Verge Crashes Over 15% Ahead of Scheduled Hard Fork

Verge XVG Crashes 15% ahead of hard fork

Verge (XVG) is backtracking, erasing more than 15% of its price on Tuesday. XVG fell to $0.004, moving away from a recent spike.

The Verge market price sank significantly on Tuesday, despite the still expected scheduled hard fork. The asset sank after a week of hiking higher, moving up by as much as 30% on a weekly basis.

The sharp decline, however, matched the downturn in the entire market, as Bitcoin (BTC) also looked shaky. XVG traded around 57 Satoshi, as most of its valuation hinges on the price of BTC.

The price of XVG is seen as a short-term speculation opportunity as it hovers near rock-bottom prices. The recently announced hard fork had only a temporary effect on the price. The recent sell-off may be a sign that investors are losing faith in a bullish recovery and exiting now before the decline worsens.

The Verge team reminds users to update to the new version ahead of the coming hard fork:

The hard fork itself is expected at block 3,700,000, which should arrive by December 15.

Other bullish news for Verge by the end of the year will include the launch of XVG on the Abra app. So far, the asset is only available for limited wallets, but Abra announced plans to include the asset internationally by the end of December.

Verge is one of the few coins that has an almost exclusively BTC-based market, with more than 95% of volumes in the crypto-to-crypto pair. Hence, XVG is tied to BTC price risk, with the possibility of Satoshi-based speculation. XVG is capable of relatively large rallies, but its price also crashes as traders return to BTC positions.

Verge is also highly active on Binance, which carries 54% of the volumes, and is also widely traded on HitBTC. But the coin is yet to regain its influence, after the spectacular pump-and-dump about two years ago. XVG spiked to as high as $0.21 on December 24, 2017, after a promotion by John McAfee. The rapid unraveling afterward however, angered traders as Verge led to extreme losses.

The other blows against Verge was the potential for double-spending, as well as an under-appreciated Pornhub announcement, and a rogue mining attack which produced blocks on an accelerated schedule and gave the attacker a disproportionate share of the rewards.

What do you think about the XVG hard fork? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Images via Shutterstock, Twitter @Cabrasmanuel @vergeliever @vergecryptourrency

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Source: Bitcoininst

Bitcoin Hashrate Futures Coming in 2020, Mining Boom Inbound?

Bitcoin Hashrate Futures to Enable Mining Boom

Mining companies may benefit from a growing market for Bitcoin (BTC) derivatives to finance and support their power-hungry operations. In 2019, despite price fluctuations, mining activity remains near all-time highs.

Bitcoin Mining Turned into Large-Scale Business

Mining is becoming large-scale business in 2019, with big pools and ASIC producers once again coming into the spotlight. Canaan Mining even managed to launch its IPO on NASDAQ, selling its shares through a listed shell company.

But now, a special product may be created for miners, to directly hedge against the fluctuating Bitcoin hashrate in the coming months, reported Reuters. Smaller mining pools are highly vulnerable to swings in the hashrate, as large-scale pools take up more than half of bitcoin blocks. Larger operators can also afford more powerful ASIC, or simply run more machines on cheap hydroelectric power.

“The trend in hashrate is upwards. Unless miners increase production, they will get fewer bitcoin with the same power,” said Michel Rauchs, author of a Cambridge university study on mining.

With hashrate derivatives, they can price in risk.

A high hashrate means more need for competition, as well as more difficult mining conditions. Hashrate is not a constant, and difficulty readjust every 2016 blocks, changing the potential to earn BTC rewards.

The Bitcoin network hashrate fluctuated wildly in the past couple of weeks, moving between a low of 74 quintillion hashes per second, and a normal range near 100 quintillion hashes. During that time, difficulty rose sharply once, then diminished slightly again.

Derivatives Based on Hashrate Data Already on Offer by DAG Global

Derivatives based on information about the Bitcoin hashrate are offered by the DAG Global, a London-based crypto startup that claims to be a cryptocurrency merchant bank.

“As the hashrate changes, you can go from being profitable to losing money very quickly,” said Robert Andersen, who leads DAG’s digital asset sales. “The contract insures you against that. It’s like insurance, and for that you pay a premium.”

