New York Firefighter Mugged and Stabbed Over Bitcoins

What is the digital world coming to?  An era of hardcore crime has made its way into our little cryptocurrency community and it’s giving digital currency enthusiasts a bad name.

Dwayne Richards, a New York City firefighter, was recently held up, robbed, and stabbed by thugs who were bent on stealing his bitcoins.  Richards allegedly met with the criminals in Brooklyn under the idea that he would be trading bitcoins for cash, but the firefighter was later wounded and left bleeding.  He’s alive, however, and the prognosis of his condition seems to be promising.


Bitcoin-related crimes have taken on a life of their own.  Remember the New England family that received death threats from burglars hoping to make off with their bitcoin stash?  Usually, when we hear of bitcoin crimes, we’re used to things like Mt. Gox or the alleged MyCoin Ponzi scheme, or other things that usually result in millions of dollars being lost and stolen, but all that seems to be changing.  While these kinds of crimes are still ongoing, several “bitcoin nasties” are taking on the form of “two-bit hustlers,” and getting rough and dirty with their victims…

…And according to several individuals, this is happening more and more often, and the case of Dwayne Richards wasn’t the first.  One-man bitcoin exchange Dean Katz currently drives around New York everyday looking to purchase and sell bitcoin, but one night he got in over his head.  He met with someone under the pretense that this particular figure wanted to bet on the Super Bowl, but when Mr. Katz arrived, he was held up at point blank and was made to transfer over $8,000 in bitcoin into the hands of the thief.

Katz later commented on the current status of bitcoin:

“Right now, it’s like the Wild West… And stagecoach robberies are going to happen.”

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New York State is the home of the BitLicense.  In other words, New York is hoping for regulation amongst bitcoin businesses and entrepreneurs.  The latest edition has recently made the news, and the final 30-day commentary period is now underway, giving the public a chance to read the document and voice their opinions one last time prior to its solidification.

But now New York is suggesting something interesting… Rather, a New York City Councilman is really thinking out of the box, and to a degree, it just might work.

Mark Levine Proposes Bitcoins to collect New York FinesMark Levine, a councilman for the Big Apple, is suggesting bitcoin for the usage in payments of fees and fines.  Basically, bitcoin would make good “penalty money.”  Levine has written everything out in a bill that is set to be introduced tomorrow.  If adopted, bitcoin could suddenly find itself being used to pay off court fees, parking tickets and other similar items in the city that doesn’t sleep.

Levine is particularly passionate and excited about the bill, as he feels that bitcoin is primarily popular amongst the younger crowds, and bitcoin usage would place New York at the center of a more modern world:

“Today you can buy almost anything with Bitcoin… For young, internet-savvy people, it’s become the currency of choice… This would convey to the world that New York is on the cutting edge.”

Other advantages suggested by Levine would be that the bill would literally create several additional tech jobs and companies, and that it would save the Department of Finance millions in processing fees, as right now they are particularly high for credit cards.

The Department of Finance, which collects over $600 million dollars in penalty fees each year, has suggested that it is open to the idea.

Despite being America’s most populated city, New York City hasn’t seen a terrible lot of bitcoin ATM action (namely the Manhattan borough) since the rainfall of ATM machines from a slew of manufacturers have seemingly rained down all over the world.

But according to New Hampshire-based Lamassu (the bitcoin ATM manufacturer who would appear to have the most devices out in the wild), their very first unit has touched down in Manhattan.

The company tells us it’s the first bitcoin ATM in Manhattan, full-stop, but we cannot independently verify that information (New York City is massive, after all).

Open to the public beginning today at 5 pm local time, the machine is located at the Flat 128 jewelry store in the heart of West Village.

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If you’re wondering about the unit itself, it’s operated by a company called PYC Bitcoin, and it will serve as a one-way device only (which technically sort of makes it a vending machine more than an ATM).

That means that the operator has elected to not use the newly-launched Lamassu stand, which actually has a purpose when in comes to form and function.

The stand allows the unit to be aesthetically placed at a convenient height, but also transforms the Lamassu system into a two-way ATM — allowing the consumer to both buy and sell bitcoin without hassle.

