Texas Regulator Issues Cease and Desist Order to a Network of Crypto Companies

Texas Regulator Issues Cease and Desist Order to a Network of Crypto Companies

The Texas State Securities Board has taken an emergency action to stop a network of crypto-related companies from illegally offering investments in the state. A token offering and a mining firm are among those targeted by the securities board as selling fraudulent “cryptocurrency-related investments.”

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Emergency Action Taken

Texas Regulator Issues Cease and Desist Order to a Network of Crypto CompaniesThe Texas State Securities Board announced Thursday that an emergency action has been taken to “target promoters of crypto-mining investments.” According to the notice published on July 12 by the Board:

Texas Securities Commissioner Travis J. Iles took emergency action July 11 to stop a network of companies from fraudulently offering cryptocurrency-related investments to Texas residents.

Utah-based companies Mintage Mining LLC, Symatri LLC, NUI Social, Social Membership Network Holding LLC, and BC Holdings and Investments LLC are named in the emergency cease and desist order. They are all controlled by Darren Olayan of Lehi, Utah. In addition, NUI Social affiliates, Utah-based Douglas Whetsell and Houston-based Wyatt Mccullough, are also named in the order.

Investment Schemes

Texas Regulator Issues Cease and Desist Order to a Network of Crypto CompaniesMintage Mining LLC allegedly issues and offers two different crypto mining-related investments “illegally and fraudulently.” Together with Symatri LLC, they sell “pre-configured computer hardware to mine Kala,” an ERC-20 token which Symatri claims to be “fungible and transferable, and it is expected to be traded on cryptocurrency exchanges in the near future.”

Symatri also claims that more than 13,000 users have signed up for Kala’s ICO, which sold more than 814 million tokens. It supposedly raised over $8.5 million and more than 800 BTC. According to the Commissioner:

Symatri is not disclosing material information about the value of its cryptocurrency Kala. Nor is it providing information about the risks of investments in the computer hardware used to mine Kala.

Texas Regulator Issues Cease and Desist Order to a Network of Crypto CompaniesNUI Social is a multi-level marketing company that claims to have more than 300,000 members in 140 countries. Members of the scheme recruit individuals for crypto investments and earn commissions for the people that they recruit.

Whetsell and Mccullough were named for publishing “advertisements targeting Texas residents,” the Commissioner explained. According to the document, the promoters made claims such as:

The average weekly rate of interest varies from three percent to seven percent and the annual rate of interest ranges from 180 percent to 250 percent.

The advertisements also represent that Mccullough’s investment grew 500% within 7 weeks while his uncle’s rose 4,000% in 10 weeks.

The Violations

The order “alleges widespread violations of the Texas Securities Act” by all of the entities and individuals named within. According to the Commissioner, “none of the persons offering any of the investments are registered to sell securities in Texas, nor are the investments themselves registered for sale or have qualified for an exemption from registration.”

The Commissioner elaborated:

The violations include making deceptive claims to the public. Olayan and Mintage Mining, for instance, are telling investors that Mintage is ‘in compliance’ with securities laws, ‘works to always stay ahead of cryptocurrency regulation,’ and ‘remain[s] so continually by keeping in contact with legal firms.’

All named parties have been ordered to immediately cease and desist from offering a security for sale in Texas until the security is registered or exempt. They must also cease acting as securities dealers or agents in the state until they are registered or exempt. They have likewise been told that they cannot engage in any security-related fraud in the state.

What do you think of the Texas State Securities Board’s cease and desist order? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock and the Texas State Securities Board.

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TMGcore is running high-efficiency crypto mines in Texas

Out on the plains of East Texas, not far from Dallas, a company called TMGcore is mining crypto. The company, funded to the tune of $70 million, will be mining multiple cryptocurrencies and is using some unique technology to ensure that it doesn’t eat up an entire city’s worth of energy.

“TMGcore will be one of the first companies to utilize 3M’s Novec fluorochemical coolant at the heart of an enterprise scale cryptocurrency mining apparatus,” said CEO JD Enright. “The company’s intelligent mining system uses a Two Phase Liquid Cooling Immersion technology to dramatically decrease cooling costs by up to 90% and lets the company conduct mining operations from anywhere, including the middle of hot and muggy Texas. TMGcore also employs dynamically intelligent mining software that automatically mines the most profitable coin based on realtime market value and difficulty of access for the most profitable deployment of resources in realtime. Our technology is first-to-market and delivers a transformative approach to crypto mining that stands to fundamentally disrupt the market.”

The goal is to create mining infrastructure in the US and to prevent overseas control of the various currencies.

“Giving America a seat at the table is our #1 goal here at TMgcore. Our cooling technology and efficient mining rigs open up more regions of this country to house this type of operation,” said Enright.

The mine is housed in Plano, Texas inside a 150,000 square foot facility and is capable of a “100 megawatt live power load.” Further, the company is running custom ASIC chips increase board density and reduce mining costs significantly. In short, it will be one of the highest tech mining facilities in the world.

