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What we learned from the IRS Cyber Crimes leaked training document

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Cyber Crime - IRS-Virtual currency-Leak

Page 3 of the leaked IRS training document titled “IRS Cyber Crimes, Virtual Currencies, by James Daniel” opens ceremoniously to state that virtual currencies are “money on the internet” that “does not have legal tender status in any jurisdiction”.
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This is wrong on two counts.  

One: there are countries that are issuing their own virtual currency (which for all intentions and purposes is still virtual currency) and two: these government issued virtual currencies as a legal tender. For instance, this Library of Congress issued report (page 116) states that Marshall Island is issuing its own virtual currency as legal tender.

To the credit of the training document, it does confide that virtual currency has “all the characteristics of traditional money.”

Surprisingly, the document does shed light on the benefits and issues of centralized vs. decentralized systems.

Page 6 did an excellent job on going over the birth of bitcoin.

There does seem to be a few pages missing from the leaked document that would have logically talked about Ethereum based on the sequence listed on the deck. 

Too much detail around certain projects and mining

Earlier pages of the 181 page document goes through the detail behind selective crypto projects with substantial market cap. 

The detail around smart contracts was detailed explaining how smart contracts could help the Government, Supply Chain, Automobile, Real Estate, Healthcare industries. 

Document then dives into ICO related fraud, risks and examples of ICO failures. Nothing ground shaking in these pages.

For a government training session, the amount of time spent on mining is mind-numbing without actual steps on using this information in identifying and catching people involved in mining.  There seemed a little point of the details presented in the pages on mining.

Forks, Exchanges, Kiosks and wallets? Yes, training got it covered

Investigate bitcoin cryptocurrencyAgain, there is way too much detail behind forks without actually providing any guidance on why it matters and what the IRS agents should be looking out for when people hold Bitcoins and their forked coins.

The document goes through various Digital Currency Exchanges (DCE), specifically, Coinbase, Binance, eToro and bunch of others, without any reference as to why that knowledge could be useful to the IRS agents or how to look for the ownership details in these exchanges.

An unnecessary amount of slides were spent on Kiosks with little to no information on those pages.

Wallets occupied a large amount of pages in this presentation without any apparent guidance to the agents, in our view. 

Bitcoin benefits?

Presentation goes through the benefits of using bitcoin and list of name brands that accept bitcoin. And in a surprising twist, document spends 7-8 pages on bitcoin tumbling/mixing, that is, masking the identity and covering the trail of transaction. What’s weirder is they used screenshots from the site that is no longer operational. 

Subpoena Google, Apple and Microsoft: Real meat starts on Page 95

privacyIt feels like a big hoax talking about stuff that most people in crypto place know. None of the information in the 94 slides that precede matches IRS’s consistency nor did it meet quality standards that you would expect from a Cyber Crimes agency, in our view. 

Moving on, page 95 is where the juicy stuff starts on which all the crypto media is drooling.

On page 95, this paragraph caught everyone’s attention “one method that should be considered is serving Grand Jury Subpoenas to a variety of companies. Issuance of a Grand Jury Subpoena should be considered for Apple, Google, and Microsoft for the Subject’s complete application download history.” 

Would IRS’s Cyber Crimes division be so blatant to propose Subpoena of these tech giants? IF so, do we believe that companies like Apple would grant access?

Remember, Apple denied access to the FBI in a matter of National security when it comes to its users privacy? 

How then does IRS expect to serve subpoena successfully to companies like Apple on a tax ground? 

It would be interesting to see what parts of this training actually passes as  law.

A call for blanket Subpoena

One of the most interesting aspects of this training material is to just learn about how far the IRS is ready to reach to dig up the details of bitcoin (and virtual currency) holdings.

Read this paragraph “A Grand Jury Subpoena should also be considered for (and may already have been obtained during the normal course of the investigation) the Subject’s financial accounts, including, but not limited to, the Subject’s bank, credit card, and PayPal records. In the Subject’s bank and credit card accounts, ACHs and wire transfers should be identified to see if any of them are related to bitcoin or other TPEs. Transfers to and from a Subject’s PayPal account should be analyzed in much the same way, verifying the parties involved with each transaction.”

IRS wants to go after bank, credit card, paypal records to sniff out the bitcoin and other crypto purchases.

It is scary, for those who were evading taxes and FinCEN disclosures

cryptocurrency taxAt CryptoTapas, we have urged our audience to never mess with the agency that brought Al Capone down.

We at CryptoTapas have always been advocating the full disclosure of taxes to the IRS and disclosure of foreign financial accounts to the United States Treasury.  We have even written a free guide on FinCEN disclosure, published 5 best practices  and provided insights into the FinCEN 114 requirements even before Crypto space started talking about it.  

