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NBA Hall of Famer Paul Pierce Charged by SEC for Touting EMAX Tokens

NBA Hall of Famer Paul Pierce Charged by SEC for Touting EMAX TokensThe U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged Basketball Hall of Famer Paul Pierce for touting EMAX tokens and making misleading comments about unregistered crypto securities. The former Boston Celtics small forward agreed to settle the charges and pay the SEC $1.409 million. SEC Chair Gary Gensler Wants to Remind Celebrities of Disclosure Laws […]

Venture capitalists bail on Zipmex bailout, company warns of consequences: Report

Google Ads-delivered malware drains NFT influencer’s entire crypto wallet

A sponsored advertising link on Google hid malware that siphoned thousands of dollars worth of crypto and NFTs from an influencer’s wallet.

An NFT influencer claims to have lost “a life-changing amount” of their net worth in nonfungible tokens (NFTs) and crypto after accidentally downloading malicious software found via a Google Ad search result.

The pseudo-anonymous influencer known on Twitter as “NFT God” posted a series of tweets on Jan. 14 describing how his “entire digital livelihood” came under attack including a compromise of his crypto wallet and multiple online accounts.

NFT God, known also as “Alex,” said he used Google's search engine to download OBS, an open-source video streaming software. But instead of clicking on the official website, he clicked the sponsored advertisement for what he thought was the same thing. 

It wasn’t until hours later — after a series of phishing tweets posted by attackers on two Twitter accounts that Alex operates — that he realized malware was downloaded from the sponsored advertisement alongside the software he wanted.

Following a message from an acquaintance, Alex noticed his crypto wallet was also compromised. The next day, attackers breached his Substack account and sent phishing emails to his 16,000 subscribers.

Blockchain data shows that at least 19 Ether (ETH) worth nearly $27,000 at the time, a Mutant Ape Yacht Club (MAYC) NFT with a current floor price of 16 ETH ($25,000), and multiple other NFTs were siphoned from Alex’s wallet.

The attacker moved most of the ETH through multiple wallets before sending it to the decentralized exchange (DEX) FixedFloat, where it was swapped for unknown cryptocurrencies.

Alex believes the “critical mistake” that allowed the wallet hack was setting up his hardware wallet as a hot wallet by entering its seed phrase “in a way that no longer kept it cold,” or offline, which allowed the hackers to gain control of his crypto and NFTs.

Related: Navigating the World of Crypto: Tips for Avoiding Scams

Unfortunately, NFT God’s experience isn’t the first time the crypto community has dealt with crypto-stealing malware in Google Ads.

A Jan. 12 report from cybersecurity firm Cyble warned of an information-stealing malware called “Rhadamanthys Stealer” spreading through Google Ads on “highly convincing phishing webpage[s].”

In October, Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao warned that Google search results were promoting crypto phishing and scamming websites.

Cointelegraph contacted Google for comment but did not receive a response. In its help center, however, Google said it “actively works with trusted advertisers and partners to help prevent malware in ads.”

It also describes its use of “proprietary technology and malware detection tools” to regularly scan Google Ads.

Cointelegraph was unable to replicate the results of Alex’s search nor verify if the malicious website was still active.

Venture capitalists bail on Zipmex bailout, company warns of consequences: Report

Saying ‘not financial advice’ won’t keep you out of jail: Crypto lawyers

Australian and U.S. digital asset lawyers told Cointelegraph that by and large, the words on their own as "pretty useless."

Crypto influencers may need to practice what they preach and “do their own research” when it comes to sharing their crypto tips.

According to several digital asset lawyers, the popular disclaimer “this is not financial advice” — may not actually protect them in the eyes of the law.

United-States-based securities lawyer Matthew Nielsen from Bracewell LLP told Cointelegraph that while its “best practice” for influencers to disclose that “this is not financial advice,” simply saying the term will not protect them from the law as the “federal and state securities laws heavily regulate who can offer investment advice.”

