Fraudsters fined $360,000 for running bogus Bitcoin trading ring, impersonating CFTC

A Texas federal court has granted a motion for a default judgement against two individuals who solicited money by fraudulently representing the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CTFC) in a bid to extract Bitcoin from investors.

Defendants Morgan Hunt and Kim Hecroft were ordered to pay almost $400,000 in civil monetary penalties and restitution in connection with the lawsuit.

A US District Court found that Hunt, operating as Diamonds Trading Investment House, and Hecroft, operating as First Options Trading, ran a fraudulent program to solicit Bitcoin from citizens to invest in trading products including leveraged or margined foreign currency contracts, binary options, and diamonds.

The defendants used Facebook and email to get Bitcoin from citizens, falsely claiming that they would use the funds to invest in trading for the benefit of their customers.

As traders, they misrepresented their portfolio management experience, and falsely told customers they were not allowed to withdraw their purported investment profits without first paying a tax to the CFTC. They also misappropriated customer funds.

Hunt’s and Hecroft’s actions included providing fake account statements, impersonating a CFTC investigator, and sending forged documents purportedly authored by the CFTC’s General Counsel and bearing an image of the CFTC’s official seal.

Hunt and Hercroft will each have to pay restitution and a $180,000 civil monetary penalty.

They have also received a permanent trading and registration ban.

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Tech journalist breaks first rule of holding cryptocurrency, loses $30,000

It’s never funny when someone is scammed or robbed of their cryptocurrency. It’s especially bad when the victim is at the mercy of attackers and seemingly can’t do anything to get their money back.

That’s the situation tech journalist Monty Munford has been left in after losing over $30,000 (£25,000) worth of cryptocurrency. The writer and journalist shared his account with the BBC as a warning to Bitcoin beginners who might be thinking about making their first step in to, as Munford put it, “the murky world of cryptocurrency investment.”

How Munford lost his cryptocurrency is painfully simple and it boils down to breaking the first law of holding cryptographically secured digital assets. He did not take adequate precautions to secure his private key.

Munford decided to use myetherwalleom to store his cryptocurrency, in this case Ethereum. While he did make a physical copy of his private key, he also stored it in his Gmail drafts so it was always to hand.

This was strike one, and sadly, it was the only strike he’d be granted. After letting his Ethereum investment mature to around £25,000 he logged on to check his wallet only to find it was empty.

It’s not immediately clear how crooks made off with Munford’s cryptocurrency. But given that he stored his private key on a cloud service from his computer, it’s possible this was illicitly obtained and used to drain his funds.

As it happens, myetherwalleom recommends using your private key to access your wallet only as a last resort. The most recommended? Hardware wallets .

Despite contacting the authorities, enlisting the help of numerous friends, and working with specialist cryptocurrency bounty-hunters CipherBlade, his funds are still nowhere to be found.

As Munford points out, there are no organizations like the UK‘s Financial Services Compensation Scheme which guarantees £85,000 held in UK bank accounts.

When it comes to cryptocurrency there are no safety nets. You, the investor, the holder, the individual, are solely responsible for the safe-keeping of your coins. Your private key and seed phrase are incredibly important, no key means no coins.

Of course, it can be a pain having to write out a private key, but when there’re large amounts of money at stake, always take the necessary precautions.

Sadly this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. A crypto YouTuber lost $2 million during a livestream after “securing” his private keys in Evernote.

Hunter Jones

Hunter Jones

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