We’re all used to ATMs in supermarkets and shops. Some charge for getting your money and some do not.
But recently, Bitcoin ATMS have started to appear in betting shops, general shops and elsewhere.
These don’t give you money – instead, they let you buy Bitcoins.
Bitcoin is a cyber currency that has been in the news a lot recently due to its rising price, thefts of Bitcoins and its use by online criminals.
These new machines are used by people wanting to invest in Bitcoin cyber currency but also there is anecdotal evidence that they are used by criminals. Some shopkeepers estimate that 50% – 80% of use is by drug dealers and other criminals wanting to change large amounts of cash into something they can access elsewhere, plus the cash is effectively laundered i.e it appears legitimate.
Once purchased, Bitcoins can be changed back into any currency in many places around the world.
The shopkeepers where the Bitcoin machines are situated sometimes get a flat fee of £100 – £400 per month and sometimes they can get up to to 30% commission.
This shows that the charges the buyer has to pay to the machines must be very high to allow for such commission to be paid to the shopkeeper.
The machines generally have a limit of about £500 per transaction, but no limit on the number of transactions per person.
For criminals, these machines are ideal repositories for their ill-gotten gains.
The price of Bitcoins rose rapidly throughout much of 2017 but it is very volatile and could easily crash at any time and become almost worthless.
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An email titled “Ride the Wave of Bitcoin and Earn $13,000 in Exactly 24 Hours”.
Scammers seem to love Bitcoin, probably because you do see on the news occasionally that the value of Bitcoins has risen sharply. They do go down in value as well but that’s less newsworthy unless someone famous has lost money gambling on Bitcoin.
The email continues
“In the past 90 days, 3 people saw their lives change dramatically after investing in Bitcoin”
Doesn’t say whether their lives changed for the better or for the worse but you are supposed to assume it’s for the better.
Then the email explains a little
“The Bitcoin Code is a group reserved exclusively to people who jump at the chance that Bitcoin offers and have quietly amassed a fortune in doing so”
If it’s exclusive then why are millions of these emails sent out to random unknown people?
It’s just a standard scam – offer lots of money for no effort, but the only people who make money are the scammers.
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Criminals love Bitcoin because transactions are largely untraceable, no physical objects to store and can be converted into any currency.
Speculators love Bitcoin because although the value changes wildly and is unreliable, it has risen hugely during 2017.
Lots of scammers are pushing Bitcoin as much as they can – get the punters hooked while the price is rising.
Almost certainly it will crash at some point as there are no physical assets to underpin Bitcoin.
One other group that love Bitcoin is corporate hackers – break into an organisation that has Bitcoins stored on its servers, steal them and escape. There’s no cash or gold to move – it’s all on computer.
Nicehash was broken into and $64 million in Bitcoins stolen. Nicehash doesn’t know whether client accounts have been compromised.
Nicehash is an unusual business – It’s based in Slovenia and mines Bitcoins on behalf of its customers.
This is a strange process for which there is no correlation with real world currencies. Mining is how more bitcoins are created and requires huge amounts of computing power to solve equations.
If the price of Bitcoins continues to stay at such high levels then we can expect even more of this kind of attack.
Nicehash say that “Highly professional” hackers made off with around 4,700 Bitcoin and the Nicehash service was taken down so they could assess what had happened.
At least gold can be stored in a vault.
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