Start-up LoopX Disappears, Taking With It $4.5 Million Following ICO

After raising $4.5 million in a series of initial coin offerings (ICOs), cryptocurrency start-up LoopX has disappeared — along with the cash that investors provided — in what appears to be the most recent exit scam to plague the cryptocurrency community.

Once a company with an active online presence, LoopX has entirely disappeared from the internet. The company’s website is no longer online and its social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Telegram, have been deleted.

The founders of LoopX told early backers that their team had been building an investment platform that would utilize a proprietary trading algorithm. According to a cached version of the company’s website, it planned to offer the “most advanced loop trading software to date.” A quote from the defunct website read as follows: “After testing our algorithm thoroughly over half a year with great profits continuously every month, we can now finally bring all this advantages of our LoopX – Trading Software to the public.”

LoopX made a number of bold claims to investors, including the promise of “guaranteed profits every week” and “great profits continuously every month.” The company also claimed that cryptocurrency markets were “projected to grow up to 10 times the size of now until the next year.”

The company’s white paper — which, unsurprisingly, has also been scrubbed from the internet — offered similar language. “Finally the opportunity is here for the common investor to be part of a revolution and be finally free, financially free… Our top priority is to give you an opportunity to sit back, let us do the work and watch your money grow.”

“Our software handles over 10,000 trades per second and calculates over 100 currencies at a time,” the LoopX website read. “Always looking for those opportunities to make profits bigger then 10 percent, which will payed out to our members on a weekly basis.”

Off the backs of all these promises, the company raised about $4.5 million, including 276 Bitcoin and 2,446 Ethereum. In hindsight, it’s surprising that investors put so much faith into a company that was using a lot of incorrect language and grammar — something not indicative of a “core group of high performance professionals” that LoopX was apparently formed around. 

In an ICO, an investor is given a token in exchange for an investment of cash or another cryptocurrency. The idea is that if a company is successful, the token will gain value over time and the investor will eventually be able to bring-in major returns. For more information about ICOs, check out our article The Biggest Threat to an ICO and How to Avoid It.

In the case of LoopX, it appears the money put forth by investors is gone, along with the company itself in what appears to be a classic exit scam — a con job where a company accepts money for a service that it never intends on providing.


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Canadian investors will soon be able to get exposure to the rapidly growing market for the specialised computer components that power the world’s Bitcoin mining farms. Hut 8 Mining Corp., backed by Bitfury Group Ltd., is poised to launch on the TSX Venture Exchange in Toronto later this month. Bitfury is the main competition to the Chinese mining rig manufacturing behemoth that is Jihan Wu’s Bitmain Technologies Ltd.

According to investor documentation reported by Bloomberg, Bitfury already has 172 megawatts of data centers around the world and are responsible for mining over a million BTC. It’s estimated that their most recent annual revenue was in excess of $350 million. However, this pales in comparison to Bitmain’s market dominance. One source estimated that as of early December, the company were responsible for around 50% of the overall hashing power on the entire Bitcoin network. This is somewhat of a concern for a network that is supposedly completely decentralised.

Sean Clark, the CEO of Hut 8 told Bloomberg about the listing and of the opportunity to redistribute cryptocurrency mining:

“Hut 8 is a proxy for Bitfury in North America, that’s all it is… [The listing] is about access to capital and scale… We found a perfect vehicle to capitalise incredibly quickly. Bitfury now is going to rebalance the global network.”

The CEO is referring to the concentration of mining that has occurred in China over recent years largely thanks to Bitmain’s dominance. Being largely an experiment in decentralised consensus finding, such a concentration is for many the anti-thesis of what Bitcoin was supposed to achieve. Recent news about a crackdown in the cryptocurrency industry in China, plus the increased financial clout Bitfury will be able to wield following the listing should go someway to redistributing mining across the planet.

Lucas Nuzzi, an independent researcher on cryptocurrency at the New York-based Digital Asset Research elaborated on the issue of mining centralisation:

“It’s a serious centralisation concern because dependency upon a single hardware provider goes against the ethos of Bitcoin.”

The name chosen for the new listing, Hut 8, is an amusing reference to this ongoing battle for dominance in the cryptocurrency mining industry. Hut 8 was the name of the World War II data centre in which the mathematician Alan Turing finally broke the enigma code, hugely impacting the outcome of the entire conflict in favour of the Allies.

