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Facebook Suddenly Relaxes Crypto Ad Terms Before Stablecoin Launch

Facebook Suddenly Relaxes Crypto Ad Terms Before Stablecoin Launch

Facebook Suddenly Relaxes Crypto Ad Terms Before Stablecoin LaunchFacebook is loosening restrictions for crypto ads now that the social media giant is close to launching its own stablecoin.  | AFP PHOTO / JONATHAN NACKSTRANDBy CCN: Now that Facebook is on the cusp of rolling out its own crypto of sorts, it’s adjusting policies for existing market players to advertise on its platform – again.The world’s largest social media platform said in a blog post on Wednesday that it’s been listening to feedback since it shut down crypto advertising. That led it to assess the policy’s effectiveness, and voila, it had an epiphany. The timing just happens to coincide with the upcoming launch of Facebook’s own stablecoin.In the post, the company says:“While we will still require people to apply to run ads promoting cryptocurrency, starting today, we will narrow this policy to no longer require pre-approval for ads related to blockchain technology, industry news, education or events related to cryptocurrency.”2018: Facebook bans crypto ad’s2019: Facebook accepts crypto ads pic.twitter.com/yff7uR93bI— faast (@goFaast) May 8, 2019From No to That’s a GoLast June, Facebook began requiring those wishing to advertise crypto products on its platform to first get written approval.An ad that directs to a landing page featuring a restricted product, such as a cryptocurrency exchange, will still require prior approval. Facebook says:“Or, if the landing page includes a prohibited product, like an initial coin offering (ICO), we will reject it.”Referring to something it calls its Prohibited Financial Products and Services policy, the post states that Facebook will no longer allow ads promoting contracts for difference (CFDs), complex financial products that are often associated with predatory behavior.ICOs fall into this category, and ads for them will continue to be banned.Conveniently reversing their stance on #crypto as they prepare to launch their own coin HMM #cryptocurrency https://t.co/A0uwYSgGPs— tadleer (@tadleer) May 8, 2019Facebook’s Interesting TimingThis gracious allowance from Facebook comes just as it’s looking for $1 billion to fund its stablecoin project. Called Project Libra, CCN reported that Facebook is talking with heavyweights such as Visa and Mastercard to get that cash.The company started Project Libra more than a year ago as a simple way to transfer money between WhatsApp users. But in true Facebook fashion, it’s grown far beyond that original scope.The project has expanded to include e-commerce payments on Facebook and other websites as well as rewards for viewing ads, shopping online, and interacting with content.Not Everyone Will BenefitFacebook remains committed to preventing misleading advertising on platforms, especially in the area of financial products and services. As a result, Facebook’s new ad policy is not applicable to all:“Because of this, people who want to promote cryptocurrency and closely related products like cryptocurrency exchanges and mining software and hardware, will still have to go through a review process.” About The AuthorTedra DeSueIf you can buy it, trade it, invest in it, or sell it, I write about it. For more than 20 years, I’ve covered all things finance. I threw myself into covering the crypto space with the keen understanding that it would be an industry disruptor. I’m in constant search for the real Satoshi Nakamoto!
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US Govt. Seizes Millions in Cash & Crypto in Movie Piracy Case

The United States Government has seized millions in cash and cryptocurrency as part of a movie and TV show piracy investigation carried out by Homeland Security Investigations and the MPAA. PayPal appears to have played an early key role by providing information on two subscription-based ‘pirate’ sites. From there, the rabbit hole deepened. Significant legal…

US Govt. Seizes Millions in Cash & Crypto in Movie Piracy Case

The United States Government has seized millions in cash and cryptocurrency as part of a movie and TV show piracy investigation carried out by Homeland Security Investigations and the MPAA. PayPal appears to have played an early key role by providing information on two subscription-based ‘pirate’ sites. From there, the rabbit hole deepened.

Significant legal action against alleged operators of pirate sites have traditionally been carried out with great fanfare.

However, a case underway in federal court in Oregon is a very different beast, particularly given its scale and form.

The case filed in the district court May 6, 2019, reveals the United States government seeking forfeiture of around $4 million dollars worth of cash and cryptocurrency seized on the basis that the owner of the property was involved in a conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and money laundering.

The investigation reportedly began in October 2013 when Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents received information from PayPal concerning two websites, Noobroom.com and Noobroom7.com, that allowed subscribers to stream movies and TV shows.

HSI reported these sites to the MPAA which conducted an investigation, concluding that the sites and associated domains Noobroom and Noobroom9 distributed works in breach of its members’ copyrights. Revenue was reportedly generated by subscriptions processed through Stripe and via adverts placed by a company called Lanista Concepts.

In July 2014, the MPAA sent a cease-and-desist notice to Noobroom. Five days later a covert Noobroom user account operated by the Hollywood group received a message advising users that their accounts had been moved to a new website at SuperChillin.com.

After downloading movies from SuperChillin, the MPAA was able to link an IP address to an individual identified as Talon White. The suspect was subsequently linked to two additional sites – movietv.co and Sit2Play.com – which were deemed to be near identical copies of each other. The registrant of Sit2Play was listed as Talon White and an associated email address was determined as belonging to him.

HSI’s investigation continued from 2016 to November 2018 when search and seizure warrants were executed. A declaration by Keith Druffel, a Special Agent of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, reads as follows;

“Based on financial records obtained during the investigation, I determined that White received substantial revenue from the above-listed websites,” Druffel writes.

“In 2018, he was averaging revenue over $500,000 per month. In 2017, White received over $2.2 million. In 2016, White received over $1 million in revenue, and in 2014 and 2015, White received on average about $400,000 a year in revenue.”

