Daily fraud news: 2nd January

Chris Lee

Ethereum developer accused of sanction breaking released on bail

A man who worked as a developer on the Ethereum project has been released from prison to his parents’ residence in the US state of Alabama.

Virgil Griffith, who is accused of having contravened the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by attending a crypto conference in North Korea, has been released on bail.

In the unusual case, Griffith is accused of breaking sanctions against North Korea by having taken the trip.

According to a Twitter thread posted by Matthew Russell Lee, who operates the account “@innercitypress”, Griffith was told on Monday that he would be released for now – although there are conditions attached.

It is understood that his bail has been secured against the homes of various family members.

In the tweets, Lee quoted a number of statements made in the court and attributed them to Judge Vernon Broderick, who operates in the Southern District Court of New York.

“If you were in North Korea, you wouldn’t be having a bond hearing”, Broderick is believed to have said.

“Laws in this country are not suggestions… Assisting foreign governments with money laundering is illegal”, he is quoted as having added.

Lawyers for Griffith responded to this by saying Griffith has not been charged with any money laundering crimes.

Griffith no longer works for the Ethereum Foundation, although according to Griffith, it was stated in court that the foundation has been “supportive”.

“Judge Broderick asks if Virgil would continue working. Klein says he’s suspended from Ethereum Foundation, though that they’ve been supportive. This case has nothing to do with Ethereum Foundation, he says”, Lee wrote.

Lee added that the court even made the suggestion of having the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, accompany Griffith on his flight back to Alabama.

“Upshot: for Virgil Griffith, SDNY Judge Broderick is allowing release on bond, to Alabama with his parents as ‘moral suasion.’ Proposes FBI agents escort Griffith to flights”, Lee said.

Investigation into FoPay reveals “suspicious movements”

An investigation carried out by an online magazine has revealed that e-wallet provider FoPay has “suspicious movements” in its price history.

FoPay claimed last month (December 2019) that it had purchased an Estonian crypto platform called AliExchange for 1m Foin tokens, which is FoPay’s own cryptocurrency.

According to Foin’s price then, the deal was believed by some to have a value of around $2.1bn.

However, according to Cointelegraph, there may be more to it than meets the eye – and it may have pumped up the price of the token.

“Looking deeper into Foin’s price movements and the companies’ operations, Cointelegraph discovered a number of red flags”, it said.

“The token came into existence in late July 2018, at a price around $400, gradually gaining in value throughout 2019 until a sharp upturn from $1,492 on Nov. 1 to around $2,574 on Dec. 15, when the company unveiled the exchange acquisition and announced a suspension of investor withdrawals”, it added.

Chris Lee

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