Users Lured Into Paying Non-Existent Debt Through Bitcoin ATMs

Scammers have figured out how to con $50,000 from Australian residents, tricking them in to pay off a non-existent debt in a classic fraud. Around four casualties from eastern Melbourne have fallen for the trap, according to news media reports.

Purportedly, the scammers would call the people and persuade them that they have an outstanding tax debt and that, if they don’t pay it through a Bitcoin ATM in Braybrook, they will be imprisoned. The victims would then withdraw their savings from their banks, travel to Brabryook’s Bitcoin ATM and pay off the fake debt to a predefined Bitcoin account.

As indicated by the police, this sort of plan targets helpless individuals who are effortlessly persuaded that their immigration status is undermined.

Acting Detective Sergeant Katherine Lehpamer stated that

“We trust that there are various victims out there who have not revealed the issue for some reason, they might be here on visas or they don’t know that authorities would never tell them to store cash into an ATM.”

Authorities have more than once asked people to be particularly careful while getting telephone calls from institutions and to double-check with the relevant organizations the value of the claims. Sergeant Lehpamer notes on the issue:

Anybody getting a call along these should make enquiries with the relevant authority before paying any cash or giving any bank account or personal details over the phone.

What is shocking, though, is that Australia doesn’t even accept tax payments made in cryptocurrencies. While there are sure ventures which allow residents to pay their bills with handling the bills, they basically act as delegates handling the bills for the benefit of the user accepting the same amount in cryptocurrencies.


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Author: Knightrider
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Almost 200 Bitcoin ATMs Planned for Argentina as Crisis Bites

Argentina is set to welcome an influx of cryptocurrency ATMs as the inflation-hit peso continues to take a financial battering.

Reuters reports that a company named Athena Bitcoin, which late last month installed the country’s first Bitcoin ATM at a Buenos Aires shopping mall, says it will install a total of 30 machines in Argentina before the year’s end.

The same media outlet also reports that an American company named Odyssey Group hopes to install a further 150 ATMs “at the end of the year,” with a view to having 80% of the machines fully operational “at the beginning of 2019.” Odyssey Group says its ATMs will also allow customers to make conventional bank transactions.

The move will be Odyssey Group’s first foray into Latin America, but Reuters quotes the company as saying it is increasingly looking to expand its activities across the entire region.

Athena Bitcoin already operates 12 ATMs in Colombia, as well as a machine in Mexico. The company says it hopes to expand its operations to Chile and Brazil. A company spokesperson said the machines – which currently only allow customers to conduct Bitcoin transactions – will be modified in the future, allowing for transactions in other tokens, such as Litecoin, Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash.

Argentina’s peso has been in freefall for much of 2018, with massive interest rate hikes doing nothing to stop its decline. In May, the country’s president asked the International Monetary Fund for a USD 50 billion loan – however, citizens are increasingly transferring their assets into foreign currencies and digital tokens as confidence in the peso continues to suffer.

Data from LocalBitcoins, a peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace, shows that weekly bitcoin trading volume on this marketplace is more than 20 bitcoins over the past few months.
As reported by Cryptonews.com, the number of crypto ATMs in the world is rising steadily, and that they’re enjoying increased usage from customers. Still, the legal status of crypto is preventing their growth from being as impressive as it could be, while stubbornly high fees are placing a limit on customer usage.


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Author: Tim Alper
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Police crack down on crypto ATMs across Russia

Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology have been making steady advancements into the mainstream market in many countries around the world, but apparently, this was not the case in Russia. According to local media reports, Russian police have seized no less than 22 automated teller machines (ATMs) selling cryptocurrency in several cities in Russia last week.

Operated by the Bbfpro company, the machines were located in shopping malls, restaurants and stores in nine different Russian cities, Russian news outlet RBC reported, quoting Digital Rights Center lawyer Sarkis Darbinyan.

In a separate interview with Russian media outlets, Bbfpro manager Artem Bedarev claimed there was no notice from the Russian authorities prior to the crackdown, noting that the investigation would continue for at least another six months. The machines would not be returned to Bbfpro while the investigation is ongoing.

The operation was ordered by the Prosecutor’s General Office, acting on a request from the Central Bank of Russia (CBR), a government agent told local media outlets. A CBR officer, who declined to comment on the crypto ATM seizures, noted that the government agency conducts “systematic work to identify and counteract illegal activities in the financial market,” particularly since there is a high chance that uncontrolled cross-border fund transfers and cash outs involving cryptocurrencies can happen.

