News: DeFi pickled, Binance sues Forbes, crypto Ponzi via underwater scooter

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It has been [0] days since the last DeFi exploit

Pickle Finance — love these DeFi names — fell victim to a smart contract exploit on 21 November. Here’s how the “Evil Jar” attack worked in detail. [Github] Pickle was a fork of Yearn, and the two have now merged. [CoinDesk]

(“Wow, I’m so glad we’re in this new paradigm. Imagine trusting old, crusty, boring banks with your money. Pickle finance, now that’s a brand that has an air of professionalism and reliability. That’s a brand you’d trust your savings with.” — Cthulhooo, /r/buttcoin)

The Origin Dollar protocol was launched in September and taken for $7 million on 17 November, in another attack via flash loans. A blog post from the project details the attack. They expect to be a couple more weeks sorting out the mess. [blog post; CoinTelegraph]

The venerable older DeFi protocol, Compound — it’s been going months, not just weeks — just got exploited again by an attack on one of the “oracles” it reads prices from. Someone pumped the price of the DAI token on Coinbase, and $89 million of DAI loan collateral on Compound got liquidated. [Decrypt]

A DeFi user helpfully strengthens the security of the Ethereum network — he pays some lucky miner $10,208 for a transaction. The transaction fails anyway — “It was a swap with a smart contract on uni [UniSwap]. The swap failed because of slippage.” [Reddit; Etherscan]

Weasels are demanding a more “weasel-friendly” approach to weasel regulation on the part of the weasel exterminators — the V20 Virtual Asset Service Providers Summit wants the Financial Action Task Force to ease up on its proposed rules to stop crypto money laundering:

Jones said FATF only needs to look at the fast-evolving world of decentralized finance (DeFi) to see how incongruous the traditional system of checking transactions created half a century ago by SWIFT is becoming.

I think if FATF knew their plans would take out DeFi, they’d consider it serendipity in action.

I’ve long said that crypto people need to understand that the SEC and CFTC are pro-business — they don’t see their job as dousing the party, they want you to go out and get rich! Just don’t break rules that exist for good reasons. The FATF, on the other hand, totally want to douse the party — they’re the humorless cops.

I’d suggest that if you want the authorities to have a positive view of DeFi, it needs to be known for qualities other than offering Ponzi-like interest rates and getting exploited every week or so. [CoinDesk]



Better get a lawyer, son

Binance weren’t happy that Forbes revealed what was allegedly their weasel-sharp plan to dance around US regulation. They’re suing Forbes and the journalists who wrote the story, Michael del Castillo and Jason Brett, for defamation. [press release]

Suing a news outlet for defamation in the US is incredibly difficult. You have to show actual malice — a contemptuous disregard for the truth This is even trickier when you’re suing a proper news outlet that has money and lawyers.

The Binance complaint against Forbes is 13 pages of dumb and bad. The best I can say about this complaint is that it’s correctly formatted and says the required words — except the ones showing any evidence whatsoever for its extremely strong claims. If the suit goes forward, Forbes gets to do discovery, and Binance is gonna get slaughtered.

It’s possible that Binance is playing twelve-dimensional chess here — but my mate William of Ockham says we might want to consider the theory that this is just stupid. [Complaint, PDF; case docket]

There’s another suit against the BitMEX crypto derivatives exchange, alleging market manipulation. This and the previous suit in May were both filed by Pavel Pogodin of Consensus Law. The suit describes how the crypto market worked from 2018 through 2020 — pumps and dumps to burn the margin traders: [The Block]

A money launderer (Defendant) would open two exchange accounts — a helper account on one or more exchanges used by BitMEX to calculate its index price (Coinbase Pro, Kraken and BitStamp) and a winner account on BitMEX. The money launderer would then enter into a large leveraged derivatives position on BitMEX and immediately execute market orders from the helper account with maximum slippage to move the index price in a favorable direction.

