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Crypto users turned to DEXs, loaded up on USDC after Silicon Valley Bank crash

The collapse of FTX led to a similar exodus from centralized exchanges, as users worried they may lose access to funds during crises.

The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank saw investors loading their bags with USD Coin (USDC), along with an exodus of funds from centralized exchanges (CEXs) to decentralized exchanges (DEXs).

Outflows from centralized exchanges often spike when the markets are in turmoil, blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis said in a March 16 blog post, as users are likely worried about losing access to their funds when exchanges go down.

Funds sent from CEXs to DEXs following SVB’s collapse. Source: Chainalysis.

The Chainalysis data shows that hourly outflows from CEXs to DEXs spiked to over $300 million on March 11, soon after SVB was shut down by a Californiaregulator.

A similar phenomenon was observed during the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX last year, amid fears that the contagion could spread to other crypto firms.

However, data from the blockchain analytics platform Token Terminal suggests that the surge in daily trading volumes for large DEXs was short-lived in both cases.

Daily trading volumes for large DEXs from September to March. Source: Token Terminal

USDC was identified as one of the top assets being moved to DEXs, which Chainalysis said was unsurprising given that USDC depegged after stablecoin issuer Circle announced it had $3.3 billion in reserves stuck on SVB, prompting many CEXs like Coinbase to temporarily halt USDC trading.

Related: Circle clears ‘substantially all’ minting and redemption backlog for USDC

What was surprising, Chainalysis noted, was the surge in USDC acquisitions on large DEXs such as Curve3pool and Uniswap. “Several assets saw large spikes in user acquisition, but none more than USDC,” the blockchain analysis firm wrote.

Token acquisitions on Uniswap from March 7 to March 14. Source: Chainalysis

Chainalysis theorized that this was due to confidence in the stablecoin, with some crypto users loading up on USDC while it was relatively cheap and betting that it would regain its peg — which it did on March 13 according to CoinMarketCap.

USDC’s brief depeg from March 11 to March 13. Source: CoinMarketCap

‘Surgical removal’ of crypto will only weaken USD dominance, commentators say

Vitalik dumps $700K worth of shitcoins that he never asked for

As Vitalik Buterin’s holdings represented a large portion of the circulating supply for some of the tokens, the sales resulted in huge price drops.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has gone on a shitcoin selling spree, exchanging nearly $700,000 worth of tokens previously airdropped to him for Ether (ETH).

According to Etherscan, a wallet belonging to Buterin on March 7 offloaded 500 trillion SHIKOKU (SHIK) for 380.3 ETH ($595,448), nearly 10 billion Cult DAO (CULT) for 58.1 ETH ($91,021), and 50 billion Mops (MOPS) for 1.25 ETH ($1,950).

A screenshot of token transactions from Vitalik’s wallet. Source: Etherscan

Due to the low liquidity of the tokens the sales had a huge effect on their prices. The largest price drop from the tokens was SHIK, which recorded an 86% drop following Buterin’s sale according to CoinMarketCap data.

The total circulating supply of SHIK is 1 quadrillion, with the 500 trillion previously held by Buterin representing 50% of the current supply.

In May 2021 the Ethereum co-founder initiated a similar offload selling tokens such as Shiba Inu (SHIB) and Dogelon Mars (ELON) that resulted in price drops of 40% and 90% respectively.

Related: Ethereum price action and derivatives data confirm bears are currently in control

While some within the cryptocurrency community shared their frustration at Buterin’s decision to sell considering the outsized effect it had on the tokens, others suggested it was motivated by the tax implications of receiving airdrops, which are subject to income tax in most countries.

Buterin confirmed he owned the wallet in a 2018 tweet after he was accused of hoarding 75% of the supply of Ether with fellow Ethereum co-founder Joe Lubin during the token's pre-mining sale.

