTIGATIONS

SICP experts have identified another scammer using social media to cheat. Katrina Lucas from Los Angeles adds potential victims as friends on Facebook and starts a dialogue with them about cryptocurrencies and investments. She offers them up to 50% profit in the first week by investing her bitcoins in her services. The scammer mentions the cloud mining service Coincloudhashing, but this site is not available in the .com zone.

So, one of the scammer's wallets received 4 transactions worth 0.027 BTC. Subsequently, the funds were transferred to the consolidating wallet of the illegal service (in transit, with division into parts).

Associated with the profile is a bitcoin investment company page that leads to an inaccessible site in the domain zone in Nigeria (bitcoincom). From the information it follows that the illegal investment service allegedly charges $ 50,000 for 1 bitcoin. Here are trader Jennifer Smith's contacts and reviews of active users.

One of the wallets of the illegal service received 410 transactions in the amount of 5,669,312 BTC (over a period of about 3 months). It is linked to several other major wallets in the group in question.

The second scammer's wallet was launched a few days ago. Funds are withdrawn directly to the Huobi Global crypto exchange wallet. The wallet of the exchange user took 5 transactions for 0.034 BTC, which so far contain about 100 BTC. In total, the wallet received 14 785 129 BTC.

Katrina's Facebook page is currently unavailable, and messages from the correspondence have been deleted by the scammer (please take screenshots in advance). There are no active sites on the network.

Look before you jump!

Service: sicp.ueba.su

Published in INVESTIGATIONS

April 3, 2019. Public Statement. Bill Hinman, Director of Division of Corporation Finance; Valerie Szczepanik, Senior Advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation.

Blockchain and distributed ledger technology can catalyze a wide range of innovation. They have seen these technologies used to create financial instruments, sometimes in the form of tokens or coins that can provide investment opportunities like those offered through more traditional forms of securities.  Depending on the nature of the digital asset, including what rights it purports to convey and how it is offered and sold, it may fall within the definition of a security under the U.S. federal securities laws.

As part of a continuing effort to assist those seeking to comply with the U.S. federal securities laws, FinHub is publishing a framework for analyzing whether a digital asset is offered and sold as an investment contract, and, therefore, is a security.  The framework is not intended to be an exhaustive overview of the law, but rather, an analytical tool to help market participants assess whether the federal securities laws apply to the offer, sale, or resale of a particular digital asset.  Also, the Division of Corporation Finance is issuing a response to a no-action request, indicating that the Division will not recommend enforcement action to the Commission if the digital asset described in the request is offered or sold without registration under the U.S. federal securities laws.

This framework represents Staff views and is not a rule, regulation, or statement of the Commission.  The Commission has neither approved nor disapproved its content.  This framework, like other Staff guidance, is not binding on the Divisions or the Commission.  It does not constitute legal advice, for which you should consult with your own attorney.  It does not modify or replace any existing applicable laws, regulations, or rules.  Market participants are encouraged to review all the materials published on FinHub...

Source: SEC.gov

There is a gap in the regulation of crypto-assets that Congress needs to fix. The gap is contributing to fraud and weak investor protection in the distribution and trading of crypto-assets. In “It’s time to strengthen the regulation of crypto-assets,” Timothy G. Massad discusses how better regulation will benefit crypto investors, further the development of new technologies, curtail the use of crypto-assets used for illicit payments, and reduce the risk of cyber attacks, which can result in collateral damage elsewhere in our financial system.

Crypto-assets cut across current jurisdictional boundaries and thus fall into gaps between regulatory authorities. While each of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has some authority over crypto-assets, neither has sufficient jurisdiction, nor do they together.

The hype surrounding Bitcoin and other crypto-assets has contributed to regulatory distraction. Bitcoin’s creators promised it would solve the “trust problem” and reduce our reliance on centralized financial intermediaries. However, it has not reduced our reliance on financial intermediaries or eroded the power of our largest institutions. Indeed, crypto-assets have created new financial intermediaries that are less accountable than the big banks.

New crypto exchanges and trading platforms are not subject to the traditional standards required of securities and derivatives market intermediaries. As a result, investor protection is weak and allegations of fraud and conflicts of interest are frequent.

There are no specific rules to ensure protection of customer assets. One supposed virtue of distributed ledger technology (DLT) is to provide an immutable record of ownership. Yet some platforms do not actually record customer interests on the blockchain and may operate without sufficient assets to cover customer claims. It is like fractional reserve banking without the regulatory framework or insurance that protects depositors. There are no rules regarding how trades are executed.

Crypto exchanges are not required to have systems to prevent fraud and manipulation, nor are there rules to prevent or minimize conflicts of interest. Crypto exchanges can engage in proprietary trading against their customers, something the New York Stock Exchange cannot do. Regulations to minimize operational risk and ensure system safeguards are needed, just as with securities and derivatives intermediaries.