Andrew Chapin of Benja has been busted by the SEC for lying his backside off to investors, about nonexistent corporate partnerships. Surprisingly, this was not about Chapin’s 2017 ICO for Benjacoin. [SEC press release; complaint, PDF]

Tether money mule Reggie Fowler’s lawyers want to quit because he can’t pay them — and he appears to be stiffing them, while paying other lawyers. The lawyers took a small retainer because they expected a plea deal — but then Fowler rejected the plea deal and the case is going to trial. [Amy Castor]

What we need in crypto is more flamboyant crooks — or, at least, more buoyant ones. Matthew Piercey of Shasta Country, northern California, ran a Ponzi that included “cryptocurrency mining” as one of its claimed investments. The authorities were in hot pursuit, so Piercey dived into a lake with an underwater scooter to evade them. He scooted around under the surface for half an hour while FBI agents waited to arrest him when he came out. [Sacramento Bee; NBC]



Regulatory clarity for Coinbase

Crypto exchange Coinbase reported its customers’ earnings to the Internal Revenue Service, as required by law. Unfortunately, they used the wrong version of Form 1099 — and now customers are getting scary tax bills for 2018. These are correctable — but contact your accountant. You have an accountant, right? [blog post]

Coinbase will be sending Form 1099-MISC for the 2020 tax year. Note that these still don’t have a space for the cost basis — what you originally spent on your coins. [Coinbase blog; CoinDesk]

Brian Armstrong of Coinbase has tweeted about a rumour that Steve Mnunchin, the US treasurer, will seek to enforce FATF proposals against self-hosted wallets before he leaves with the rest of the Trump administration. If you hold your own coins, you’ll have a hell of a time getting those coins into the crypto exchange system that touches actual money, without a convincing chain of provenance. [Twitter]

So far I know of no other backing detail than that Twitter thread. Something like this has been long-anticipated — so it’s not a surprise as such — but this rumour is all we have to say it’s happening right now.

Switzerland enacted a similar rule on 1 January 2020 — all transactions over 1,000 CHF must be documented per the FATF travel rule, and prove the ownership of self-hosted coins. [Notabene]



Things happen

China runs another “internal test” (don’t say “pilot”!) of their DC/EP central bank digital currency — this time in Suzhou and Chengdu in December. [CoinDesk]

How to hack exchanges: attack their cheap-arse hosting or DNS providers. Fraudsters social-engineered domain registrar GoDaddy, and changed email and DNS records for “a number of cryptocurrency trading platforms”. [Krebs On Security]

Brazil’s Pix retail real-time settlement system has launched — the one that Facebook tried and failed to gazump with WhatsApp Pay. WhatsApp Pay Brazil will now back onto Pix. [Reuters]

Binance is sending notices to US users telling them to get off the exchange immediately. Any user receiving a notice has 14 days to comply before their accounts are closed. [CoinDesk]

Ernst & Young, trying to scrape up as much cash from Quadriga as possible, has sold Gerry Cotten’s plane. (Spotted by Amy Castor.) [Transport Canada]

One Russian’s efficient use of electricity that would otherwise be wasted is duly recognised by the local fire department! If you set up a crypto mining farm in your apartment, be sure to add a cooling system. [; CoinDesk]



Hot takes

Dan Schulman, CEO of PayPal, explains why they added Bitcoin — in a spew of rambling disconnected blockchain promotional bilge that makes no sense in terms of PayPal’s actual crypto offering. Of course, that Schulman is a hodler had no influence on his decision to spend corporate money promoting Bitcoin. (Starts at 5:27.) [CNN YouTube]

The orange site goes in hard on Tether. It’s heartwarming to see. [Hacker News]

Zombie Battlegrounds was a “blockchain powered” game that raised over $300,000 — then dropped off the face of the earth. One year after the last update, one ex-employee realises he still has access to the Zombie Battlegrounds Kickstarter account — and shares details of just what did and didn’t happen, and the alleged business practices of CEO and co-founder Matthew Campbell. [Kickstarter, archive; Reddit]

Elections on the blockchain! As part of a sting operation to prevent voter fraud, the government added either a “QFS watermark” or a “quantum blockchain watermark” to mail-in ballots that will one day reveal US President Donald Trump as the true winner of the 2020 presidential election. Or not. [Reddit; Snopes]

I have been scammed 6 months ago. Now someone is calling me from BTC REFUND DEPARTMENT. He said that I have under my name the bitcoins that have been scammed. Is this a scam? [Bitcoin StackExchange]



Libra shrugs some more

CryptoBriefing quotes me on the rumours of Facebook launching Libra in January 2021. [CryptoBriefing]

Libra Shrugged is reviewed in CryptoTips. [CryptoTips]

Today’s podcast interview is with South Mimms U, about the problem with Libra — that you can’t take the piss out of it more effectively than just describing it. [South Mimms U]

Podcast I Don’t Speak German mentions both Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain and Libra Shrugged in Episode 72, around 53 minutes in — in a segment about the Winklevoss twins. [Libsyn]





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