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Buyer Beware: Hundreds of Bitcoin Wannabes Show Hallmarks of Fraud


First Read

Hits & Takes
JLN Staff

In case you missed it in yesterday’s JLN, Wired’s piece featured the quote of the day from venture partner Jimmy Song, the blockchain skeptic. “You’re a hammer-thrower just looking for nails.”~JK

There appears to be something important going on in London this weekend involving a train, a veil and lots of funny hats.~JJL

The Pope says credit default swaps are unethical. Let this be the beginning of a discussion, not a jump to conclusions about CDS or what “ethics” mean in the business world versus the church world.~JJL

Also, you can read the whole (long and heavily footnoted) document from the Vatican here. ~SR

Citadel’s Ken Griffin has added to his estate in Palm Beach, just a quarter mile from Mar-a-Lago, with a $20 million property acquisition.~JJL

We are exploring an “Academic Institution Sponsorship” category for CryptoMarketsWiki that would involve students contributing to the wiki.~JJL

I think I made someone at GH Financials laugh. And Gerald Hanweck too.~JJL

WGN has again committed to holding a session of Trading Tech 300 for the Weather merit badge with Demetrius Ivory teaching the badge.~JJL

Political polarization visualized. The last time there was any overlap of left/right voting based on spending was in 2009.~JB

NFA is seeking a Quality Assurance analyst to support NFA’s IS departmental projects through the execution of QA programs that ensure all software programs and integrated applications meet organizational standards and end-user requirements. Via LinkedIn~JJL


Econ IL Highlights the American Dream
John J. Lothian and Sarah Rudolph – John Lothian News

Howard A. Tullman, the former CEO of 1871, was the featured speaker at last night’s well-attended Econ Illinois American Dream Dinner at the the Union League Club of Chicago. John Lothian News was a media sponsor of the event. Econ Illinois provides economic and financial literacy education to K-12 students and teachers.

Tullman gave a stirring presentation about the need for change in the ways schools teach and the way success is measured in order to meet the challenges of the future.

Tullman said we are experiencing “autocatalytic change,” meaning that each change accelerates the next. Machines are replacing many of the jobs humans used to perform, and that means that creative, thought-driven work is going to be of great value. Our education has to change – incredibly, we are still rewarding punctuality rather than creativity in grade schools, Tullman said.

“We need to teach people to think, not memorize,” he added. “If school is boring, we are losing the battle.”

It was clear this was not the first time Tullman had given this presentation from the quick and seamless manner in which he zipped through the messaging.

But it was a good audience to hear Tullman’s message. It was just a relief when the auction was over, as we were seated in front of a speaker that was set way too loud during the successful auction of various vacation escapes and a nice collection of wine. Retired CBOE executive Ed Provost, an Econ IL board member, was in attendance with his wife Judy. Cboe was well represented, including by President Chris Concannon and the effervescent director of political and civic affairs Sharon Stanciel.

Congratulations to Econ IL on a successful event.


Pope Calls Derivatives Market a ‘Ticking Time Bomb’
Sridhar Natarajan – Bloomberg
Warren Buffett once called them “financial weapons of mass destruction.” Now Pope Francis, of all people, is taking aim at derivatives.


‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Jordan Belfort Isn’t Paying His Debts, U.S. Says
Patricia Hurtado and Christie Smythe – Bloomberg
Jordan Belfort, the “Wolf of Wall Street,” isn’t just a con, but also a deadbeat, prosecutors say, and they want him to pay up. For those who’ve forgotten, Belfort operated a penny-stock boiler room on New York’s Long Island called Stratton Oakmont Inc. His brash behavior was glorified on screen by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie based on Belfort’s memoir.

***** And we are surprised, why?~JJL


3 Reasons Fund Managers Should Embrace Quants
Jared Broad, QuantConnect – TABB Forum
While quantitative trading has been around for decades, it is now clear that quants are officially here to stay. Investment in quant-based trading programs is expected to top $1 trillion this year, according to Hedge Fund Research, nearly one-third of the $3.2 trillion total invested in hedge funds.

(**Full Disclosure: Jim Kharouf provided editorial assistance for this article.)


Luke Willis Thompson awarded the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018
Deutsche Börse
The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018 was presented Thursday, May 17, 2018, at the Photographers’ Gallery in London to New Zealand artist Luke Willis Thompson. The prestigious prize, worth GBP 30,000, was presented to Thompson for autoportrait , a film portrait of Diamond Reynolds.