Darbinyan, however, pointed out that the Russian Federation’s current laws do not prohibit citizens from acquiring cryptocurrencies. Bbfpro, for its part, has been observing all legal procedures, paying its taxes, and verifying the identity of its customers even without prompt from the government.

Bbfpro plans to appeal the seizure operation, according to the lawyer.

On its website, Bbfpro said its machines support purchases of cryptocurrencies like BTC. The company works with crypto exchange Exmo, offering technical support for the ATMs. According to Bbfpro, installing one terminal costs 155,000 rubles ($2,300). It charges 1 percent on the registered turnover, which is considerably less than other crypto ATMs in other countries. For example in Malta, ATM operators charge no less than 8% on each transaction.


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Author: GERALD FENECH
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The Future of Cryptocurrency ATMs has Arrived

The market demand for cryptocurrency ATMs has grown rapidly. Cryptocurrency owners need ATMs to quickly exchange and spend their invested cash when they need to, and the competition between cryptocurrency ATM providers is heating up.

LIONBIT

Cryptocurrency ATMs: The Stats

The number of Bitcoin ATMs quadrupled across 2017 according to Statista and is still rising.

Number of Bitcoin ATMs worldwide from January 2016 to April 2018 (Source: Statista)

The first cryptocurrency ATM was installed in a coffee shop in Vancouver in 2013 and, according to data from coinatmradar.com, there are now 3502 Bitcoin$7109.73 -0.23% ATMs in operation globally.

Over half of current cryptocurrency ATMs support at least one altcoin as well as Bitcoin. 49% offer Litecoin transactions and 32% offer Ethereum. The average fee for using a cryptocurrency ATM transaction is around 8%.

Cryptocurrency ATM makers are thriving, opening up a further new channel for cryptocurrency investors and capital inflow to the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

Genesis Coin has a 33% share of the ATM market followed by General Bytes at 26%.  General Bytes says it has sold 1,700 ATMs in 53 countries, since 2014.  EasyBit, founded in 2013, has 60 ATMs in operation.

Coinatmradar estimates new cryptocurrency ATMs are being installed around the globe at a rate of nearly 9 per day. At this rate, there will be nearly 5000 cryptocurrency ATMs in operation by the end of 2018.

TIP

Demand for Cryptocurrency ATMs

The need for cryptocurrency ATMs is driven by cryptocurrency users, some of whom prefer to avoid centralized financial institutions like banks. Other cryptocurrency users are just looking to access tied up assets quickly while on the move. By allowing withdrawals in fiat, from cryptocurrency balances, cryptocurrency ATMs permit exactly that.

Mike Dupree, CEO of ATM makers EasyBit, says his firm is targeting customers already using cryptocurrencies and that building customers outside of this niche is a challenge. Dupree recognizes that the fall in cryptocurrency prices and regulatory concerns affects the market, but predicts:

The beauty of cryptocurrencies is that you don’t have to trust a financial institution to back your wealth. Decentralization is the future, and regulation will eventually fall in line.

In July 2018, Malta saw the installation of its first two way Bitcoin and Litecoin cryptocurrency ATM by Maltese ATM startup Moon Zebra.


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Author: Melanie Kramer
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Bitcoin ATMs – what they are and what they mean

Only a few months ago, Memphis entrepreneur Philipp von Holtzendorff-Fehling attended a convention in Miami. He said it helped him glimpse into the future of money.

“I’ve always been interested in the next thing happening to humanity,” said von Holtzendorff-Fehling, a former marketing chief for Memphis-based ServiceMaster. “This is one of the next big things.”

He had come across Byte Federal, a little tech start-up from Venice, Florida.

Today, one of Byte’s automated teller machines stands outside von Holtzendorff-Fehling’s Mama Gaia restaurant.

How that ATM landed in Memphis traces to tech hopefuls, schemers and dreamers betting the world is on the edge of serious financial evolution.

Americans, they say, will head out of the house holding car keys, mobile phone and a digital wallet.

It will store something called cryptocurrency, a kind of digital money backed by no important government on Earth and yet significant enough to eventually rival the U.S. dollar as a way to pay for things.

At least that’s what they say.

The new world of cryptocurrency

Sound like science fiction?

Yes, but the trend has taken root.

Among the hundreds of ATMs located in Memphis and its suburbs, about 10 are special cryptocurrency ATMs operated by Byte or rival tech start-up’s Coinsource and RockItCoin.

I had thought these machines were used mainly to send money abroad, particularly by Latinos from home towns with limited banking. RockItCoin co-founder Ben Phillips, a former derivatives trader in Chicago, said international transactions are not the biggest draw.