‘Surgical removal’ of crypto will only weaken USD dominance, commentators say

Bitcoin’s Crypto Market Action Holds the Upper Hand as Dominance Level Surpasses 40%

Bitcoin’s Crypto Market Action Holds the Upper Hand as Dominance Level Surpasses 40%On Jan. 21, 2023, the price of bitcoin reached a 24-hour high of $23,333 per unit at 5 a.m. Eastern Time on Saturday. The entire crypto-economy is now valued at $1.05 trillion after rising 7.2% against the U.S. dollar. Bitcoin’s price rise has led to the crypto asset’s dominance level surpassing the 40% region among […]

‘Surgical removal’ of crypto will only weaken USD dominance, commentators say

Ethereum’s Dominance on the Rise: Market Share Increases by 3% Among Global Crypto Assets

Ethereum’s Dominance on the Rise: Market Share Increases by 3% Among Global Crypto AssetsSince Dec. 31, 2022, ethereum’s market dominance has increased by more than 3% among the thousands of crypto assets worldwide, valued at roughly $856 billion on Jan. 11, 2023. According to coinmarketcap.com, a popular coin market capitalization aggregation site, ethereum’s crypto market dominance jumped from 18.4% to its current 19% dominance rating. Ethereum’s Market Share […]

‘Surgical removal’ of crypto will only weaken USD dominance, commentators say

‘Infected by fraud’ — Projects claim CoinMarketCap airdrops were gamed

A crypto project claims a promotional token airdrop campaign led by CoinMarketCap was riddled with "fraud" that left its token price crumbling.

Two crypto projects have cried foul play over promotional airdrops conducted by CoinMarketCap (CMC) on their behalf, which they allege was "gamed" for the benefit of a small group of exploiters.

These promotional airdrops — designed to be distributed to thousands of wallets to raise awareness of a crypto project — ended with the tokens funneling to just a handful of wallets, suggesting potential manipulation of the system.

SATT token drop

Blockchain advertising solution SaTT alleged to Cointelegraph that a promotional airdrop it paid CMC to conduct in Dec. 2022 ended with 84% of the airdropped tokens funneling to just 21 wallets.

The promotion was meant to see 25,000 winning wallets receive 4,000 SATT each, worth $6.30 at the time per CoinGecko data.

However, SaTT claimed that shortly after the airdrop was distributed, 20,953 wallets “automatically transferred the tokens to 21 wallet addresses” which then sold off their token holdings days later around Dec. 10, netting around $142,000 for those 21 wallet owners.

The sell-off plunged the price of SATT by 70% between the end of the airdrop on Dec. 1 to when the wallets sold their tokens on Dec. 10.

SaTT claims wallet 0x929… (pictured) has over 4,500 transactions of its token, the largest it found out of the 21. Blockchain data shows the wallet sold over 4.3 million tokens through PancakeSwap. BscScan

TokenBot token drop

A similar experience was shared by TokenBot co-founder Shaun Newsum, who told Cointelegraph that it did a similar CMC-led airdrop of its TKB token on Dec. 9.

Newsum said CMC provided its 30,000 airdrop winners but he chose to “stagger” the airdrop “just in case something happens.”

TokenBot sent out its tokens to a batch of 4,000 winners to start, but around 3,300 ended up sending the funds to one wallet, said Newsum.

Blockchain data shows thousands of TKB transactions flowing to wallet 0x5AF… before initiating a cross-chain swap and then selling its holdings. BscScan.

Newsum said around $20,000 was lost by TokenBot in the incident and the project had to deploy more liquidity from its treasury.

“Obviously some person figured out how to game CMC,” he added. “If we were to have bulk sent, the whole airdrop would’ve been a complete disaster.”

Newsum however said he has since received an apology from CMC and was told that it was investigating the airdrop and would return with an updated winners list for the project.

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In its investigation, SaTT claims to have found another 18 tokens or nonfungible tokens (NFTs) airdrops conducted by CMC since Jul. 2022 that were also allegedly “infected by fraud” to the tune of $6.6 million.

This included airdrops for projects including TopGoal, OwlDAO and AgeofGods.