**** Deutsche Börse is a true leader in STEAM, or STEM with an A for Arts included.~JJL


Thursday’s Top Three
Yesterday’s top read story was SEC Tries to Scam ICO Investors to Show Them How Easy It Is from Bloomberg. Second was the story about Jimmy Song’s appearance at the crypto conference Consensus from Wired called When the Blockchain Skeptic Walked Into the Lions’ Den. Third went to Bloomberg’s piece Trader Compares Being a Barclays VP to Working at McDonald’s. I think I’ll go get an Egg McMuffin this morning. Have a great weekend.


MarketsWiki Stats
126,171,426 pages viewed; 23,119 pages; 213,095 edits
MarketsWiki Statistics


Lead Stories

Buyer Beware: Hundreds of Bitcoin Wannabes Show Hallmarks of Fraud; A Wall Street Journal analysis of 1,450 cryptocurrency offerings reveals rampant plagiarism, identity theft and promises of improbable returns
Shane Shifflett and Coulter Jones – WSJ
Hundreds of technology firms raising money in the fevered market for cryptocurrencies are using deceptive or even fraudulent tactics to lure investors.

LSE Reveals London-Shanghai Stock Link Details
Benjamin Robertson and Viren Vaghela – Bloomberg
System will be a two-way program of depositary receipts; London trading will be in dollars, presentation shows
London Stock Exchange Group Plc has laid out the blueprint for its long-awaited trading link with Shanghai, an initiative that will further China’s efforts to integrate with the international financial system.

Nex shareholders vote in favour of CME deal
Philip Stafford – FT
Shareholders of Nex Group have voted in favour to sell the UK trading and technology company to the US’s CME Group for £3.9bn.

CFTC Proposes Rule to Reduce Regulatory Burdens for U.S. Market Participants
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has approved a proposed rule to reduce regulatory burdens for U.S. market participants in order to promote economic growth and job creation, by bringing certain CFTC requirements in line with other U.S. regulators and is seeking public comments on the proposal.

US and EU head for showdown over shutting Iran off from finance; Washington sanctions put Swift payments network in spotlight
Sam Fleming in Washington, Philip Stafford in London and Jim Brunsden in Brussels – FT
The US and EU are heading for a showdown over how to handle one of the linchpins of the global financial system following Donald Trump’s decision to re-impose sanctions on Iran.

Supervisory Implications of Spoofing and What Firms Should Do About It
Carl Gilmore – LinkedIn
Recently Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) Commissioner Rostin Behnam delivered remarks at a conference in Texas on a number of regulatory enforcement topics including spoofing and the supervisory issues that may arise from such activity.

Pope Francis slams ‘poisonous’ derivatives market; Pope Francis targets derivatives market in statement on ethics in finance, describing it as a “ticking time bomb”.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Pope Francis has criticised certain derivatives products claiming they are ticking time bombs ready to explode and poison the health of markets.

Nasdaq’s Johan Toll Wins Fintech Person Of The Year; Toll received the award from the FTF News Technology Innovation Awards for his expertise and developments on blockchain integration with the Nasdaq Financial Framework.
Johan Toll, head of Blockchain Product Management within Nasdaq’s Market Technology business, has been awarded the FinTech Person of the Year from the Financial Technology Forum (FTF) News Technology Innovation Awards for his expertise and developments on blockchain integration with the Nasdaq Financial Framework, as well as other areas of Nasdaq. The framework consists of a single operational core that ties together the Nasdaq’s technology portfolio that has proven business functionality across the trade lifecycle.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

CFTC Opens Access To Indian Futures Market For U.S. Customers
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today issued an order to the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) as part of its longstanding program of regulatory deference to foreign regulatory frameworks. Through its Part 30 exemptive program the CFTC provides U.S. customers with increased access to foreign futures markets..

Tradeweb hires Macquarie’s global portfolio trading head for Plato venture; Richard Bateson will oversee the development of new cash equities block trading platform launched with Plato Partnership.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Tradeweb has appointed one of Macquarie’s former most senior stock traders to a new role ahead of the launch of its cash equities block trading platform with Plato Partnership.

Enhancements to CCP reporting and introduction of additional reporting run
With the introduction of the T2S processing for Clearstream (CBF) in the course of the T2S wave 3 migration, Eurex Clearing has aligned its internal processing by adapting to the T2S continuous settlement.