Hut 8 will be 49% owned by Bitfury with the other share being divided between various insiders and private investors. According to a presentation document, longtime crypto bull Mike Novogratz will also back the venture.

When asked about recent market volatility affecting the profitability of the new listing, Clark responded with optimism:

“We are long-term bullish on the price of Bitcoin so we expect volatility like this to occur.”

We get it. Every startup aims to be ‘disruptive’, right? The way we see it, it’s important to think big, but start small.

Here at the Rouge Project, while our overall mission is ‘to create a fair and value-driven digital marketing ecosystem that directly benefits brands, consumers, and publishers’; our goals are incremental. The way we’re fulfilling our mission is firmly rooted in what’s visible and achievable: which is why we’re starting our journey by tackling digital coupons using blockchain technology.

Intrigued? Here are 4 reasons to take a closer look at what we’re doing.

 

We’re Problem Solving In A Growth Area

The coupon industry is a huge growth area that’s at the core of traditional and digital marketing. However online coupons are completely open to fraud. Just search for discount codes for your favourite brand or online store and you’ll discover scores of shady looking sites where savvy bargain hunters post (often outdated) codes for all to see.

Why is this a bad thing? It isn’t for shoppers. But it’s disastrous for marketers and publishers. Brands have a finite amount of budget to spend on discounts and, as they did in the good old days of print advertising, issue coupons by paying to advertise them with publications that offer the most engaged audiences. But if anyone can redeem coupons once they’re visible in one place, the offer is completely worthless to those issuing them.

Another major obstacle are salespeople: agencies that take commission for the placement and performance of ads and offers. The prices they charge are rarely consistent with the value they offer. If the total cost of issuing a coupon is tied to ever-increasing costs, there’s little meaningful value left to pass on to shoppers.

That’s the battle we’ve picked. And we’re confident it’s one we can win: using the blockchain.

 

We’re Improving Processes & Fighting Fraud

We’re creating a new kind of digital coupon; fully-trackable, non-forgeable coupons that only release their value when acquired or redeemed by users.

Our decentralised apps (Dapps) are being built on the Ethereum blockchain, meaning we’re able to lock in each coupon’s value, using smart contract technology. And, in a similar way to how a bitcoin cannot be double spent (as it’s listed on a public ledger) when a coupon’s issued, the brand sending it knows that the coupon can only redeemed once, as they’re impossible to forge.

As a result, brands have full visibility of each coupon they issue; know when and where each one is redeemed; and can then attribute a monetary value to the publisher whose site the coupons were listed on. This also works in the publisher’s favour, as they have more opportunity to leverage their niche readership and command a higher premium for more targeted customer reach. And users benefit too. As there’s no sales commission being taken by middlemen, significantly reducing costs, users either gain more competitive discounts or can trade their single use coupons for Ethereum-backed tokens.

 

We’re Building A Value-Based Ecosystem

Our solution doesn’t just use the blockchain as a database; it’s a decentralised protocol that unlocks and distributes value. Not only that; we’re also creating an ecosystem that makes the direct transfer of value between brands, publishers, and users possible.

Underpinning this are our Ethereum-backed (ERC-20) utility tokens — RGEs — which prevent fraud and can be used by brands to advertise coupons with publishers; who can in turn ‘unlock’ their value, ensuring each transaction’s safety.

There will be a finite number of RGE tokens. Over time some will be burned to deter fraud. However, a large percentage of these will be made available during our ICO and pre-sales (visit our website for more details on how to participate).

 

We’re Setting The Groundwork For Broader Scope

As far we know, there are no other blockchain-based projects developing a marketing and ecommerce protocol like ours. Although we’re starting with coupons, in the longer term our platform could encompass other aspects of digital marketing; increasing security during the sale and purchase of other forms of online inventory.

By creating a scalable framework that begins with coupons, but could expand to other areas, we’re hopeful that we won’t ‘disrupt’ digital marketing in the conventional sense; instead we’ll enhance the way that it offers trust and value for everyone involved.

— — — — — —

Rouge will at the upcoming D10e Silicon Valley event on February 15–18, 2018.

Want to find out more about our work at Rouge? Read our whitepaper. Also, be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitterMedium, and GitHub. And don’t forget to join our Telegram group, where you can interact with the founders, admins, and other community members.