We are planning on updating based on 2019 guidance, later this year.

Be sure to subscribe to get the updated 2019 FinCEN 114 guide for FREE and to be the first to know when we release the summary of upcoming IRS guidance on Crypto currency taxation.

Why the presentation itself could be a hoax?

We cannot discount the overzealous nature of the crypto news space. We latch onto anything that promises sensation. While the overall document was elaborate, we cannot discount the possibility that the document itself is a hoax or to some degree doctored.  

There are specific phrases in the presentation that seem out of place in an IRS’s Cyber Crimes presentation…

Also, the amount of detail presented around the top 14 or so cryptocurrencies is skewed and doesn’t reek the consistency of an IRS training.

Sheer amount of decks bombarded with generic information and references made to otherwise non-authoritative sources is probably a tell-tell sign that this is not a real/entire presentation? 

Obviously there are some pages missing and some pages are repeated while the page numbers proceeded, what data are we missing?  What implications do those missing pages have?

Consider some specific examples on few pages: 

  • Page 10: References made to Investopedia’s article on Ripple, this just seems like lazy work for a government agency
  • Page 16: References made to “Where to Buy Stellar”, if this was required – why was this not presented for other assets?
  • Page 20: usage of “whatever” in this phrase seems odd for a government agency presentation “With smart contracts, you simply drop a bitcoin into the vending machine (i.e. ledger), and your escrow, driver’s license, or whatever drops into your account.” 
  • Page 21: This statement: No one has that much computing power, so it would need God to hack the system! 
  • Page 36: usage of stock photography. On page 36, the blockchain slide uses the picture that has been used way too many times and is freely available on Pixabay.com; IRS’s slides are usually monotone and don’t go into design aspects, much less picking pictures randomly from the internet, something stinks
  • Page 94: Taxman’s picture on the deck

If it turns out that IRS did prepare this slide deck, as Coindesk claims to have confirmed, may be our observations will help IRS avoid these aspects in future that take away the ‘genuine feel’ from a government deck, who knows.

Coindesk confirmation on IRS’s training

Coindesk ran an article stating that it confirmed that IRS did indeed use this slide-deck to train its agents. Even if IRS did train the agents using ‘a slide deck’, we are not certain and cannot be certain that it was this slide deck until we find a link or official copy released by the IRS.

First Trump and then the IRS, crackdown in sight

donald-trump-bitcoinLooking at the timing of Trump’s comment, Congressional crackdown on Libra and this alleged IRS training leak, they seem more than a coincidence.

A perfect FUD storm is brewing and people who are new to the space are sure to be rattled.

In the light of these events, we expect a lot of congressional activity, legal framework, IRS guidance on tax rules and more in the coming months.

It will be a lot of adjustment for the anarchists and moon-soon folks, but this is a much needed cleansing of Crypto space that will clear the way for bigger and better things to come.


What do you think will be the implications of this proposal for blanket subpoena?


Thank you for reading the article.
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About the author

RK Reddy holds two Masters degrees, one in Accounting and another in Business Administration with over 15 years of experience in the financial services industry.

RK Reddy is an ardent fan of Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies. You can see the excitement about this new blockchain technology in every article on Cryptotapas.com. Sometimes this excitement leads to an overly optimistic view. Guilty as charged. RK Reddy says what may seem like an ‘overly optimistic expectation’ today may become an everyday norm in 5-10 years; look at the history of cars or airplanes, Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies belong to a similar frame of reference.”  Of course, that is just his opinion.

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6 Massive Benefits of Cryptocurrency

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Benefits of Cryptocurrency

It is normal to be hesitant about using cryptocurrency as the medium of financial transactions. 

There is a school of thought which believes, it is a domain suitable for criminals, fraudsters, and terrorists. Cryptocurrencies allow them to maintain anonymity for discreet transactions and ransomware scams.

However, the increasing acceptance of Bitcoin as a digital currency has initiated a positive perspective around this mode. It brings a distinct set of pros for the users, making them overlook the risks tag along.

According to the Finder, a post on social media surfaces about Bitcoin every three seconds. If we do the math, it means 1203 posts pop up per hour, making it to 20 posts per minute.

A more general view on the crypto landscape speaks of its overall growth, too. Block Social tells us how cryptocurrency exchanges around the globe have exceeded 300 during 2020.

In fact, the success of crypto shows us the loopholes of the traditional banking system. If you, too, want to leap on this bandwagon and aren’t sure about your next move, this is the right place. Our blog sheds light on the positive aspects of cryptocurrency that make it a more established form of financial trade. 