Exchange Reviews Listed Issuers’ Implementation of ESG Reporting Guide
The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (the Exchange), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX), today (Friday) published the findings of its review of listed issuers’ Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reports.

Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Develops ‘First Of A Kind’ Blockchain Lending Platform
Ana Alexandre – Coin Telegraph
The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) has developed a “first of a kind” blockchain-based securities lending platform, according to a press release May 16. The new platform was completed in partnership with Israeli fintech firm The Floor, global professional services company Accenture, and Intel.


PayPal Agrees to Buy European Fintech Startup iZettle for About $2.2 Billion; The deal, the largest in PayPal’s history, sets up a showdown with Jack Dorsey’s Square
By Ben Dummett and Peter Rudegeair – WSJ
PayPal Holdings Inc. PYPL 1.76% has agreed to buy European financial-technology startup iZettle AB for about $2.2 billion, a move that would catapult the U.S. digital-payments giant into hundreds of thousands of brick-and-mortar retailers around the world.

***** Here is FT’s version of the story.~JJL

Eze Software Launches Personalized Client Experience; Delivers Dedicated Support, Rapid Response To Client Needs
Business Wire
Eze Software, a global provider of investment technology, is launching an upgrade to its buy-side client service experience. Eze is introducing the new experience based on direct client feedback asking for personalized service.

Twitter Makes Tweaks to Punish ‘Troll-Like Behavior’; In an effort to rein in abuse, Twitter will consider a range of information when it demotes some tweets
Georgia Wells – WSJ
Twitter Inc. is turning to greater automation in its battle against abuse on its platform, saying its software will start automatically demoting response posts that it determines are likely to disrupt users’ conversations.

Why JP Morgan’s Blockchain Patent Application Is Not That Surprising
Chrisjan Pauw – Coin Telegraph
JP Morgan once again caused a bit of an upheaval within cryptocurrency circles last week – this time with the publication of their peer-to-peer (P2P) payments network patent application based on distributed ledger technology, like blockchain.

UBS moves 80 staff into artificial intelligence unit; Swiss bank switches its co-head of fixed income trading Chris Purves to head the operation
By Paul Clarke – Financial News
UBS has moved 80 people into a new artificial intelligence unit designed to future-proof its fixed income division and stave off threats from tech start-ups aiming to grab market share from large investment banks.

CEO of Mifid II trade reporting fintech exits as owner plans job cuts; Cinnober is planning cost cuts after making a loss in 2017 and a ‘slow start’ to this year
By Samuel Agini – Financial news
The chief executive of a provider of Mifid II reporting services to banks and asset managers has left just days after its Swedish owner set out plans to slash costs throughout its business divisions.


Crypto Wealth Sinks $52 Billion in One Week
Andrea Tan and Blake Schmidt – Bloomberg
So much for the Blockchain Week bounce. With thousands of cryptocurrency diehards swarming into Manhattan for this week’s Consensus 2018 conference, the prediction from Bitcoin bulls like Tom Lee of Fundstrat Global Advisors was that the hype-filled gathering would trigger a market rally.

Switzerland seeks study of state-backed e-franc cryptocurrency
Switzerland’s government has requested a report into the risks and opportunities of launching its own cryptocurrency, a so-called “e-franc” that would use technology similar to privately-launched coins like bitcoin but have backing of the state.
The lower house of the Swiss parliament must now decide whether to back the Federal Council’s request for a study into the subject that has already been discussed in Sweden.

JPMorgan Creates and Fills New Position of Head of Crypto Assets Strategy
Helen Partz – Coin Telegraph
Leading US banking group and financial services firm JPMorgan Chase has recently created and filled the new position of head of crypto-assets strategy, Business Insider reported today, May 17.
London-based Oliver Harris, 29, will take the new role, reporting to the head of blockchain development, Umar Farooq. Harris will also lead JPMorgan’s internal blockchain project Quorum, which began testing by JP Morgan Chase and the National Bank of Canada last month.

Bitfinex Requires Customer Tax Info which it ‘May Exchange’ with Gov’t, Tax Authorities
Ana Alexandre – Coin Telegraph
Cryptocurrency trading platform Bitfinex has recently distributed a letter to certain users, saying that they are required to disclose their tax information, which the exchange may share with the government, according to a statement from the exchange on Twitter May 17. and Matthew Roszak Announce Successful Pre-Private Sale of Token at
This week, blockchain-based recruitment platform announced that it had successfully completed the pre-private sale of its new utility tokens and is now rapidly entering a private sale period. These tokens will serve as a reward for good user behavior on’s platform set to launch this June. The announcement was made at 2018 during an exclusive Silicon ANGLE interview, facilitated by Strategic Coin, featuring Co-Founder Paul Sloyan and Bloq Founder and Advisory Board Member Matthew Roszak.