SaTT theorized two possibilities of how the “fraud” occurred:

“Either a group of hackers injected tons of fake accounts [into the airdrop on CMC’s website] [...] or it was actually an inside job.”

CoinMarketCap responds

Speaking to Cointelegraph, a CMC spokesperson addressed some of these claims, arguing that at least four of the projects identified by SaTT have yet to distribute rewards, meaning it would be “impossible” for them to have faced “malicious” activity.

It also noted that while three projects, including SaTT, AgeOfGods and TokenBot have spoken to the CMC team about their concerns, it has not received any communications from other projects about the alleged issues.

The spokesperson however acknowledged that “bots are an issue that touches nearly every industry.”

“The industry has been facing this issue among airdrop programs for some time and the reality is that not a single industry has been able to solve the bot issue entirely.”

“We are continuously working to improve our systems and services to limit this issue and will work closely with these projects to find solutions and help resolve any current issues,” the spokesperson added.

Related: Crypto’s recovery requires more aggressive solutions to fraud

CMC added that any claims of bot participation in its airdrops are taken “very seriously” and itis “working on resolving each case individually.”

It also shared several features it has employed to deter bot participation, such as a CAPTCHA challenge and email verification requirements for participants. It’s also developing a two-factor authentication integration.

Cointelegraph contacted TopGoal and OwlDAO for comment but did not receive a response at the time of publicati. AgeofGods could not be reached for comment.

‘Surgical removal’ of crypto will only weaken USD dominance, commentators say

How to avoid getting hooked by crypto ‘ice phishing’ scammers — CertiK

Ice phishing is a type of scam that exists only in Web3 and is a “considerable threat” to the crypto community, said the firm.

Blockchain security company CertiK has reminded the crypto community to stay alert over “ice phishing” scams — a unique type of phishing scam targeting Web3 users — first identified by Microsoft earlier this year. 

In a Dec. 20 analysis report, CertiK described ice phishing scams as an attack that tricks Web3 users into signing permissions which end up allowing a scammer to spend their tokens.

This differs from traditional phishing attacks which attempt to access confidential information such as private keys or passwords, such as the fake websites set up which claimed to help FTX investors recover funds lost on the exchange.

A Dec. 17 scam where 14 Bored Apes were stolen is an example of an elaborate ice phishing scam. An investor was convinced to sign a transaction request disguised as a film contract, which ultimately enabled the scammer to sell all of the user's apes to themselves for a negligible amount.

The firm noted that this type of scam was a “considerable threat” found only in the Web3 world, as investors are often required to sign permissions to decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols they interact with, which could be easily faked.

“The hacker just needs to make a user believe that the malicious address that they are granting approval to is legitimate. Once a user has approved permissions for the scammer to spend tokens, then the assets are at risk of being drained.”

Once a scammer has gained approval, they are able to transfer assets to an address of their choosing.

An example of how an ice phishing attack works on Etherscan. Source: Certik

To protect themselves from ice phishing, CertiK recommended that investors revoke permissions for addresses they don’t recognize on blockchain explorer sites such as Etherscan, using a token approval tool.

Related: $4B OneCoin scam co-founder pleads guilty, faces 60 years jail

Additionally, addresses that users are planning to interact with should be looked up on these blockchain explorers for suspicious activity. In its analysis, CertiK points to an address that was funded by Tornado Cash withdrawals as an example of suspicious activity.

CertiK also suggested that users should only interact with official sites they are able to verify, and to be particularly wary of social media sites like Twitter, highlighting a fake Optimism Twitter account as an example.

Fake Optimism Twitter account. Source: Certik

The firm also advised users to take a couple of minutes to check a trusted site such as CoinMarketCap or Coingecko, users would have been able to see that the linked URL was not a legitimate site and should be avoided.

Tech giant Microsoft was the first one to highlight this practice in a Feb. 16 blog post, saying at the time that while credential phishing is very predominant in the Web2 world, ice phishing gives individual scammers the ability to steal a chunk of the crypto industry while maintaining “almost complete anonymity.”