“Our users come from all kinds of backgrounds,” Phillips said. “We like to put the ATMs in public and high-traffic areas. It’s mainly men, 20 to 40. Some of them see it as a way of investing money.’’

Right now, about $3.6 trillion worth of American currency is in use worldwide. That’s the value of all minted coins, regular bank deposits and paper money the U.S. Treasury prints on linen and cotton.

Separate of the official U.S. money supply are a slew of cryptocurrencies. They have names such as Bitcoin, Dash, Ethereum, Litecoin, Monero, Ripple, Stellar and Zcash.

Fifth Third Bank, one of the oldest Cincinnati commercial banks, recently reported more than 1,000 of these crypto brands have been identified worldwide. Various guesses place the total value of all the crypto money in the brands at about $295 billion.

That’s small compared to the amount of American currency afloat, although Royal Bank of Canada analysts forecast the value of crypto money afoot someday might surpass $10 trillion.

 

Image result for mama gaia restaurant

Entrepreneurs sense an angle

Cryptocurrency exchanges are cumbersome. They can convert digital money into dollars, or the reverse. But that takes time.

ATMs can handle the transaction faster. Put your American currency in. Bitcoins go into your digital wallet.

Nearly 8,500 of these cryptocurrency ATMs worldwide process digital money, including about 1,300 ATMs in the United States and the handful in metropolitan Memphis.

The latest was installed almost three weeks ago outside Mama Gaia in Midtown.

The ATM operator charges a fee for the service, usually about $3 on each transaction.

Sponsors such as the restaurant get a slice of the fee.

Looking at options

Just the other day, an employee of a public relations firm used by von Holtzendorff-Fehling to promote his restaurant emailed a press release.

A few reporters dutifully rewrote the press release and posted brief news stories online.

Yes, this was like free advertising dressed up as news, but I bit, went over to the restaurant, asked von Holtzendorff-Fehling a simple question.

Could I buy the $7 ginger mango beverage with Bitcoin?

No. Traditional money backed by the United States government would work, or my bank debit card, but not crypto stuff.

“We don’t accept any Bitcoins yet,” he said. “We’re looking at the options.”

Awaiting Amazon

Would you walk up to the RockItCoin ATM to invest your money in Bitcoin? Would you buy a car using Bitcoin dispensed from the Coinsource ATM? Would you use Bitcoin as collateral to borrow money at the Byte ATM to keep your shop open until sales pick up?

Not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but maybe in the next few years.

Travel site Expedia accepts Bitcoin. So does online retailer Overstock and payment vendor PayPal.

Once massive online retailer Amazon accepts cryptocurrency, digital money will become more common, Phillips said.

“As soon as it hits Amazon it’s going to be something different,” said the former derivatives trader, whose firm recently sold an ATM to an employee at Memphis commodity trader McVean Trading. The ATM is in place on Appling Road.

Inflation hedge

Cryptocurrency sounds fake. Yet some people believe in it. There’s a reason.

“If we dig deep enough we see government has over inflated fiat currencies,” von Holtzendorff-Fehling said.

What $100 in U.S. greenbacks afforded a decade ago costs $116 today. The dollar doesn’t buy as much as it used to. That’s inflation. The dollar has lost value.

For various reasons the same inflation bypasses Bitcoin. Some people figure it’s an investment, like a share of stock in a company, although it is actually computer code unleashed on the internet, the brainchild of an anonymous genius.

Bitcoin’s scarcity makes it valuable. Yet that computer code hides a lucrative seed. There’s a way to earn Bitcoins. But it isn’t easy.

Bitcoin mining

Say your sister in Atlanta needs fast cash. You could wire money from your bank. That takes time. And the fees add up. Bitcoin is easier.

You instruct the ATM to place your Bitcoin in her digital wallet. Your instructions flow over the Internet directly to about 9,500 separate volunteers. Located throughout the world, these volunteers actually are computers owned by private people and companies. Some call themselves Bitcoin miners.

Your instructions are scrambled into special code, a series of 64 letters and numbers unique to your transaction. The code of every Bitcoin transaction ever conducted is contained on the internet in a single long chain broken into 10-minute chunks called blocks.

This entire blockchain, including the code created when you bought the Bitcoin, is completely visible to all 9,500 volunteers.

The computers scan the blockchain, agree your Bitcoin never before was spent, confirm the transaction and race to solve a computational puzzle to get the transaction embedded on the blockchain. Solving the puzzle is hard but not impossible. The first computer to solve the puzzle wins. There’s a winner about every 10 minutes. The award: 12.5 Bitcoins for their digital wallet.