Crypto’s Biggest Hacking Victim Plots a U.S. Comeback
Yuji Nakamura , Hideki Sagiike , and Yuki Hagiwara – Bloomberg
Coincheck’s new owner plans to bring the platform to America; Japanese exchange lost $500 million in January heist
Less than four months after losing an unprecedented $500 million of virtual coins to hackers, Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck is plotting its comeback.

Cryptocurrency Firms Explore Getting Bank Licenses; Coinbase and ivyKoin met with regulators to discuss their business, learn about bank charters
Ryan Tracy – WSJ
Coinbase Inc. and another cryptocurrency firm talked to U.S. regulators about the possibility of obtaining banking licenses, a move that would allow the startups to broaden the types of products they offer.

The crypto-future is female: bitcoin innovators push for inclusion; At the world’s largest blockchain conference, female leaders in the industry sought to shake off bitcoin’s boyish image
Edward Helmore in New York – The Guardian
“Satoshi is female” was one of the more pervasive slogans at Consensus 2018, the world’s largest blockchain conference that saw thousands of crypto-believers descend on midtown New York for a packed, three-day meet-and-greet last week.

This Guy Heated Bath Water With Bitcoin Mining and It Worked Too Well; “Lee” used cryptocurrency mining ASICs to heat his bath, which turned the temperature up to 122 Fahrenheit.
Jordan Pearson – Motherboard
For hobbyists trying to strike it rich with cryptocurrency mining, but who don’t have access to gigantic warehouses where they can park the hardware, making money means packing a bunch of very loud and very hot computers into your house or apartment.

People are buying bitcoin — because their horoscope said so
Kari Paul – MarketWatch
The stars are aligning for big gains in bitcoin, astrologers claim, and some investors are actually following that out-of-this-world advice.

It’s Not Bitcoin Trading — But J.P. Morgan Is Heading Deeper Into Crypto
Jamie Dimon: You’re Wasting Your Time With Bitcoin
Lucinda Shen – Fortune
As Wall Street giants circle Bitcoin and the Blockchain, the largest of the bunch by assets, J.P. Morgan, is sinking its toes in a little deeper.

Maybe Blockchain Isn’t as Cool as It Thinks It Is; Even Mark Zuckerberg is giving decentralization a whirl.
Lionel Laurent – Bloomberg
Pop quiz: Which of Alphabet Inc., Apple Inc., Inc., Facebook Inc. and Netflix Inc. has shouted most to investors about Bitcoin or blockchain?


Show Starring Avenatti and Scaramucci Is Being Pitched to Television Executives
Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman – NY Times
A television show featuring Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who is suing President Trump on behalf of a pornographic film actress, and the former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci was pitched to two cable networks in recent weeks, people briefed on the matter said on Thursday.

Farmers worldwide struggle with rising fuel costs
Stephanie Kelly, Tom Polansek – Reuters
Farmers worldwide are feeling the pinch as fuel costs rise to near four-year highs just as they plant and harvest their fields, eroding agricultural income already hamstrung by depressed crop prices.

***** This is not a story about politics, but it will be.~JJL


Feds want to make real ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ pay up
Priscilla DeGregory and Bruce Golding – NY Post
The feds want to take a bite out of the real-life “Wolf of Wall Street.” Jordan Belfort — who inspired Leo DiCaprio’s character in Martin Scorsese’s blockbuster 2013 flick — faces a grilling by prosecutors after a federal judge said Wednesday that he needs to make good on $97 million in unpaid restitution for his infamous stock scam.

Proposed Rule Change to Amend FINRA Rule 6710 to Modify the Definition of “Agency Debt Security”
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) is filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or “Commission”) a proposed rule change to amend FINRA Rule 6710 to expand the definition of “Agency Debt Security.”

Report from FINRA Board of Governors Meeting – May 2018; Board Approves Rule Proposals and Previews Annual Financial Report
FINRA’s Board of Governors held its second meeting of 2018 on May 9-10 in New York, where it approved two new rule proposals and previewed a draft of the organization’s Annual Financial Report, which FINRA issues each year to provide transparency into its finances. The 2017 report will be published in June.

