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WSJ: CME and BTC Exchange Dispute Led US Regulators to Open Price Manipulation Probe

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Within a BTC price manipulation probe, US regulators have requested trading data from several crypto exchanges, to determine whether traders colluded to manipulate the prices.

Regulators from the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) reportedly demanded extensive trading data from several cryptocurrency exchanges, people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal June 8.  Regulators requested data in order to investigate whether manipulation might be compromising prices in digital currency markets.

The probe followed the launch of Bitcoin (BTC) futures by CME Group in December last year. CME forms its Bitcoin (BTC) futures prices based on data from four crypto exchanges; Bitstamp, Coinbase, itBit and Kraken, where manipulative trading could reportedly have distorted the value of BTC futures. Investigators are going after trading schemes that can be used to manipulate the price of BTC futures that the government directly regulates.

After the settlement of the first contract in January, CME requested that the four exchanges provide trading data. However, several of the exchanges declined to cooperate, stating that the request was intrusive. The crypto exchanges only handed over their data once CME shortened the time window of its request from one day to a few hours, said the sources.

According to the WSJ, CME originally sought the information through a third-party, London-based company that calculates the Bitcoin price to use for its futures contracts. The sources added that the crypto exchanges did not want to hand over data to the British firm, which also runs its own trading platform. 

Reportedly, regulators from the CFTC were upset that CME does not have agreements which obligate crypto exchanges to share price data that is related to futures contracts. According to the WSJ’s sources, the quarrel between CME and the crypto exchanges was an impetus for the CFTC to open an investigation into the matter.

CME spokeswoman Laurie Bischel said that their London-based index provider has a disclosure agreement with all four exchanges:

“All participating exchanges are required to share information, including cooperation with inquiries and investigations.”

Kraken Chief Executive Jesse Powell told the WSJ that the “newly declared oversight” of how BTC prices form futures prices “has the spot exchanges questioning the value and cost of their index participation.”

Persons familiar with the matter told the WSJ that the CFTC is coordinating their investigation with the US Department of Justice (DOJ). Last month the DOJ opened a similar but separate investigation into BTC and Ethereum (ETH) price manipulation. Anonymous sources told Bloomberg that the DOJ is investigating how traders could manipulate prices through illegal activities like spoofing and wash trading.

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US: Crypto Initiative Donates Monero to Bail Out Immigrants in ICE Detention

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In order to help immigrants in ICE custody pay their immigration bonds, the Bail Bloc project mines XMR using volunteers’ computer power.

The Bail Bloc initiative has started using cryptocurrency raised through charity to help people get out of U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) pretrial incarceration, according to a tweet posted by a Bail Bloc co-founder Nov. 15.

ICE is a law enforcement agency of the federal government of the U.S, the mission of which is to monitor cross-border crime and illegal immigration. In 2017, the agency conducted 143,470 overall administrative arrests, 92 percent of which resulted in a criminal conviction or a pending criminal charge.

In ICE detention people are required to pay an immigration bond in exchange for their immediate-term release, although statistically only 47 percent of those in detention are given a bond hearing. Those who cannot afford to pay the bond, or who are not granted a bond at all, must wait for their court hearing while detained, which could last from months to years.

Bail Bloc has set a goal to help charged immigrants pay their bail with money raised through cryptocurrency mining. The initiative has released an app that consumes a small portion — from 10 percent by default to 50 percent optionally — of users’ computer power to mine Monero (XMR) once it is installed.

The organization states that at the end of every month it exchanges XMR for U.S. dollars and donates the earnings to the Immigrant Bail Fund in New Haven, Connecticut. Bail Bloc has reportedly mined 44.34 XMR, which equates to $7,356.36 U.S. dollars. This sum is enough to bail out 12 people, per the organization’s website.

Bail Bloc says it chose XMR as it is an ASIC-resistant cryptocurrency, meaning that consumer-level computers are able to mine the coin “in a financially viable way,” while computers designed with the sole purpose of crypto mining cannot.

ICE’s approach to immigration policy enforcement has sparked significant controversy in the U.S. In May, reports of federal authorities losing track of nearly 1,500 immigrant children in their custody made headlines. As the Washington Post reported, the children had been separated from their immigrant parents. Per the policy of prosecuting “100 percent” of those crossing the border illegally, children were separated from their parents as the adults were charged with a crime.

At press time, XMR is trading at around $87, down 0.82 percent over the past 24 hours, according to CoinMarketCap. The coin’s market capitalization is around $1.4 billion, while its daily trading volume is about $18.9 million.

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Report: Bitcoin Scam Compromising Google and Target Accounts Came from Third Party App

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Bitcoin scammers that recently hacked Google and Target verified accounts reportedly gained access via a third-party app authorized to post content.

A recent Bitcoin scam on Twitter that compromised several major companies verified accounts came from a third-party app, tech news outlet the Next Web (TNW) reports Friday, Nov. 16, citing social media officials.

Speaking to TNW, a Twitter spokesperson confirmed that the attack came from an outside software provider and not from Twitter’s own system. However, the official refrained from naming the app.

The spokesperson reportedly explained that the attackers exploited a third-party marketing solution to launch a Bitcoin (BTC) giveaway from several verified accounts, including Google’s G Suite and major U.S. department store retailer Target.

The information was implicitly confirmed by Target. Its representatives told TNW that the hackers used a third-party marketing app, authorized to post content on Target’s behalf.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, on Wednesday, Nov. 14, hackers took over G Suite and Target accounts (800,000 and 1.92 million followers, respectively) and posted malicious cryptocurrency giveaway links. The message in G Suite’s account also falsely claimed that users could make payments in G Suite using cryptocurrencies.

Moreover, in early November several verified Twitter accounts, including those of film production firm Pathe U.K. and U.S. politician Frank Pallone Jr., were breached to pose as Elon Musk. Once hackers gained control of accounts, they changed the profile picture and name in order to pose as Elon Musk and offer scammy Bitcoin giveaways.

Bitcoin scammers have already posed as Elon Musk for several times, prompting the Tesla founder to seek help from Jackson Palmer, the creator of Dogecoin (DOGE), who claimed to have invented an anti-scam script.

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TRON Launches Accelerator Program for DApp Developers

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Cryptocurrency project TRON has announced an accelerator program to support developers building decentralized apps on the TRON protocol.

Decentralized Internet project TRON (TRX) is launching a $1 million accelerator program to support developers building DApps and products on the TRON protocol, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph Nov. 16.

The initiative aims to facilitate consumer adoption of blockchain technology through TRON’s ecosystem following the recent acquisition of peer-to-peer file sharing service BitTorrent, Project Atlas, and payment service Poppy app. TRON’s protocol currently processes more than one million transactions and 600,000 wallets.

The startup will purportedly accept submissions to its accelerator through December, while the winners will be announced at TRON’s first international summit in January.

In October, TRON and China’s largest Internet search provider Baidu announced they will cooperate on cloud computing resources. The partnership between the two firms remains focused on the purchase and use of Baidu’s basic cloud computing resources, rather than being a connection “at the blockchain business level.”

Also in October, TRON’s CEO Justin Sun claimed its update dubbed Odyssey 3.1 would see it beat Ethereum on speed and EOS on cost. The changes include the launch of the TRON Virtual Machine, which would allow developers to test smart contracts before they transfer to the TRON mainnet.

As of press time, TRX is the 11th top cryptocurrency, trading at around $0.018, up by 0.27 percent on the day, according to CoinMarketCap.

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