Australian financial regulatory lawyer Liam Hennessy, a partner at Gadens, explained that “advice warnings” are “by and large pretty useless,” while Australian digital lawyer Michael Bacina of Piper Alderman added that they aren’t “magic words which when uttered will disclaim liability.”

Crypto influencers and celebrity ambassadors have been increasingly finding themselves under the scrutiny of regulations, particularly in the United States.

Nielsen cited the recent Kim Kardashian case as an example, where Kardashian was charged by the SEC for failing to disclose how much she received to promote EthereumMax to her followers.

Influencers feeling the pressure

Crypto influencer Mason Versluis, aka Crypto Mason, who has over a million followers on Tik Tok, told Cointelegraph that he can’t stress enough to his followers that his content should not “be taken as financial advice.”

Versluis however said that despite using the disclaimer “this is not financial advice,” it’s important for influencers to be mindful that some people do “make financial moves according to what certain influencers say.”

He also stressed how difficult it can be to determine whether a project will end up in a “rug pull” situation as influencers “simply deal with the marketing team,” and generally have no contact “with any of the developers or owners.”

Australian crypto influencer Ivan Vantagiato, aka Crypto Serpent who has amassed 68,000 followers on Tik Tok says that influencers should do their due diligence researching a crypto project before running a promotion.

Related: Aussie crypto 'finfluencers' face tough new legal restrictions

Hennessy believes the best way for crypto influencers to protect themselves is to be able to determine “what token is a security and what token is not a security.”

He further explained that it’s critical to understand that a “derivative is a product that derives its value from something else,” and you can be “criminally liable” for promoting derivatives.

Meanwhile, Bacina noted that an influencer residing in Australia is required to have a license to give out financial advice, and that “no disclaimer is going to give protection.”

Venture capitalists bail on Zipmex bailout, company warns of consequences: Report

‘I’ve done nothing wrong’ — Lark Davis denies ‘pump-and-dump’ allegations

Davis claimed he received nothing for free from the projects it's alleged he profited from, and the amounts he sold weren’t enough to “dump the price.”

Crypto influencer Lark Davis has refuted new allegations from Twitter “on-chain sleuth” ZachXBT of shilling “low cap projects” to his audience “just to dump them shortly after.”

Davis was responding to a Twitter thread posted by Zach on Sept. 29, containing allegations that he profited over $1.2 million through selling tokens from crypto projects which he was allegedly paid to promote without disclosing.

In a 17-part thread, Zach pointed to eight examples of what is supposedly Davis’ crypto wallet receiving tokens from new crypto projects, with Davis subsequently tweeting or posting a video on them, and then selling the tokens shortly after.

Speaking to Cointelegraph, Zach said he received requests from multiple people who lost money on the tokens shared by Davis asking to “take a closer look” at him.

“Lark managed to dump with size on low cap projects time after time,” Zach said, adding they’ve investigated other crypto influencers, but the alleged amount was “never at this magnitude.”

Zach alleged in the thread that the largest gain to Davis came from receiving 120,000 SHOPX tokens, with Davis tweeting hours later about the project whilst apparently simultaneously selling the tokens, gaining $435,000.

This example along with seven others Zach presented purportedly shows Davis making over $1.2 million in a similar pattern.

“Participating in seed rounds & sharing projects you genuinely like is completely fine as long as it’s done in a transparent manner,” Zach tweeted, adding:

“This is not the case as Lark has a pattern of dumping his discounted launchpad bags right after shills across YT (YouTube), Twitter, & [his] newsletter.”

Cointelegraph requested comment from Davis and was directed to a series of tweets posted late on Sept. 29 in which Davis calls the allegations made by Zach “ridiculous” and provided a response to each example Zach alleged he profited from.

Related: ‘Far too easy’ — Crypto researcher’s fake Ponzi raises $100K in hours

“I got nothing for free,” Davis tweeted to his over one million followers, adding his token sale investments are “always disclosed” on his YouTube channel of 485,000 subscribers and shared with his followers “well before the launch."

Davis added he was following an investing strategy he teaches, selling the tokens upon launch, which he claims is a common investing practice for token sales. Davis said the amounts he sold were “nowhere near enough to dump the price” of the tokens.

