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Daily fraud update: 1st April

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Binance back in spotlight as lawsuit filed

The cryptocurrency exchange Binance was back in the crypto media spotlight this week after someone who claimed to be a community moderator there took the firm to court.

Steven Reynolds, who claims that he worked for the firm in the second half of 2017, has filed a lawsuit with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

In it, he claims that Binance asked him to delete a chat thread which was located on the messaging app Telegram.

He was allegedly later approached by the CEO of the firm, Changpeng Zhao – and was allegedly threatened if he failed to comply.

According to Reynolds’ lawsuit, Binance then acted to prevent Reynolds from removing the cryptocurrency he had in his account.

He claims that Binance then locked him out of the service – leaving his hundreds of thousands of US dollars’ worth of crypto in limbo.

“Reynolds attempted to restore his account through Binance customer service, but his access was restricted”, the lawsuit reads.

“Reynolds could no longer access his account, and he could not access his digital currency assets stored thereon. At the time, Reynolds’ Binance account was holding approximately $285,000 worth of digital currencies.

“Months later, on or about March 31, 2018, Reynolds was able to regain access to his Binance account. However, his account balance was zero”, it adds.

Reynolds is asking the court to award him a significant amount of damages – covering what the lawsuit describes as “all injuries suffered as a result of Defendants’ wrongdoing in an amount to be determined at trial but believed to be not less than $337,500.”

However, Binance has hit back.

In a strongly worded statement, it claimed that Reynolds in fact wanted to preserve the Telegram group for his own ends.

It described the group as “misappropriated” following Reynolds’ alleged decision, and also claimed that Reynolds removed some members of Binance staff from the chat.

It also went on to outline some of what it claims is the broader picture of the relationship between Reynolds and Binance.

“[Zhao] tried to ask Steve to do the right thing by giving up the misappropriated chat group or at least removing all of the Binance community users from the group to eliminate risk of misrepresentation or fraud, but Steve refused”, Binance alleged.

“Steve said that Binance can keep the crypto in his Binance account, but he will not release the users in the misappropriated chat group.

“While working as a Binance community moderator, Steve also displayed other highly questionable behaviours, including funnelling leads for Binance to his personal LinkedIn account, and publishing a post on Reddit claiming to offer Binance users personal services with their accounts”, it added.

This lawsuit does not appear to be the first time that the two sides have considered using the law to settle the score.

“After the debacle in 2018, we wanted to sue Steve for damages but we could not locate him”, Binance added.