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Cristian Lipciuc

Articles by Cristian Lipciuc

WSJ Parent Company Sued Over Tether, Bitfinex Article

March 4, 2024

At the beginning of last spring, the Wall Street Journal published an investigative article on Tether, Bitfinex, and related companies.
The majority stake of both Tether and the Bitfinex exchange is owned by iFinex, a corporation established in the Virgin Islands.
Controversial Article
At the time, the Wall Street Journal claimed that the two companies, along with a slew of smaller shell firms related to the crypto businesses and their executives, employed shady methods in order to maintain their connections to the international banking system.
The article claims that the group of entities surrounding iFinex attempted to stay on top of the situation by opening accounts connected to businessmen who already had a reputation. However, the names of the companies used were

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Marathon Digital Reports Revenue Increases of 452%

March 3, 2024

U.S.-based Bitcoin mining behemoth Marathon Digital has published its quarterly earnings report and has beaten analyst predictions by a good margin.
Paradoxically, Marathon’s stock price dipped shortly after the announcement. This is, however, likely a temporary blip.
Stunning Financial Results
Although Marathon Digital was not necessarily in trouble last year, the crypto winter definitely put a bit of a damper on its plans, as did the SEC, who targeted the firm among a slew of other companies.
However, Marathon Digital has since recovered. Earlier this year, it reported that its Bitcoin production rate had tripled when compared to 2022. Since then, the company’s results have only gotten better.
Marathon Digital is now proud to report a total EBITDA for 2023 of $419.9

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Citron Advises Investors to Short Coinbase (COIN) Stock

March 1, 2024

Coinbase has had a great run recently, topped off with a great Q4 2023 roundup in which the platform announced that it had beaten analyst predictions and was well on track to recovery from crypto winter.
However, a technical glitch – which was reportedly caused by high traffic – recently struck the exchange, causing the site to display some users’ balances as zero.
Speedy Recovery
The platform has since recovered from the glitch, and Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong hopped on X to explain what had happened.

Apps are now recovering.
We had modeled a ~10x surge in traffic and load tested it. This exceeded that number.
It’s expensive to keep services over-provisioned, but we’ll need to keep working on auto-scaling solutions, and killing any remaining bottlenecks. Thank you for…

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HTX Withdraws Hong Kong License Application

February 27, 2024

The Virtual Asset Trading Platform (VATP) is a license provided by the government of Hong Kong that allows crypto exchanges to operate within the bounds of the region.
Although the license has been available for several years now, only two exchanges – HashKey and OSL – are currently in possession of one. A number of applicants have been on the waitlist for a while – including HTX, formerly known as Huobi, until yesterday, when the firm withdrew its application.
Earlier Plans Abandoned
Previously, HTX CEO Justin Sun had stated that his exchange would pursue a VATP license, allowing his exchange to operate in Hong Kong.
At the time, HTX was looking into ways to expand its reach globally, in spite of a spate of attacks that could have seriously damaged the exchange’s

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Gauntlet Will End Contract With AAVE DAO

February 22, 2024

Aave, the popular decentralized lending platform belonging to the company now known as Avara, will have to look for a new company to provide risk management services following its recently announced split with Gauntlet.
The decision was announced by Gauntlet co-founder John Morrow on the AAVE forums yesterday evening.
Running The Gauntlet
According to Morrow, the relationship between his company and the Aave DAO that oversees the protocol has become strained due to inconsistent guidelines and unwritten requests and objectives by the largest DAO stakeholders. Gauntlet has already started looking for companies that can replace their services and has stated that they are open to working together with Aave/Avara again in the future.
With that being said, current circumstances

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Fake Rabby Wallet Approved on App Store Before Real One

February 19, 2024

Rabby Wallet is a somewhat popular crypto wallet made by Debank that has been around for a while now and boasts support for 141 chains and multiple signing modes.
On the 16th of February, the company behind Rabby Wallet announced the launch of the beta version of its mobile app.
Unfortunately for fans of the platform, the app you find when searching for Rabby Wallet on the iOS App Store is, in fact, a drainer with no ties to the real app.