From the release:

The company has developed a unique use case with a fluorochemical coolant that delivers smart, safe and sustainable cooling for industrial technology operations. TMGcore will be one of the first companies to utilize this compound at the heart of an enterprise scale cryptocurrency mining apparatus. The company’s intelligent mining technology uses a Two-Phase Liquid Cooling Immersion technology to dramatically decrease cooling costs by up to 90%. The system also dynamically adapts its mining efforts toward the most profitable token at any given time, factoring in real-time market price, the difficulty of access and hash rate. TMGcore has also developed custom-made ASIC mining boards that result in a 20% increase in token output.

“Leveraging the magic of this coolant and groundbreaking mining circuitry, we saw a massive opportunity to capitalize on the nascent and highly lucrative mining industry in a physical, tangible and industrial fashion,” said Enright. “TMGcore seeks to deconstruct the mining monopoly in other countries with an American-made, U.S. driven approach that not only pushes the blockchain ecosystem forward but also creates job opportunities for Texas’ fast-growing technology community. We understand the importance of the research and development that creates not only innovations but the efficiencies that support the blockchain industry on a global scale.”

“Texas, more so than many other states in this country, has an abundant supply of energy available on their grid with available real estate to house such a project,” said Enright. “Cryptocurrency mining has not really been able to take advantage of Texas’ energy supply to date because the state is too hot. By utilizing Novec in this Two Phase Liquid Cooling Immersion technology, we have unlocked Texas’ potential to mine for the first time.”

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Texas Regulator Hit Two Bitcoin Investment Schemes with Cease-and-Desists

The Texas State Securities Board has uncovered more suspicious activity from cryptocurrency businesses targeting residents in the state. The agency has most recently issued a pair of emergency orders against two separate entities that according to the regulators were scamming investors, including a bitcoin mining operation and a bitcoin foreign exchange investment fund. Both startups … Continued

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US State Issues Emergency Cease and Desist Orders to Two Crypto Investment Firms

US State Issues Emergency Cease and Desist Orders to Two Crypto Investment Firms

A U.S. state has issued emergency cease and desist orders to two companies and related persons purportedly engaged in cryptocurrency investment schemes. The first company posted videos of three mining farms composed of online stock images, according to the order. Both companies made numerous materially misleading claims and violated U.S. securities laws.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Bitcoin Trading & Cloud Mining Limited

US State Issues Emergency Cease and Desist Orders to Two Crypto Investment Firms
Texas State Securities Board.

The Texas State Securities Board has issued “an emergency cease and desist order” to London-based Bitcoin Trading & Cloud Mining Limited, also known as Btcrush. Also included in the order are the company’s sole director and shareholder Jaylon Cross, founder and CEO Bruce Rodgerson, Chief Marketing Officer Robin Lozinski, and sales agent Thomas A. Johnson.

Btcrush is self-described on its website as “a cloud-based cryptocurrency mining company that mines bitcoin and altcoins and profits from selling altcoins for bitcoins.” The company promises an investment return of 4.1% daily interest regardless of the profitability of its mining operations, adding that its main principle is a “100% satisfaction guarantee for [its] customers.” The company claims:

A principal investment of $10,000.00 for a term of 365 days returns approximately $17.08 per hour, $410.00 per day and $149,650.00 per year.

In addition, the company has been recruiting investors as sales agents, promising them a commission of 15% of the principal deposited by the new investors that they recruit.

US State Issues Emergency Cease and Desist Orders to Two Crypto Investment Firms

Bogus Mining Farm Videos

According to the order, Btcrush had posted videos of its three mining farms on its website.

US State Issues Emergency Cease and Desist Orders to Two Crypto Investment FirmsThe first mining farm the company claims to operate is the Maverik Farm, which it describes as the “most powerful farm” located “in the mountains.”

The second is the Hephaestus Farm, which Btcrush claims to be the “most reliable and secretive farm located in a bunker of the Second World War times.”

The third is the Rebelpower Farm, located “at the former power station.”

However, the Securities Commissioner wrote:

Although the Btcrush website represents these videos depict the Maverik Farm, the Hephaestus Farm and the Rebelpower Farm, they do not actually depict mining farms operated by respondent Btcrush. Instead, respondent Btcrush created these videos by manipulating stock footage available for sale on the internet.

Forex EA & Bitcoin Investment LLC

The second company to receive an emergency cease and desist order from the Texas State Securities Board on Tuesday is the New York-based Forex EA & Bitcoin Investment LLC, also known as My Forex EA. Also included in the order are James Butcher and Richard Dunn who market the company’s Forex and Bitcoin trading program targeting Texas residents, the Securities Commissioner detailed. They advertise:

An investment of $500.00 in the Forex and Bitcoin trading program will return $5,000.00 in twenty-one calendar days…[and] an investment of $1,000.00 in the Forex and Bitcoin trading program will return $10,000.00 in twenty-one calendar days.