They recommended that Web3 projects and wallet providers increase the security of their services on the software level in order to prevent the burden of avoiding ice phishing attacks being placed solely on the end-user.

‘Surgical removal’ of crypto will only weaken USD dominance, commentators say

CoinMarketCap launches proof-of-reserve tracker for crypto exchanges

The tool allows users to monitor exchanges’ reserves through displays of total assets and public wallet addresses, along with the balance and value of the wallets displayed.

CoinMarketCap, a leading market researcher and tracker in the crypto industry, announced the launch of a new feature on its platform which allows users updated financial insights on exchanges.

The proof of reserves (PoR) tracker audits active cryptocurrency exchanges in the industry for transparency on liquidity at a given moment. According to the announcement, the tracker details the total assets of the company, and its affiliated public wallet addresses, along with the balances, current price and values of the wallets.

CoinMarketCap reports the PoR trackers will update data every 5 minutes. On Nov. 22 the company tweeted a guide for users on how to navigate the tool.

In the 5-part Twitter thread, Binance was given as an initial example with over $65 billion listed in its combined wallet addresses. Additional exchanges with PoR information available include KuCoin, Bitfinex, OKX, Bybit, Crypto.com and Huobi.

Binance CEO and co-founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, retweeted the development from CoinMarketCap with a link to Binance’s page. Some in the crypto community on Twitter have called this feature a “great transparency addition”.

CZ was among the first to make a pledge for providing proof of reserves following the on-going FTX liquidity and bankruptcy crisis.

On Nov. 10 it published a proof-of-assets, which included wallet addresses and activity. CZ then tweeted that what is available now is only the first iteration of what will be available via Merkle Tree PoR in the near future.

Related: Binance tops up SAFU fund at $1 billion amid price fluctuations

Following Binance’s example, many other platforms in the space began releasing their financial reserve and liquidity information in an effort of transparency. Chainlink Labs, Bitfinex and ByBit were among some of the first to come forward with their own data.

However, the cryptocurrency investment product servicer Grayscale has withheld its on-chain PoR due to what it says are security concerns. It did release a letter from Coinbase Custody which verified that Grayscale’s crypto holdings are fully backed, yet withheld wallet addresses.

‘Surgical removal’ of crypto will only weaken USD dominance, commentators say

Google still promoting crypto phishing sites warns Binance boss

In a tweet this week, CZ warned that when searching for CoinMarketCap on Google, phishing sites with an “ad” tag were showing up in front of the actual website.

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) has warned that Google search results are still promoting crypto phishing and scamming websites.

Despite Google’s strict policies on crypto marketing for its ads service, scammers have still been slipping through the cracks over the past few years. At times, scam websites have even been displayed higher than legitimate crypto and blockchain projects.

In an Oct. 27 tweet, CZ warned that when searching CoinMarketCap on Google, phishing sites with an “ad” tag were showing up in front of the actual website.

“This affects users adding smart contract addresses to MetaMask using these phishing sites. We are trying to contact Google for this, and in the meantime alerting users about this through social channels,” he said.

CoinMarketCap is one of the most commonly used crypto data aggregators on the market, was acquired by Binance for an undisclosed fee back in April 2020. Given its popularity, a lot of traffic could be directed towards these scam ads.

In some cases, phishing websites can be hard to spot, as they generally use copycat URLs to trick people that aren't paying attention into clicking. For example, one of the websites CZ highlighted was spelled “coinomarketcaap.”

In April this year, blockchain security firm SlowMist uncovered a Terra (LUNC) related phishing scam in which bad actors were using Google Ads to run copycat websites utilizing Achor Protocol and Astroport branding.

According to SlowMist, the promoted websites ranked ahead of the actual sites people were searching for and went on to swipe around $4.31 million worth of LUNC from 52 addresses between April 12. And April 21.

