US authorities are pursuing Bitzlato’s creator

The crypto company Bitzlato was the target of a “significant worldwide cryptocurrency enforcement operation” that was announced by the United States Department of Justice. The action also resulted in the arrest of the company’s creator, Anatoly Legkodymov.

Lisa Monaco, the Deputy Attorney General for the United States, made an announcement on January 18 stating that enforcement actions had been taken against Bizlato in coordination with France. These actions included the seizure of Bizlato’s website and the labelling of the company as a “primary money laundering concern” connected to Russian illicit finance.

According to Monaco, the United States Department of Justice, the United States Department of the Treasury, and French law enforcement collaborated to bring legal action against Bitzlato for allegedly “conducting a money transmitting business that transported and transmitted illicit funds and that failed to meet U.S. regulatory safeguards.” In other words, Bitzlato allegedly moved and transmitted illegal funds.

Legkodymov, a Russian citizen residing in China, was taken into custody by FBI agents on January 17 in Miami as part of the investigation into Bitzlato’s activities.

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida is where his arraignment is set to take place.

The United States authorities stated that the criminal complaint against Bitzlato was based on the company being a money laundering operation “crucial financial resource” for the Hydra darknet marketplace, which allowed users to launder funds, including those obtained from ransomware attacks: “Hydra Market users exchanged more than $700 million in cryptocurrency with Bitzlato, either directly or through intermediaries, until Hydra Market was shut down by U.S. and German law enforcement in April 2022.

Additionally, Bitzlato was given more than $15 million from the revenues of the malware.”

The enforcement action consisted of a concerted effort throughout Europe and the United States to confiscate a significant portion of Bitzlato’s resources, including as the company’s servers, as well as to take the company’s creator into custody.

The “most substantial enforcement endeavour” against an exchange since the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team was established in October 2021, according to Monaco, who referred to the case as “the most significant enforcement effort.”

It was stated by Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite of the criminal division of the Department of Justice that United States authorities were “just getting started” in their crackdown on similar businesses engaged in the facilitation of money laundering.

Monaco issued a warning to individuals who perpetrate crimes against the United States financial system “from a tropical island,” despite the fact that no official has explicitly commented on the current prosecution against cryptocurrency exchange FTX and its former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried.


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U.S.-German Joint Operation Seizes $25m Worth of Bitcoin, Shuting Down Russian Darkened Marketplace Hydra

In collaboration with the U.S. Justice Department, German authorities announced Tuesday that they managed to shut down the Hydra market, the most prominent Russian darknet market, and consequently seized $25 million in Bitcoin from the marketplace.

The Frankfurt Main Public Prosecutor’s Office, Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), and Central Office for Combating Cybercrime (ZIT) managed the seizure after they secured the server infrastructure of the site. However, no one is under arrest, according to the official.

The authorities described the Hydra market, a Russian-language site, as the world’s longest-running and largest illegal dark web marketplace.

“Today, the German Federal Criminal Police, in coordination with U.S. federal law enforcement, seized the servers of Hydra Market,” the Justice Department mentioned in a statement.

Hydra darknet marketplace specialized in drug dealing. The market has been dealing with the trades of illegal narcotics, intercepted data, as well as forged documents, and digital services.

The Federal Police found 17 million customers and 19,000 seller accounts registered on the marketplace at the time of seizure.

The authorities said that Hydra Market probably had the highest turnover among illegal marketplaces globally. According to the police statement, the Hydra site made sales worth more than €1.23 billion ($1.35 billion) in revenue in 2020.

The authorities also disclosed that the Russian-language marketplace had an in-built Bitcoin privacy mixer service that made tracing of digital transactions extremely difficult for law enforcement agents. The police stated that they have pulled down the site from the internet.

Inside the Dark Web

Since 2015, Hydra Market has been operating its business and was accessible via the Tor browser. The site became the top Russian-language darknet marketplace after Russian Anonymous Marketplace (RAMP) was shut down in 2017.

Hydra had a notorious association with sellers and resellers of stolen data and ransomware. It was the largest darknet market by several orders of magnitude and featured thousands of listings for all standard categories of products. It was believed that Hydra had some kind of connection with the Russian government. The market’s continuous, uninterrupted operation for over five years might have been sustained by backing from the government.

