The Latest Fraud Cases in Cryptocurrencies

 

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Insider trading in Bitcoin Cash’s recent introduction to CoinBase
The anonymity of cryptocurrencies makes it inherently vulnerable to insider trading by those with knowledge of cryptocurrency news.

Wash trading in OKCoin and BTCChina (relevant Reuter’s piece)
Wash trading is when someone sells to themselves, to manipulate the market and create the illusion of activity. It’s illegal.

Spoofing in Bitfinex 
Spoofing is when you place orders to buy or sell, but then cancel them before they actually happen. It’s done to manipulate the market and illegal.

Wash trading in Bitfinex (and part II)
Exchanges have an inherent incentive to increase activity, whether it be fraudulently. We see evidence of it here in Bitfinex, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange.

“Pump-and-dumps” groups
Think Wolf of Wall Street-style scamming, except with shitcoins instead of penny stocks.

Pumpmycoin
A scam “pump and dump” operation with a website to boot.

The fradulent ICO of PlexCoin that was down by the SEC
ICOs allow a company to raise capital by selling coins which can be used for the company’s services. A great example is Ethereum using Ether for their smart contracts. However, it’s easy to set up a fraudulent ICO that doesn’t really offer anything. PlexCoin falsely promised returns during its ICO and raised $15M before being shut down by the SEC. It and other cryptocurrency scams are explained in this Entrepreneur article.

Bonus, this is just the tip of the iceberg
The anonymity of cryptocurrency means that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Most fraudulent activity is likely cloaked under multiple wallets and is near impossible to trace. Imagine insider trades from multiple accounts or wash trades between different accounts all secretly managed by the same person or grou

 

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How a Single entity dominates the price of Bitcoin.
This story is about a trader, or a group of traders, or possibly even Bitfinex themselves manipulates the price of Bitcoin. The past few months I’ve slowly collected screenshots of a trader I like to call ‘Spoofy’. You’ll see evidence of spoofing, wash trading, a sketchy scheme associated closely with Bitfinex known as ‘Tether’ among other shenanigans.

Spoofy makes the price go up when he wants it to go up, and Spoofy makes the price go down when he wants it to go down, and he’s got the coin… both USD, and Bitcoin of course to pull it off, and with impunity on Bitfinex.

Since March 2017, I’ve been warning people about the issues regarding Bitfinex and their disconnection from the traditional banking system.

The issue regarding Bitfinex’s banking woes is essentially on the backburner as prices have gone up significantly since then, but in my opinion, this is a very big driver of why the price of Bitcoin is exceedingly easy to manipulate.

Spoofy is a regular trader (or a group of traders), that function primarily on Bitfinex, and in a limited fashion on some other exchanges who engages in the following practices:

Places large bids ($2 million and up) for Bitcoin, usually just under a smaller bid order, only to remove them once someone starts to sell. These orders usually have a lifetime of minutes, or sometimes as short as 5–10 seconds to manipulate the price up (more common)
Places large asks ($2 million and up), for Bitcoin when he wants the price to go down, or stop going up (less common)
Occasionally ‘Spoofy’ will allow orders deep in the orderbooks to remain for a few hours, usually $50–$100 below the current price.For example, during the recovery above $2,000, he had roughly 4,000 BTC of false orders in the $1,900 range that were unlikely to execute, and ultimately were never executed.
What is ‘Spoofing’, you may ask?

Spoofing is placing orders which you have no intent on allowing to execute.

The goal of spoofing is to send false signals to other traders that they will act upon. Placing a large bid may indicate bullishness, causing traders to close short positions and possibly even buy Bitcoins.

You can profit from this by placing asks for your own bitcoin, then send false signals for bullishness, and people close short positions by buying your Bitcoins you have on ask orders.

You can also do the opposite. Placing large asks indicating bearishness, causing people to close long positions, perhaps also into your buy orders.

Spoofing by the way, is illegal. It was made illegal in the United States back in 2010 under Dodd-Frank. Bitcoin exchanges are largely still unregulated and do not police for spoofing, wash trading, and other shenanigans.

Wait a minute, what does this have to do with the banking problems Bitfinex has?
Spoofy is able to manipulate the prices so easily because he simply outwhales everyone else on the exchange. Spoofy is a single entity with between $20 million and $60 million USD on Bitfinex, but it could be more.

In order for someone to combat Spoofy (by dumping into his orders before he can remove them all), they’d have to put a lot of money on the exchange.

You can’t send US dollars to the exchange without going through an unknown third party, anyone who legitimately wants to invest in Bitcoin, would never do this.
You can send Bitcoins, but are you going to send 10,000 BTC or 20,000 BTC to Bitfinex to trade against Spoofy, when it’s up in the air if you’re ever going to see that money?
Spoofy could in fact be the exchange itself, or someone very close to Bitfinex management. So you’re playing on their monopoly board game where they are quite literally, the bank.
As a result, Spoofy can operate pretty much with impunity on Bitfinex.

Shut up. You’re FUDDING. You have no proof of this!
Spoofy shows himself during three scenarios.

The price is falling too fast, spoofy then places up large bids which trigger a recovery.
The price is rising too fast, spoofy then places large asks to prevent the price from moving too high. Spoofy singled handedly prevented $3,000 on GDAX by a constantly re-filling sell order just under $3,000 before he finally let it drop.
Spoofy will also drive the price up if the ask side of the orderbook is thin enough. He will place his own sell orders, then buy them with an alternate account (or another conspiring trader). It’s why we see these vertical price recoveries. They can simply go back and forth between each of their accounts. $1 million of wash trading only cost about $1,000~ in fees. A single real bitcoin sell to another trader pays for all of his wash trading, and that goes out the window if Spoofy is in fact the exchange or exchange management.

These bids were unusual for Spoofy, because this time he left them up for a little bit. It supported the price and he didn’t really have to buy very many Bitcoin with his bids.

However, about an hour later, in most unusual circumstances, somebody did dump some into his order, at which he pulled the rest of the order almost immediately.

From the looks of it, I believed a trader with a lot of longs sold into him, because overall long positions dropped immediately after this.

However, there’s a little issue. How do we know this trading is legitimate? How do we know that Spoofy, didn’t close into his own order?

How do we know Spoofy himself wasn’t selling into his own orders as well triggering a false crash?

We do have evidence of wash trading, and if spoofy is wash trading the price up, he could wash trade it down as he makes positions on other exchanges.

Remember, just like how someone isn’t realistically going to send enough Bitcoin to Bitfinex to combat spoofy’s false buy orders, nobody is going to send enough USD to combat his relentless market sells either. They couldn’t even if they wanted.

 

 

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