🚨 A FAKE iOS app has resurfaced. Please note that our iOS app is still under review.
Identify the real app by Developer: DeBank (Android) & DeBank Global Pte. Ltd. (iOS).
For secure downloads, ONLY use our official website:
— Rabby Wallet (@Rabby_io) February 16, 2024

Multiple Users

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Here’s by How Much Robinhood’s Crypto Revenues Increased in Q4 23

February 18, 2024

Robinhood’s quarterly results are in – and they have once again beaten expectations, if only by a marginal amount.
Although Robinhood has by no means been spared the aftershocks felt throughout the crypto market and the larger economic sector, things are looking up for the popular trading firm.
Revenues Are Up, Costs Are Down
Overall, in the fourth quarter of 2023, Robinhood saw a 24% increase in net revenues year-over-year, adding up to a total of $471 million and beating average analyst estimates of $454.7 million.
The average revenue generated per user amounted to 23%, indicating that consumer trust in the market grew over the past quarter. Earnings per share, YoY, amounted to $0.03, again beating the predictions of some analysts, who expected a loss of 1 cent per

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Mondelēz International Partners With Hedera on Distributed Ledger Technology

February 17, 2024

The Hedera Council announced a new partnership with food giant Mondelēz International, the company behind popular brands such as Toblerone, Cadbury, and Oreo.
As the governance body for the Hedera public network, the council will assist Mondelēz in developing distributed ledger technology solutions for internal use. Currently, the Hedera network is governed by a wide array of industry leaders such as Dell, IBM, Google, Deutsch Telekom, Ubisoft, and plenty more.
Continuous Commitment to Blockchain Solutions
Shortly before the partnership was announced, Mondelēz began collaborating with SKUx, a fintech payment platform that it tasked with building alternative payment solutions to provide an alternative to its coupon and voucher system. Established in 2012 to take over the

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For the First Time in 2 Years, Coinbase Has Gone Profitable Again: Report

February 17, 2024

In spite of the fact that Coinbase has always been one of the most well-known trading platforms, business within the past few years hasn’t been much easier for them than lesser-known exchanges.
Between crypto winter, an ongoing lawsuit, the need for personnel reductions, and the other expenses of running a business, Coinbase has suffered business contraction for about two years now.
However, the exchange’s fortunes have changed.
First Profitable Quarter in Two Years
Coinbase’s quarterly report has arrived, and the exchange has cause to celebrate. According to the fiscal report for Q4 FY2023, the company has brought in $273 million in net income over the past couple of months. Total revenues added up to $953.8 million, beating analyst predictions by upwards of $100

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FTX to Sell Off Digital Custody at a Very Steep Markdown

February 12, 2024

After entertaining the possibility of restarting FTX following the bankruptcy process for a long time, lawyers for the defunct exchange have announced that that plan is now scrapped, and the company will simply dissolve once all debts are paid off.
Andrew Dietrich, one of the lawyers representing FTX in the court case, stated that although repayment of creditors in full is not yet guaranteed, it is an objective that is definitely attainable.
Creditors would only be receiving the dollar value of their crypto holdings. This may prove disappointing to investors, as the value of those assets has increased since the exchange went bust. However, it is precisely this development that allowed for full refunds in the first place. Additionally, the solution is legally sound and

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New Platform Enables Fraudulent KYC for Only $15, Targets Crypto Platforms: Report

February 6, 2024

New research by the cybersecurity reporters at 404 Media has uncovered a new tool named OnlyFakes that reliably generates fake IDs capable of bypassing KYC providers’ checks with relative ease.
The fake documents can be generated with or without a background, which would suggest it is a picture that was just taken by a user going through an ID verification process. Allegedly, several hundred fake documents can be produced at once using Excel batches.
OnlyFakes Claims to Be Against Illegal Activity
According to the website, its services may only be used as props in films and so on, “expressly forbidding” the use of the platform in order to pass KYC checks. Not long after the article exposing the website was published, the site’s founder – who goes by the nom-de-guerre John

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EU Drafts Paper Regarding Exceptions to MiCA Regulation

February 4, 2024

Last year, the European Union unanimously voted for the Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) bill, considered by most to be the first comprehensive piece of legislation addressing the crypto industry as a whole.
MiCA is, in itself, part of a larger set of financial laws known as DORA – but it has also given many crypto companies a reason to consider moving the bulk of their operations across the ocean.
Several Adjustments to The Bill
Although MiCA was published back in June 2023, there have already been two consultation sessions regarding the bill – with another due in April – before the first part of the legislation goes into effect in June 2024. The other provisions are expected to come into effect in December 2024.

🔴 #ESMA publishes 2⃣ Consultations Papers on guidelines

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Canadian Court Declares Crypto Protest Freeze Unconstitutional

January 24, 2024

During the pandemic, a new mandate requiring Canadian truckers that carried out trips across the border into the United States to receive the COVID-19 vaccine was wildly unpopular, resulting in what was known as the “Freedom Convoy” protest.
Following a decision to protest the measure, truckers blocked the streets of Ottawa with their trucks and were supported in doing so by a significant amount of people both in Canada and abroad.
Turning to Crypto Funding
In order to continue their protest, the truckers needed money to pay for food, accommodation, legal fees, and the like. Supporters of the movement were eager to provide donations, but truckers quickly found their bank accounts frozen or otherwise unable to receive cash.
As a result, representatives of the protest

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3AC Co-Founder Su Zhu Says His Time in Prison Was Quite Enjoyable

January 23, 2024

After Three Arrows Capital collapsed during crypto winter, founders Su Zhu and Kyle Davies stuck around on Twitter, making excuses for themselves before going silent for months and resurfacing with a new crypto project – the exchange OPNX.
Later on, the pair also launched “3AC Ventures,” a new hedge fund, although public information is limited.
Run-In With Singaporean Authorities
Although the pair have so far managed to escape significant punishment, they have nonetheless been banned for several years from activities involving financial management in Singapore.
Kyle Davies – despite possibly being in contempt of court – has so far spent no time behind bars, unlike Su Zhu, who did a 3-month stint in Singaporean prison before being questioned and released.
However, this

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xAI Investment Figures Denied by Elon Musk

January 22, 2024

Grok, an AI chatbot with access to tweets from all over X and programmed to be as snarky as possible, is the principal product offered by xAI.
The company is Elon Musk’s response to OpenAI – which he also co-founded. However, he later left after disagreements with Sam Altman and others over how to develop and profit from the tech that they were building.
Bid for Investment Registered Late Last Year
In early December, Elon Musk filed an SEC Form D for xAI, a document that allows for the sale of securities without full registration, on the condition that the sale remains private.
The document states that up to $1 billion worth of equity in the firm would be sold, with over $134 million already spoken for.
In spite of the controversial nature of the new AI platform – and the

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MetaMask Launches Staking Nodes on Behalf of Users, Albeit at a Steep Price

January 19, 2024

Metamask launched Validator Staking support on its wallets as of January 18.
Users who wish to stake their tokens will need to have at least 32 ETH in their wallets to do so, which is the minimum requirement of the Ethereum network itself.

Introducing Validator Staking on MetaMask Portfolio.🦊
With a 32 ETH deposit, we run your very own validator node where you’re always in control.
No pooling. No hardware. Just rewards.✔️
— MetaMask 🦊🫰 (@MetaMask) January 18, 2024

Easy to Use
The users’ tokens will then be staked by Consensys, who, admittedly, have a stellar reputation when it comes to uptime.
When a validator breaches consensus rules, it is slashed from the network and loses some of the funds set as collateral. With

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EU Tightens Regulations Regarding Crypto Transactions, Citing AML Concerns

January 18, 2024

The EU Parliament and Council recently reached a provisional agreement on a list of anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing laws. Although further deliberation on other proposed measures is yet to be had, the new measures will help streamline the efforts of the national financial agencies of EU countries in this area.
Although cryptocurrencies are not the main focus of the new laws, the industry is nonetheless explicitly targeted by several of the provisions.
Increased Reporting on Crypto Revenues
In recent years, several crypto-related companies have taken steps to move some or all of their activities to the European Union, citing a more concise regulatory framework than in the US, where the SEC is serving a slew of lawsuits and refrains from clarifying how to

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SBF’s Parents Fight FTX’s Clawback Attempt

January 17, 2024

Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried were always close to their son. A certain amount of interest in the well-being of their son and that of his business dealings is to be expected.
However, the FTX estate, now led by bankruptcy specialist CEO John J Ray III, argues that SBF’s parents – particularly his father – had a much bigger presence in the FTX Groups’ dealings than it appears on paper.
If the allegations can be proven true, benefits derived from FTX and its former CEO could be subjected to clawbacks, in particular, a $10 million cash gift to Joseph Bankman and a luxury property in the Bahamas.
Advisory Capacity, Or Something More?
Officially, Joseph Bankman, who is a tenured Stanford law professor, never received a salary or any legally binding payments from any FTX

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Celsius Threatens to Sue Creditors Who Withdrew Funds Before Collapse