Similarly, an investment of $20,000 will yield $20,000 and $5,000 will yield 50,000 in the same time period, the order describes. They also claim that the investments involve “no risk” and their returns “are 100% assured and that there is no possible way investors can lose money.”

US State Issues Emergency Cease and Desist Orders to Two Crypto Investment Firms

Violating Securities Laws

The Texas State Securities Board’s order explains that the investments both companies offer are securities and their sales are in violation of the Securities Act since neither the companies nor their agents have been registered with the state’s Securities Commissioner.

US State Issues Emergency Cease and Desist Orders to Two Crypto Investment FirmsBtcrush also asks investors to agree to a “private transaction rule” of the US Securities Act of 1933 and related acts when signing up. “This statement is materially misleading,” the order shows, adding that the public will likely be deceived into thinking that the company is offering regulated securities in the state.

Furthermore, Btcrush asks investors to agree at signup that they “are investing at their own risk” and that the company “reserves the right to amend…. fixed interest rates… without agreement with investors.” The order says that these statements are also materially misleading given the advertised guarantee of 4.1% return regardless of the company’s profitability.

In both cases, the Securities Commissioner concluded that:

Respondents [both companies] are engaging in fraud in connection with the offer for sale of securities…[and] are making offers containing statements that are meterially misleading or otherwise likely to deceive the public.

What do you think of Texas issuing cease and desist orders to these two investment schemes? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock and the State of Texas.

Need to calculate your bitcoin holdings? Check our tools section.

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Bitcoin in Brief Thursday: ICO Scares Investors with Ghost Prank

Bitcoin in Brief Thursday: Another ICO Ghosts with $50 Million - Sends Thanx from Beer Beach

Today we’ve simply given-in to no nutritional value, guilty pleasure, lowest common denominator: bitcoin-related crime news. Start your day with laughs and head scratching, as we examine the purported Savedroid ICO exit scam, an international bitcoin heist escape, the fury of a scorned woman, a bear spray robbery, and some whole food violence.  

Also read: Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Pornhub? We’ve Never Heard of Pornhub

Savedroid Appeared to Ghost With Investors’ Money

This can’t be real, right? This must be a publicity gimmick. Well, in any event, German online news source Wirtschafts Woche documents how Savedroid has apparently taken the money and run. The company website was replaced with a meme picture, “Aannnd it’s gone.” Founder and CEO Yassin Hankir tweeted a picture of himself on a beach, long gone. All this after having raised $50 million in an ICO.

Bitcoin in Brief Thursday: Another ICO Ghosts with $50 Million - Sends Thanx from Beer Beach
Savedroid webpage

Promises of artificial intelligence, curated portfolios, and a native credit card proved too much for investors, and they poured in money. Stranger than fiction.

Bitcoin in Brief Thursday: Savedroid Scams Investors for $50 Million

Reads Like a Movie Script

A suspect involved in an Icelandic heist involving a dozen perpetrators, 600 missing bitcoin mining rigs, was able to evade authorities after they’d managed to arrest him. “Sindri Thor Stefansson” the BBC reported, “escaped the low-security prison through a window and fled to Sweden on a passenger plane that was also carrying Iceland’s prime minister, local media report. The ticket had another man’s name and he was identified through CCTV video. The stolen computers, which are still missing, are worth $2m (£1.45m).” It appears Mrs. Stefansson was also arrested, but he didn’t have time to circle back evidently.

Bitcoin in Brief Thursday: Savedroid Scams Investors for $50 Million
Sindri Thor Stefansson

Hell Hath No Fury

Speaking of angry women, the broader ecosystem has been accused as being too male. Well, here’s Tina Jones breaking through the digital glass ceiling. According to WGN, Ms. Jones was  “charged after allegedly paying thousands of dollars via bitcoin to a company on the dark web to murder the wife of a man she had an affair with, according to officials. Tina Jones, 31, appeared at bond court Wednesday morning where a judge set bond at $250,000. She was charged with one felony count of solicitation of murder-for-hire.”

Bitcoin in Brief Thursday: Savedroid Scams Investors for $50 Million
Tina Jones

Bearly Escaped with Bitcoin ATM

The Irving Patch, a Texas local online news source, are attempting to help police find two men. Police claim they “entered a store […]  and sprayed a clerk with bear spray before making off with cash from a Bitcoin machine …. They can be seen in security footage spraying the store clerk with bear spray, a powerful form of pepper spray, before heading to the back of the store where the Bitcoin machine was located ….The clerk was taken to a hospital for treatment after being sprayed but was later released.”

