HitBTC Allegedly Holding User's Funds Hostage Despite Submission of Proof of ID

  • One Redditor claims HitBTC is holding his funds hostage, despite having documents necessary for KYC/AML checks.
  • Users on social media are accusing it of selective scamming.
  • Searching for complaints against the exchange leads to a plethora of results.

HitBTC, a controversial cryptocurrency exchange, is once again under fire as one Redditor claims it’s holdings his funds hostage while demanding he verifies his social media accounts, even after proving information regarding his identity.

According to Reddit user Allomancer_Jak, the cryptocurrency exchange is currently holding his funds hostage, even though he attempted to verify his identity with the exchange by sending a photo of himself and his passport in front of an email from HitBTC’s security team.

When this wasn’t good enough for the exchange, the Redditor added, he included proof of his residency and his bank statement in the documents sent to the cryptocurrency exchange, but to no avail.

In its most recent demands, the exchange is asking the user to log in to the platform without using a virtual private network (VPN) – which may allow it to record where he is logging in from. It further asked him to provide information on the origin of deposited funds. The message HitBTC send the user reads:

For your convenience, the origin of funds report may be presented in a free form as a chain of events in chronological order, every step validated with blockchain explorer data, screenshots, and data used on other crypto infrastructure services, so that we would be able to contact them for verification, if needed.

HitBTC

It added that the user should send over links of his social media accounts, presumably to verify he has an online presence.

In addition, kindly update us with the data regarding your social networks presence, i.e. the links to your profile in major social networks.

HitBTC

These demands came after the user sent over Coinbase transaction records that he purchased his BTC with fiat currency on the platform. Tracing the path of his funds through the blockchain could be extremely hard or nearly impossible.

As various users commenting on the Reddit post noted, anyone could impersonate Allomancer_Jak on social media. Some believe HitBTC, along with other companies associated with it, are selectively scamming, meaning they pick specific targets to scam while operating as legitimate organizations.

Searching for complaints online against the exchange leads to a plethora of results, which implies something is indeed going on. As CryptoGlobe covered, eccentric cybersecurity pioneer John McAfee even launched a campaign against it earlier this year.

McAfee’s campaign, however, was likely motivated by HitBTC’s withdrawals fees on a project the bitcoin bull invested in. The cybersecurity expert accused HitBTC of being liable for the “death of untold people,” over a lack of support for Docademic (MTC), a project that claims to offer users free health care services.

The cryptocurrency exchange recently barred Japanese users from its platforms, as it’s set to launch a licensed subsidiary in the country in Q3 this year.

CryptoGlobe Talks to CODEX CEO Serge Attic

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Crypto exchanges have had a tough crypto winter.

With everything from exchange hacks, CEO deaths to just plain vanilla low interest in trading, most of 2018 was far from perfect for most exchanges. Nonetheless, many platforms have taken the opportunity to hunker down during the bear market and work on improving their platforms. 

One platform that fits this bill is CODEX. We spoke to CODEX CEO Serge Attic about the bear market, the unique features of their exchange, QuadrigaCX and their roadmap for 2019.

How did you get into crypto?

The first time I encountered Bitcoin was in 2012, when I was looking for solutions for integrating with e-commerce payments and found Bitcoin's distributed technology very promising, but very young for widespread acceptance by business. My next involvement was a few years later. I was invited by a small commercial bank to lead a project, which aimed to build an e-money based on blockchain technology. I was impressed with the idea of using a fuly-fledged cryptocurrency in a massive e-commerce market. Now I believe blockchain and crypto will transform people’s financial habits and  will change the finance industry.

What distinguishes CODEX from other exchanges?

Unlike other exchanges, we focus on providing our users with top-tier security and fiat gateways. Security is a serious issue: while we hear about exchanges' being hacked, we don't really hear a lot about security standards despite the age of the industry. 

First of all we want to make sure that users' funds are safe with us. We are a centralized exchange, but recently we moved towards a hybrid approach by implementing some features of decentralized exchanges. We understand the necessity of providing a convenient way to buy cryptocurrencies, and that's why expanded our partnerships with payment providers. This allowed us to open for local markets. We started with Ukrainian and European markets, and implemented UAH and EUR gateways accordingly. 

What makes CODEX extra secure?

We use several security measures and constantly improve them. These measures include intrusion detection, prevention and monitoring, the usage of HSTS policy and using EdDSA cryptography when users work with their API keys. As far as I know CODEX is the only exchange to use the EsDSA API. In addition, to reduce credentials attacks we allow our users to login to CODEX with a QR-code only - via Scatter or any wallet which supports the SimpleWallet protocol. 

Of course, we also do cybersecurity audits. Our recent audit by Hacken awarded us with a 10/10 web platform security grade. It's important to mention that CODEX is compliant with Payment Cards Industry standards. We do not store and thus do not share our clients' cards data. CODEX also obtained licenses from EU regulators for exchange services and custody storage. This adds an extra layer of security as it sets us up within a regulated landscape. I see this as a plus for our users.

How did the bear market of 2018 affect you? Is the new bull(ish) run affecting you?

During the bear market we focused solely on development. We saw a significant drop in interest for trading on cryptocurrency exchanges. There was even a time when cryptocurrency traders moved to FOREX markets. But we were ready for this and we had different priorities. The new bull run certainly increased interest among various groups of users interested in cryptocurrencies. Soon we'll see even bigger growth in fiat-to-crypto transactions. Thankfully, we provide such a gateway.

What do you think deters new customers from trading on exchanges?

A lack of education and incomplete financial inclusion. It's a complicated landscape. New users find it a hard task ask to learn everything about money first, then about ryptocurrencies, then how exchanges work and, finally, how to work with an exchange. It takes time. 

What lessons do you think the industry can learn from QuadrigaCX?

Industry players can learn a lot here. We need to set up industry security standards and  educate users to care about their own security. QuadrigaCX made a few simple mistakes, which are unacceptable to any expert in the field of cybersecurity. Of course, users can rely on a technical infrastructure, but they cannot rely on personalities. A good idea here is to check how transparent the exchange is, what are its roots and history, and who the team members are. Greater exposure leads to greater reputational damage if someone has malicious intentions. 

If Libra goes ahead, will you list the coin on your exchange?

We will do that if there is a demand from our users to list Libra on CODEX. Right now it is a controversial topic. Exchanges as instruments should not decide on providing or not providing access to certain assets as has happened with BSV and its delisting. CODEX didn't list BSV as we didn't see an appropriate level of demand. The market should decide.

What’s on the roadmap for CODEX in 2019 and beyond?

We plan to work on exchange's usability features, improve security measures and add more stablecoins to help our users diversify risks. We also want to provide more financial instruments to our users. For example, we are currently working  on providing our users with an ability to buy stocks with cryptocurrencies.