“I teach this concept frequently to you all, none of this should be a surprise if you have been paying attention,” he tweeted. “What you choose to do with my opinions is completely up to you.”

Venture capitalists bail on Zipmex bailout, company warns of consequences: Report

Bitcoin Dips as Elon Musk Tweets Broken Heart Emoji

Bitcoin Dips as Elon Musk Tweets Broken Heart EmojiThe price of the leading cryptocurrency took a hit after billionaire Elon Musk mentioned Bitcoin in a new tweet hinting at a breakup. Musk’s latest crypto post, featuring a broken heart emoji and a reference to a Linkin Park song, effectively halted this week’s market rebound. Musk Tweet Pushes Bitcoin Price Down Before the Weekend […]

Venture capitalists bail on Zipmex bailout, company warns of consequences: Report

Myspace Tom Anderson is ‘Buying The Dip,’ Posts Laser Eyes Meme on Twitter

Myspace Tom Anderson is ‘Buying The Dip,’ Posts Laser Eyes Meme on TwitterMyspace founder Tom Anderson has joined the heated chatter surrounding the recent crypto market drop. The now-retired entrepreneur expressed his feelings about the situation, posting a laser eyes photo of himself accompanied with a short caption, “Buying The Dip.” Myspace Tom Tweets in Support of Bitcoin Tech entrepreneur and Myspace cofounder Tom Anderson took to […]

Venture capitalists bail on Zipmex bailout, company warns of consequences: Report

Instagram influencer charged over duping followers out of $2.5M BTC

A social media influencer known for “cash giveaways” has failed to show the money in alleged Bitcoin wire fraud scheme.

An Instagram influencer has been charged with wire fraud, after he allegedly scammed followers out of $2.5 million worth of Bitcoin.

Social media influencer Jay Mazini, who boasted of a net worth of $33 million and is known for “cash giveaways”, is accused by the Department of Justice of operating a wire fraud scheme in which he duped some of his 1 million followers to send him Bitcoin in exchange for inflated cash offers, which he failed to pay properly.

The DoJ announced the charges on March 24, following a complaint filed in Brooklyn Federal Court the day before. The FBI investigation into the case is still ongoing, with FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney noting:

“Igbara’s social media persona served as a backdrop for enticing victims to sell him their Bitcoin at attractive, but inflated, values. A behind-the-scenes look, however, revealed things aren’t always as they seem. There was nothing philanthropic about the Bitcoin transactions Igbara engaged in with his victims.”

Sweeney added: “A quick search of the Interwebs today will reveal an entirely different image of this multimillion-dollar scammer.”

According to DoJ documents, the influencer offered to pay followers between 3.5% to 5% over market value for Bitcoin, claiming traditional crypto exchanges had capped how much Bitcoin he could purchase.

The alleged wire fraud scam took place between January to late February, with the influencer soliciting followers on Twitter and Instagram. During that time, the price of Bitcoin shot up from around $29,000 to more than $49,000. According to the complaint, when Bitcoin was valued at around $47,000 on Feb. 14, the defendant offered to buy Bitcoin at $52,500.

It is alleged that after Mazini received Bitcoin from his fans, he sent back falsified payment receipts to reflect agreed-upon prices, in which he either failed to send the full amount or never sent the money.

According to the complaint filed on March 23, Mazini negotiated with one of his followers to purchase 50 BTC for $2.56 million, with the seller sending the agreed amount of BTC to only receive $500,000 in return.

Mazini is currently being held on state charges in New Jersey and will face New York courts at an undetermined date. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment.

In the DoJ release, IRS-CI Special Agent Jonathan D. Larsen, warned fans of social media influencers to “beware” of falling prey to social media crypto scams, noting the “defendant allegedly used his online popularity to defraud those seeking to exchange Bitcoin for cash above the market value. Always be on your guard and don’t fall prey to these cryptocurrency schemes.”

Venture capitalists bail on Zipmex bailout, company warns of consequences: Report