Well, He Warned Him

Government crackdown on legitimate cryptocurrency exchanges usually receive very positive media coverage. What both government and mainstream media often miss is how less online exchanges necessarily means more face-to-face encounters, which can be dangerous for reasons bitcoin traders are well familiar. Case in point: a Miami man wished to turn $30,000 cash into more than that in bitcoin. He met supposed crypto dealers at a public place, a local Whole Foods parking lot. The fellow with the cash brought a gun just in case something went wrong. Turned out to be a pretty good idea. He was jumped for the money, and as he was attacked, yelled to his attacker, “Back off, I have a weapon,” the Miami Herald details. The attacker didn’t listen, and was shot. He was later arrested after being taken to a local hospital.

Bitcoin in Brief Thursday: Savedroid Scams Investors for $50 Million

Bitcoiners Wanted at Citi

A recent now hiring Linkedin post detailed how Citi is looking for a  “Senior Vice President, Senior AML Compliance Officer —Emerging Risk,” in Tampa, Florida. “Knowledge of cryptocurrency and bitcoin monitoring” and “Certified Bitcoin Professional Certification a plus,” are among the job qualifications and requirements.

More Spring Cleaning

Clearing off some smaller stories, Riot Blockchain has been subpoenaed.  The Securities and Exchange Commission of the Philippines issued a rather blunt warning about what it terms bitcoin “schemes” to defraud investors. It lists more than a dozen companies by name, and proceeds to go through steps to identify future scams. Josh Ellithorpe tweeted how he “Just released my first open source project at Coinbase. If you need Cashaddr support for your Ruby app then you should check it out!” here.  

Do you think Savedroid really scammed its investors? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock. Special thanks to Kai Sedgwick and Avi Mizrahi for sourcing.

Need to calculate your bitcoin holdings? Check our tools section.

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Pipe Dream: Analysts Mull Natural Gas-Powered Bitcoin Mining Operation

A group of Wall Street analysts has a unique idea to allow shale producers in Texa’s oil-rich Permian Basin to profit from the massive amount of natural gas that is currently being wasted as a result of shale extraction: harness it to power a Bitcoin mining operation. Writing in a recent note to clients, a … Continued

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Bitgrail’s $170M Hack Continues to Provide Drama

After $170 Million Bitgrail Exchange Hack, Lawsuits and Lawyers Get Involved

Fallout from the $170 million hack earlier this year of the Bitgrail exchange continues to mount, and this time lawyers are involved. A class action lawsuit was announced against Bitgrail’s Nano core development team, seeking damages and a “rescue fork” to recover funds. In response, a group calling itself Nano Foundation fired back, insisting blame for the hack rests not with developers but with Bitgrail itself, and they’re raising funds on behalf of victims to bring their own suit.

Also read: First Soros, Now Rockefellers Move into Cryptocurrency

Bitgrail Hack Fallout Means Lawsuits

Perhaps emblematic of where the cryptocurrency ecosystem is at present, the Bitgrail exchange hack from earlier this year continues to provide drama. Back during 2017’s massive price run up, at the start of December (Nano was then known as Railblocks, under the ticker, XRB) “1 XRB could be bought for $0.20. One month later, 1 XRB had soared to $35 after gaining 17,500%, making it 2017’s biggest gainer and putting the likes of bitcoin, litecoin and ripple in the shade,” News.Bitcoin.com reported.

Rather suddenly the Italian micro exchange was swimming in hundreds of millions in value. In late January of this year, Bitgrail abruptly suspended trading. Within weeks, the exchange announced an indefinite stoppage due to a 17 million XRB/Nano “shortfall” from a wallet it managed. It assured users authorities were alerted.

After $170 Million Bitgrail Exchange Hack, Lawsuits and Lawyers Get Involved

Rumors flew: The exchange’s charismatic owner had made off with the loot. Indeed, Nano core devs even alluded to at the very least mismanagement. Bitgrail publically implored its devs to change key aspects of the code in order to return coins to users. Back and forth the two sides have gone, but one thing is clear: 12.7% of XRB remains missing.

By March, Bitgrail announced a 20% return of customer Nano with the other 80% being made up in a new coin, BGS, on one condition: users, upon reanimating their accounts, would be required to sign away future legal claims against the exchange. It is unclear how many customers were eager to take up the offer.

Class Action, Legal Fund

This week, Bitgrail customer Alex Brola’s class action lawsuit against four Nano core developers based in Texas was published online. Mr. Brola’s initial $50,000 investment grew close to 17,000 Nano, according to court documents. His suit begins by attacking the entire project, defining Nano as a security thus placing those associated with its sale as violating US securities law. It then goes on to allege developers misled Bitgrail users in nearly every regard, from the supposed integrity of the system itself against hacks, to Nano devs actively conspiring to ultimately achieve ill gotten gains.

Mr. Brola and the respective class of victims are seeking return of their coins and fiat investments, along with a mandated “rescue fork,” presumably to recover said coins, and restitution in the form of all damages incurred by Mr. Brola and the class as a result. They’d also like an audit, a full accounting, and a trust set up for coin distribution, along with attorney’s fees paid in full.

