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US Government Now Offers Informants Crypto Rewards in Addition to Bank Wires, Suitcases Full of Cash



US Government Now Offers Informants Crypto Rewards in Addition to Bank Wires, Suitcases Full of Cash

US Government Now Offers Informants Crypto Rewards in Addition to Bank Wires, Suitcases Full of Cash

Attendees of the Black Hat hacker conference in Las Vegas were introduced to a new advertisement crafted by the U.S. State Department. According to individuals who accessed the government advertisement via an open Wi-Fi network called “#Rewardsnotransoms” they discovered the U.S. government is offering to pay crypto rewards to individuals who give up information concerning malicious, state-backed hackers.

US State Department Advertises ‘Rewards for Justice’ at Black Hat 2021 in Las Vegas

The never-ending war on terror continues as the United States government is focused on state-backed cybercriminals that have attacked U.S. infrastructure or have created terrorist organizations. Last week, reporters and attendees of the Las Vegas hacker conference called “Black Hat” explained that the U.S. government, specifically the State Department, was advertising a new program called “Rewards for Justice (RFJ).” The news outlet CNN was the first to break the news after Black Hat participants explained they saw the government’s advertisement displayed on t-shirts and flyers in the form of a QR code.

The web portal constructed by the State Department is offering up to $25 million to informants who give up information on state-backed cybercriminals. Members of U.S. law enforcement believe informants will be enticed by crypto payments and most of the offers are between $3-10 million. One specific reward for Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Al Qaeda leader, is for $25 million in digital currency.

“We’ve been working on this quite a while and it coincided at a very good time that we managed to get this rolled out as critical infrastructure and ransomware were at the top of the news cycle, so to speak, and a major concern for the US government,” a Diplomatic Security Service official who oversees RFJ told CNN. Hackers can even access the RFJ web portal via the anonymous web browser Tor.

US Diplomatic Security Service Official: ‘We Actually Do Deliver Suitcases Full of Cash’

The news of the U.S. State Department paying informants with crypto assets to rat out malicious hackers follows the recent discovery of “Antinalysis,” a “blockchain analytics tool that has been launched on the dark web.” Moreover, the U.S. government has offered to pay hackers to break the obfuscation the Monero (XMR) network offers. Enticing hackers with crypto is nothing new, and the official told CNN the government has been paying for tips in this fashion for two years.

“This is not a quick process. We are receiving tips. We are evaluating tips. We’ll share those tips with the interagency partners. They must then use that information and reach out and begin their investigation,” the official emphasized. “This is a longer-term process,” the unknown source from the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service said. Interestingly, the official disclosed that in the past, before cryptocurrency rewards, suitcases full of cash have been used to pay informants.

In addition to the newly introduced crypto rewards, the Diplomatic Security official said that they still utilize the old school methods of payment as well. “We provide wire transfers, we actually can still deliver — and do deliver – suitcases full of cash, we can provide in-kind rewards,” the official concluded. According to the U.S. government, tips from RFJ led to the conviction of Ramzi Ahmed Yousef.

What do you think about the U.S. State Department offering crypto awards to informants who give up info on cybercriminals backed by nation-states? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.

Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons

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Nifty News: Nafty launches naughty NFT site, Dutch DJ pushes limits of physical NFTs



Nifty News: Nafty launches naughty NFT site, Dutch DJ pushes limits of physical NFTs


Nafty, a blockchain firm that produces decentralized, “not safe for work” (NSFW) platforms, such as OnlyFans competitor Nafty.tv, launched an erotic-themed nonfungible token (NFT) marketplace dubbed “NaftyArt” on Thursday.

NaftyArt aims to provide a platform for erotic artists and adult-content creators to promote and sell their tokenized works without fears of it being removed or their accounts shadowbanned. It may also give some NFT proponents an excuse for out-laying large sums of money on NSFW content. The announcement read:

“Erotic Artists and Adult Content creators have been struggling for some time to get their work prominently featured on mainstream NFT marketplaces. A lot have found their work is removed as it contains nudity or at best they are shadowbanned, with potential buyers unable to see their work.”

Nafty is also promoting the platform as a way to generate an additional revenue stream outside of the subscription model and noted the move was brought on by OnlyFans’ recent policy controversy in which it announced plans to ban adult content before it revoked the decision:

“This way of content monetization was boosted by the recent announcement from fansite OnlyFans regarding their policies on explicit content. Although the decision was subsequently suspended, many adult creators are looking for a more secure way to earn from content.”

DJ Don Diablo is dabbling in NFTs

Dutch DJ Don Diablo is working on an ambitious NFT project called Hexhibit that will include a “real word chamber” or room related to the artwork depicted in the token.

