Generally, when court documents are unsealed, you can discover some pretty juicy details. When the case involves a global hacking, those details can be borderline salacious. In this case, they were that, and at the end of that trail, we even found a few bitcoin.
According to indictment documents that were recently unsealed in the case of the hacks to financial services players, including JPMorgan, E*TRADE Financial, Scottrade Financial Services and Dow Jones, the three hackers that were involved in illegally intercepting information about stock prices linked to an illegal online gambling ring had a connection to bitcoin — potentially.
The link is a little circuitous since there was a bribery scheme in the mix, wrapped around some good, old-fashioned money laundering, which is, of course, how bitcoin comes into play.
Prosecutors in the case also linked a Florida man, Anthony Murgio, to the three suspects. Murgio’s father, Michael Murgio, was also named in the case and was arrested on Thursday (April 21). He was expected to appear before a federal judge that day.
The latest indictment revealed that Anthony is accused of exchanging bitcoin connected to ransomware attacks. He was accused of exchanging cash for bitcoin on behalf of the victims who paid over sums to get back their computer systems.
(Hang in there — there is a connection to the financial services hacks…)
The accused cybercriminals allegedly violated anti-money laundering laws for not reporting these incidents. They are accused of using bribes to essentially take over a credit union in order to hide their illegal transactions from authorities. They then reportedly used a bitcoin exchange to cover up the violations that the compromised credit union was flying under the radar of from regulators.
And Michael is accused of participating in a bribery scheme that enabled the bitcoin exchange to take over the credit union to let that all happen.
Clearly, that plan didn’t really stack up. And now, it’s being used to piece together how the global hacking case all came together. Prosecutors are hoping that what they learn will help them connect the dots about how all the hacks of the major financial institutions occurred.
So, now you know why these specific people are being investigated so heavily.
In other bitcoin news…
India’s Top Bitcoin Exchange Raises $1.2M
While India hasn’t been the friendliest environment for bitcoin, that hasn’t stopped one bitcoin exchange from making a go in the market.
Coinsecure, India’s top bitcoin trading platform, just announced its Series A $1.2 million ongoing funding round, which is expected to close soon. The company seems optimistic that bitcoin and bitcoin trading have a strong future in India.
“The coming years are all about improving our products, building new ones and providing enterprise blockchain solutions to address some key pain points in the crypto space,” Benson Samuel, the company’s CTO and cofounder, said.
But it’s still going to be an uphill battle to continue getting mainstream support in the area.
Or, as Founder and CEO Mohit Kalra said: “India needs a strong case to start using bitcoin.” But that’s what he said his company has set out to do by delivering merchants with what he believes is a compelling reason for them to use bitcoin: reducing risk.
The company said it will use the money to expand in domestic and international markets.
P2P Bitcoin Exchange Set For Launch
Next week, Bitsquare, a new decentralized bitcoin exchange, is set to launch. This open-source project is intended to enable anyone to trade bitcoin for fiat currency without needing a middleman. Or, as Founder Manfred Karrer said: “Bitcoin’s reliance on centralized exchanges is diametrically opposed to its principles.”
“I hope Bitsquare will solve that problem,” he added.
And move bitcoin away from highly concentrated bitcoin exchange ownership, he hopes.
“Exchanges provide a valuable service, as they are a bridge between bitcoin and fiat currency, which is still very much needed,” Karrer told Bitcoin Magazine. “But it’s a double-edged sword: Virtually everyone who wants to use bitcoin must go through these centralized exchanges, which makes them the effective gatekeepers of the system.”
Yes, Bitcoin Isn’t King
Bloomberg seemed to make a very odd comparison to bitcoin in its coverage of Harriet Tubman replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.
“Despite hype for Apple Pay, bitcoin and other alternative payment methods, cash is still king for the vast majority of Americans,” Bloomberg reported.
Bitcoin As An ID Theft Solution?
A recent report by Harris Poll stated that 10 percent of consumers (of those surveyed) said they use bitcoin as a payment method in order to avoid identity theft during tax time.
The irony here is that people who don’t trust the IRS with their credentials are turning toward a volatile, unregulated, digital currency instead.
Can Bitcoin Break The $450 Mark?
During midday on Thursday (April 21), bitcoin was at $449.15.
Which is pretty decent considering what it was doing a year ago (low $230s). Bitcoin did dip last month, in early March, below the $400 mark but has been on a slow march up ever since. But, so far, at just under $450, this is the best bitcoin has been doing for all of 2016.
And compared to the up-and-down spikes bitcoin has seen for the first quarter of the year, Q2 seems to be a bit stable.
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