The entire market was written in Russian language. Nations serviced by Hydra vendors include Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Moldova.

Hydra was a Bitcoin-only market and used the standard forum escrow payment system. The market made billions of dollars in revenue every year and used a system of dead drops to sell drugs across Russia and its neighbouring former soviet countries.

Hydra Market had plans to expand to Europe and the USA, but it was only offering support in Russia to former soviet countries.

The seizure of the Hydra darknet market followed crackdowns of many other darknet markets over the past few months, including Trump’s Dumps, Sky-Fraud Forum, Ferum Shop, and UAS Store. Its investigation began in August 2021 and also involved U.S. authorities.


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Cardano Developer Reveals Progress On Scaling Protocol Hydra

Cardano announced its Hydra protocol last year and has continued to develop on it ever since. The project which finally gained smart contract capability in 2021 has been making strides in proving that it is a force to be reckoned with in the space. Its decentralized finance (DeFi) space has begun to take off. Now, it offers insight into the Hydra protocol and how much progress the team has made with scaling it.

Hydra Has Evolved

In a recently published report on its official website, the developer behind Cardano known as IOG has provided more information on what the project Hydra is up to. It explains where the protocol is now if far from where it is coming from. Hydra which was created by the Ouborous team to increase throughput, minimize latency, and provide cost-efficient solutions without sacrificing storage resources continues to evolve.

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Hydra has now matured into a proof of concept protocol, something that was not in the initial roadmap. This has pushed the project towards “a more defined implementation for the testate MVP.”

There are different Hydra Heads, which involve a robust network layer between Cardano and other blockchains, as well as other smart contracts that will drive the lifecycle of a Hydra Head. Acting as a mini-ledger, it works similarly to the on-chain main ledger of the Cardano network, but on a smaller scale, as well as off-chain.

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With the consensus algorithm provided on this protocol, all parties involved in a transaction need to agree before it is allowed to go through. This provides a very high level of security for those using the protocol.

“A consequence of this is that, as a participant, I cannot lose money I haven’t explicitly agreed to lose. Why? Because any valid transaction requires my explicit approval,” the report reads.

Cardano Heading To A Million TPS

One of the selling points of the Cardano network is how many transactions per second it can process. The proof of stake network is significantly faster than ethereum, its leading competitor. The project is committed to improving the TPS. However, that is not all Hydra is about.

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Although TPS can sound like an important metric, the report establishes that it is the least meaningful metric to use when carrying out a comparison since transactions can come in different shapes and sizes. Yes, the blockchain is working towards more scalability but “scalability isn’t about a million TPS.”

Instead of looking at TPS, the report asks to look at throughput, finality, and concurrency, since these metrics rank as more important in the grand scheme of things. These three metrics represent volume, speed, and amount of work done, the report says.

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This Is When Cardano Will Match Solana and Other Platforms in Terms of Scaling, According to Charles Hoskinson

Cardano (ADA) founder Charles Hoskinson envisions completing much of his personal outline for the project in 2022.

In a new interview with Crypto Capital Venture, the CEO of Input Output Hong Kong (IOHK) was asked what Cardano developments would be finished by 2022.

Replies Hoskinson,

“I think everything will get done that I outlined – the sidechains, the pipelining, the import endorsers, the library optimization, Hydra and Mithril.

Now there are degrees and flavors like there’ll be more Hydra stuff to do, but at least you’ll be able to use Hydra for something like microtransactions.

Mithril will be probably completely finished because it’s a finite scope of work, and we had to bring on some sophisticated contractors for it.”

Hydra is a layer-2 scalability solution that aims to enable a more efficient means of processing transactions off-chain, explains David Orr, a content creator at IOHK.

Mithril is a protocol that aims to help “users join the network with less technical overhead,” according to the Cardano Summit Organization website.

Hoskinson says in his new interview that while there will always be ways to improve Cardano, the upgrades in 2022 should allow it to match the technical elements of competing smart contract platforms.

“You can always optimize pipelining and do more in those heartbeats and the same for input endorsers – there are always ways to optimize that.