Healthereum

1. Easy transactions

When dealing with brokers or legal representatives, you have to pay the transaction fee from time to time. This comes along with immense paperwork, commission, brokerage charges, and so much more. Using cryptocurrency eliminates the need for a middle man. The transaction changes into a one-to-one affair taking place on a secure network.

No wonder Forbes stated that adopting blockchain technology can save financial organizations around $12 billion yearly. A deduction of extra charges from third parties and reduced operations cost is saving millions for huge organizations.

Moreover, the transactions are transparent, making it easier for you to establish audit trials. There is no more confusion over who pays whom. All parties involved in the transaction know each other quite well. Accountability on each party grows.

2. Asset transfers

A financial analyst rightfully describes cryptocurrency blockchain to be a “large property rights database.” On the one hand, it helps execute and enforce two-party contracts on commodities such as real estate and automobiles. At the same time, it also facilitates special modes of transfer. 

As per Born2Invest, Bitcoin alone is responsible for an average of 350 000 daily transactions on the Blockchain. Meanwhile, Coinbase has 30 million cryptocurrency users (Block Social). The increasing figures of each crypto speak of its acceptance worldwide.

The parties involved in asset transfer can design contracts and add third-party approvals at a later date. It also helps to reference the external facts and gives the parties exclusive governance of their account. It reduces the time and money involved in asset transfers. Perhaps this is why US federal government spending on Blockchain shall reach $123.5 million by 2022.

3. Confidential transactions

Cryptocurrency purchases remain discreet. Unless a user voluntarily publishes his transactions, the purchase is never associated with their identity. In official scenarios, such as when you put your cars for sale, the parties must reveal an association with their cryptocurrencies. It helps to establish trust and relevance.

Within the cash/credit system, your entire transaction history turns into a reference document for the banks/credit agencies involved. On the contrary, cryptocurrency is a transaction that is a unique exchange between two parties. They can negotiate and agree on preferable terms. The information exchange takes place on the “push” basis. This means you transmit only that which you wish to send to the recipient and nothing else.

It keeps your financial history secure and guards you against identity theft. Chances of which are quite high under the traditional transaction system. 

On top of this, the combination of Blockchain with IoT is considered revolutionary by the experts. This has accelerated data exchange, lowering the operation costs, and improved the security of files. Your Tech Diet predicted that 75% of the IoT industry would adopt Blockchain technology by the end of 2020. Lack of exposure is, thus, something the entire industry is looking for.

4. Transaction Fee

You have probably faced hefty monthly account statements from your bank/credit companies. The transaction fee charged at every transaction you have made might leave you shocked. The whopping fee of multiple transactions can take you by surprise at the end of each month.

In the case of cryptocurrency exchange, the data miners receive their share from the cryptocurrency network involved. Transaction fee does not apply as the remote and separate computer systems that do the number-crunching get a pretty fair share. 

According to Investopedia, the Bitcoin reward for miners halves for every 210 000 blocks added to the chain. Nonetheless, this system has freed the transaction parties to pay the fee, making it the most feasible. 

However, there might be some external fee involved if you engage a third-party management service to maintain the crypto wallet. These charges are likely to be quite less than the transaction charges levied by the traditional banking system. 

5. Hold Ownership

The traditional banking system works in a manner where the amount goes to the nominee if a person passes away. The chances of the account closing are quite high when you infringe the terms of their services. Unlike this framework, digital currencies give you the sole ownership of private and public encryption keys. This makes it easier for you to identify the encryption network.

6. High security

Once a party authorizes the cryptocurrency transfer, they cannot reverse it. This is not the case in “charge-back” transactions allowed by the credit companies. Cryptocurrency gives you reliable encryption throughout the transaction process to keep it protected from bugs and malicious entities.

Systems like Binance Smart Chain are enabling people to do more with BTC.

Final Thoughts 

Cryptocurrency is taking the financial world by storm, and we know the reasons why. It is about time you kickstart your digital finances journey and make the most out of it. Who knows what surprises are about to come later in this landscape!

Thank you for reading and sharing this article. We appreciate you.

Stay safe and healthy!

Top 5 Cryptocurrencies 2020

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER

Everything in this article is an opinion, not an advice of any kind. This material has been prepared for general informational purposes only and it is not intended to be relied upon as accounting, tax, investment, legal or other professional advice. Please consult with a professional for specific advice.

We do not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of the information and claims made.

All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

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Cardano or PolkaDot? Which One to Invest In?

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Cardano vs Polkadot

There is a new battle in the crypto space.  Cardano (ADA) and PolkaDot (DOT) maximalists are headbutting as to which project is better and why.