Mining profitability is also highly dependant on the bitcoin spot price. Miners usually attempt to sell some of the BTC earned, to fund their operations. Derivatives and futures markets offer a way to hedge against the price risk. Another firm, GSR, is also preparing to build a product based on hashrate risk, but deems the market as nascent and may delay the launch by months.

Mining operations with slightly higher electricity costs may need to be careful about their breakeven prices. For Chinese bitcoin mining farms, hydroelectric power has periods of very low prices, breaking even at lower BTC valuations. The Bitcoin network consumes more than 73.12 TWh annualized, slightly more than the economy of Austria. About 50% of that energy goes to four of the biggest mining pools.

What do you think about derivatives on hashrate data? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Images via Shutterstock

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Nobel Winner-Backed Saga Launches Libra-Like Global Coin

Nobel Prize Winner backed Saga challenges Facebook

London-based blockchain firm Saga announced the launch of its Saga token (SGA). The digital unit represents a global currency that complies with regulators’ requirements.

Saga Advised by Nobel Prize Winner, Former Bank of Israel Governor

The currency is backed by a basket of fiat currency to avoid high volatility. Thus, it acts like a stablecoin and resembles Libra – Facebook’s digital currency that is still under development.

Interestingly, the advisory board includes top economists like Myron Scholes, a Nobel Prize-winner, Jacob Frenkel, former Governor of the Bank of Israel and current chairman of JPMorgan Chase International, as well as Dan Galai, a pioneer of the VIX volatility index.

The company was founded and is led by Ido Sadeh Man. He explained in an interview with CNBC:

Unlike other players, we don’t want to be the issuer and the payments layer and the custodian. We’re focusing on the monetary part of it, on the issuance of a sound currency for global use, and we will increasingly liaise with partnerships in the realms of custodianship and of payments.

Facebook proposed a similar concept, though it faced unprecedented opposition from governments and regulators around the world. Nevertheless, Saga doesn’t want to create a new asset basket. Instead, it is pegging its token to bank deposits in the same group of fiat currencies that form the so-called special drawing rights – an instrument created by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Another difference from Libra is that Saga won’t profit from the token as it acts as an issuer only. It doesn’t create its own digital wallet like Facebook is doing with Calibra. Users will be able to buy SGA on Saga’s site and through the Liquid exchange.

Saga Will Work with Banks and Regulators

Sadeh Man said that the token acts as a complementary currency for cross-border payments. For example, British citizens might want to use it to pay on Amazon in the case the sterling becomes too volatile on Brexit news.

Saga said in its statement that it would collaborate with regulators and banks. The token acts as a bridge between fiat and digital currencies. The company claims that SGA is the first digital currency that simulates the mechanics of national currencies issued by central banks, though on a global scale.

Sadeh Man commented:

Currencies have not kept up with the pace of globalisation and they do not address the global scope and needs of modern lives. The decreasing economic importance of national boundaries, changes in society, and a need for monetary diversification have created a necessity for a complementary, global, non-governmental currency. We have set out to address this need by launching the first stabilised, digital currency governed by its holders and compliant with AML regulations.

The SGA transactions are non-anonymous. This suggests that token holders have to pass through a Know Your Customer (KYC) verification procedure that ensures compliance with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) practices. Nevertheless, their identities are not publicly revealed.

Who Controls SGA?

While Libra is building a consortium of 100 companies and entities to govern the stablecoin network, Saga proposes a more democratic approach. The token network is monitored by holders. Sadeh Man said that the holders are the sovereign of the currency. They are able to vote on the company’s board of directors and influence its monetary policy.

Saga acts as a nonprofit. The company secured investments from venture capital firms including Lightspeed Venture Partners and Mangrove Capital Partners.

While SGA is struggling to stay compliant, the token won’t launch in the US for now. Sadeh Main said that the US “is an area we don’t want to be in” for now. “We only want to operate where it is clear we are respecting compliance,” he added.

What do you think about Saga? Will it become the next big thing? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Image via Shutterstock,

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Why Crypto Exchanges Should Lower Their Fees and Profit Margins

crypto exchange profits

The crypto industry has yet to evolve from exchanges which are nothing more than digital banks in reality. A couple are taking bold moves to slash their fees but how many others will follow and how will it affect the wider crypto industry.

