By Jillian D’Onfro for CNBC
Google is cracking down on cryptocurrency-related advertising. The move follows a similar ban by Facebook earlier this year. The company will no longer allow ads about cryptocurrency-related content, including initial coin offerings (ICOs), wallets, and trading advice across any of its ad platforms.
The company is updating its financial services-related ad policies to ban any advertising about cryptocurrency-related content, including initial coin offerings (ICOs), wallets, and trading advice, Google’s director of sustainable ads, Scott Spencer, told CNBC.
That means that even companies with legitimate cryptocurrency offerings won’t be allowed to serve ads through any of Google’s ad products, which place advertising on its own sites as well as third-party websites.
This update will go into effect in June 2018, according to a company post.
“We don’t have a crystal ball to know where the future is going to go with cryptocurrencies, but we’ve seen enough consumer harm or potential for consumer harm that it’s an area that we want to approach with extreme caution,” Scott said.
Google’s hard-line approach follows a similar ban that Facebook announced earlier this year.
While the crypto-currency boom has produced a lot of excitement and wealth, it’s still a largely unregulated space and has spawned countless high-profile scams.
This news comes as Google releases its annual “trust and safety” ads report.
Google said it took down more than 3.2 billion ads in 2017 that violated its policies, which is nearly double the 1.7 billion it removed the year before.
Google parent company Alphabet makes roughly 84 percent of its total revenue from advertising, so convincing advertisers that its ecosystem is safe and effective is critically important.
By Jillian D’Onfro for CNBC
Over 27‚000 cryptocurrency investors have fallen victim to one of the biggest Bitcoin scams to hit South Africa, TimesLive reported.
Hawks spokesman Captain Lloyd Ramovha confirmed the commercial crimes unit was investigating complaints against BTC Global‚ a company which asked investors to send their cryptocurrency to an online wallet address.
Many of the victims were South African, but the extent of the scam spread to the US and Australia.
“The amount is over $50 million and could rise as more victims come forward‚” said Ramovha.
He said the company was being investigated for violating the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act, but could not confirm whether it was a Ponzi scheme or if the people behind it are South African.
Victims from South Africa told TimesLive they had invested between R16‚000 and R1.4 million with BTC Global.
BTC Global’s selling point was the skill of its “master trader” Steve Twain, whom many victims believe does not exist.
BTC Global promised investors that if they sent their Bitcoin to its wallet address they would receive guaranteed returns of 14% per week.
Its website now displays a message which states that Steven Twain is missing and calls for victims to stop threatening harm to the admin team.
Craig Wright, the self-proclaimed inventor of Bitcoin, is accused of swindling more than $5-billion worth of the cryptocurrency and other assets from the estate of a computer-security expert.
Wright, who claimed in 2016 that he created the computer-based currency under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, allegedly schemed to use phony contracts and signatures to lay claim to bitcoins mined by colleague Dave Kleiman, another cryptocurrency adherent, who died in 2013, according to a lawsuit filed by Kleiman’s brother.
Kleiman’s family contends they own the rights to more than 1 million Bitcoins and blockchain technologies Kleiman mined and developed during his lifetime and that the assets’ value exceeds $5 billion, according to the Feb. 14 filing in federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida.
“Craig forged a series of contracts that purported to transfer Dave’s assets to Craig and/or companies controlled by him,’’ lawyers for Kleiman’s family said in the complaint. “Craig backdated these contracts and forged Dave’s signature on them.’’
Wright, an Australian who lives in London, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on the suit, which also accuses the entrepreneur of violating partnership duties to Kleiman and unjustly enriching himself at his colleague’s expense. There is no attorney listed for Wright on the docket.
Wright and Kleiman formed a Florida-based company, W&K Info Defense Research LLC, in 2011 to focus on cybersecurity, according to the court filing. The pair also had earlier worked together on the development of Bitcoin and had extensive mining operations, according to the family’ s lawsuit.
The pair controlled as many as 1.1 million Bitcoins at the time of Kleiman’s death, according to the suit. They were held trusts set up in Singapore, the Seychelles Islands and the U.K., the suit says.
Wright said in a 2016 blog post and interviews that he was the main participant in a team that developed the original Bitcoin software under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. After skeptics questioned the claims, Wright said that he decided not to present any further evidence to prove that he is the creator of Bitcoin.
In the filing, Kleiman’s brother includes what he says is email traffic between himself and Wright in which the entrepreneur indicates he may have been holding 300,000 of Kleiman’s Bitcoins.
Dave “mentioned that you had 1 million Bitcoins in the trust and since you said he has 300,000 as his part,’’ the computer expert’s brother wrote. “I was figuring the other 700,000 is yours,” he added in the email. “Is that correct?”
“Around that,” Wright wrote back. “Minus what was needed for the company’s use.”
The case is Ira Kleiman v. Craig Wright, No. 18-cv-80176, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Forbes has released its list of the richest people in the cryptocurrency community.
The net worth of those on the rich list is denoted in range estimates based on estimated cryptocurrency holdings, post-tax profits from cryptocurrency trades, and stakes in cryptocurrency-related businesses.
The net worth estimates reflect the estimated holdings of the rich list as of 19 January 2018.
Forbes acknowledged that it may have missed certain major cryptocurrency holders due to the obfuscated nature of blockchain transactions.
The top 10 richest people in cryptocurrency, according to Forbes, are below: