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Bitcoin’s ‘First Felon’ Faces More Legal Trouble

SAN FRANCISCO — Over the last year, Charlie Shrem, a 28-year-old Bitcoin investor, has bought two Maseratis, two powerboats — one of them 32 feet long — and a $2 million house in Florida, along with smaller pieces of real estate.In the world of cryptocurrencies, where millions can be made and lost in a day, that might not make Mr. Shrem stand out. But unlike most Bitcoin entrepreneurs, in 2016 Mr. Shrem got out of prison, where he spent a year after pleading guilty to illegally helping people turn dollars into Bitcoin to buy drugs online.Mr. Shrem, who had been the chief executive of Bitinstant, one of…

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A Cryptocurrency Millionaire Wants to Build a Utopia in Nevada

STOREY COUNTY, Nev. — An enormous plot of land in the Nevada desert — bigger than nearby Reno — has been the subject of local intrigue since a company with no history, Blockchains L.L.C., bought it for $170 million in cash this year.The man who owns the company, a lawyer and cryptocurrency millionaire named Jeffrey Berns, put on a helmet and climbed into a Polaris off-road vehicle last week to give a tour of the sprawling property and dispel a bit of the mystery.He imagines a sort of experimental community spread over about a hundred square miles, where houses, schools, commercial districts and production studios will be…

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Tech We’re Using: When Cryptocurrencies Fluctuate, He Uses These Tech Tools to Keep Track

How do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives? Nathaniel Popper, who covers cryptocurrencies and financial technology for The Times from San Francisco, discussed the tech he’s using.There are many cryptocurrencies and they often fluctuate in value. What tech products do you use to keep your finger on the pulse?Most conversations about cryptocurrencies tend to start with the price, and there are now countless services that track the ups and downs of the thousands of digital tokens out there.The most popular site, Coinmarketcap.com, was briefly getting more visits than The Wall Street Journal’s home page last winter. My personal favorite…

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After the Bitcoin Boom: Hard Lessons for Cryptocurrency Investors

SAN FRANCISCO — Pete Roberts of Nottingham, England, was one of the many risk-takers who threw their savings into cryptocurrencies when prices were going through the roof last winter.Now, eight months later, the $23,000 he invested in several digital tokens is worth about $4,000, and he is clearheaded about what happened.“I got too caught up in the fear of missing out and trying to make a quick buck,” he said last week. “The losses have pretty much left me financially ruined.”Mr. Roberts, 28, has a lot of company. After the latest round of big price drops, many cryptocurrencies have given back all of the enormous gains they…

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How Russian Spies Hid Behind Bitcoin in Hacking Campaign

SAN FRANCISCO — In early 2016, Russian intelligence officers obtained a new pool of the virtual currency Bitcoin. They quickly put the digital money to work.The Russian spies used some of the Bitcoins to pay for the registration of a website, dcleaks.com, where they would later post emails that had been stolen from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. When the operatives needed a computer server to host the dcleaks site, they paid for that with Bitcoins as well.The transactions were detailed in an indictment on Friday from the Justice Department, in which prosecutors accused 12 Russian operatives of interfering in the 2016 presidential campaign through a sophisticated hacking…

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With Cryptocurrencies in Free Fall, One Big Firm Doubles Down

SAN FRANCISCO — Even with the cryptocurrency markets in an extended slump, the most prominent venture capital firm in the sector is doubling down.Andreessen Horowitz, the well-known firm that made early bets on Instagram and Reddit, said on Monday that it was creating a $300 million fund focused exclusively on projects inspired by the original virtual currency, Bitcoin. One of the leaders of the new fund will be the firm’s first female general partner, Kathryn Haun, a former federal prosecutor.Last year, when Bitcoin and most other virtual currencies were gaining in value, most of the large venture capital firms began beefing up on cryptocurrency expertise and making…

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Bits: Farhad’s Week in Tech: Bitcoin and the Scams Under Everything

Each week, Farhad Manjoo, technology columnist at The New York Times, reviews the week’s news, offering analysis and maybe a joke or two about the most important developments in the tech industry. Want this newsletter in your inbox? Sign up here.Good morning, readers!We’ll get to tech news in a bit, but let’s start somewhere else. My wife is a doctor who studies cancer, and one of the few things I’ve learned from her job is this unhappy little maxim: You can get cancer pretty much anywhere. Some cancers everyone has heard of. Breast, prostate, brain, lung — these are the calamities we’re familiar with. But did you…

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Stephen Bannon Buys Into Bitcoin

WASHINGTON — Stephen K. Bannon, 10 months removed from the job of chief strategist to President Trump and five months after his ouster from the arch-conservative news site Breitbart News, is betting that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can disrupt banking the way Mr. Trump disrupted American politics.Mr. Bannon won’t reveal very much about his cryptocurrency plans — he worries that the controversy that comes with his name could have a bad impact on projects just getting off the ground.But he has had private meetings with cryptocurrency investors and hedge funds where he has discussed working on so-called initial coin offerings through his investment business, Bannon & Company.…

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Bitcoin’s Price Was Artificially Inflated Last Year, Researchers Say

SAN FRANCISCO — A concentrated campaign of price manipulation may have accounted for at least half of the increase in the price of Bitcoin and other big cryptocurrencies last year, according to a paper released on Wednesday by an academic with a history of spotting fraud in financial markets.The paper by John Griffin, a finance professor at the University of Texas, and Amin Shams, a graduate student, is likely to stoke a debate about how much of Bitcoin’s skyrocketing gain last year was caused by the covert actions of a few big players, rather than real demand from investors.Many industry players expressed concern at the time that…

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