‘Crypto exchange’ Goxtrade caught using other people’s photos on its staff page

Alleged cryptocurrency exchange Goxtrade bills itself as a “trusted platform for trading bitcoins,” but its staff page is filled with photos of people pulled seemingly at random from the internet.

The alleged exchange, which claimed to debut in 2017 yet its website is only a little more than a week old, used photos taken from social media profiles and other company websites not associated with the company.

Bizarrely, the alleged exchange didn’t bother to change all of the names of the people whose photos it used.

Amber Baldet, co-founder of Clovyr, a prominent figure in the blockchain community, and listed in Fortune’s 40 Under 40, was one of the people whose name and photos appeared on the site.

“Fraud alert: I am not a developer at Goxtrade and probably their entire business is a lie,” she tweeted Friday.

Nearly all of the names are accurate but have no connection to the site (Image: TechCrunch)

Goxtrade claims to be an exchange that lets users “receive, send and trade cryptocurrency.” After we created an account and signed in, it’s not clear if the site even works. But the online chat room has hundreds of messages of users trying to trade their cryptocurrencies. The site’s name appears to associate closely with Mt. Gox, a failed cryptocurrency exchange that collapsed after it was hacked. At its 2014 peak, the exchange handled more than 70% of all bitcoin transactions. More than $450 million in bitcoins were stolen in the apparent breach.

Baldet isn’t the only person wrongly associated with the suspect site.

TechCrunch has confirmed the other photos on the site belong to other people seemingly chosen at random — including a claims specialist in Illinois, a lawyer in Germany and an operations manager in Melbourne.

Another person whose photo was used without permission is Tom Blomfield, chief executive of digital bank Monzo. In a tweet, Blomfield — who was listed on the alleged exchange as “Arnold Blomfield” — said his legal team has filed complaints with the site’s hosts.

But things get weirder than just stolen staff photos.

Hours after the site was first flagged, Cloudflare now warns users that the alleged exchange is a suspected phishing site (Image: TechCrunch)

Goxtrade lists its registered address as Heron Tower, one of the new skyscrapers in London. We checked the listings and there’s no company listed in the building of the same name. There’s also no mention of Goxtrade in the U.K.’s registry of companies and businesses. When we checked its listed registered number per its terms and conditions page, the listing points to an entirely unrelated clothing company in Birmingham that dissolved two years ago.

Later in the day, networking giant Cloudflare, which provides its service, flagged the site as a phishing site.

We reached out to Goxtrade by email prior to publication but did not hear back. When we checked, Goxtrade’s mail records was pointing to an email address run by Yandex, a Russian internet company.

It’s not the first time a cryptocurrency startup has been called into question for using other people’s photos on their staff pages. After raising more than $830,000, Miroskii was caught listing actor Ryan Gosling as one of its graphic designers. Almost every photo later transpired to have been lifted from another source. The company later claimed it was hacked.

Cryptocurrency-related scams are not rare. Many have taken what they’ve raised and gone dark, never to be seen again. We’ve covered a fair number here on TechCrunch, including a massive $660 million scam from 2018.

A fair warning with Goxtrade: all signs seem to point to yet another scam.

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Coinbase Earn now lets users in 100+ countries earn crypto by solving quizzes

Coinbase has a new way for users to earn crypto.
Coinbase has a new way for users to earn crypto.
Image: Coinbase

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase today launched its Earn product, which lets users earn cryptocurrency by solving tasks, trying out new decentralized protocols and answering quizzes, in more than 100 countries. 

The list of countries where Earn is now available includes the United States, UK, most of EU, Canada, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Korea, and Taiwan, the company has announced. 

Additionally, users from countries that are not on the list can get verified and join a waitlist to become eligible for Earn. 

As for eligibility criteria, besides being in the right geographical location, it also includes ID verification and a checkup for fraud from Coinbase. 

Originally launched in 2018, Earn lets users earn crypto by performing tasks related to five crypto projects: Stellar Lumens, Zcash, Basic Attention Token and 0x, with “many more” coming soon. 

“Coinbase Earn has allowed us to introduce more than 100,000 people to the vibrant ecosystem of 0x relayers and our vision for a tokenized world. It’s the single best channel for reaching shrewd crypto enthusiasts,” 0x co-founder Will Warren said in a statement. 

Image: Coinbase

The tasks one needs to perform include watching short videos and answering quizzes about a particular project, or inviting friends to join Earn. The rewards range from $1 to $40, depending on the project and the task, in each project’s respective currency.  

Disclosure: The author of this text owns, or has recently owned, a number of cryptocurrencies, including BTC and ETH.

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Major U.S. retailers are now accepting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency

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Those taking the digital money include clothing store Nordstrom, grocer Whole Foods, and movie chain Regal Cinemas. The move is thanks to a new deal between payment network Flexa and digital asset platform Gemini.  Read more…

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Binance resumes trading following $40M bitcoin hack

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has resumed trading activity. Users can now cancel open orders, deposit crypto assets into their Binance account, and of course buy and sell cryptocurrencies. You can’t withdraw crypto assets to an external wallet just yet, but the company says that this feature will be available shortly.

Last week, the company suffered from a data breach that resulted in hackers stealing the equivalent of over $40 million in bitcoin. Hackers stole API keys, two-factor codes and other information in order to transfer over 7,000 bitcoins to their own wallets. Binance covered the bitcoins lost with its own funds.

Shortly after the company noticed the hack, the company blocked some features on the platform in order to perform a security review. In particular, withdrawals and deposits have been frozen for a week so that hackers can’t steal more crypto assets.

Given that anybody can track the stolen bitcoins by looking up transactions on the bitcoin blockchain, Binance has been talking with other exchanges in order to track and freeze the stolen assets.

Binance’s own cryptocurrency BNB is currently trading up 19.6 percent against bitcoin compared to 24 hours ago.

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Coinbase expands USDC stablecoin support to 85 countries

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is ramping up stablecoin support around the world. Customers can now trade USD Coin (or USDC for short) in 85 countries — USDC support was only available in the U.S. excluding NY. You can trade USDC on both Coinbase and Coinbase Pro.

The company has been aggressive when it comes to international expansion. Coinbase is currently available in over 100 countries — 85 out of 103 countries support USDC. But there’s a trick. Many countries can only exchange crypto assets for other assets — there’s no crypto-to-fiat conversions.

As the name suggests, a USDC is a token that is worth exactly 1 USD. Its value is stable against USD. That’s why people call this type of assets stablecoins. Coinbase and other USDC partners store USD in a bank account every time they issue a token.

And it’s clear that many customers living in countries suffering from inflation are going to love USDC. For instance, Argentina had a 47 inflation rate in 2018 alone. Rents, mortgages and basic goods end up costing a lot more than before. Your savings also represent a smaller sum of money if you convert it to USD.

Many people have already been using cryptocurrencies to avoid inflation. But it also creates tremendous risks as most cryptocurrencies still suffer from price fluctuation.

USDC could be part of the solution. You could use an exchange to convert some bitcoins into USDC and then store them on a secure wallet.

Here’s a list of new countries with crypto-to-crypto trading: Angola, Armenia, Aruba, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Cameroon, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyrsztan, Macau, Maldives, Mauritius, Mauritius, Mongolia, Montenegro, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Oman, Panama, Paraguay, Rwanda, Serbia, South Africa, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Zambia.

Correction: A previous version of this article said USDC was already available in 35 countries and expanding to 50 additional countries. USDC was only available in the U.S. (excluding NY) and is expanding to 84 new countries today.

Disclosure: I own small amounts of various cryptocurrencies.

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