The conversations are intense to say the least and we will try to provide our view on which one we are leaning toward and the reasons why, in this rather short article.

Just to be clear, we are invested in both ADA and DOT so we have a vested interest in both projects, however, we are now asked to pick one over the other and that brings us to this article.

Decentralization

The whole spirit of cryptocurrencies is the concept of decentralization, however, some of the more popular projects don’t seem to have a grasp of what that means.

Diem (previously Libra) or XRP etc., are controlled by a group for validators who could, in theory, easily collude, in our view.

With DOT, things are not as centralized as some other projects with about 1000 validators securing the platform.

However, ADA has the most number of nodes and has most of its circulating supply staked on its wallet. The community behind ADA has biggest proponents of decentralized frameworks.

ADA: 8 (top 10 is reserved for BTC)

DOT: 6

Team

Cardano boasts the maximum number of Ph.Ds on its team and has a more decentralized team structure.  You have teams that are working exclusively on wallet and staking while you have other teams focusing on interoperability. Yet, another team is focused on bridging projects from Ethereum to Cardano.

DOT has the ammunition of Gavin behind it. He is undoubtedly one of the brilliant minds in the space. 

However, as we learned in basic math, sum total is always greater than an individual unit.  This applies more aptly with these projects. In our opinion, Cardano has a greater edge when it comes to collective human capital.

Having Charles Hoskinson helps ADAs impression.

ADA: 8

DOT: 6

Social presence

There is no competition when it comes to social presence and engaging the community when it comes to the leaders of these two projects.

While DOT’s founder Gavin might come out as eccentric and polished in the social media, Charles takes the cake in engaging with his audience and making things sensible for the community.

ADA: 9 

DOT: 7

On a mission

Whenever you hear Charles speak about ADA you will immediately understand that he is on a mission to bring the marvels of blockchain enabled financial services to all corners of the world.

Cardano’s team is now focused on the South Africa continent to bring the under-previleged onto the world commerce through their platform. They are even close to signing a contract with Ethiopia government in 2021.

While DOT is catapulting the entire space forward it just lacks the same charm that comes with a project on a grandiose mission.

ADA: 8

DOT: 6 

Miscellaneous considerations 

Market cap: ADA has $20 Billion market cap while DOT has $19 Billion, as such they are on par with each other when it comes to valuation. The large cap is a stamp of approval from the crypto community.

Price: ADA is at around 60 cents while DOT has been stabilising at $20 at the time of this writing. When the newbies come to the market and they see they cannot afford Bitcoin or Ethereum, they will most likely go after the projects that are under $1. This does not mean DOT is inferior, it is just an edge that low priced tokens have over higher priced projects. It’s just a newbie mindset that drives higher demand during bull runs to lower priced projects.

Inflationary supply

DOT has an inflationary supply model while ADAs supply is capped.

Yes, DOTs supply is far larger than DOT, however, there is no new minting on ADA when compared to DOT.

Mainnet

DOTs technology is operational and is onboarding projects already.  ADA is scheduled to launch its mainnet this month (Feb 2021). ADA has been in works for many years now and if their product matches the hype and the wait – then it may not matter as much that they are late to the party. However, if there are issues with their mainnet – it may not bode well for ADA.

Conclusion: Total score

ADA: 33

DOT: 25

If you are a DOT fan you might think this score is skewed.   If you are an ADA fan you might think it should score perfect points in all fronts.

In fact, there are some areas where DOT is a clear winner like having a functioning platform. ADA, in our opinion, takes the prize with clear fandom, gigantic mission and a total brainiac project. 

Thank you for reading and sharing this article. We appreciate you.

Stay safe and healthy!

Top 5 Cryptocurrencies 2020

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER

Everything in this article is an opinion, not an advice of any kind. This material has been prepared for general informational purposes only and it is not intended to be relied upon as accounting, tax, investment, legal or other professional advice. Please consult with a professional for specific advice.

We do not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of the information and claims made.

All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

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Best of the Best YouTube Channels to Follow for your Crypto Fix

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Best Crypto Youtubers

There are literally 100s of crypto-experts on YouTube who claim to have cracked the secret code that can make you millions in crypto riches. 

Who should you follow?  

We have followed many YouTubers, subscribing and unsubscribing to avoid the noise and after having been in this space for over 4 years, we have narrowed our favorite crypto YouTube channels to just a few.

In this article, we will show you our favorite YouTubers and what we like about each one of them. 

Overall number 1: Coin Bureau

coin bureau When it comes to deep analysis, composed demeanor and outright professional crypto channel in the entire space, we have not come across anyone better than Guy.  