January 10, 2024

Celsius, the platform whose bankruptcy plan was finally approved late last year, has recently lashed out at former clients who cashed out before the company had the opportunity to freeze their funds.
Bold Propositions
The former crypto staking, lending, and exchange platform that has since shifted its focus to Bitcoin mining following the approval of the judge in its bankruptcy case was the first major player in crypto to bring up the “unsecured creditors” argument in court as a way to appropriate client funds.
Therefore, it’s not surprising that another outrageous proposal regarding bankruptcy should also come from Celsius.
According to a notice submitted by Kirkland & Ellis on behalf of their client, Celsius users who withdrew more than $100,000 from the platform in the

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Logan Paul to Refund CryptoZoo NFT Investors – But There’s a Catch

January 5, 2024

In January of 2023, YouTuber CoffeeZilla posted a three-part series on Logan Paul’s CryptoZoo project.
To participate in the upcoming game of the same name, customers had to purchase egg NFTs, which would then hatch, allowing the purchaser to play with and breed the animal.
Rumors of a Rugpull
However, the social media accounts associated with the platform had gone dark, and Logan Paul allegedly avoided talking about the project. After CoffeeZilla’s videos on the subject, Paul announced his plans to sue the YouTuber – and was, in turn, met with a class-action lawsuit filed by purchasers of both CryptoZoo NFTs and buyers of the related cryptocurrency $ZOO.
Several other celebrities who had also been involved in the promotion of the project were also mentioned in the

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Terraform Labs Sold Unregistered Securities, Says Judge

December 29, 2023

Earlier this year, the SEC’s crusade against cryptocurrencies seemed to be coming to a head after Judge Analisa Torres sided mostly in favor of Ripple, who ruled that XRP is, broadly speaking, not a security and that its purchase could only be considered an investment contract in certain circumstances.
The two parties, however, are still duking it out, with a final decision expected in early 2024.
Terraform Labs Attempted to Capitalize on Ripple’s Headwinds
Given the success of Ripple in its landmark case, Terraform Labs attempted to use a similar defense in its own legal battle. Judge Rakoff, however, was not convinced.
According to court transcripts, Judge Rakoff granted a summary judgement (one without a full trial) in favor of the SEC regarding TERRA and LUNA, both of

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Curve Finance Reimburses Total Amount Stolen in July

December 24, 2023

On the 30th of July, four Curve Finance pools were exploited due to a re-entrancy bug made possible by the Vyper programming language.
The hackers attacked four mining pools and made off with a total of $73.5 million. Almost immediately, the community sprang into action – Curve itself extended the standard olive branch, offering to treat the incident as a white hat incident in return for 90% of the stolen funds being sent back.
Meanwhile, genuine white hats also went after the hackers, managing to recover a small portion of the funds and return them to the exchange.
Total Recovery Was Impossible
Some of the attackers – particularly those involved in the breach of Metronome – took Curve up on the offer, returning 90% of the funds. Unfortunately, not all of the hackers were

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MS Drainer Hackers Thwart AdSense Safeguards, Steal Nearly $59 Million

December 22, 2023

Wallet drainers are a type of scam that generally operates by cloning a legitimate website, fooling the target into providing their crypto wallet credentials, and then executing a smart contract that sends the users’ funds to bad actors.

🚨1/ Alert: A ‘Wallet Drainer’ has been linked to phishing campaigns on Google search and X ads, draining approximately $58M from over 63K victims in 9 months.
— Scam Sniffer | Web3 Anti-Scam (@realScamSniffer) December 21, 2023

Unlike targeted attacks on exchanges, which would involve actually breaching the security of said sites, drainer scams target either the community of a platform or whales whose internet presence has been tracked down.
Different Monetization Scheme
Generally, a portion of the funds are

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LEO Access to Binance Data Allegedly Compromised By Hacker

December 20, 2023

Earlier this week, a BreachForums user by the name of Miembro announced the sale of access to a Binance data request portal, built and maintained to accommodate police officers and government officials worldwide in their attempts to track down cybercriminals.
The sale has since been paused, owing to a blunder involving a crypto mixer being used by a buyer to send funds to the seller turned out to be an invalid address.
Access to De-Anonymized Data
However, the sale will allegedly resume in about a week, once the mixer returns the funds.
Until then, the amount of data made available to bad actors is unclear. If the seller is to be believed – and his past ratings indicate he is a reputable one, as far as that term applies here – the emails, phone numbers, wallet IDs, and

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Zcash Founder Renounces CEO Position