Crypto Exchanges: Banks in Disguise

True financial decentralization should consist of direct peer to peer transactions and more decentralized exchanges (DEXs), yet still centralized exchanges reap the profits like their banking counterparts.

Over the past year or two centralized trading platforms such as Coinbase and Binance made millions. Profits for Binance are easy to estimate considering the exchange burns 20% of its profits every quarter. The last time this happened was in October this year when 2 million BNB went up in smoke which equates to an estimated third quarterly profit of $185 million.

Coinbase is a little coyer when it comes to the firm’s vast earnings from some of the highest fees and spreads in the industry. Reports estimated that it cleared a billion dollars in 2017 and made around $520 million in revenue in 2018 despite a massive bear market.

In October the company updated its fee structure to effectively punish the low volume traders and favor the bigger boys with fat wallets. Bitfinex also has different rates for makers and takers depending on volume. There is another financial institution that does exactly that – a bank.

These two industry leaders are not the only ones with inordinate fees, spreads and charges for deposits, withdrawals, conversions and trading. This is exactly the antithesis of the cryptocurrency world which was envisioned a decade ago by Satoshi Nakamoto who saw a need to break free from banks.

“Banks must be trusted to hold our money and transfer it electronically, but they lend it out in waves of credit bubbles with barely a fraction in reserve. Their massive overhead costs make micropayments impossible.”

If you were using an exchange such as Coinbase for crypto micropayments it would soon cost you more than you are trying to send.

Zero Fees The Way Forward

Some exchanges are taking steps to reduce charges, fees and spreads. After all there is already an associated network fee to pay so why should users of cryptocurrencies pay more to enrich the owners of exchanges.

Poloniex is one that has offered zero fee trading until the end of the year but it remains to be seen yet if it will continue the practice into 2020.

There are a few other smaller players that have also taken up this initiative but it is really time that the industry behemoths follow suit if they’re seriously interested in crypto adoption above their bottom lines.

Should crypto exchanges scrap commissions? Add your comments below.

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Ethereum Google Searches Near Record Lows

Ethereum google search near record lows

Ethereum saw a major reduction in Google searches in the last few months, attracting less attention than ever before.

Ethereum Less Popular Now Than When it Was $20

Ethereum (ETH), the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, is going through an interesting period as of late. A Trustnodes report indicates that the project has seen the lowest number of Google searches in years. In fact, it was more popular even as far back as in 2016, when its price was only $20.

Results from Google Trends show that the coin is seeing some stability with 4 out of 100 searches. There was a brief drop below this level back in October 2019, when ETH searches dropped to only 3/100. In comparison, the project was seeing a minimum of 8/100 searches throughout June 2016, while the number of searches in May 2016 was 5, and in April 2016, it was at the current minimum of 4.

Granted, those search figures are exclusively US-based, but the worldwide figures aren’t much better either. Their recent report indicates that the interest in Ethereum sits at 6 out of 100, which is lower than it was a few months ago, when there were around 7 to 8 out of 100 searches in June 2019.

This leads to some interesting conclusions, such as the fact that the US was only interested in Ethereum for a few months in 2016. As for why the interest in the second-largest crypto project in the world is dropping so drastically, there could be several reasons. One of them might be the lack of awareness, where the searches are only performed by those researching the project or following news updates about it.

Ethereum has also been facing a number of issues due to recent Istanbul hard fork. Some reports claim that small changes in SSTORE caused thousands of dApps to fail. In fact, failure rates have more than quadrupled, which is certainly not good news for the project.

Is Bitcoin faring any better?

When it comes to Bitcoin, the coin is enjoying a form of linear progression. Currently, BTC has around 10 out of 100 searches. Meanwhile, in 2016, it only had 2 or 3 out of every 100 searches.

Trustnodes concludes that the reason for this is likely Bitcoin’s adoption, which has increased significantly alongside the coin’s price. The interest in BTC is especially growing in some African countries, particularly in South Africa and Nigeria. Meanwhile, China does not seem to care about BTC at all. On the other hand, it is one of the countries where the interest in ETH is at the peak.

