The dark side of the crypto-industry appears to be on the rise, as revealed in a report recently released by a digital-asset intelligence firm, CipherTrace.
The value of funds stolen through crypto-related crimes over the first five months in 2020, stood at $1.4 billion, thereby making this year one with the ugliest incidences of crypto-related crimes recorded in the crypto industry.
How Crypto-Criminals are taking advantage: Crypto-Criminals appear to take advantage of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to hit at unsuspecting victims by deceiving them with different methods of crypto-related crimes such as ransomware darknet marketplace fraud, and phishing campaigns.
John Jefferies, the chief financial analyst, and marketing officer at CipherTrace, stated in detail that the largest contributor to crypto crime in 2020 has been Wotoken’s alleged billion-dollar Ponzi scheme that emerged from China. He said:
“Retail investors should be wary of any company that uses hyperbolic statements and promises of extraordinary returns to lure them into participating.
“If WoToken had been required by regulatory agencies to provide detailed investment prospectus and audited financial statements, they wouldn’t have been able to launch their scheme and fool more than 700,000 victims.
“Many VASPs have dramatically improved their security posture, making it harder for hackers to steal from the platforms themselves.”
The co-founder and chief information officer of CoinFirm, a blockchain analytics company, Pawel Aleksander, told Cointelegraph that the volume of crypto crimes within Q1 2020 seems closer to the $2 billion mark, highlighting:
“Knowing the amounts related to the various frauds happening as a whole has its importance but the most important aspect is addressing how to solve them and providing entities with the tools and solutions to do so.”
Pawel Aleksander stated that despite efforts by social media companies to clamp down and limit fraudulent schemes, there are still many challenges facing the crypto world in tackling the menace successfully.
“This can happen by achieving synergy between AML, fraud investigations, and an open data ecosystem that takes the security of crypto financial markets to a level never seen before or even thought possible in traditional finance.”
John Jefferies, the chief financial analyst, and marketing officer at CipherTrace explained why the surge of criminal activities is on the rise in the crypto space, as criminals use certain advantages crypto-assets offer. He said:
“Even in spite of the growing availability of privacy coins like Monero and Zcash, criminals continue to use Bitcoin because of the abundance of Bitcoin-to-fiat off-ramps. Banks and money service businesses should pay attention to high-risk transactions originating from BATMs that lack proper AML compliance.”
“The reality is that criminal use of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is very low; less than 0.2% of the funds accepted by exchanges are directly from criminal sources,” John Jefferies added.
GSK, Sanofi to agree $624 million deal with UK for COVID-19 vaccine
Both GSK and Sanofi said that they are placing more priority on quality rather than speed.
British and French pharmaceutical giants, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Sanofi are close to reaching a $624 million (500 million pounds) deal with the United Kingdom (UK) government for the supply of 60 million doses of coronavirus vaccine as many countries move for possible COVID-19 treatments.
Reports suggest that the UK was considering an option to buy the vaccine should the human trials, which are due to commence in September 2020, turn out successful.
The funds would be paid in stages as the vaccine progresses, with the final payment made on delivery.
In order not to be left behind, the UK government has been engaging a wide range of companies both at home and abroad to negotiate access to vaccines. They said that the right announcements of these arrangements will be made as and when agreements with any of these companies are finalized.
The British business ministry’s spokeswoman, who confirmed that the ministry is handling Britain’s supply of potential COVID-19 vaccines, said talks were going on with different parties about access to possible vaccines but didn’t confirm if GSK/Sanofi project was one of them.
According to the ministry official, ‘’The Government’s Vaccines Task Force is actively engaging with a wide range of companies both in the UK and abroad to negotiate access to vaccines.”
“Appropriate announcements of these arrangements will be made as and when agreements with any of these companies are finalized and signed.”
