As Crypto Halloween 2023 approaches, it’s time to gather around the bonfire and share some of the spookiest stories from the dark corners of the cryptocurrency world that have unfolded in 2023. These stories might not be your typical ghost tales, but they are equally chilling and hair-raising for anyone involved in the blockchain industry.
From multimillion-dollar hacks to regulatory battles, 2023 has seen its fair share of heart-stopping moments. In this article, we will delve into some of the scariest occurrences in cryptocurrency this year and provide insights on how to navigate the crypto market with confidence.
While Halloween is a one-day scare-fest, the crypto market can haunt investors all year round. Whether it’s a multi-million dollar hack or another lawsuit in the SEC’s ongoing campaign against cryptocurrencies, the blockchain industry has a knack for giving its participants cold sweats. However, in the world of crypto, where there is fear, there is also bravery. Regardless of the market’s terrors, the crypto community always finds a way to bounce back and emerge stronger.
Legal and Regulatory Actions
- SEC Sues Coinbase: In 2023, the SEC took legal action against Coinbase, alleging unregistered activities and issues with their crypto asset staking program, causing significant concern in the crypto community.
- SEC Sues Binance US and Changpeng Zhao: The SEC continued their legal offensive by targeting Binance US and its CEO, Changpeng Zhao, over unregistered activities and the operation of staking programs, marking a notable regulatory escalation.
- The Ongoing FTX Trials: Founder of FTX and Alameda Research, Sam Bankman-Fried, faced charges including money laundering and fraud, leading to the downfall of his crypto empires. His testimony revealed concerns about risk management and transparency issues in FTX, including borrowing funds and conflicts of interest.
- Uncertainty on Bitcoin ETF Approval: Uncertainty surrounded the approval of a Bitcoin ETF, despite optimism sparked by BlackRock’s application. The SEC’s previous reluctance added doubt to the prospects of an ETF, which could potentially attract significant capital.
- SEC Charges Genesis and Gemini In January 2023: In January 2023, the SEC charged Genesis and Gemini for their involvement in the unregistered offer and sale of crypto asset securities through the Gemini Earn Lending Program.
- These 2023 events marked a shift in the SEC-crypto industry relationship, with ongoing cases shaping the crypto market’s future direction.
Financial Troubles: Layoffs and Bankruptcies in 2023
The crypto industry faces a crisis that began with the run on the stablecoin terraUSD in the spring. Many prominent crypto lenders have suffered due to customer withdrawals, risky practices, and the absence of regulation. This crisis has revealed the close connections among various industry players, leading to a series of bankruptcy filings in 2023.
The Federal Reserve’s continuous rate increases prompted a mass exodus of investors from cryptocurrencies to safer asset classes. This move further aggravated the financial turmoil in the crypto industry, resulting in ongoing bankruptcy proceedings involving major players like FTX, Blockfi, Celsius, and Voyager.
Crypto Giants in Crisis
- Blockchain.com Cuts Staff: Blockchain.com reduced its workforce by 28%, eliminating about 110 jobs after a prior round of layoffs in Argentina.
- Coinbase Restructures and Sheds Jobs: Coinbase, the largest U.S. crypto exchange, restructures, cutting 20% of its workforce, approximately 950 employees, due to financial challenges and regulatory penalties.
- Crypto.com Faces Layoffs and Troubles: Crypto.com, based in Singapore, faces a second round of layoffs, affecting 20% of its workforce, alongside operational issues, including a significant transaction misstep.
- Digital Currency Group’s Division Closure: Digital Currency Group closes its wealth-management division and explores offers for CoinDesk, one of its holdings, with bids surpassing $200 million.
- Genesis Crypto Lender Bankruptcy: Genesis, a crypto lending firm under DCG, files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, blaming lending to FTX affiliate Alameda Research.
- Luno’s Workforce Reduction: Luno, a crypto exchange under DCG, lays off 35% of its global workforce, known as “Lunauts.”
- Huobi Announces Staff Reduction: Huobi crypto exchange plans to cut 20% of its staff while focusing on asset security amid increased net outflows.
Hacking and Scams: A Cryptocurrency Nightmare
- In 2023, the cryptocurrency space experienced an alarming surge in hacking and scams. Leading security firm CertiK estimates that over $1.3 billion USD was lost to malicious activities. This concerning trend is further exacerbated as the holiday season approaches, providing fertile ground for scammers.
- Multichain’s Suspicious Withdrawals: In July, the Multi Chain cross-chain bridge protocol suffered from mysterious transactions leading to the withdrawal of over $125 million in crypto assets. The incident led to the suspension of services, and suspicions of an inside job were raised. Multichain’s CEO was later arrested by Chinese authorities, adding intrigue to the case.
