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Pro-Bitcoin Maltese PM Targeted by Crypto Fraudsters

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Malta’s pro-cryptocurrency prime minister, has been the subject of a recent Instagram scam.

Muscat was targeted by conmen using his name to open a fake Instagram account, in an attempt to promote a Bitcoin investment scheme.

The fake account quickly attracted around 1,300 followers with the promise of “enormous return on investments within a month’s time”. A suggestion that potential investors should contact a “Wang Wei” was made using Prime Minister Muscat’s name, but then the account was quickly removed from Instagram.

Muscat has long been an advocate of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, pushing Malta into the forefront of the industry taking it to third most “crypto-friendly” nation, according to a BlockShow Europe study earlier this year.

Not only is the small country planning to host the world’s first regulation-ready decentralized bank, but Malta’s PM has openly expressed a desire for his country to become the world’s number one blockchain hub.

The island has become increasingly appealing to Bitcoin companies conducting business there due to its positive spin on blockchain technology and its open-minded approach to regulation, linked to a strong economy. It also boasts the largest cryptocurrency trading volume in the world, according to Morgan Stanley. With this new legal-certainty status for cryptocurrencies, the country’s claim as another European “crypto haven” to rival Switzerland may be well founded.

The using of prominent names to set up fake schemes has been particularly popular in the UK of late with a number of TV celebrities being targeted. One is the subject of a legal case against Facebook after money saving expert Martin Lewis was targetted. Alan Sugar, British entrepreneur and presenter of TV’s ‘The Apprentice’, told the UK’s Mail on Sunday that scam cryptocurrency deals targeting celebrities were becoming a routine for many prominent business people.

Others who have suffered damage to their reputations due to crypto crime including Bill Gates, Virgin Boss Richard Branston, and BBC Dragon’s Den’s panel member Deborah Meaden.


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Former Oxford Grad becomes UK’s First Bitcoin Billionaire at $3.6 Billion

An Oxford graduate living in Hong Kong has been identified as Britain’s youngest Bitcoin billionaire at the age of only 34, according to the Mail Online.

Ex-student Ben Delo founded crypto company BitMex, a trading platform created by a selection of finance, trading, and web-development experts, in 2014 and has subsequently amassed a fortune of $3.6 billion along with his co-founders.

Delo, who studied maths and computer science at Worcester College, Oxford and graduated in 2005 with a first-class degree, said that he worked 18 hour days to build up his platform renting out spare bedrooms on Airbnb and creating a space in his living room to make extra money.

After a spell in the City of London, he moved to Hong Kong to take a position with JP Morgan prior, to starting up his platform with Samuel Reed, a computer programmer.

Like something from a Howard Hughes biography, Delo certainly hasn’t let things go to his head though, reportedly living a frugal life in Hong Kong with his wife Pan Pan Wong, to the extent that he and his wife use food vouchers to buy food at McDonald’s. His aim is to be a Bill Gates style philanthropist donating most of his wealth to worthy causes.

There are other young entrepreneurs who are rapidly following in Delo’s footsteps who may not be a billionaire just yet but are well on the way.

At only 23 Charlie Shrem owns Evr, one of Manhattans most famous gastropubs, renowned for being one of the first establishments to accept Bitcoin for food and drink in New York. He is also a BitAngel, an investment group created to invest in Bitcoin startups.  Shrem made his initial fortune buying thousands of bitcoins at $20 each in 2011 and is thought to be worth $450 million.

At the young age of 24 Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum has a net worth conservatively estimated to be around $450 million, although, in a recent interview with Forbes, Buterin stated that he now owned less than 0.4% of the company.

At the top of the Bitcoin Billionaires club would be the enigmatic creator and developer of Bitcoin who reportedly owns an estimated 1.1 million bitcoins.

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Apprentice’s Alan Sugar Warns of “Ruthless” Crypto Scammers and Fake News

Alan Sugar, British Entrepreneur, and presenter of TV’s ‘The Apprentice’, talking to the UK’s Mail on Sunday, has said that scam cryptocurrency deals targeting celebrities is becoming a routine for many prominent business people, according to This is Money.