Sanofi is presently working on 2 possible COVID-19 vaccines, one of which uses an adjuvant made by GSK to potentially boost its efficacy. The timeline for its clinical trials is behind the likes of Moderna Inc, the University of Oxford in collaboration with AstraZeneca Plc and an alliance of BioNTech and Pfizer Inc, whose projects all made headlines by moving to human trials as early as March.
Both GSK and Sanofi said that they are placing more priority on quality rather than speed in developing a vaccine.
New Covid-19 Cases reach all-time high – WHO
Since the commencement of the pandemic, there have been at least 523,011 deaths across the world.
Reports by the World Health Organization (WHO), reveal that new COVID-19 cases reached an all-time high of 212,326 cases within 24 hours. This was disclosed according to a situation report by the World Health Organization, also noting that there have been more than 10.9 million confirmed COVID-19 cases across the world.
Since the commencement of the pandemic, there have been at least 523,011 deaths across the world, with at least 5,134 deaths reported over the same period. The pandemic had shifted across various continents spreading from East Asia to Europe and then to the rest of the world. The biggest increase reported had occurred in North and South America, in which there were 129,772 new cases in the same 24-hour period, bringing the total of the region to about 5.58 million.
Southeast Asia also witnessed 27,947 new cases with India and Bangladesh having the highest cases in the region. The Eastern Mediterranean region witnessed 20,043 new cases; Europe witnessed 19,694 new cases, and Africa had 12,619 cases with the highest levels reported in South Africa. The Western Pacific, where China lies, had just 2,251 new cases.
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s emerging diseases unit had noted that certain countries may have to reintroduce lockdown measures towards containing the virus from spreading even higher. He explained that “Some countries who have had success in suppressing transmission who are opening up now may have a setback, may have to implement interventions again, may have to implement these so-called lockdowns again.”
Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s emergency program, had also noted on the 22nd of June that hospital admissions and deaths were also on the rise.
COVID-19: WHO stops hydroxychloroquine, HIV drugs trial after failure
The WHO boss had earlier warned that the worst is yet to come from the coronavirus pandemic.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that it was going to abandon its trials of the malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine and combination of HIV drug, lopinavir/ritonavir on hospitalized patients that have coronavirus disease after they failed to reduce the death rate.
This is a major setback for the WHO in the face of a second wave of the virus outbreak in US, China, Asia and some American countries. The United Nations (UN) health agency reported over 200,000 new cases of the disease globally, the first time in a single day.
According to a statement from the WHO, ‘’These interim trial results show that hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir produce little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalized COVID-19 patients when compared to standard of care. Solidarity trial investigators will interrupt the trials with immediate effect.’’
The WHO has hinged its decision on the recommendation of the trial’s international steering committee and does not affect other studies where those drugs are used for non-hospitalized patients.
Another aspect of the WHO-led trial is looking at the potential effect of Gilead’s antiviral drug remdesivir on COVID-19. The European Commission gave remdesivir a conditional approval for use on Friday after it was discovered that it helps reduce hospital recovery times.
The trial which is led by WHO started with five branches looking at possible treatment approaches to coronavirus. They include, standard care, remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir, and lopanivir/ritonavir combined with interferon.
The WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, disclosed on Friday that almost 5,500 patients in 39 countries had been recruited into its clinical trials and that interim results were expected in the next two weeks.
There are about 18 experimental COVID-19 vaccines that are being tested on humans with almost 150 treatments under development.
A top emergency expert from WHO, Mike Ryan, said it would not be wise to predict when a vaccine could be ready because while a vaccine candidate might show its effectiveness by the end of the year, the challenge might be how soon it could be mass-produced.
The WHO boss had a few days ago warned that the worst is yet to come from the coronavirus pandemic due to lack of global solidarity and the susceptibility of most people to the virus, which still has a lot of room to move. He stated that contact tracing of people that are infected with the virus is the most important step in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
The UN health agency had also revealed its plans with its partners to buy 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines for the most vulnerable people across the globe. The plan projects that the doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed to countries with special priority on high-risk persons like people above 65 years, health care personnel and other adults with ailments like diabetes.