Although Loyalist had been largely inactive since October, shortly after zachxbt published his research in February 2023, Loyalist moved nearly $1 million in the DAI stablecoin out of one of the wallets identified by zachxbt.
According to the SEC, Kwon "repeatedly misled and deceived investors" about the characteristics and stability of Terra and Luna, and tricked investors into believing that a popular Korean mobile payments platform used the Terra blockchain.
Kwon has been on the run from the law since Korean authorities filed a warrant for his arrest in September 2022. An Interpol red notice followed soon after. He is reportedly hiding out in Serbia, and Korean authorities reportedly traveled there in early February to hunt for him.
- "SEC Charges Terraform and CEO Do Kwon with Defrauding Investors in Crypto Schemes", United States Securities and Exchange Commission
The exploit was a flash loan attack that allowed them to drain some protocol pools, also causing the stablecoin to lose its dollar peg and drop to around $0.48. A team member reported on the project's Discord that "all operations are paused until we get more clarity".
The following day, the project reported they had recovered $2.4 million of the stolen funds, and were working with crypto sleuth zachxbt, who had leads as to the hacker's identity. Later that month, Platypus announced that French police had arrested two suspects, who had tried to withdraw stolen funds through Binance — to whom they had submitted identification documents for KYC purposes.
Anyway, Bitcoin seems to be having its own little resurgence of NFT mania. On February 9, an "Ordinals Punk" — the Ordinals version of CryptoPunks — sold for 9.5 BTC (~$218,000). That record has now been broken by Inscription 2042, which is not an image but rather a 1-second-long audio recording of a fart sound. The NFT reportedly sold for 12.3 BTC (~$280,000), though it's tough to verify given the lack of any sort of Ordinals marketplace.
Many of these companies have taken the (true) statement that the company's insured depository accounts at various banking institutions are FDIC insured and presented it to customers in a misleading way, and the FDIC wants them to cut it out. The FDIC also demanded websites who published statements like "Is CEX.io Safe? Yes, Cex.io is a safe crypto exchange. Actually, one of the safest on the market since they are FDIC insured..." take them down.
CEX.io is a London-based cryptocurrency exchange with comparatively low trading volume compared to its larger competitors like Binance or Coinbase.
- "FDIC Demands Four Entities Cease Making False or Misleading Representations about Deposit Insurance", Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Terra and Luna dramatically collapsed in May 2022, and South Korean authorities are still hunting for Terra leader Do Kwon, who is reportedly hiding in Serbia. Earlier this month, Korean authorities reportedly traveled to Serbia to try to locate him, but were unsuccessful.
dForce contacted the hacker via blockchain transaction, offering to negotiate a bounty. Several days later, the project tweeted that the attacker had "c[o]me forward as a whitehat", and that the funds had been fully returned. "We have agreed to offer a bounty and will drop all on-going investigation and law enforcement actions," they announced.
Nearly simultaneously, the SEC sent a Wells notice to Paxos, informing them of imminent enforcement action. According to the Wall Street Journal, the SEC told Paxos they intended to sue the company for violating investor protection laws, and that the SEC believed Binance USD was an unregistered security.
Paxos agreed to stop minting new BUSD tokens (but will continue to honor redemptions), and said in a statement that they would be ending their stablecoin-minting relationship with Binance. As for the SEC, Paxos has promised to "vigorously litigate if necessary", arguing that BUSD is not a security.
- "Crypto firm Paxos to face SEC charges, ordered to stop minting Binance stablecoin", CNBC
- "Crypto Firm Paxos Faces SEC Lawsuit Over Binance USD Token", Wall Street Journal
- "Regulator Orders Crypto Firm Paxos to Stop Issuing Binance Stablecoin", Wall Street Journal
- Statement by the New York Department of Financial Services
- Statement by Paxos
It's not quite clear the extent of the NYDFS investigation, though it joins rumors (denied by Paxos) that they were also being investigated by the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which regulates banks. Paxos has a provisional banking charter, which it received from the OCC in 2021. It also has a virtual currency license, which is issued by the NYDFS.
Shortly after, the project CEO began dumping tokens on the market, cashing out 44,000 UMAMI tokens. These were ostensibly priced at $800,000, though the sell-off crashed the UMAMI price by more than 60% and ultimately netted the CEO around $380,000 of USDC.
Amidst the sell-off, a team member tried to reassure users that "the team resigned" but that also, confusingly, the "treasury assets are safe and in control of the team".