Crypto Community Watch Program Launched To Catch And "Punish Bad Actors"

  • Econmerce, ICOAlert and other crypto industry participants have created an Crypto Community Watch Program.
  • The program is aimed at obtaining anonymous tip-off information from anyone who is aware of criminal or fraudulent activity in the crypto space.
  • Whistleblowers might receive a reward if their tip-off leads to the arrest or "legal punishment" of the bad actors.

Ecoinmerce, a blockchain-based social e-commerce marketplace, has announced the launch of an “anonymous tip line” called the Crypto Community Watch Program that whistleblowers can contact to alert authorities about suspected criminal activity related to cryptocurrencies.

According to a press release published today, the Crypto Community Watch Program has been created through a collective effort by several crypto-related organizations, in order to clamp down on the large number of scams and fraudulent activities in the crypto industry.

"Cleaning Up" The Crypto Ecosystem

Crypto industry participants including ICO Alert, NewEconomies, Step VC, GZH, and Ecoinmerce have reportedly set up the anonymous tip line to “[punish] the bad actors in the space while rewarding those brave enough to stand up.”

Rex Chen, COO at Ecoinmerce, expressed serious concerns about the increasing number of hacks and scams in the crypto space. Chen remarked, 

“From the recent exchange hacks to the nearly-weekly reports of fraudulent projects taking off with investors’ money, it’s clear that crypto has a problem. Enough is enough. It’s up to the industry first and the regulators second to clean up the ecosystem. If you spend your time hacking, scamming, or intentionally misleading investors, your time is up.”

Rex Chen

100 Bitcoin Reward Pool 

A total of 100 bitcoins, currently valued at approximately $640,000, have been contributed by the crime-fighting group to an escrow account managed by a trusted third-party. The press release noted that the funds will be used to reward people who anonymously report crypto-related scams and fraudulent activity.

An anonymous online form has been provided so that people can report any illegal activity or fraudulent schemes they may come across in the crypto and blockchain business. Whistleblowers will also be able to include their Bitcoin (BTC) payment address in the confidential form, and if their tip-off “leads directly to the arrest or legal punishment of the wrongdoer”, then they will get “a portion of the reward pool.”

According to the press release, all information submitted via the anonymous tip line or online form will be investigated by those participating in the Crypto Community Watch program. Should the program members suspect any wrongdoing based on the findings of their investigation, then the related tip-off information will be forwarded to law enforcement authorities.

In order to maintain transparency and encourage active involvement from all members of the crypto community, the anonymous tip-off reports will be shared publicly on Ecoinmerce’s official website. Moreover, the program members have requested other crypto firms to join them in their effort to crack down on crimes in the space by creating their own watchdog groups.

Many Criminals Recently Arrested

Notably, the Crypto Community Watch program has been launched at a time when authorities have increasingly begun to arrest criminals involved in various fraudulent activities in the crypto industry. As CryptoGlobe recently reported, €2 million in counterfeit currency was handed to a South Korean businessman by a Serbian criminal in exchange for his bitcoins worth $2.3 million.

The fraudulent transaction took place at a 5-star hotel in France, however, local authorities were able track down and arrest the suspect.

In similar news, Divyesh Darji, the Asian head of BitConnect, was also arrested recently due to his alleged involvement in a large scam associated with the failed cryptocurrency.

HTC Says Its Latest Cryptophone Puts 'A Metaphorical Swiss Bank in Your Pocket'

On Saturday (October 19), Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC launched the Exodus 1s, which it says is "the first ever mobile device with Bitcoin Full Node support."

A Brief History of HTC's Experience With Building Crypto-Friendly Phones

On 15 May 2018, at the Consensus 2018 blockchain summit in New York City, Phil Chen, the "Decentralized Chief Officer" (DCO) for HTC announced the firm's plan to create HTC Exodus, "the world's first native blockchain phone."

The first Exodus model to launch was the Exodus 1, which went on sale in Europe and the U.S. late last year. It initially cost 0.15 BTC (though later, it became possible to buy it for $699). HTC's reason for calling this a "blockchain phone" was that it came with a built-in hardware wallet and a pre-installed Decentralized Apps (DApps) browser that was integrated with this hardware.

HTC says that its wallet app, Zion Vault, "uses the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) to protect your private keys and sensitive data," and that it supports storing, sending, and receiving organize over 100 types of cryptocurrencies."

The HTC Exodus 1 is a dual-sim Android-powered phone with the following specs:

  • 6.0” Quad HD+ display with 18:9 aspect ratio
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 845 processor
  • 3500mAh battery
  • Android Oreo (i.e. Android version 8.x)
  • 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM

What happened next is that HTC used its experience with the Exodus 1 and feedback from developers and the market to build a more budget-friendly device: the Exodus 1s. This is the device that HTC introduced yesterday at the two-day Lightning Conference in Berlin. In fact, HTC started selling some of the first production units at this event, and was even accepting payments via Bitcoin's Lightning Network. Other cryptocurrencies that HTC accepts as means of payment are Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Binance Coin (BNB), and Bitcoin Cash.

The HTC Exodus 1s

So now know that HTC has two crypto-friendly phones, the Exodus 1 and the Exodus 1s. These days, HTC has a new term to describe its crypto-friendly Exodus phones; on the Exodus website, it says  "SMARTPHONE + HARDWARE WALLET = CRYPTOPHONE". This means that HTC is currently selling two cryptophones.

What is special about the HTC Exodus 1 is not just its lower price (EUR 210, which is approximately USD 235), but the fact that, according to HTC, it is the first mobile phone that supports running a Bitcoin full node (with the blockchain data to be stored on a 400GB microSD card that needs to be purchased separately).

HTC says that running a Bitcoin full node on your phone "not only grows the Bitcoin network, but also help secure it." HTC also believes that it is better not to "wait for others to verify your transactions", and that with this phone, you can "verify yourself, anytime, anywhere."

Here is Chen (HTC's DCO) explaining to Forbes the significance of running your Bitcoin full node:

It plays a really important role in the whole bitcoin ecosystem. It allows you to relay transactions, confirm transactions, validate transactions, and it’s basically one of the best ways for anybody to contribute to the whole security of the network.

According to Techcrunch, Chen believes that with the Exodus 1s, you can essentially have a "a metaphorical Swiss bank in your pocket":

We gave users the ability to own their own keys, and now we’ve gone one step further to allow users to run their own full Bitcoin node. We are providing the tools for access to universal basic finance; the tools to have a metaphorical Swiss bank in your pocket.

Chen also told Forbes that HTC is considering adding support for other major blockchains:

We’ll certainly learn a lot of how people will interact with bitcoin, what they do with a full node, and we want to apply those learnings to future other public blockchains.

 These are the specs for the HTC Exodus 1s:

  • 5.7” HD+ 18:9 display
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 435 processor
  • 3000mAh battery
  • Android Oreo 8.1
  • 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM

The HTC Exodus 1s will be initially available in Europe, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE (but HTC plans to offer the phone at some future date in other countries).

In case you are wondering why HTC is so interested in crypto, this is what Chen told CNBC:

Initially considered a gimmick by some, crypto technology is the next frontier of smartphone innovation. For the smartphone category to grow again, we need more adoption of cryptophones.

HTC's CEO said in an interview with Techcrunch that although we don't yet have mainstream adoption of cryptophones, the Exodus 1s gives consumers "an inexpensive way to see what the technology provides today."


Featured Image Courtesy of HTC