After $170 Million Bitgrail Exchange Hack, Lawsuits and Lawyers Get Involved

In response, a group referring to itself as the Nano Foundation claimed it was they who really represented hack victims, and that a legal fund was being established to bring action against Bitgrail exchange. They detail having formed an alliance with “Espen Enger, a representative of nearly 600 Bitgrail victims at the time — now over 1,400, announcing our plans to help establish a legal fund. We had a series of productive initial discussions with Mr. Enger. Over time we became confident that Mr. Enger was the best prepared person to manage a legal fund and a large group of Bitgrail victims in their pursuit of justice in Italy.”

Their stated goal is to help smaller investors. They claim to have doubled the victims’ legal fund from $300,000 to $600,000 as of 9 April 2018, while “will be matching the contributions of the victims to the legal fund established by Mr. Enger — including both past and future donations, for up to $1 million — with a goal of establishing a total legal fund valued at $2 million.” They’ve set up a Discord account as a way to keep tabs on their progress going forward.

 Which side do you believe? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

Need to calculate your bitcoin holdings? Check our tools section.

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State of Texas Orders ‘Decentralized Bank’ ICO Project to Cease Operations

State of Texas Orders 'Decentralized Bank' ICO Project to Cease Operations

This week the Texas Department of Banking Commissioner, Charles G. Cooper, issued a cease and desist order to an alleged ‘decentralized cryptocurrency-bank’ called Arise Bank. The commissioner explains the startup unlawfully claims to be a banking institution and its operations must stop engaging with residents from the state of Texas.

Also read: US Financial Regulator Requests Crypto Trading Data From South Korea

Arise Banks Alleged Purchase of a Century Old FDIC Bank and Bitshares Connections

State of Texas Orders 'Decentralized Bank' ICO Project to Cease OperationsBack in December, some headlines started to spread on the web about a partnership between Arise Bank and a 100-year-old FDIC insured bank in the U.S. Arise Bank is an initial coin offering (ICO) that claims to have many strategic alliances. The news initially spread its wings when it was published on the popular online publication the Huffington Post, but the story has since been scrubbed. A copied version of the story still appears on the financial website Zerohedge.

Arise Bank claimed to be a “decentralized cryptocurrency bank” that offers a 100-page white paper, financial management services, debit cards, and an ICO. Further, Arise bank has associations with Bitshares community and the well-known developer Stan Larimer had also written about the project on Steemit. Unfortunately for Arise Bank, there’s a lot of people who question the legitimacy of its services and state that lots of its so-called operations are non-existent.

State of Texas Orders 'Decentralized Bank' ICO Project to Cease Operations
Stan Larimer of Bitshares plugging Arise Bank’s ‘partnership deal’ this past December. Bitshares value doubled after Arise Bank’s announcement. 

Texas Banking Commissioner: ‘Arise Bank Must Stop Implying That They Engage in the Business of Banking in Texas’

Now the Texas Department of Banking wants Arise Bank to cease its operations immediately and details that the startup has violated the state’s financial statutes.

“The Cease & Desist Order was based on the Commissioner’s finding that Arise Bank violated Texas Finance Code Chapter 31 by using the term “bank” in its name and marketing materials to imply that it is in the business of banking in this state — The order requires Arise Bank to cease and desist from implying that they engage in the business of banking in Texas. Arise Bank is further required to clearly disclose that they do not offer their services to consumers in Texas,” explains Commissioner Charles G. Cooper.

In accordance with Texas Finance Code §§ 31.005 and 35.207, Respondents are ordered to cease and desist from implying that they engage in the business of banking in Texas, whether through the website www.arisebank.com or any other online site or profile.

State of Texas Orders 'Decentralized Bank' ICO Project to Cease Operations
The Texas Department of Banking Commissioner, Charles G. Cooper’s cease and desist letter.

A Scam or a Victim of Libel and Slander?

Scouring the internet searching for information about Arise Bank shows a lot of forum and blog posts claiming Arise Bank is a “scam.” However, the startup’s founder Jared Rise and representatives from Arise Bank believe they are “victims of libel and slander.” One particular Medium blog post that aims to prove the project is fishy is questioned for starting the rumors regarding Arise Bank, and the company addresses each point written in the article.

State of Texas Orders 'Decentralized Bank' ICO Project to Cease Operations
A Medium blog post called “Investor Warning” claims much of Arise Bank’s products don’t exist. The co-founder of Arise Bank, Jared Rice says the post is false and his firm is a victim of “libel and slander.” 

The editorial basically states that Arise Bank’s operations are shady and much of what it claims doesn’t really exist.  

“A post has been circulating around the web that was posted by someone who was funded to post it with completely false information,” Jared Rice, the co-founder of Arise Bank explains. Rice believes the post is misleading and every issue raised contains data that can be “easily proven false.”