Related: Sneaky fake Google Translate app installs crypto miner on 112,000 PCs

In November 2021, the research arm of cybersecurity firm CheckPoint also published a report warning that around $500,000 was stolen by scammers who used Google Ads to promote phishing sites that mimicked crypto wallet providers MetaMask and Phantom.

Google’s ads service has been a topic of keen interest this week after parent company Alphabet firm highlighted in its Q3 earnings call that spending on search advertising from financial and crypto firms was down quarter over quarter.

“We did see a pullback in spending by some advertisers in certain areas in search ads. For example, in financial services, we saw a pullback in insurance, loan, mortgage, and crypto subcategories,” said Philipp Schindler, chief business officer of Google. The firm appears to have no qualms about accepting ad payments from scammers, however.

‘Surgical removal’ of crypto will only weaken USD dominance, commentators say

CoinGecko open to acquisition but now is ‘too early,’ co-founder says

While CoinMarketCap was acquired by Binance during post-2017 crypto winter, the current bear market is not the right time to sell CoinGecko, its COO said.

Major cryptocurrency tracking website CoinGecko is open to acquisitions, but not right now, according to a co-founder of the platform.

CoinGecko has been hit by the current crypto bear market, but the firm is far from selling off, CoinGecko chief operating officer Bobby Ong told Cointelegraph.

Ong believes that all crypto-related companies are affected by the cyclical nature of the industry as they usually do well during bull runs and struggle during bear markets.

“During this crypto winter, we at CoinGecko are similarly impacted. This will be our third crypto winter and we are focused on improving CoinGecko to prepare for the eventual bull run that will come again,” Ong said.

According to the chief operating officer, CoinGecko had 100 million monthly pageviews in July, experiencing an 85% decrease in traffic compared to the peak in November 2021. The traffic decline comes in line with the price movement of Bitcoin (BTC), which reached an all-time high above $68,000 last November.

“This has definitely impacted revenue, as advertising is one of our major revenue drivers and is a function of pageviews received,” Ong noted. He also said that new token listings on CoinGecko dropped about 70% from last year.

Despite shrinking revenues and the ongoing uncertainty around the crypto market, CoinGecko is still holding strong in terms of its headcount. The firm nearly doubled its staff over the past seven months from 30 to 57 team members and has not laid off any employees. CoinGecko hasn’t instituted any hiring freeze as well, Ong said.

“In fact, we just paid out a small bonus to all team members for the first half of 2022 despite the bear market. We are also in the process of reviewing our salaries to make it more competitive to hire and retain the best talents,” Ong stated, noting that CoinGecko has a few remaining open roles for the rest of the year.

CoinGecko is the biggest rival of CoinMarketCap, the crypto price-tracking website that was bought by Binance in April 2020. The acquisition came during the post-2017 crypto winter, with Bitcoin trading between $7,000-8,000 during the month of acquisition. Binance has never officially announced the cost of the deal, while it was rumored to cost the firm $400 million.

Bitcoin price chart from May 2017 to April 2020. Source: CoinGecko

Following CoinMarketCap’s acquisition, Ong said that the firm was approached multiple times by exchanges, venture capitalists and angel investors, but CoinGecko opted to prioritize independence and stay neutral. The company’s views have somewhat changed since, as CoinGecko considers it might sell the platform one day, Ong said, stating:

“At some point in the future, we will be open to selling the firm but right now, it is too early to sell. The crypto industry is still in its first inning and there will be high growth in the coming years.”

Ong once again predicted that “anything that can be tokenized will be tokenized in the future,” which would require a reliable source to track all those tokens.

Related: ‘Builders rejoice’: Experts on why bear markets are good for Bitcoin

“CoinGecko aims to empower the decentralized future by being the foundational infrastructure to help people get the information they need on the millions of tokens that will be listed in the future,” the chief noted.

He also emphasized that the bear market is the best time to focus on building great products as there is “significantly less noise and distraction from short-term trends.”

‘Surgical removal’ of crypto will only weaken USD dominance, commentators say