Companies call it Bitcoin mining. Try to sell a Bitcoin on RockItCoin today and it’ll fetch almost $7,400.

Miners have filled buildings with computers simply to carry out Bitcoin transactions – like the one with your sister – and get paid for solving the puzzle.

More about Bitcoin mining: Inside BitMOR, a new cryptocurrency mining company in South Dakota

Is this the future of money?

Star Trek actor William Shatner likes to think so.

He recruited new tenants for a solar-powered Bitcoin mining facility he plans in an old factory at Murphysboro, Illinois.

“It’s an interesting idea to see it at work because … it’s so esoteric that it’s difficult to understand,” he said.



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Author Ted Evanoff

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It’s Getting Hot in Kenyan Blockchain and Crypto Scene

A flurry of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency-related developments are taking place in Kenya, with the country this month welcoming its first Bitcoin ATM.


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The machine has been installed in Nairobi, and becomes one the first such devices to operate in East Africa. Investors can use the device to buy Bitcoin and Litecoin, and make payments in USD or Kenyan shillings.

The country will also welcome its first blockchain education center, with Kenyan blockchain solutions provider Funtrench set to open a Blockchain Campus at its Nairobi offices. Per a company statement, Funtrench says its courses are pending official national accreditation in the United States. The company will provide four-week intensive blockchain developer training, as well as “cryptocurrency trader” courses, and says its education center is the first of its kind in East Africa.


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Tech giant IBM is continuing to develop a blockchain technology-powered microloans network in the country, while crypto-pay is also starting to gain momentum in the country’s capital – despite the central bank’s repeated insistence that digital tokens cannot be considered legal tender.

Cryptocurrency platform Bancor, meanwhile, says a new blockchain-powered platform will help it and Kenya-based NGO Grassroots Economics to help alleviate poverty in a number of low-income Kenyan communities – by allowing residents to create and distribute their own digital tokens, allowing for fast and safe P2P trading. Per Bancor, the initiative will be piloted in two of Kenya’s largest slum areas: Kawangware and Kibera.

Over in West Africa, meanwhile, Senegalese rapper Akon says he will launch his own AKoin cryptocurrency – which he plans to make tender in heart of a hi-tech city called Akon Crypto City. Per multiple media reports, Senegalese President Macky Sall has handed Akon and his associates some 8,100,000sqm of state-owned land for the ambitious project.



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Author: Tim Alper
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You can now exchange your left over Euros for Crypto at Schiphol airport

One of the most inconvenient things about international travel is getting stuck with foreign money that can’t be accepted in your home country. Luckily for passengers and visitors to Schiphol Airport, they now have the chance to experience the benefits of a truly global currency first hand and get rid of their fiat at the same time.


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New Crypto ATM at Schiphol

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, the main international gateway of the Netherlands, has announced that, starting immediately, passengers at the busy airport can exchange their leftover euros for cryptocurrency, including BTC and ETH at an automated kiosk. The ATM is on a trial period and Schiphol claims to be the first European airport to offer this service.

“Schiphol is constantly looking for ways to innovate and provide optimum service to passengers,” says Tanja Dik, director of Consumer Products & Services at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. “With the Bitcoin ATM, we hope to provide a useful service to passengers by allowing them to easily exchange ‘local’ euros for the ‘global’ cryptocurrencies Bitcoin and Ethereum. That can be beneficial if, for instance, it’s not possible to spend euros in their home country.”

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Six Months Trial

The airport explained that for now, the Bitcoin ATM at Schiphol is on a six-month trial period aimed at exploring whether demand for this service exists among passengers. The machines are located in Arrival Hall 2 and also in the corridor to Departure Halls 1 and 2, where thousands of passengers pass through daily. Importantly, the placement also enables visitors to Schiphol Plaza to reach the ATM, enabling them to buy cryptocurrency even if they are just passing by.

This trial is the result of cooperation between Schiphol and the Dutch company Byelex Data Solutions BV, operating under ‘The Byecoin Company’. “We are excited that Schiphol is willing to join us in exploring ways to introduce passengers to the new crypto reality,” commented Byelex director Herman Vissia.

Schiphol isn’t the only airport making crypto advancements. Recently we reported that at Brisbane Airport in Australia, all merchants and airport terminals have begun accepting various digital assets, making it one of the friendliest cryptocurrency airports in the world.


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Author Avi Mizrahi
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