Texas Deputy Commissioner Says Arise Bank’s Dallas Offices Do Not Exist, While U.S. Regulators Plan to Sue the Startup

Rice has also responded to the Texas Banking Commissioners letter in a statement made on Steemit. The co-founder says the project is a decentralized banking entity and it will not comply with removing the word “bank” from the company name. Further, Rice claims that the SEC and FBI special agents raided his office drawing guns on a team of programmers who were coding all night.

“The software cannot be erased nor does the State of Texas have any sort of regulations that prevent any of our Texas-based users from storing cryptocurrencies on their computers or cellular devices using the Arise Bank platform,” explains Rice’s response to the cease and desist order.

Additionally, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is taking Arise Bank to court according to the SEC’s recently filed reports. The U.S. regulatory agency says Arise Bank’s operations are a “fraudulent offering” and none of Arise’s businesses have ever registered with the SEC. The public document details that the ‘decentralized bank’s’ promises were misleading to retail investors.

State of Texas Orders 'Decentralized Bank' ICO Project to Cease Operations
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) recent complaint against Arise Bank.

After Rice’s response, the deputy commissioner of the Texas Department of Banking, Bob Bacon, told the publication American Banker that Arise Bank is prohibited from using the word “bank” in its name unless it’s approved by the state. Additionally, Bacon explains in his interview that the Texas Department of Banking has tried to visit Arise Bank’s offices in Dallas but found the physical locations are non-existent.

What do you think about Arise Bank getting a cease and desist order for using the word “bank” in its name? Let us know what you think of this story in the comments below.

Images via Shutterstock, Arise Bank, Steemit, and the Texas Department of Banking. 

Do you like to research and read about Bitcoin technology? Check out Bitcoin.com’s Wiki page for an in-depth look at Bitcoin’s innovative technology and interesting history.

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Trump’s Dead Voter Fraud Commission Tried to ID Every Hispanic Voter in Texas

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, center, attends a meeting of the now-defunct Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity on Sept. 12, 2017. (Photo: AP)

New documents indicate that a member of President Trump’s recently dissolved voter fraud commission tried to identify which of Texas’s 50 million voters are Hispanic. The commission, disbanded earlier this month, was founded last year on the false claim of conspiracy theorists (and the president himself) that more than 3 million illegal immigrants had voted in the 2016 election.

The Washington Post reported Monday that the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity—formerly led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach—had paid the State of Texas some $3,500 for access to roughly 49.6 million voter records.


In the request, the commission asked for voter files organized in a way that indicated which voters had Hispanic surnames, according to newly released documents. The Dallas Morning News reports that those requests were filed by Ron Williams, who was fired by the commission in October after being charged with possession of child pornography.

A Texas official told the Post that Texas has identified voters with Hispanic names since 1983 as a means to identifying voters who may need bilingual election notices. The names are selected from the US Census Bureau’s list of top Hispanic surnames, the official said.

Asked about the decision to include the flags in data delivered to the commission, Kobach insisted that no member of commission was aware of the request. “It’s a complete surprise to me,” he told the Post.


The data was never ultimately never delivered, thanks to a lawsuit brought by Texas voting rights activists and the commission was closed down on January 3rd, because—depending on who you ask—of either the vast number of states determined not to participate or because internal records withheld from Democrats named to the commission were about to released into their hands. (At one point, more than 40 states had declined to participate)

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, a Democrat appointed to the commission, filed a lawsuit in November alleging that Kobach and other Republican members were withholding key details about the commission’s activities from their Democratic colleagues.

The nonpartisan watchdog group American Oversight told Gizmodo two weeks ago that it was “no coincidence that the president dissolved the commission once it became clear it wouldn’t be permitted to operate in the shadows.”


In a letter to the Attorney General last year, Hans von Spakovsky—a member of the commission and employee of the conservative Heritage Foundation—urged Jeff Sessions to help prevent the appointment of any Democrats to the panel.

Gizmodo launched an investigation into the commission last summer scrutinizing the various insecure ways the panel had asked states to transmit sensitive voter data.

[Washington Post]

The Best Austin Tips From Our Readers

We asked for your Austin tips and we got 182 of them, recommending Tex-Mex, local attractions, good and bad neighborhoods, and ways the light rail can go screw itself. Here are a few themes that emerged.


Barton Springs Pool (Photo by Outdoor Craziness)

“Swimmin’ holes are a real thing in central Texas, enjoy it if you can,” says jumbo76. The most popular is Barton Springs Pool, a public limestone pool filled by natural springs. “If you have a four legged friend,” says Burning With Possums, “sneak into the northern side beyond the wall of the pool and check out Dog Springs where happy puppies frolic in the water year round.”


Barton Springs gets crowded in the summer. “There are plenty more places to swim,” says Men’s Tights Activist:

The swimming pools and swim holes are Austin’s X factor, particularly to fight summer heat. I like Gus Fruh as a swim hole. “Neighborhood pools” are free, city pools are cheap; both are scattered all over the city.