The NFT contains an audiovisual file that depicts a UFO-like machine landing in an imaginary world. Diablo told Rolling Stone on Monday that he is building the physical chamber of the UFO machine so that the holder can actually stand in the artwork depicted in the NFT.

“I thought, ‘Why not actually build the thing?’ Of course, that’s pretty ludicrous, because it would weigh a couple of tons…. [but] I said, ‘What if you could stand inside an NFT, literally? That hasn’t been done before,’” he said.

While he didn’t reveal specific details of the chamber, he hinted it could be anything from a “mini club” to a “mini cinema” and claimed that he is spending an equivalent amount of money to purchase a house in building the NFT chamber.

The NFT is slated to go up for auction on Sotheby’s sometime this fall. To date, Diablo has generated $3.5 million from a total of four NFT sales, including a one-of-one tokenized audio-visual file that sold for $2.2 million in April.

DeviantArt using AI to track token art theft

With copycat NFT projects in the news and outright art theft also appearing to be an issue, DeviantArt has quietly expanded its artificial intelligence software to spot theft on NFT marketplaces.

DeviantArt launched its AI-based image recognition tool to spot copyright infringement on its own platform in July. However, earlier this month, it expanded the scope to ERC-721 and ERC-1155 tokens.

The program is called “DeviantArt Protect,” and it appears to be helping some users already, with digital artist Akreon revealing on Twitter that it had notified him of an NFT using his art on OpenSea.

Ok, a huge shout-out to @DeviantArt for this new feature. It notifies you when your work has been used as a NFT. And it actually works! pic.twitter.com/2GNDIoN2JL

— akreon (@_akreon_) September 10, 2021

Ruby League World Cup dropping collectibles

The Rugby League World Cup 2021 (postponed until November 2022) has partnered with NuArca to launch an NFT marketplace for tokenized rugby collectibles.

The NFT collectibles will depict historic moments, players, nations, stars and milestones from the second-oldest World Cup tournament across all codes. The marketplace will also provide fan engagement features such as quests and “earn experiences” for users to obtain select NFT drops.

Some NFTs will also be bundled into collectible card packs, however, the price points and launch dates are yet to be revealed. Rugby fans can now register for the drop on the RLWC website.

“We believe the launch of our NFT partnership is a first for the sport of Rugby League. NFTs will provide fans with an opportunity to show their passion and loyalty for the sport, and alongside collectors, give them the chance to own a piece of Rugby League history,” said Jonathan Neill, commercial director at RLWC 2021.


OpenSea executive Nate Chastain has been outed for hyping NFTs he purchased and then featuring them on the homepage of the popular NFT marketplace. OpenSea confirmed the allegations in a blog post on Wednesday and noted that “this is incredibly disappointing. We want to be clear that this behavior does not represent our values as a team.”

Cointelegraph reported on Tuesday that Google had partnered with Dapper Labs to help support the development of new Web 3.0 products and services, including NFTs and gaming.

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SkyBridge raises $100M for Algorand fund and files for crypto company ETF



SkyBridge raises $100M for Algorand fund and files for crypto company ETF

Anthony Scaramucci revealed that SkyBridge currently holds $700 million worth of cryptocurrency.

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SkyBridge raises 0M for Algorand fund and files for crypto company ETF

Alternative investment firm SkyBridge Capital hopes to expand its crypto offerings, filing for a crypto-focused exchange-traded fund (ETF) on Tuesday and revealing plans for an Algorand fund at this week’s SALT conference in New York.

Speaking to CNBC, SkyBridge founder and former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci said the firm had raised more than $100 million toward the newly announced Algorand fund. He added that the firm currently holds roughly $700 million worth of crypto assets.

Scaramucci asserted that “crypto is here to stay,” adding that regulators must act “very quickly” if they intend to stem the snowballing adoption of the technology.

“This is a lot like Uber — the regulators wanted to knock Uber out of business, but the people wanted Uber and the people won,” he said, adding:

“Before long, there will be 200 million [crypto] users in the United States.” 

Scaramucci’s comments come as many onlookers fear a regulatory crackdown spearheaded by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.

Despite expressing disagreement with SEC Chair Gary Gensler’s recent characterization of the crypto sector as being “rife with fraud and abuse,” Scaramucci highlighted his appreciation for the position Gensler is in.

“He’s got a lot of people in Congress that don’t fully understand it. There’s a lot of negativity. I would implore people like Senator Elizabeth Warren to come to a conference like this and sit with people in the industry so she can understand what the protocols actually are […] I think we’ve got to get everybody up the curve in terms of education.”

However, other finance magnates speaking at the event do not share Scaramucci’s optimism regarding the ability of crypto adoption to outrun the grasp of heavy-handed regulations.

Ray Dalio, the founder of the world’s third-largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, predicted the increasing popularity of digital assets will draw the ire of lawmakers.