- Euler Finance’s Flash Loan Attack: Euler Finance, a DeFi lending app built on the Ethereum blockchain, fell victim to a flash loan attack in March. The hacker, known as ‘Jacob,’ exploited the DonateToReserve function to withdraw $197 million. Notably, Jacob later returned the stolen funds, and a wallet linked to the North Korean Lazarus Group was involved, adding complexity to the situation.
Notable Crypto Hacks in 2023:
- Atomic Wallet suffered a $100 million hack in June, linked to the North Korean Lazarus Group.
- Curve Finance was exploited in July, with hackers swiping $61 million from trading pools.
- Stake.com, a prominent online casino and sports betting platform, lost $41.3 million in a hack in September.
- CoinsPaid experienced a $37.3 million hack in July, orchestrated by hackers linked to the Lazarus Group.
- Bitrue, based in Singapore, was hit for $23 million in April, claiming it was less than 5% of its reserves.
- South Korean exchange GDAC lost $13.9 million in an attack on its hot wallet in April.
- Long-standing DeFi protocol Yearn suffered an $11.5 million theft in April due to a vulnerability.
- In February, MyAlgo, an Algorand web wallet, lost $9.2 million to a hacker who compromised an API key.
These widespread hacks and scams not only raise concerns within the cryptocurrency space but also contribute to economic turmoil. Investors and users face heightened risks, highlighting the urgent need for improved cybersecurity measures to safeguard digital assets and the integrity of the crypto industry.
Economic Turmoil and Geopolitical Intrigue
- Binance Freezes Hamas-Linked Accounts: Binance, a crypto exchange, froze accounts related to Hamas militants at Israel’s request. This action targeted Hamas, a UN-recognized terrorist group, not Palestinians. It aligns with anti-terror measures for banks and platforms.
- Russia-Ukraine War’s Crypto Impact: The Russia-Ukraine conflict disrupted crypto adoption. Supply chain issues and increased prices affected markets, causing ripples in Russia and Ukraine’s crypto economies. Both saw sharp drops in crypto transactions.
- Federal Reserve Rate Hikes and Crypto: In 2023, Federal Reserve rate hikes affected the crypto market. Higher rates lured funds to traditional investments, reducing crypto demand. The actual impact depends on economic conditions, geopolitics, and market sentiment, closely monitored by investors.
Cryptocurrency Rollercoaster: The Rise and Fall of Coins
The world of cryptocurrencies and blockchain holds promise, but it’s not without its share of failures. Many cryptocurrencies launched with the aim of bringing new utilities have encountered challenges. Between 1,700 and 2,500 cryptocurrencies might have already failed by March 2023, with reasons ranging from lack of investment and trading volume to developer abandonment, hacks, and rug pulls.
The Concept of ‘Dead Coins’
Cryptocurrencies that have failed are often referred to as ‘dead coins.’ These are characterized by a lack of liquidity, abandonment by developers, or involvement in scams. Despite losing all value, dead coins can still be listed on crypto exchanges, posing a significant hazard to investors.
Cryptocurrency Meltdowns in 2023
- Luna (LUNA) and TerraUSD (UST): LUNA was once a prominent crypto on the Terra blockchain, reaching a high market cap of $44.8 billion. However, Terra’s ecosystem collapsed in May 2022, causing both LUNA and its stablecoin, UST, to plummet. LUNA was removed from many exchanges, marking a significant crypto failure.
- Worldcoin’s Eyeball Hunt: Worldcoin (WLD), backed by OpenAI and Sam Altman, introduced ‘Proof-of-Humanness.’ Users’ iris scans generated biometric blockchain code, sparking privacy concerns despite promised data deletion.
- Shibarium Launch Uncertainty: Shibarium, Shiba Inu’s anticipated Layer-2 blockchain, faced technical glitches, locking $1.7M in ETH, non-functional RPC systems, a weak explorer, and a days-long network outage, stirring anxiety in the SHIB community.
- Friend.tech’s Rise and Fall: Friend. tech, a social media share issuance platform, quickly gained users but suffered a significant decline. Issues included a leak of user data, concerns about privacy, and regulatory scrutiny.
Reasons for Crypto Failures
Cryptos fail for various reasons, including market saturation, lack of liquidity, inexperienced teams, insufficient funding, scams, and the absence of a real utility or purpose. The crypto market’s inherent risk and potential for malicious activity contribute to these failures.
In the crypto world, success and failure often coexist, and investors must navigate a landscape filled with potential hazards and opportunities. As we celebrate Halloween 2023, let’s not forget that the crypto world can be equally terrifying. It’s crucial to stay informed, protect your digital assets, and approach the crypto market with caution. May your crypto investments remain safe and secure in this Halloween season and beyond.