Rouge’s ICO token pre-sale is now on! Visit our website for full details.

You’ve heard of online pop-up ads secretly mining Bitcoin on unsuspecting users’ computers but what about digital campaigns targeting high street shoppers? According to Terence Eden’s Blog, one of the large digital advertising displays that are common fixtures in big cities these days was hacked. Rather than displaying some commercial message from a global megabrand, the machine showed what was obviously a Windows operating system with a window labelled “NiceHash Miner Legacy” – a Bitcoin mining program designed for older machines.

According to pictures from the website that reported the compromised machine, the digital advertising display is mining with a hash-rate of zero. Therefore, it’s entirely possible that the intended beneficiary of the hack isn’t receiving anything for their hard work. The author of the blog post calls for “someone cleverer than me [to] figure out which wallet starts with 3Jgi6 and is receiving these coins.”

Of course, it’s nothing special to see a broken digital advertising display showing a Windows error message. In fact, the author of the original blog post has a page dedicated to these somewhat amusing technical mistakes. However, this appears to be the first instance reported of a terminal being co-opted to mine cryptocurrency. It’s impossible to tell if the hack was the result of an external security breach, or if it’s the work of a savvy employee having a shot at making a little extra side income. Alternatively, the advertising industry might have turned their backs on hawking the latest fragrance from whichever celebrity or showing off this year’s must-have sports utility vehicle. The latter seems least likely, however.

It isn’t the first time that advertising has been used to hide cryptocurrency miners. Previously, hackers have disguised mining software into online adverts or games and used unsuspecting browsers’ machines to mine digital currency for themselves. “Cryptojacking“, as the practice is now referred to as, isn’t limited to the world of advertising either. Popular file sharing site The Pirate Bay and a WiFi provider at a Starbucks cafe in Argentina are amongst those accused of co-opting their users’ computer systems for their own benefit

 

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have shown clear signs of a pricing bubble and consumers could lose all of their money, the European Union’s banking, securities, and insurance watchdogs said today, February 12th.

The European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) for securities, banking, and insurance and pensions said in a joint statement that they were “concerned” about an increasing number of people buying virtual currencies without being aware of the risks involved.

The warning was requested by European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, who said last month that the agencies must prevent cryptocurrencies from becoming a “token for unlawful behavior.” There will be a meeting of key authorities and the private sector soon to assess the longer-term situation for cryptocurrencies beyond current market swings, he said.

“The ESAs warn consumers that VCs (virtual currencies) are highly risky and unregulated products and are unsuitable as investment, savings, or retirement planning products,” the group of watch dogs said. The agency went further, arguing that cryptocurrencies can be volatile and show “clear signs of a pricing bubble.” They added that people investing in them should be conscious of the high risk that they could “lose a large amount, or even all, of the money invested.”

Markus Ferber, Vice Chair of the European Parliament’s Economic Affairs Committee, said the warning was overdue and “Wild West” virtual currencies should be regulated like other financial instruments. “I expect the Commission to take the warnings by the three supervisory authorities seriously and issue a legislative proposal in this regard as soon as possible,” Ferber said.

As virtual currencies and the exchanges used to trade them are not regulated under EU law, the regulators warned that cryptocurrency investors are not protected in the event of an exchange going out of business or a cyber-attack.

The EU joins a number of government authorities in raising concern over cryptocurrencies. Last week Germany and France asked the Group of 20 Economies (G20) to discuss possible regulation for cryptocurrencies at its next meeting. South Korea recently introduced measures to tackle speculation in the sector, banning the use of anonymous bank accounts in cryptocurrency trading. And Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said recently that his government will take measures to “eliminate” the use of cryptocurrencies in “illegitimate activities or as part of the payment system.”

Looking outside these recent announcements from governmental bodies and agencies, it’s not all doom and gloom. Across Europe smaller banks are looking forward to giving investors access to cryptocurrencies without any major hurdles, and some are even offering advice on initial coin offerings as well. Two stand-outs are Falcon Bank and Vontobel, you can read more about them here.

We are closing in on the end of the European session in the bitcoin price and it’s time to put together a strategy that we can use in an attempt to draw a profit from the market on any volatility as and when it plays out tonight. In this morning’s analysis, we said that we were looking for an upside break to validate some degree of bullish momentum near term. We did get the break but have subsequently seen price weaken somewhat and we are heading into the session this evening from a slightly depressed position as compared to our entry points early this morning.