May 2018 Board Update
FINRA President and CEO Robert Cook, Chairman Bill Heyman, Board members and FINRA staff provide updates on the May 2018 FINRA Board of Governors meeting.

US and UK FinTech and RegTech Leaders Featured on “CFTC Talks”
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission provides a unique opportunity for “CFTC Talks” podcast listeners to hear about the agency’s efforts to promote innovation, as well as how the U.S. and U.K. regulators are collaborating to foster a better understanding of emerging financial technologies. Part 1 of this 2-part show is available today at LabCFTC/FCA Part 1. Today, May 17, also marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of LabCFTC.

CFTC Opens Access to Indian Futures Market for U.S. Customers
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today issued an order to the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) as part of its longstanding program of regulatory deference to foreign regulatory frameworks. Through its Part 30 exemptive program the CFTC provides U.S. customers with increased access to foreign futures markets. The CFTC began the Part 30 exemptive program nearly three decades ago and has expanded relief to 12 jurisdictions in South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Currently, over 120 foreign brokers across the globe are authorized to deal directly with U.S. futures customers, resulting in more efficient and less costly transactions.

FCA chief details business plan to boost fintech and innovation
Christopher Copper-Ind – International Investment
The head of British regulatory body, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), yesterday set out his organisation’s business plan for the year ahead, with particular emphasis on innovation and the nascent fintech sector.

Investing and Trading

Three Uncelebrated Edges
Joshua M Brown – The Reformed Broker
There are many edges for the modern money manager or financial advisor who is willing to unlearn the way things had been done in the olden days, the time before information was ubiquitous and investors had grown terminally skeptical of the industry.


Brokers’ Offices Are Harassment Cases Waiting to Explode; Top-producing financial advisers act with independence unheard of elsewhere in corporate America and wield power over their assistants’ pay.
Sabrina Willmer – Bloomberg
He was one of Morgan Stanley’s top financial advisers in Beverly Hills. She was a Brazilian waitress and bartender at an L.A. Sports Club. He asked her to fly to Brazil to work as a translator for him and one of his celebrity clients, pop star Katy Perry, she recalls. He then offered her entree into the securities industry as an administrative assistant.

Currency-hedged funds prove poor value for investors; Cheaper unhedged products perform better, shows FT research
Kate Beioley – FT
Currency movements can have disastrous impacts on investment returns, but many funds promising to hedge these risks have actually lost investors’ money over the long term when compared to standard funds, despite periods of sterling strength.

Hedge fund Pagoda Asset Management shutting after four years -source
Reuters Staff
Hedge fund Pagoda Asset Management is shutting down at the end of the month, becoming the latest casualty in the $3.2 trillion industry after a period of sluggish returns, a source with knowledge of the move said on Thursday.

Wells Fargo Employees Altered Information on Business Customers’ Documents; Behavior again raises questions about bank’s risk-management practices and controls
Emily Glazer – WSJ
Some employees in a Wells Fargo WFC -1.49% & Co. unit that handles business banking improperly altered information on documents related to corporate customers, according to people familiar with the matter.


46 Million Tons of Apples a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
David Fickling – Bloomberg
The company that makes your iPhones isn’t the only Apple that matters on global markets. Have a look what’s happening in China.

China Buys Record Amount of Russian Soy as It Shuns U.S. Growers
Anatoly Medetsky – Bloomberg
Purchases almost tripled so far this season amid trade spat; Russia far east planting may rise in 2 to 3 years: Ikar
China, the world’s biggest soybean importer, almost tripled purchases from Russia amid a trade dispute with the U.S., the biggest producer.

There has never been a better time to invest in France; Emmanuel Macron is reforming the French economy at unprecedented speed
Anne Dias – FT
It is an old Rothschild adage that to get rich, you must buy “on the sound of cannons”. This month police fired water cannons to disperse members of the “black bloc”, masked anarchists who disrupted a Paris May Day protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s reforms.

India has no plans to cancel bond auctions despite spike in yields
India’s government is unlikely to cancel a bond auction despite a spike in bond yields as it does not want to trigger panic in financial markets, a senior finance ministry official said on Friday.


Clock ticking on post-Brexit flights – EU official
Reuters Staff
There is still a possibility that flights will not be able to take place the day after Britain’s planned departure from the European Union next year, an EU official said on Friday.

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About Author

Bergstrom is chief information officer of John J. Lothian & Co. He edits MarketsWiki and JLN Options.