If you’re in the area, Flat128 can be visited at 15 Christopher Street.

As promised on Friday, the bitcoin community’s own Charlie Shrem has announced that a single location of the Holiday Inn hotel chain will be accepting bitcoin in New York City.

Shrem made the announcement today at the Bitcoin Fair (which takes place at the Hester Street Fair), in which he included that he will be responsible for piloting the program at the hotel this week.

Shrem told NEWSBTC Sunday that this is the Park Slope Holiday Inn Express location on Union Street in Brooklyn — a hotspot amongst foreign travelers.

“The hotel caters to European tourists and one of the things they are excited about is the fee savings and mitigating chargeback risk,” he said. “Accepting a European credit card comes with almost double the fees as US credit cards and much more chargeback risk.”

Shrem says that bitcoin reservations can be made by phone, online, or in-person, and depending on the response the hotel gets, they may or may not expand the program to other hotels.

“If it goes smoothly, we plan on rolling it out across more locations and other hotels in their group,” Shrem said.

This week, online travel giant announced they too would be accepting bitcoin for hotel rooms as part of an initial pilot program. Depending on the success of that program (or lack thereof, if appropriate), the company says they could expand acceptance to other services like flight booking.

As for the Holiday Inn Express Park Slope location, they are seemingly going all-out with their bitcoin pilot.

“The hotel plans on keeping some a percentage of Bitcoin sales in Bitcoin and convert to USD just to cover their expenses,” Shrem said.

We’ve heard plenty about the bitcoin recent job fair that took place in Silicon Valley — which saw over 300 attendees, and large bitcoin-related companies looking to hire some of the best and brightest in the community.

That job fair is now headed toward the East Coast of the United States.

The Bitcoin Center NYC has partnered with Coinality and the Plug and Play Tech Center to host a job fair in the heart of New York City’s financial district, just one hundred feet away from the New York Stock Exchange.

Taking place from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm on the 28th of June (Saturday), prospective job seekers will have the opportunity to check out companies they could very well be working for and doing what they love.

“We’re grateful to Coinality and Plug and Play Tech Center for the opportunity to partner on a project that employers and jobseekers will find invaluable,” said Bitcoin Center NYC founder Nick Spanos. “The fintech marketplace is quickly evolving and Bitcoin is a key catalyst in that rapid transformation. A determinant of how viable the industry will be a month or a decade from now is available talent and this event will set in motion many new employer-jobseeker relationships.”

“Absent from the often-colorful storyline on Bitcoin is the technology’s job-creating potential and by definition this event will help alter that narrative,” he added.

Event organizers are currently working to gather exhibitors. As such, a list of these exhibitors is not yet available (although I’m informed by a Bitcoin Center NYC spokesperson that there are talks going on with BitPay and Kraken, though nothing is confirmed).

Admission to the event for job-seekers is free of charge.

We’ll have more information on this event just as soon as it becomes available.

Here’s something for our friends in New York City.

The Bitcoin Center NYC has announced on Wednesday that their center will feature a mathematics and monetary themed exhibit by The Museum of Interesting Things.

The Museum of Interesting Things is a traveling interactive demonstration / exhibition of antiques and inventions that inspire innovation and creativity, eliciting learning from the past to create a better future.

The event will be taking place at the Bitcoin Center on Thursday, June 12th starting at 6:30 pm prior to the showcasing of a Satoshi Square live bitcoin trading session.

According to the Center, the exhibit will feature The Museum of Interesting Things’ History of Money and Invention. This collection is made up of mathematical and monetary themed objects, which will allow visitors to “put finance and economics in context.”

“The exhibition will combine money and math with invention, science, and technology. Visitors to the exhibit will be able to experience what life was like before you could just pull out your tiny mobile phone to calculate and purchase, for example, a cup of coffee or digital currencies like Bitcoin,” says Denny Daniel, curator and founder of The Museum of Interesting Things.

Pieces such as the Otis King Calculator (a type of calculator invented in the 1600s) and the Brandt Automatic Cashier, a 100-key change dispenser invented in 1894.