But some version of it will ship, and… I think we’ll be in an exceedingly strong position to match what we see with Solana and these other platforms, but have the added benefit of being actually decentralized and having real theory and strong foundations behind it.”

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Here’s What’s Coming to Cardano in 2022, According to the Crypto Asset’s Creator Charles Hoskinson

Charles Hoskinson is looking forward to a busy 2022 as smart contract platform Cardano (ADA) pursues long-term growth within the global market.

In a new solo YouTube chat, the Cardano founder and CEO of Input Output Hong Kong (IOHK) tells his 300,000 subscribers about 2021 milestones and the future goals he’s working toward.

A major goal on Hoskinson’s list is to finalize plans of using blockchain technology to facilitate affordable loans to the world’s poorest via decentralized finance.

“My goal for the second half of 2022 is to figure out how to put all the pieces together to get an end-to-end microfinance transaction on Cardano. So that a real person in Kenya or somewhere with a blockchain-based identity and credit score, stablecoin on the other side, Cardano is the settlement rail. Peer-to-peer, person-to-person, click a button, loan goes to them. They pay it back, [it] goes to the other side.”

The CEO believes that financially empowering people across the continent of Africa could have far-reaching implications that might revolutionize traditional finance.

It’s permissionless, and you can’t shut it off once that’s happened. It opens up a thousand conversations, [like] what’s a good identity? What’s a good credit score? What other products and services should exist in the realfi (real finance) space in Africa? And how do we spread this across all of Africa? That’s the dream.”

Hoskinson next discusses a number of outlined technological milestones for the coming year.

“Next year, what’s going to happen is that a formal open-source project structure is going to be formed, kind of like Hyperledger to Linux. We’re going to see many institutions wired in, and all the people that are currently working on it will be novated over, including me…

When you look at things like enhancing [Cardano’s smart contract platform] Plutus, there’s already three CIPS [Cardano improvement proposals] as a result of the work we’ve done with developers that need to come in.

We have pipelining that needs to come in, input endorsers that need to come in. Peer-to-peer is currently being tested with the stake pool operators on the testnet, and there’s lots of stuff happening there.”

Hoskinson concludes by noting how following through on the initial technical goals leads to achieving future goals in cascading fashion.

“We started with correctness as our highest priority and now that [it] has been achieved we’re moving over to performance-tuning optimization, usability and these factors.

That is a game of rapid iteration. You do a little bit. You get a huge advantage…

We’re staging things appropriately, and we’re starting to see a refinement of the science of things. The adoption’s there. The community’s there. We’ve grown to about two million people.”

At time of writing, Cardano’s native token ADA is trading for $1.40.

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Cardano prepares to scale with Hydra upgrade as network reaches 2M wallets

In a tweet posted by the Cardano Foundation on Monday, the number of Cardano (ADA) wallets has surpassed the 2 million mark. The network reached the previous milestone of 1 million ADA wallets on May 22, 2021.

During that period, the Cardano Foundation successfully implemented the Alonzo hard fork, enabling smart contracts on its network. Meanwhile, Charles Hoskinson, Cardano’s founder, has shifted his attention to increasing the adoption of blockchain technology in Africa. Via a tweet posted last week, Hoskinson claimed that 5 million students in Ethiopia are on schedule to receive an ID based on the Cardano blockchain for tracking academic performance.

But Cardano’s technological development is also picking up pace post-Alonzo. When asked about progress regarding Cardano’s layer-two scaling solution, Hydra, during an ask-me-anything session on Oct 30, Hoskinson said:

“We are going to keep adding resources to Hydra, and we’ve been trying to identify some teams so we can parallelize the workstream because it’s such a high commercial priority. And it’s going to be very important that we’ll be able to offload a large number of the transaction traffic that’s going to come from all of the apps that are coming.”

Layer-two solutions operate on top of an established protocol to improve network performance. Meanwhile, sharding in the context of Cardano involves channeling transactions off-chain to staking pools, or Hydra Nodes, without partioning the ledger itself. Theoretically, suppose each Hydra Node can process 1,000 transactions per second, and there are 1,000 such nodes. In that case, the entire Cardano network could process up to 1 million transactions per second — assuming linear scaling. The project is still undergoing research and development, with no exact launch date.