“The best swimmin’ hole is Hamilton Pool,” says jumbo76. “It’s a ways out of town, but worth visiting.” There are two Blue Hole Parks with swimming spots, in opposite directions from Austin. Island Feathers likes the one in Georgetown; John likes the one in Wimberley.

Drinking and Night Life

Photo by Whisler’s

Downtown Austin, especially 6th St. is famously packed with raucous bars with shot specials, live music, and a mechanical bull. But here are some less obvious alternatives.


Eleven readers mention the brewery Jester King, which specializes in sours. “Wildly beautiful,” says Katie Keurig. “I won’t forget the sunset there despite having quite a lot of sour beer.”

Hypermark has a few beer picks:

Austin has a thriving craft beer scene. There are some great IPAs, but where Austin is beginning to shine is in our sours. Places like Blue Owl and Adelbert’s are really doing a great job with sour beers (Jester King is also amazing, but it’s 45 minutes out of town). Live Oak brewery out by the airport is also fantastic, but they focus on more German style beers.

So does Drew F:

Austin Beerworks is my personal fave, but Hops and Grain is also great and I hear good things about the new Southern Heights. I haven’t been to the new Live Oak tasting room but their beers are very good. Last Stand and Jester King are about a 1/4 mile apart out near Dripping Springs, and if you make it out there drop by Solara for some vino or Treaty Oak for any of their spirits (all on Fitzhugh Road).

And so does bulletproofcharm:

My personal favorites are Live Oak (the Hefeweizen is a staple part of any healthy diet), Zilber (Coffee Milk Stout is stupidly good) and Austin Beerworks (Pearl Snap is one of the most refreshing beers you’ll have). You could spend a couple of days going to different breweries.

Hypermark also suggests mezcal bars:

Mezcal bars are kind of a thing, and we have two that I really like. The one at Whisler’s is neat. It’s above the actual bar, and the tasting room is small, dimly lit, and slightly creepy. For some reason, it’s the perfect vibe or Mezcal. I hesitate to even mention the other one because I don’t want it getting so crowded I can’t get in, but Techo Mezcaleria is my absolute favorite. It’s above Mi Madre’s, and everything from the ambience to the selection of Mezcals is on point.

Don’t settle for the default bar scene on 6th St, says DrNerdLove:

Dirty 6th is overrated if you’re over 22. There are good bars on 7th (including a secret one near The Driskill) and on East 6th that aren’t as bad. Rock Rose up at the Domain is up and coming, but isn’t *quite* there yet.

“Rainey Street is a slightly more grown-up bar scene,” says JuanDonJAWN. Peter agrees: “The Domain’s Rock Rose is being built really well. There’s a bar that’s not quite on Rock Rose. It has a nautical theme and has ropes and blue lighting on the outside.” Peter forgets the name, so now hunting it down is a fun adventure for you.


Dewmelon recommends The Good Life Bar Bar, Hut’s (“or get your burger with a milkshake”), and Mort Subite, “a sweet Belgian bar on Congress.” Baudboi likes Small Victory—“So so hipster, so very Austin”—and dive bar karaoke at Ego’s.

Endlessshrimp knows a good time:

Chicken shit bingo on Sundays at Ginny’s Little Longhorn is the pinnacle of Austin’s cultural scene, and it’s not even close. If you’re lucky, Dale Watson will be playing, which is about a million times better than whatever crappy hipster band you’ll see anywhere else.

And weluckyfew201 has two honky-tonk picks:

The legend is Broken Spoke, maybe a 10 minute Uber from downtown. From the outside it looks like one of those faux-old-broken-down bars, but once you get in you realize it’s actually an authentic broken down old bar. But it’s a great time: amazing live music (usually from people who have been playing there for 40 years) and the dance floor is always full.

The hipper, younger version of this is White Horse, on the east side. I don’t say ‘hipper’ in any derogatory way, the bands are still on point and the crowd is still very much there to dance and have fun. It’s basically Broken Spoke: The Next Generation. 


Photo by Cuvée Coffee

A necessity.

  • “You can get good coffee all over the city, if you go local. Austin Java, Ruta Maya, Cuvée Coffee are all excellent choices.”—DrNerdLove
  • “Summermoon. Oh god the eponymous Summermoon coffee is so good.”—baudboi
  • “For coffee hit up Houndstooth, Epoch, Cuvee, or Once Over. There’s a tiny food truck outside Once Over that sells amazing breakfast tacos too.”—John
  • “Mozart’s coffee shop.”—vtboyarc

Breakfast Tacos

Taco Deli’s breakfast tacos (Photo by Krista)

Tacos are the ideal breakfast food: Not too much bread, plenty of protein, and a tasteful way to eat veggies before noon.