According to Druffel, subscribers of the sites paid via PayPal or Stripe, payments that were deposited into bank accounts controlled by White. Information provided by Stripe matched White’s personal information and the account was labeled as “Selling stock tip subscriptions via email.” The IRS claims there is no evidence of any such sales.

78,985 payments of $9.99 were received into the Stripe account between October 2015 and December 2016, amounting to $789,060. A further 7,611 payments of $25.49 ($194,004.39) and 5,348 payments of $44.99 ($240,606.52) made a grand total of $1,223,671.24.

“The above-listed amounts correspond to the listed subscription costs on Sit2Play and Movietv. Therefore, I believe the payments received by Stripe are the subscription fees for the websites,” Druffel adds.

Further analysis of transactions on White’s Stripe account dated between October 2017 and September 2018 revealed a further 396,843 payments of between $9.99 and $44.99 to a value of $6,373,816.57.

“The above listed amounts correspond to the cost of subscriptions to the websites and represent proceeds from the violation of 18 USC § 2319, Criminal Copyright Infringement,” the statement reads.

The investigation found that through August 2018, more than $3m was transferred from the Stripe account to a Wells Fargo account in White’s name and a JP Morgan Chase account held in the name of Viral Sensations, Inc. (VSI), a Nevada entity.

White is alleged to have opened three checking accounts in the name of VSI, over which he had sole signature authority. Through August 31, 2018, one VSI account received payments of more than $5.9 million. The accounts were linked to White and subscriptions from the pirate sites. Funds from one of the Chase accounts were used to buy $1m in cryptocurrency through virtual currency exchange Coinbase.

On November 13, 2018, Mustafa Kasubhai, United States Magistrate Judge for the District of Oregon, approved a search and seizure warrant authorizing a search of White’s residence and seizure of various assets. The warrant was executed two days later, yielding the following;

  • $2,457,790.72 seized from JPMorgan Chase Bank account #1
  • $1,266,650.00 seized from JPMorgan Chase Bank account #2
  • $1,383.68 seized from JPMorgan Chase Bank account #3
  • $200,653.71 seized from JPMorgan Chase Bank account #4
  • $32,921.00 seized in US currency (cash)
  • $1,940.77 seized in US currency (Stripe account)
  • 31.53810677 in BTC (Coinbase account)
  • 1,022.39066800 in ETH (Coinbase account)
  • 5.74017141 in BCH (Coinbase account)

“[I] have probable cause to believe, and I do believe, that White and others known and unknown were involved in a conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1957 and 2319 from at least 2013 through November 2018,” Druffel’s statement adds.

On May 7, 2019, District Judge Anna J. Brown issued an order to the IRS to hold the assets until further notice.

“You are hereby commanded to arrest and take into your possession until further order of the Court, defendants, in rem, Assorted Funds,” the Judge wrote.

From a copyright infringement perspective, this case is pretty unusual.

Most civil and criminal cases against pirate sites and their operators involve detailed descriptions of their workings along with finely-tuned claims of various types of infringement. But the focus here appears to be a financial one, for now at least.

A report from Koin.com suggests that the man hasn’t been charged with a crime yet. In an effort to find ou more, TF approached White’s lawyer Rain Minns. At the time of publication we were yet to receive a response.

Related court documents obtained by TF can be found here (1,2,3)

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Register Lecture: Hidden heroes of Alan Turing’s Enigma

Live code-breaking and beer A curse follows Enigma, the cryptography device deployed by Adolf Hitler’s military during the WWII to protect their Morse communications from the Allies. That curse? Invisibility. Alan Turing has – now – become intrinsically linked with cracking Enigma, a machine of fiendish complexity capable of 159 million, million, million (1.59×1020) settings…

Register Lecture: Hidden heroes of Alan Turing’s Enigma

Live code-breaking and beer

A curse follows Enigma, the cryptography device deployed by Adolf Hitler’s military during the WWII to protect their Morse communications from the Allies. That curse? Invisibility.

Alan Turing has – now – become intrinsically linked with cracking Enigma, a machine of fiendish complexity capable of 159 million, million, million (1.59×1020) settings that demanded the perfect marriage of mathematics and engineering to break. Turing’s work would blow open secrets that helped alter the war – for example, alerting the RAF to Luftwaffe raids during the Battle of Britain. And yet, Turing received little by way of the recognition he deserved for decades – quite the opposite, in fact.

But Turing is not the only one to have suffered Enigma’s curse of invisibility. Join The National Museum of Computing on June 26 for a special Register lecture journey back 80 years to the eve of the Second World War, to hear the stories of those behind Turing.

Hear about who provided a critical leg-up to the struggling English in cracking Enigma and who helped build the Bombe – the device to mechanise the mathematics of code breaking. Eight decades after the start of the War, TNMOC will go inside the pioneering work of the Polish General Staff Cipher Bureau in Warsaw and shine a light on the roles of Gordon Welchman and Doc Keen, the long-overlooked Bombe engineering team lead, at Bletchley. Together, they helped put code-breaking at Bletchley Park on an industrial footing.

Your guide for this crypto history trip will be Paul Kellar MBE, a leading member of the Bombe Rebuild project – based at TNMOC as a working tribute to those who contributed to breaking the Enigma.

Starring with Paul will be a working Enigma to help demonstrate “knowing your enemy” and illustrate how the Bombe could attack and break the Enigma on a daily basis. You will get the opportunity, too, to participate in a live code-cracking exercise with Checking Machine – the last stage in recovering the Key of the Day after the Bombe had found the crucial settings.

Join fellow Reg readers with the TNMOC crypto historians and their machines at the Rugby Tavern, 19 Great James St, London, WC1N 3ES. Doors open at 18:30 BST with Paul taking the mic at 19:00. An audience question-and-answer session will follow a break to re-charge mind and grey matter. Get your ticket here. ®

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