“At the end of the day if it’s really successful, […] they will try to kill it. And I think they will kill it because they have ways of killing it,” he told CNBC.

Despite his outlook, Dalio slammed cash as “trash,” adding that all monetary assets offering an alternative to cash are “worth considering,” including Bitcoin (BTC).

“I think it’s worth considering all the alternatives to cash and all the alternatives to the other financial assets. Bitcoin is a possibility. I have a certain amount of money in Bitcoin,” he said.

Related: SEC threatens to sue Coinbase over crypto yield program it considers a security

SkyBridge filed with the SEC for a crypto-focused ETF on Tuesday. If approved, the First Trust SkyBridge Crypto Industry and Digital Economy ETF would invest at least 80% of its net assets into leading companies representing the crypto industry ecosystem, however, would not seek direct exposure to cryptocurrency.

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Fidenza artist slams knock-off NFT project from ‘honest pirates’ on Solana



Fidenza artist slams knock-off NFT project from ‘honest pirates’ on Solana

Tyler Hobbs, the artist behind the popular generative nonfungible token (NFT) series “Fidenza,” has slammed a Solana-based project for utilizing his code to produce knock-off artworks without his approval.

The “Fidenza” series is a curated drop of 999 NFTs on Art Blocks, an Ethereum-based platform that creates and hosts tokenized computer-generated artworks. Hobbs wrote code that generates unique art pieces, using the randomized transaction hash of the buyer’s transaction as input.

Fidenza #313

Hobbs sold the 999 works originally for $400,000 and has since made more than $4 million in commissions as they were sold on.

Now his code has been used without his permission to generate art for an NFT project called “SolBlocks.” Hobbs fired a salvo at the team after it had announced a tokenized art drop using his code on Wednesday.

2/ The first generative algorithm we will launch in SolBlocks Series I is known as Fidenza, by renowned artist Tyler Hobbs.

The SolBlocks Series I (Fidenza) ARE NOT copy/pastes of Art Blocks’ Fidenza collection!

— SolBlocks (@Sol_blocks) September 14, 2021

While SolBlocks emphasized that the NFTs would not be copies of the “Fidenza” collection, Hobbs took aim at the project for using his computer program without permission:

“Not only is this distasteful as hell, it’s also unauthorized commercial usage of my program. I’m asking you to stop, please.”

SolBlocks released some sample artworks from Hobbs’ code that look very similar to the “Fidenza” collection, and while they are not direct copies, the value is inherent in the code, which generates the colorful art pieces.

In response to the disgruntled artist, SolBlocks emphasized that it wasn’t copying his art. Instead of agreeing to cancel the collection, they offered to share the proceeds of the sales with him.

“They are definitely not copies. They are new, everyone has said it —new hashes = new outputs. We’re not saying we’re not pirates of Hobbs’ code. But at least we’re honest pirates. We’ve officially decided to share a portion of all proceeds with artists whose code we utilize,” SolBlocks said.

4/ Examples are here (these are NOT Art Blocks Fidenzas, these will NOT be included in the collection, these were generated by the team during testing): pic.twitter.com/Lk0vGiftaB

— SolBlocks (@Sol_blocks) September 14, 2021

From computer science to Fidenza NFTs

Cointelegraph Magazine spoke to Hobbs before this latest incident unfolded, and he was clearly prepared for something like this to occur at some stage, given that his code is available on the blockchain.

The 34-year-old computer scientist turned millionaire NFT artist said that while it is “interesting for people to be able to explore that algorithm” his vision for “Fidenza” is now complete with the capped number of 999 NFTs.

Related: Fidenza: Tyler Hobbs wrote software that generates art worth millions

“I think the 999 is sort of the perfect test run of the algorithm and captures everything that I could have wanted it to capture,” he said, adding that he likes that there is “a clear start and a clear finish.”

Journeys in Blockchain author Elias Ahonen wrote:

“He is unconcerned about fakes due to the unfalsifiable nature of blockchain provenance but acknowledges that someone could sell them as unofficial Fidenzas. While he is unable to ascertain the legality of doing so, he finds the thought of others co-opting the program for profit as unethical and disrespectful.”

Copycat NFT collections appear to be an issue regardless of which blockchain is utilized. The beloved CryptoPunks project has a long list of replicated collectibles such as CryptoPhunks, DystoPunks, Zunks, HD Punks and Bastard Gan Punks to name a few. There are also CryptoPunks on Solana called SolPunks… and even they have a problem with clones, too.

⚠️We are not on @SolSeaNFT!⚠️

The collection available there has been user created to replicate SolPunks

The only place where you can acquire an actual SolPunk is @SolanartNFT

Some users have been misled because the collection has a checkmark (see below)

Stay safe out there! pic.twitter.com/wES6T4xbJc

— SolPunks (@PunksOnSolana) September 5, 2021

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