Inadequate regulatory oversight creates broader societal risks with respect to cyber security and illicit payments. Unlike banks and exchanges, crypto intermediaries do not face any specific cyber security requirements, and cyber hacks are common: “Hacking [against crypto institutions] is on the rise because it works.”

Source: The Brookings Institution.

Published in INDUSTRY REPORTS

Washington D.C., Dec. 20, 2018 - The Securities and Exchange Commission's Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) today announced its 2019 examination priorities. OCIE publishes its exam priorities annually to promote transparency of its examination program and provide insights into the areas it believes present potentially heightened risk to investors or the integrity of the U.S. capital markets. This year, particular emphasis will be on digital assets, cybersecurity, and matters of importance to retail investors, including fees, expenses, and conflicts of interest.

OCIE is steadfast in its commitment to protect investors, ensure market integrity and support responsible capital formation through risk-focused strategies that improve compliance, prevent fraud, monitor risk, and inform policy. They believe our ongoing efforts to improve risk assessment and maintain an open dialogue with market participants advance these goals to the benefit of investors and the U.S. capital markets.

This year, OCIE's examination priorities are broken down into six categories:

1. compliance and risk at registrants responsible for critical market infrastructure;
2. matters of importance to retail investors, including seniors and those saving for retirement;
3. FINRA and MSRB;
4. digital assets;
5. cybersecurity; and
6. anti-money laundering programs.

The published priorities for 2019 are not exhaustive and will not be the only issues OCIE addresses in its examinations, Risk Alerts, and investor and industry outreach. While the priorities drive OCIE’s examinations, the scope of any examination is determined through a risk-based approach that includes analysis of the registrant’s operations, products offered, and other factors.

The collaborative effort to formulate the annual examination priorities starts with feedback from examination staff, who are uniquely positioned to identify the practices, products, and services that may pose significant risk to investors or the financial markets. OCIE staff also seek advice of the Chairman and Commissioners, staff from other SEC divisions and offices, and the SEC's fellow regulators.

OCIE is responsible for conducting examinations of entities registered with the SEC, including more than 13,200 investment advisers, approximately 10,000 mutual funds and exchange traded funds, roughly 3,800 broker-dealers, about 330 transfer agents, seven active clearing agencies, 21 national securities exchanges, nearly 600 municipal advisors, FINRA, the MSRB, the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, among others. The results of OCIE’s examinations are used by the SEC to inform rule-making initiatives, identify and monitor risks, improve industry practices, and pursue misconduct...

Source: SEC.gov

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division issued the annual report of its ongoing efforts to protect investors and market integrity, Nov. 2, 2018. The report also highlights several significant actions and initiatives that took place in FY 2018.  The report presents the activities of the Division from both a qualitative and quantitative perspective.

In accordance with Chairman Clayton’s charge to focus on Main Street investors, Division of Enforcement Co-Directors Stephanie Avakian and Steven Peikin previously outlined five core principles that serve to guide the work of the division.

The core principles – focus on the Main Street investor, focus on individual accountability, keep pace with technological change, impose remedies that most effectively further enforcement goals, and constantly assess the allocation of resources – were first described in the Division’s FY 2017 annual report.  The Division’s adherence to these principles resulted in meaningful results, including the return of almost $800 million to harmed investors, holding individuals – including many at the highest level – accountable, barring bad actors from the securities markets, and sending strong messages of deterrence.  The impact of these actions has unquestionably protected investors of all types, particularly retail investors.

The Division’s focus on obtaining relief for harmed investors is underscored by various retail investor-specific initiatives.  One example is the Division’s Share Class Selection Disclosure Initiative, a self-reporting initiative designed to quickly return money to investors who may have been harmed by failures to disclose conflicts of interests related to the selection of mutual fund share classes.

Also illustrative of the Division’s impact in protecting investors and market integrity is the groundbreaking approach to addressing misconduct involving initial coin offerings and digital assets, which reflects a focus on cases that deliver strong and clear messages and have broad market impact.

Quantitatively, the SEC brought a diverse mix of 821 enforcement actions, including 490 standalone actions, and returned $794 million to harmed investors.  A significant number of the SEC’s standalone cases concerned investment advisory issues, securities offerings, and issuer reporting/accounting and auditing, collectively comprising approximately 63 percent of the overall number of standalone actions.  The SEC also continued to bring actions relating to market manipulation, insider trading, and broker-dealer misconduct, with each comprising approximately 10 percent of the overall number of standalone actions, as well as other areas.  And it obtained judgments and orders totaling more than $3.945 billion in disgorgement and penalties...

Source:  SEC.gov

Published in INDUSTRY REPORTS

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