“We’re delighted that The Museum of Interesting Things has chosen Bitcoin Center NYC as the place to exhibit its custom History of Money and Invention collection,” said Bitcoin Center NYC founder Nick Spanos. “With the center here and many more such firms coming, New York is now the place where the past and future of money intersect. This makes the partnership between The Museum of Interesting Things and Bitcoin Center NYC all the more appropriate.”

Bitcoin Center NYC is located on Broad Street in Manhattan’s financial district, just 100 feet from the New York Stock Exchange.

Beginning this summer, New York residents that also take interest in bitcoin will have access to an outdoor bitcoin fair, aptly named the NYC Bitcoin Fair.

According to the group organizing the fair, it starts on Sunday, June 15th — and if things go according to plan, it’s an event that could be held every week.

Described by the organizers:

We want to be able to provide a free Bitcoin event for the masses without the prohibitive ticket prices which most similar conferences/events entail. A typical event usually have to charge high ticket prices due to the rental of the venue, but we’re taking a different approach as the space already exists and open to the public. Many Bitcoin events around the world currently hosts Bitcoin companies and most of the time you can only spend your Bitcoins on mining hardware, but rarely do you see any local vendors selling food or local products for BTC.

The fair actually takes place within an already existing fair, the Hester Street Fair, which runs on Saturdays and Sundays in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Events include an Artisan Market (with vendors accepting bitcoin, of course), a Bitcoin Informational Booth, a crowd-funded bitcoin faucet, social meet-ups, a bitcoin crash course, a very own ‘mBits’ store (dollar store concept), a bitcoin bar (from local bars in the area that accept the digital currency), and even a bitcoin after party.

Over fifty vendors will be accepting bitcoin, which may make choosing where to shop  all the more difficult!

It’s the perfect opportunity for enthusiasts to spend their coin, but also allows for newbies to become exposed to the digital currency – which has been growing rapidly over the last year.

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Individuals looking to attend the fair must RSVP, however, which some would say is a downside. There’s also an opportunity to pay $10 to RSVP and receive a goodie bag.

At the time of this writing, 19 tickets have been sold, with another 431 available. For more information about the event, you can visit the official website here.

The Bitcoin Center NYC has announced that they’ll be holding a roundtable discussion on both bitcoin and the block chain which they say is tailored specifically for journalists on Thursday.

According to the Center, “The roundtable will offer a dynamic group discussion as well as the opportunity to speak directly with Bitcoin Center NYC staff in a relaxed setting.”

The discussion is designed to be an educational tool for reporters and journalists looking for additional information on digital currencies, or those tasked with reporting on them who may not know the ins-and-outs of how its used.

Experts at the Bitcoin Center will be on-hand to answer questions from the press, on or off the record.

[blockquote style=”2″]Participant journalists need not have a story in progress, though the event offers entrants a chance to initiate or develop a story.[/blockquote]

This is just one of the many events that take place at the Bitcoin Center. From live crypto-currency trading to the selling of bitcoin miners, the Center serves as a hub for the community in the nation’s most populated city.

The Bitcoin Center NYC opened on the 31st of December, 2013, and is situated on 40 Broad Street in Manhattan’s financial district, a mere one hundred feet from the New York Stock Exchange.

The roundtable discussion will be held from 3 to 5 PM

Just Sweet Location NYC
The proposed location for the first bitcoin vending machine in Manhattan. Source: Google Street View

There’s been a lot of talk about when a bitcoin ATM would finally hit the means streets of New York City. It’s seems the time has finally come.

Willard Ling of Brooklyn is aiming to bring a Lamassu bitcoin machine to the East Village neighborhood in Manhattan. Ling is reportedly in talks with the ‘Just Sweet’ tea shop on 3rd Avenue and 12th Street to work out the terms of rent, and Ling is also waiting to see what comes of the New York State’s hearings on digital currencies, which are slated to take place at the end of the month. These hearings may require Ling to obtain a ‘BitLicense’ — so until they happen, the Lamassu will be sitting in his apartment, according to the New York Post.

Interestingly, Lamassu bitcoin ATMs aren’t actually ATMs at all. They’re more like vending machines — allowing the user to insert cash for bitcoin, but not the other way around.