However, the reason might be that texts concerning BTC were translated, and China’s population is simply reading about it on its own crypto media. On the other hand, if Ethereum is not translated, the country’s crypto users have to search for it via Google.

In conclusion, it appears that interest in crypto is waning in the West, particularly as the year draws to a close. Perhaps the multiple Ethereum update postponements throughout 2019 has drained investors confidence in the project, or the fact that the price has failed to print any promising gains.

For the rest of the world, it seems that Bitcoin remains the sole focus as the asset edges ever closer to next year’s halving and potentially new highs.

Do you think Ethereum interest will ever recover? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image via Shutterstock, Twitter @LucasNuzzi

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Source: Bitcoininst

Bitcoin Ransomware Attack Hits Argentinian Government

Argentinian government hit by bitcoin ransomware attack

The Argentinian government has been hit with a Bitcoin ransomware attack. According to the latest information, the hacker demanded 50 BTC to withdraw the attack.

For all the positive changes that cryptocurrencies have brought in the last few years, there are still those who would use them to harm others. A perfect example of this is a hacker that recently attacked a major data center in Argentina, locking away 10 years’ worth of government files.

The attack supposedly took place two weeks ago, November 25th, according to Argentina’s Minister of Science and Technology, Alicia Bañuelos. Bañuelos revealed some details regarding the incident in a recent interview with Agencia de Noticia de San Luis, which is the government’s main digital news outlet.

In an interview on December 2nd, she revealed that hackers invaded a data center used by the government and that they encrypted around 7.700 GB of data. According to her assessment, this is around 10 years’ worth of information. However, in a week following the attack, the government managed to recover the majority of encrypted data — around 90%.

Bañuelos added that the job is still far from over and that decrypting the files fully will take at least 15 more days. The amount of information that was encrypted was huge, hence the delay in recovering the files.

The attackers demand Bitcoin payment

As with all ransomware attacks, the hackers demanded payment, and they wanted it delivered in the form of Bitcoin. Bañuelos did not reveal the exact amount that was demanded, but some reports claim that the amount was between $37,000 and $370,000 (5-50 BTC).

Vertcoin falls victim to another 51% attack

While hackers tend to target the private sector with this type of attack, this is by no means a rule, and they will attack any company, individual, or entity in order to get paid. Even governments have become popular targets for these types of attacks.

For example, a group is known as ‘Shadow Kill Hackers’ recently attacked South Africa’s City of Johannesburg administration website. The attack came in the second half of October, and they managed to steal large amounts of data. They then threatened to dump the data online, unless they are paid $300,000 in Bitcoin, which translates to around 40 BTC.

Another incident from a few months ago saw a group use ransomware called Sadinokibi to attack another US data center. Once again, powerful ransomware was used, and hackers successfully hijacked the data, demanding $287,000 to be paid. Bitcoinist also reported a ransom attack on Stratford City Hall a few months back. The attackers demanded a payment in Bitcoin, which is also approximately worth 10 BTC or $75,000.

Finally, many still remember ransomware known as WannaCry, which hit the entire world two years ago. The ransomware, again, demanded BTC payments from anyone it managed to infect. Back then, the attack seemingly did not target a specific company, government, group, or even the country. It infected whomever and whatever it could, with little discrimination. It is still considered one of the biggest and most devastating cyberattacks in history.

These days, however, hackers appear to be going after specific targets, such as the Spanish multinational security company called Prosegur. The firm was attacked through ransomware known as Ryuk. The attack took place only a few weeks ago, but Ryuk has been well-known ransomware at the time, as it collected over 705 bitcoin in the last five to six months.

Do you think that victims should pay the ransom or not? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Images via Shutterstock

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Source: Bitcoininst

Matic Network (MATIC) Team Explains Sudden Token Flash Crash

matic network crashes 50%

The Matic Network (MATIC) token went through a crisis, erasing more than 50% of its price in the past day, to drop to $0.02. The price crash, however, follows a period of wild appreciation on a parabolic trend, as MATIC more than tripled its price and moved to a record above $0.04.

