Articles Tagged with Gemini

Chicago-based Stoltmann Law Offices is representing clients who’ve suffered losses from advisors who sold clients cryptocurrencies that have lost value and investors who have lost funds due to identity theft, fraud, and hacking involving their crypto-currency accounts.  One of the biggest stories in finance, has been the epic crash of cryptocurrencies, which were pitched as profitable alternatives to cash, stocks, and bonds. “Cryptos” were sold as sure-fire hedges against inflation, but as inflation continued to rise, digital currencies kept heading south in a big way.

Worse yet, the overselling of cryptos has been tied to $1 billion losses in outright scams involving more than 46,000 people, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). As with most swindles, investors were enticed with the promise of quick wealth with no risk. The “Crypto Crash” goes beyond the perils of high inflation and supply chain issues, though. Many observers believe the promise of crypto wealth is actually a Ponzi scheme that’s not linked to any underlying legitimate investment and is fueled by a stream of new investors being duped by the illusion of instant wealth.

The decline in some cryptos has been devastating. According to Robert Reich in The Guardian: “TerraUSD, a `stablecoin,” – a system that was supposed to perform a lot like a conventional bank account, but was backed only by a cryptocurrency called Luna – collapsed, losing 97% of its value in just 24 hours, apparently destroying some investors’ life savings.”

Stoltmann Law Offices, P.C. represents investors who have lost cryptocurrency as a result of hacks and theft from their accounts.  In December 2021, a security breach at crypto-exchange BitMart resulted in customers losing more than $200 million in cryptocurrency.  What is newsworthy, is that since May 2022, the Federal Trade Commission has been investigating BitMart in connection with this hacking incident.  According to court filings, the FTC is evaluating 1) whether BitMart engaged in deceptive, unfair, or otherwise unlawful acts or practices regarding the marketing and representations made by BitMart to its clients about account security, in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 45; and 2) violations of Gramm Leach Bliley Act, 15 U.S.C. Sections 6801-27, which is a federal law that, amongst other things, requires financial institutions to protect the private information of its customers.

This investigation is significant because it is reportedly the first time the FTC has investigated the crypto-exchange market. Surely, the ten-fold increase in crypto-related hacks and identity thefts from 2020-2021, has drawn the attention of the FTC, which investigates scams and identity thefts on behalf of consumers. Also significant is the possible application of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act to crypto-currency exchanges.  Since their inception, exchanges like Coinbase, Voyager, and Gemini, to name a few, have heavily lobbied Washington to stay out of their business.  These exchanges are profit centers for their owners and shareholders and they do not need layers of consumer protection regulations to crimp their style. Recently, as hacking, identity theft incidents, and bankruptcies rock the crypto-exchange world, whispers of CFTC and SEC regulations are becoming calls for action.

Crypto-Exchanges argue consistently that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are not securities – because if they are, then the purchase, sale, and exchange of Bitcoin will have to be handled like any securities transaction offered through a brokerage firm. What’s the big deal?  Securities Exchange registration would require companies like Coinbase to spend exponentially more money on compliance, surveillance, and supervision of accounts to ensure record keeping, and security, as opposed to taking all that money they generate in transaction fees, and allowing their founder to buy the most expensive real estate in Los Angeles County.  Notwithstanding all of the representations about account security and how crypto-exchanges prioritize account security, their resistance to registering as securities brokers/dealers should tell consumers all they need to know about how they prioritize consumer protections over profit.

Chicago-based Stoltmann Law Offices is representing investors who’ve suffered losses from firms that have not protected crypto assets. In this cyber age, some of the biggest thefts don’t involve masked robbers and guns. They happen online as thieves are increasingly stealing digital currencies and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), which are valuable digital images. In the first quarter of this year alone, cyberthieves have robbed some $1.3 billion in hacking events, according to Atlas VPN.

How do thieves pull off these heists? They break into so-called online “digital wallets,” or online exchanges where investors store cyber currencies like Bitcoin. Unlike bank vaults with thick steel doors, these virtual storerooms can be accessed any number of ways through the internet. Third parties act as repositories for the currencies and include:

  • The Ethereum ecosystem was hacked 18 times, resulting in a loss of almost $636 million.

Stoltmann Law Offices is a Chicago-based securities, investment fraud, and class action law firm offering representing to defrauded investors and victims of fraud nationwide on a contingency fee basis.  We have been closely monitoring allegations that IRA Financial Trust account owners had over $36 million in crypto-currency stolen from their IRAs through a hack of their system on or around February 8, 2022. IRA Financial partners with Gemini Trust Co. to offer the opportunity for its self-directed retirement account clients to invest in cryptocurrency. IRA Financial represents on its website that “Our Trust company’s focus on compliance and security is based on three principles: State regulated, Industry-leading technology, and FDIC protection of cash up to $250,000 through Capital One.” The company goes on the admit that it “must meet the capitalization, compliance, anti-money laundering, consumer protection, and cybersecurity requirements set forth by the South Dakota Division of Banking, and protect the interests of our customers first and foremost.” In specifically representing their stringent “Infrastructure Security”, IRA Financial Trust represents that:

  • We leverage the content-security policy (CSP) and HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) features found in modern browsers.
  • We partner with enterprise vendors to mitigate distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.
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