Not only is he great at the reviews and in depth analysis, if you have followed the channel long enough you will realize that he reviews the gems long before others pick on the momentum.  

He picks solid projects, never shills a shitty project to his followers and is upfront about his views which he backs up with solid research.

This is the best no-shill and no bull crypto channel on YouTube in our view.

Best original content: Chico Crypto

chico crypto review

If you love a bit of quirky, goofy and somewhat out there viewpoints on the crypto space then there is no one better than Tyler at Chico Crypto. 

His investigation stretches the boundaries of research (and sometimes common sense) but he does do a bang up job on every video.  

I am yet to come across a boring video on this channel.  I will admit that his live streams can be a drag sometimes but his followers seem to relish his presence.

You may not like or agree with what Tyler presents on this channel but you will absolutely be floored by the originality.   

Best TA: TIED: Crypto Capital Venture & Tyler S

                         Crypto Capital Venture Tyler S crypto

With under 90K subscribers at the time of this writing, Dan may not be the most popular of the Crypto channels [yet] but his TA analysis is just so easy to follow.

Dan makes it easy for non-technical folks to understand what’s going on in the market in the language of TA.

There are other folks on YouTube who are good at TA but their videos are so obnoxious that they leave you with a massive headache.  

Not Dan’s Crypto Capital Venture channel.   Dan walks you through the markets in such a calm, composed and professional manner that you might start caring about those candles.

We are forced to share the Best Title for crypto TA on YouTube with Tyler S. 

Tyler’s expertise on TAs is quite awesome and he has a funny way of delivering it too.  

Best expertise on the markets: Alessio Rastani

Allesio RastaniIt doesn’t matter if you are just lurking around the crypto markets or if you trade in the traditional markets…Alessio is one of the best guys on YouTube for great insights into the broad market and its impact on Crypto.

While everyone on YouTube (not the people on this list, of course) is either quick to FOMO or FUD, Alessio is just grounded in fundamentals and technicals.

When you are high on FOMO, he can bring you to the ground.

When you are getting buried in FUD, he can lift you up with facts, not false hopium.

Alessio is personable, professional and an honest guy to follow to understand the markets ahead of others.

Best round up of the market: AltCoin Daily

Altcoin DailyWant to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the crypto space but don’t have time to keep up?  

Fear not. AltCoin Daily got you covered.

This channel is just a gem among the channels that bring crypto market updates in a concise and palatable format.

You can sense the dedication in the way Austin brings the updates and his opinions in front of his audience. No wonder the channel has recently hit over 420K subscribers.

Best humble and honest take: Crazy 4 Cryptos

Crazy 4 crypto

What does Crypto mean to you?

Most people will say ‘Freedom’, yet, most of the YouTubers we see on the Tube will be broadcasting from their bedrooms or backyards (nothing wrong with that) but not Dave.

He has been in Thailand and streams his videos directly from the beach.

You will immediately connect with his simpleton style and honest reviews.  

He has been touting about Theta when it was trading in cents and now those who followed him are very happy.

Besides Theta, Dave talks about a lot of topics in terms of storing your coins, being careful with people and how to have a long-term plan in space.

Honorable mentions

Team Underground (TA)

We had too many channels to weed out for the TA category and that is why we had to pick two winners, however, Team Underground is a channel we cannot skip.

This underdog channel has been more right about the calls than any other mainstream channel. If you like your TAs and technical side of crypto – be sure to check this channel out.

BitBoy

People either love him or hate him.  There is no middle ground when it comes to BitBoy.  

Personally, we have to weed out a lot of noise while browsing through his channel since he picks a new project every few days (or weeks) and can become overwhelming. 

However, the fresh content is worth the watch.

EllioTraders

The guy behind this channel is truly vested in the space. So much so that he recently launched his own crypto project.

It’s definitely refreshing to see the YouTuber taking his expertise into a live project.  

The reason we did not list this channel on the BEST list is because of the constant feed of projects he pitches that is a bit overbearing for our taste.  

Nevertheless, a great channel and great recommendations.

Conclusion

There are 100s of YouTube channels out there but not everyone is worth your attention. We hope you found some channels of interest through this article.

Note: if we missed any gem of a channel, please let us know and we will be more than happy to add it after review.

Thank you for reading and sharing this article. We appreciate you.

Stay safe and healthy!

Top 5 Cryptocurrencies 2020

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER

Everything in this article is an opinion, not an advice of any kind. This material has been prepared for general informational purposes only and it is not intended to be relied upon as accounting, tax, investment, legal or other professional advice. Please consult with a professional for specific advice.

We do not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of the information and claims made.

All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

Continue Reading

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