  • “I absolutely LOVE Taco Deli. Go before 11am because their menu changes around lunch time. The Otto and The Jess Special are two must tries. If you go to the North Lamar location, be sure to go to Houndstooth for some coffee too!”—Peter
  • “Torchy’s Tacos for great queso and fun taco fillings.”—Ekla
  • “Vazquez (my fav breakfast tacos in Austin)”—vtboyarc
  • “El Tacorrido (best breakfast tacos in town IMO, and get the Equinox)”—bassball1985
  • “Tacodeli and Torchy’s are good for what they are, but are what most native Texans would call white people Mexican food. So my recommendation would be Ñoños Tacos on Powell Lane. There is an abuelita in the kitchen hand making the tortillas. It is basically standing room only with some outside seating.”—STX2ATX
  • “Pretty much any roadside shack will have decent breakfast tacos. Get some or some migas. I still think it’s weird to put potatoes in tortillas but they are delicious.”—katie_keys


Franklin Barbecue (photo by T.Tseng)

Along with Tex-Mex, barbecue is Austin’s most important cuisine. Several readers recommend Franklin Barbecue, but others call it overrated, thanks to its legendary wait time. “The thing about barbecue is that it’s a game of little margins,” says Marcelo:

While Franklin is world class, you can get 90% of the quality of Franklin’s brisket at a number of places, from Terry Black’s to Ruby’s to La Barbecue to Micklethwait. So the question with Franklin is whether you are willing to go through all that trouble and time for that extra 10%, which is what takes Franklin into world-class territory.

“Franklin Barbecue is overrated unless you get to skip the line like Obama,” says Ainomiaka. “Go to Cooper’s downtown. Delicious.”

  • “For BBQ, Valentina’s is in far south Austin but well worth it. Short lines (sometimes a 20 minute wait max) and reasonably priced. It’s actually a Tex-Mex place so they have a little of both. Amazing breakfast tacos as well.”—ChalupaBatman
  • “Try Micklethwait, Black’s, Terry Black’s, Cooper’s, Stiles & Switch, Brown’s, or Freedmen’s.”—Drew F
  • “La Barbecue is my go-to if I want quality BBQ.”—afijaymz1
  • “Rudy’s Country Store & BBQ. It’s pretty awesome to go to a gas station that also happens to serve up some pretty good BBQ. Also, people will fight me, but I absolutely love the egg, potato, and cheese breakfast tacos there with the standard Louisiana Hot Sauce they have on the tables.”—bulletproofcharm
  • “Cooper’s isn’t the best barbecue, but it’s better than it needs to be given its captive audience, and it has a lot of momentoes from the Armadillo World Headquarters.”—dewmelon
  • “Take a quick drive down to Lockhart and eat at Smitty’s. Smitty’s is what Franklin is modeled after. Might as well get the real deal. And if Smitty’s doesn’t do it for you, try Kreuz’s, also in Lockhart.”—jumbo76
  • “The new guy in Plfugerville, Brotherton’s Black Iron Barbecue, has a brisket ban mi!”—RIMP
  • “For good (if not the best) bbq I always thought it was worth the trip out to Driftwood for Salt Lick. They make my favorite coleslaw ever— it’s made with sesame oil instead of mayo—and a habanero bbq sauce.”—katie_keys
  • “County Line BBQ in the west Austin hills is a drive, but the building and riverfront area is great.”—Crocell


A dish at Uchiko. That’s beef, right? (Photo by Emily Goodstein)

Several people answered our desperate call for an Austin sushi pick:

  • “If you absolutely must have sushi, there’s Uchiko right next to Taco Deli and Houndstooth on North Lamar. Great experience, and kind of pricey. Go during their social hour for some great choices in appetizers for about half the cost of their normal menu.”—Peter
  • “Musashino was my go-to for the longest time.”—SurlyJ
  • “Uchi—in Austin—was the highest rated sushi restaurant in America a couple of years ago. Do yourself a favor and make a reservation and try it out. It truly is some phenomenal food.”—World’s Okayest Commenter

Hypermark has some other varied restaurant recs:

Urban farms are a pretty big thing in Austin if you’re into local, sustainable food, so try to check out places like Springdale, HausBar, or Rain Lilly farms. The Mueller Farmer’s Market is also pretty great. Eden East is an al fresco restaurant on Springdale farm, and if the weather is nice, it’s a beautiful location and the food is always amazing (most of the veggies come from Springdale itself).

Social Picks

We also asked for tips on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Some highlights from Twitter:

And on Facebook:

  • “Overrated? Juan in a Million. Where we go? Amaya’s Taco Village.”—James Nichols
  • “Michi Ramen is amazing but can be packed with a long wait at peak times, and no reservations. Bangers on Rainey is great food and beer but don’t be in a hurry because service is a little slower.”—Kelela Place
  • “Go to Habaneros. True Austin Tex-mex.”—Corey Bounds
  • “Luke’s Inside Out at Gibson’s, great food combined with great drinks.”—Kathryn Biber
Pinballz (Photo by Mike Prosser)

Lastly, we always love a pinball rec, and World’s Okayest Commenter came through:

There is a pretty fun BYOB pinball (and normal arcade) place called “Pinballz” right down the street from Trudy’s North Star. Just sayin’.