Current State of The Crypto Market (October 20th, 2019)

Hackers:  California resident Seth Shapiro has filed a lawsuit against wireless service giant AT&T alleging that its employees helped to perpetrate a SIM-swap which resulted in the theft of over $1.8 million in cryptocurrencies.  The complaint filed on Oct. 17 claims that Shapiro is “a two-time Emmy Award-winning media and technology expert, author, and adjunct professor at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts.” The lawsuit alleges that between May 16 and May 18 AT&T employees transferred access to Shapiro’s mobile phone to outside hackers.  The court document states that these actions allowed the hackers to also access Shapiro’s personal accounts on several cryptocurrency exchanges.  The plaintiff also claims to be in possession of chat logs in which AT&T employees and hackers discuss how the stolen money should be routed and brag about how much they took.

Key Players:  A purported cryptocurrency and foreign exchange investment firm is in hot water with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and stands accused of operating like a Ponzi scheme.  In a press release on Wednesday, relating to a complaint filed Sept. 30., the CFTC said it’s charging Nevada-based Circle Society and its operator David Gilbert Saffron with fraudulently soliciting and misappropriating investor funds, as well as registration violations.  Through his firm, Saffron offered binary options on forex and cryptocurrency pairs and is alleged to have fleeced investors for $11 million in dollars and bitcoin since 2017.  The complaint says Saffron fraudulently solicited funds from at least 14 individuals to participate in an investment pool operated by Circle Society, making false claims about his trading expertise and “guaranteeing” gains of up to 300 percent.

Banks & Institutions:  American financial services company Fidelity Investments has fully launched its cryptocurrency custody service.  Abigail Johnson, CEO of Fidelity Investments, revealed the development in an interview published on October 18th,  Johnson said that the company is ready to roll out its crypto custody business following a year-long preparation and accumulation of clients.  Last fall, Fidelity specifically indicated that it would provide an enterprise-grade crypto custody service to hedge funds, family offices and financial advisors. Johnson called that kind of service nascent and not developed, but noted its potential, saying:

“There are people out there with significant amounts of wealth in cryptocurrencies, probably Bitcoin, and they’re looking for somebody to hold those coins for them because in the event of their passing — which is going to happen at some point or another — you’ve got to have a plan to be able to get those coins to somebody else.”

Adoption: The Nasdaq stock exchange has listed an index of crypto’s top 100 coins alongside traditional market bellwethers like the S&P 500 and the Dow.  Powered by artificial intelligence, the CIX100 is designed by Cryptoindex.com to give Wall Street traders a quick and comprehensive view of the crypto markets’ real-time performance, the company said.  A company spokesman goes on to state “We make sure our index includes only [coins] that have no fake volume, have no manipulation, that come from scrupulous companies.”  The CIX100 does so with layers of neural networks, benchmarks and other features, Coins must remain among the top 200 by market cap for at least three months to be considered by the AI.