The 74-year-old billionaire and founder of computer electronics company Amstrad became Britain’s answer to Donald Trump who presented the original US Apprentice series before becoming US President.

According to This is Money, fake news is on the rise with bogus celebrity endorsements fooling investors into investing in fake cryptocurrency projects.

Sugar joins an ever-expanding list of wealthy entrepreneurs whose names have been used in the promotion of cryptocurrency scams. Others who have suffered damage to their reputations due to crypto crime including Bill Gates, Richard Branston, Deborah Meaden and money saving expert Martin Lewis.

He commented about his recent experience when his name was used to sell scam crypto-currency deals:

‘These crooks are utterly ruthless. I just hope that people do their homework before parting with any money. It is infuriating to see my name and face on websites run by charlatans claiming I back their fraudulent investment scheme.”

Lord Sugar, who is currently working with his lawyers to get online ads featuring the entrepreneur removed, suggests that the perpetrators normally hide behind short-lived anonymous websites, making this type of crime difficult to tackle by lawmakers. He added that “there seems to be little that can be done about it because these cowardly crooks hide behind short-lived anonymous overseas websites.”

Action Fraud, The UK’s national fraud reporting center suggest such scams are increasing with 21 reports in March alone, costing victims £34,000 (USD $45,000). Mark Ward of Wealth manager Sanlam UK suggests that “people do not always know what they are buying. They mistakenly believe Richard Branson is saying it is good, so feel it is good enough for them. Others are buying for fear of missing out.”

There are many ways that investors can ensure safe trading and avoid scams, such as using a known exchange to transact and open a digital wallet, preferably a cold storage hard wallet making it difficult to hack via the internet. Investors can also refer to UK regulators ScamSmart website to learn how to avoid investment scams.

Another scam to be aware of is ‘wash trading’ where dubious traders give an impression of high demand for a coin by trading with themselves. Ward adds:

“It is still the Wild West. Investors are handing over banking details to companies based in parts of the world where there is no chance of getting their money back.”

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Blockchain a ‘Good Thing’, Says Bill Gates

Billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates revealed to CNBC recently that, although he owns no Bitcoin, he does recognize the value of the digital currency’s underlying technology, blockchain.

He maintained in an interview with CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box’ on Monday, “There’s some really good technology in terms of sharing databases and verifying transactions that is talked about as blockchain, that is a good thing.”

Gates, the world’s third wealthiest man, as well as being a business magnate, is now well established as both a humanitarian and a philanthropist. In 2015, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave a grant of USD 100,000 to blockchain company Bitsoko. The cross-border payment foundation integrates blockchain technology into its mobile money platform in Africa allowing funds to be sent from the developed world through Bitcoin to be received as mobile money. Last year, Bitsoko partnered with Ripple to develop mobile payment technologies for low-income users.

Although the Microsoft principal founder has cooled to Bitcoin in recent years, there was a time he would express more upbeat remarks.  In 2014, he commented to Bloomberg that: “Bitcoin is better than currency in that you don’t have to be physically in the same place and, of course, for large transactions, currency can get pretty inconvenient.”

In the CNBC program, Gates predicted a negative forecast for cryptocurrency, as he sees them lacking in intrinsic value, calling Bitcoin “one of the crazier speculative things” and expressing concerns about illegal activities surrounding digital currency. He complimented the SEC on its regulation:

“The government’s ability to find money laundering and tax evasion and terrorist funding is a good thing… Right now, cryptocurrencies are used for buying fentanyl and other drugs, so it is a rare technology that has caused deaths in a fairly direct way.”

Bill Gates appears to have moved considerably away from cryptocurrencies since his comments made at the Sibos 2014 financial-services industry conference in Boston, when he said in his keynote address that financial transactions in the future would “be digital, universal and almost free”.


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