Fears of Team Dumping Tokens

Now, the price action of MATIC is starting to suggest a pump-and-dump event. However, the team has moved in to explain what’s going on with the volatility.

The crash in price seems to be a direct effect of messages circulating which suggest that the team was performing suspicious token movements. Rumors spread about the MATIC team moving tokens from its Foundation account, sparking fears the team may dump the assets at the recently peaking prices.

The team had already announced a small release of funds, of around 248 million MATIC, or 2.5% of the supply. But the unlocked tokens were meant to be used for staking and securing the network, as the team explained in a detailed blog. The 248 million tokens were also meant for investors and advisors, on which the decision to sell was not guaranteed.

The tweet that sparked the panic claimed that the large amount of the project’s tokens were intended for dumping on Binance.

But the claims were refuted by the fast investigation performed at the Binance exchange. Binance’s CEO, Changpeng Zhao, commented that the real reason may be anonymous traders panicking.

MATIC Followed Natural Trading Patterns

Binance has seen its share of boom-and-bust cycles for several coins, as well as trading anomalies. But MATIC is a special case, as it is one of the high-profile IEO tokens offered on the exchange. The token was also among the best performers, appreciating to above its token sale price.

Zhao dismissed the latest sell-off as originating from FUD, but also raised the question on whether exchanges should interfere with trading. MATIC is represented on both Binance DEX and Binance, with the bulk of volumes on the centralized exchange.

However, MATIC has recovered some of the losses, as the deepest end of the drop at one point wiped out 72% from peak prices. MATIC is still above the flat prices in the past few months. The fears that the Matic project was performing an exit scam were dismissed, but the token performance sparked the rage of traders.

But for others, the MATIC performance was normal for inherently volatile altcoins and tokens, which offer a mix of rapid appreciation and risk.

What do you think about the MATIC pump and crash? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Images via Shutterstock, Twitter @cz_binance @Maticnetwork @xGozzy

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World’s First Collectible Crypto Coin to be Issued in 2020

crypto coins in lithuania

In an effort to further establish itself as an emerging fintech and crypto hub Lithuania will be issuing the world’s first collectible crypto coins. The commemorative issue coin is dedicated to the 1918 Act of Independence and will feature its 20 signatories.

Crypto-Friendly Lithuania

The Bank of Lithuania is expected to issue these world-first digital collectors coins in spring 2020. The nation’s February 1918 declaration of independence and its 20 signatories will be commemorated according to the official announcement.

There will be a total of 24,000 crypto coins slated for release on the blockchain and they will be divided into six categories. Marius Jurgilas, Member of the Board of the Bank of Lithuania, added;

“This innovative coin will feature the signatories due to their significant role in the country’s history and contribution to the restoration of our independence.”

He added that the project will provide the Bank of Lithuania with invaluable experience and knowledge in the creation of digital currencies. The move may be the first for Lithuania if it wishes to join the central bank digital currency race which is currently being led by China where a pilot scheme has already been planned.

The statement added that the token is expected to engage younger people in coin collecting but it could also be a good way to introduce them to crypto and blockchain technology. The coins will be sold exclusively on the central bank’s digital store and will not be used as legal tender.

Collectors will get six random tokens and will be able to redeem them for a physical silver coin once one from all six categories has been collected. The physical coin will be valued at a symbolic 19.18 euros to represent the iconic date in the country’s history.

A YouTube video depicting the launch shows the coins as square tokens, possibly to symbolize their place on the blockchain. The silver token will be credit-card sized also depicting the Act of Independence and its signatories.

The announcement continued to state that the offering is another step in implementing the Bank of Lithuania’s strategic direction in the field of innovation and fintech. It aims to help local and international businesses increase their knowledge of blockchain and the comfort of crypto assets.

Last year the small Baltic nation revamped its regulatory framework for crypto assets for fear of Russian money laundering. However, it has a positive stance towards the industry in general as it competes for crypto supremacy with equally enthusiastic neighbors.

Will other central banks offer crypto collectibles? Add your thoughts below.

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What Happened To Bitcoin’s Promised Influx Of Institutional Investors?

The next big bitcoin bull-run was supposed to be led by an incoming swathe of institutional money. Lured in by potential profits unheard of in traditional investment products, and reassured by trusted brands offering institutional-grade custodial solutions. So what happened?