With that said, however, the fact that we are seeing volatility is enough in and of itself to give us something to look forward to moving forward so, let’s get some levels in place. As ever, take a quick look at the chart below before we get started so as to get an idea where things stand and where we are looking to jump in and out of the markets according to rules of our intraday strategy. The chart is a one-minute candlestick chart and it has our primary range overlaid in green.

As the chart shows, then, the range that we are looking at for the session this evening comes in as defined by support to the downside at 8570 resistance to the upside at 8636.

We are going to looking out for a close above resistance to validate a bullish entry towards an immediate upside target of 8750.

A stop loss on the trade somewhere in the region of 8600 flat will ensure that we are taken out of the position if and when things turn against us.

Looking the other way, if we see price close below support, we will enter short towards a downside target of 8500. A stop loss on this one in and around 8600, again, looks good from a risk management perspective.

Charts courtesy of Trading View

2017 was a memorable year for the crypto world. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have seen a significant growth and wider adoption while numerous projects raised millions of dollars in capital via Initial Coin Offerings (ICO). Some call it the future of money, others say it’s a bubble. Whichever it turns out to be in the end, the recent upsurge in Bitcoin’s price and the whole crypto market suggests that it isn’t going anywhere soon…

There is no doubt that we are in times of a present-day Gold Rush and nobody wants to miss out on the extraordinary returns if products hit critical mass and investors get in early. So the question is, which sectors are likely to winners in 2018?

Answer: you can ‘t go wrong with gambling. In 2013 just over 50% of all bitcoin transactions were related to gambling. Moreover, since 2014, roughly 3.7 million BTC has been wagered equating to $37 billion USD at the time of writing. The crypto gambling market size is constantly increasing but is only a tip of the iceberg compared to the global online gambling industry. One upcoming ICO is seeking to disrupt the industry by taking a new approach to gambling and offering new opportunities.

ZeroEdge.Bet is a new type of blockchain based online casino whose business model revolves around its cryptocurrency’s value growth rather than the cash flow from casino games like in traditional model. As a result, all casino games at ZeroEdge.Bet are with 0% house edge, meaning players have just as much chance of winning as the house. The casino will also offer a first-ever 0% commission sports betting exchange where players can choose to bet on a multitude of different leagues and sports.

The simple feature that makes Zero Edge model work is that all betting on the platform is performed using Zero Edge Casino’s cryptocurrency named ZERO. The supply of ZERO tokens is fixed, so as demand and adoption of ZERO token grows, so does its value (Based on Metcalfe’s Law). Therefore, ZERO token does not only perform certain functions on the platform, but it also presents itself as a viable long-term investment due to its design.

On November 25th, ZeroEdge.Bet had its first official introduction during Blockchain Summit Kyiv 2017. The team was in attendance to shed a light on the current online gambling market and how blockchain and smart contracts can be utilized to create a more socially responsible, sustainable and efficient gambling environment for both the players and gambling providers.

ZeroEdge will be holding its early Initial Coin Offering (ICO) this month when the public will be offered to purchase an initial supply of ZERO tokens for a discounted price.  To find out more about the project, visit https://tokensale.zeroedge.bet

Distributed ledgers can be used to record different kinds of data. While most efforts focus on the financial sector right now, there are plenty of other use cases for blockchain as well. Recording marriages on a distributed ledger is an option well worth exploring as of right now. Especially given the current marriage laws in the world, it is only normal better solutions have to be found.

Blockchain technology will transform most business models as we know them today. That is a positive situation, as a lot of business aspects can be streamlined and made cheaper. It now seems this same technology impacts our society as a whole in different ways as well. In the future, we may see more marriages being recorded on a blockchain. While that may sound strange, there’s a lot of merit to this concept as well.

Recording Global Marriages on the Blockchain

Most marriage laws have not been changed in the past few decades. While that is only normal, it also shows the time for innovation is right now. There are some ridiculous requirements to deem a marriage valid these days. It can depend on location, the certificate issues, and so forth. A unified system to record all of these ceremonies once and for all simply makes a lot more sense. Up until now, there has been no viable solution in this regard, but that will change in the near future. After all, an invalid marriage can also affect people’s immigration status and inheritance rights.