December 19, 2023

Zcash, a privacy coin built on Bitcoin tech and one of the more popular privacy-focused cryptocurrencies, will be welcoming Josh Swihart as the new CEO of its developer, the Electric Coin Company (ECC).
Stepping Down For Self-Care
In an article posted on Zooko’s personal Medium – which is separate from the one usually used to post Zcash-related content – the former CEO stated that the eight years at the helm of the ECC had led to a certain degree of conflation between himself as a person and the company he founded and lead.
In order to prevent unfortunate circumstances from arising from this, Zooko took the decision to step down and focus on his personal life.
“For the last eight years of my life, I’ve worked continuously on Zcash. I was blessed with the best team

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Gemini Proposes Recovery Plan, Angers Creditors

December 14, 2023

Gemini, the Winklevoss Twins crypto platform offering an exchange, custodian services, and – in partnership with Genesis – Earn services, has been in a bit of trouble ever since the latter filed for bankruptcy last January.
Possible Recovery Plan Waiting For Court Approval
Genesis, whose legal troubles stemmed partly from a loan to its parent company DCG that had not been repaid, has reportedly finally worked out a plan for repayment with said firm, allowing it to repay creditors – which included Gemini, given the nature of the custodial relationship between the two.
Currently, Genesis owes Gemini a total of $1.6 billion. As a result, Gemini was able to reach out to its users yesterday, offering them a possible exit from the platform, which the community would have to vote

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Elon Musk’s xAI Files for Private Sale of $1B Worth of Unregistered Securities

December 6, 2023

Elon Musk – who was also one of the founders of OpenAI back in the day – has been working on xAI for a while now, a firm launching another chatbot named Grok whose selling point is being “quirky” and having access to the Twitter API in order to stay up to date with current events.

Announcing Grok!
Grok is an AI modeled after the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, so intended to answer almost anything and, far harder, even suggest what questions to ask!
Grok is designed to answer questions with a bit of wit and has a rebellious streak, so please don’t use…
— xAI (@xai) November 5, 2023

Grok Is Still In Beta
For the moment, access to the chatbot is severely limited, with practically only internal testers being able to mess around with it.
However, a recent filing with the

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Riot Platforms Buy $291 Million In Mining Rigs, Locks In Price For Even More

December 5, 2023

Riot Platforms is one of the leading cryptocurrency mining companies with a steady stream of income.
A Well-Grounded Company
The company’s strength lies in the sheer scale of operations, which allows it to drive down the cost of mining Bitcoin by virtue of its immense processing power.
Although it faced a significant downturn during crypto winter – much like any other platform in its situation – the company faced no real difficulties in staying afloat, even securing an investment worth just over 10% of its value from Vanguard.
Now that the market for Bitcoin is back in vogue, Riot Platforms is looking to capitalize on these headwinds as much as possible.
Thousands of New Mining Rigs
Riot Platforms has a long-standing agreement with mining rig builder MicroBT Electronics,

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dYdX Bans ‘Highly Profitable Trading Strategies’ After Targeted Trades on Exchange

November 20, 2023

On the 17th of November, an unknown individual who may have been working as part of a team targeted the dYdX exchange and its YFI token.
Allegedly, the same actor had previously tried a similar strategy on the exchange’s SUSHI market merely 2 weeks prior.
Good Trades Or Malicious Intent?
These trades, which the platform’s staff have classified as an attack, were done using a series of transactions that ultimately caused open interest on the exchange to surge by over $66 million and resulted in $9 million of its insurance fund being burned in order to keep it afloat.
Thankfully, no user funds were affected by the trade.
“Last night about $9m from the dYdX v3 insurance fund were used to fill gaps on liquidations processed in the YFI market. The v3 insurance fund remains well

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US Authorities Seize $54 Million in Crypto From New Jersey Narcotics Ring

November 12, 2023

New Jersey’s U.S. Attorney’s Office has filed a civil forfeiture action against Christopher Castelluzzo and two other members of an unnamed drug trafficking group based in New Jersey.
According to the filing, the other two members of the group are Luke Atwell – a friend and business partner of Castelluzzo’s who is currently serving a similar sentence – and Brian Krewson, another friend of the two who reportedly manages their estate for the time being.
Attempts to Move Crypto For Tax Avoidance
The stash was allegedly discovered after Castelluzzo – who is currently serving two concurrent 20-year sentences – attempted to communicate with members of his outfit while in prison in order to move the funds to another country in a bid to avoid taxation.
According to FBI Agent James

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