Patience Is A Virtue

According to Bloomberg, the biggest investors are still on the sidelines biding their time, while crypto-based hedge-funds are closing in droves. Almost 70 have closed this year, which mostly catered to pensions, family offices and wealthy individuals. The number of new funds launching in 2019 was less than half that of last year.

Of course, we are also still waiting for the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to pull its finger out and finally approve a Bitcoin ETF. It has spent the entire year delaying decisions on two such applications, before finally running out of postponement options and rejecting them.

This was in spite of the fact that SEC Commissioner Robert J. Jackson Jr stated back in February that a Bitcoin ETF was inevitable.

Inroads Have Been Made

That is not to say that we haven’t seen any institutional investment so far. Analytics provider, Skew, posted a tweet-thread in response to the Bloomberg piece.

It noted that institutional foreign exchange powerhouse, LMAX, had been consistently gaining market share in the bitcoin spot market with its digital arm. It has overtaken Kraken and Bitstamp, and now processes similar volumes to Coinbase.

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) had two consecutive $1.5 billion sessions on its bitcoin futures in June, where open interest reached approximately 35% that of Bitmex. Given the differences in maximum leverage, this likely represented more collateral committed to the trades than that of the majority of high-leverage derivatives platforms.

Bakkt’s physically settled futures products also continue to gain momentum, and both Bakkt and CME will be introducing options products within the next month.

Year-End Bitcoin Blues

However, in another tweet, Skew noted that open interest on CME futures is at an over-6-month low, prompting speculation that traders were shutting down books for the end of the year.

So although it seems that institutional interest is slowly trickling upwards, we are still waiting for the promised deluge. Will 2020 be the year that we finally see a serious inflow of institutional money (and perhaps even that legendary Bitcoin ETF)?

Watch this space.

When do you think institutional investors will show up to the party? Add your thoughts below!

Images via Shutterstock, Twitter @skewdotcom

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Coinjer Scam is Making the Rounds, Here’s What You Need to Know

Coinjer bitcoin scam

The Coinjer scam is one of the latest cons to hit crypto-related social media recently. The scam primarily operates across Telegram channels and tricks people into coughing up bitcoin in order to receive more. 

The Coinjer Scam Promises BTC Rewards

The Coinjer scam is a relatively small-scale attempt to syphon away Bitcoin (BTC). The scheme offers a BTC reward, but ends up not paying it, a Reddit thread explains.

The messages spreading on Telegram promise that the user has won 0.25 BTC, and that they have to go and claim it. The Coinjer site then asks for registration. However, an actual withdrawal of 0.25 BTC is not allowed, so the user has to supply some more BTC to reach the threshold of 0.3 BTC.

However, Coinjer won’t pay even then. The scheme now requires more verification, including a KYC screening. There is also a cost for that – 0.1 BTC, as another user on Reddit noted. Thus, Coinjer not only steals BTC, but also potentially electronic and real-world identities too.

It seems the scheme has also moved beyond English-speaking social media, and now operates among Asian users too.

The Coinjer name also spoofs CoinJar, a legitimate crypto-payment service.

Coinjer has been called “the most elaborate crypto scam”, but it actually bears a lot of resemblance to old-fashioned mail-order scams, which required a payment to release the promised price. Even after paying up, the scams would typically continue to withhold the money.

Scams Revived in 2019

Scams and attempts to take crypto coins usually accelerate during boom times, and fold during bear markets. Currently, the so-called Ethereum giveaway scams appear to have diminished from Twitter. At the same time, pyramid-like schemes reappear, usually attempting to contact naive investors directly.

In 2019, the PlusToken scam operated for months in China, taking away more than $3 billion in BTC. Additionally, the HEX scheme is now growing its base, attempting to take ETH tokens, but also potentially BTC.

Telegram has been one of the hotbeds for scam activity, including the spreading of faked ICO deposit addresses, tainted wallets, as well as impersonating ICO leaders. The Coinjer scam is directly asking for bitcoin, instead of attempting to sell another coin or token.

What do you think about the Coinjer scam? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Images via Shutterstock, Twitter @cryptoprin2

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