With blockchain technology, it effectively becomes possible to address most problems. A transparent global marriage registry will open up a lot of new opportunities, assuming it will be developed in the future. Such a solution provides a permanent record of couples’ intentions regardless of international boundaries. Not only does it offer protection, but it would transform the concept of marriage altogether. Decentralizing marriages will certainly introduce a lot of interesting changes in the future.

It is only a matter of time until technology affects this particular industry in a positive manner. On paper, it changes nothing in the way a marriage is conducted officially. On the administrative site, however, it certainly introduces a few interesting changes. It effectively allows for all types of marriages to be formed, assuming they are legally acceptable. A lot of new opportunities will be created, especially when it comes to same-sex marriages and polyamorous relationships. The big question is when such a platform will be built.

It’s Monday morning and it’s time to take a look at action in the bitcoin price over the weekend in an attempt to figure out how we can employ what we’ve seen to try and draw a profit from the market going forward.

As many reading will likely already be aware, things were pretty slow heading into the close of the week last week, with action not really serving up much in terms of opportunities to jump in and out of the markets.

The hope is that, as we move into the session today, things will pick up a bit and – if they do – that we can jump in and out on any volatility for a quick turnaround profit.

Nothing’s guaranteed, of course, especially given the uncertainty surrounding the current regulatory environment, but these sorts of macro factors don’t impact our approach too much.

So, with all that said, let’s get to the detail.

As ever, take a quick look at the chart below before we get started so as to get an idea where things stand. It’s a one-minute candlestick chart and it’s got our primary range overlaid in green.

As the chart shows, then, the range that we are looking at comes in as defined by support to the downside at 8739 and resistance to the upside at 8806.

We’re going to try and get into a long trade if we see price close above resistance. On the position, we’ll target 8950 and we’ll have a stop in place at 8780 to define our downside risk.

Looking the other way, if we get a close below support, we’ll get in short towards a downside target of 8620. A stop on this one at 8755 looks good from a risk management perspective.

Let’s see how things play out and we’ll revisit this evening.

Charts courtesy of Trading View

Mining malware is spreading like wildfire, every week now we run another story on some platform or other falling victim to it. As cryptocurrencies become far more lucrative than ransomware or identity theft incidents of exploits will only increase. Various governmental departments in Australia and the UK were found frantically calling the tech guys over the weekend as their websites were compromised.

According to the Guardian as many as 5,000 websites were infected with a variant of the Coinhive mining malware. In the UK they included websites of National Health Services, the Student Loans Company, and several English councils in addition to the UK’s data protection watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office. They have all been taken offline to deal with the issue.

Compromised plugin

The malicious miner came from a compromised plugin called BrowseAloud which enables blind and partially sighted people read content on websites. The script had the same operation as has been seen many times before; hijacking the machine’s hardware to mine for Monero. XMR is the number one crypto currency for criminals now since it is encrypted and anonymous leaving no trace to the destination wallets.

Plugin authors, Texthelp, took their own website offline to patch the compromised software;

“The company has examined the affected file thoroughly and can confirm that it did not redirect any data, it simply used the computers’ CPUs to attempt to generate cryptocurrency, The exploit was active for a period of four hours on Sunday. The Browsealoud service has been temporarily taken offline and the security breach has already been addressed,” 

The security consultant who documented the attack told media;

“This type of attack isn’t new – but this is the biggest I’ve seen. A single company being hacked has meant thousands of sites impacted across the UK, Ireland and the United States. There were ways the government sites could have protected themselves from this. It may have been difficult for a small website, but I would have thought on a government website we should have expected these defence mechanisms to be in place.”

Australian government websites using the same plugin were also compromised. They included the Victoria parliament, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, the Queensland ombudsman, the Queensland Community Legal Centre, and the Queensland legislation website.

Porn perps

According to researchers at China’s 360Netlab porn websites are responsible for the majority of mining malware on the internet.  It analyzed the relationship between domain names and prevalence of malware that hijacks computer hardware. Unsurprisingly 49% of those domain names containing the malware were porn sites.

Cyber security firm Symantec predicted that in-browser mining would turn into an “arms race” in 2018, brought about as attackers devise even more inventive and invasive ways of mining cryptocurrencies using other people’s hardware and energy.