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Mastermind Who Planned Iceland’s Biggest Bitcoin Heist Jailed for 4.5 Years

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Last year, Sindri Stefansson was arrested for his part in what has been described as the biggest heist Iceland has seen – over $2 million worth of Bitcoin mining equipment stolen in an operation that left police baffled. He has now been jailed for four and a half years along with his team of thieves. 

Also read: Iceland’s ‘Big Bitcoin Heist’: Suspects Charged With Over $2M in Stolen Mining Rigs

‘Big Bitcoin Heist’

Sindri Por Stefansson hit headlines last year after managing to escape from his jail cell following his arrest for stealing millions of dollars of mining equipment. Local media have since reported that he was sentenced to four-and-a-half years’ imprisonment last week. His six other partners in crime were jailed for a total of nine years and seven months. Advania, the mining company that the gear was stolen from, received over $200,000 in compensation.

Mastermind Who Planned Iceland's Biggest Bitcoin Heist Jailed for 4.5 Years

The crime, dubbed the ‘Big Bitcoin Heist’ by the media, saw the men steal over 600 mining computers from Advania. The equipment has yet to be recovered. Stefansson managed to escape from Sogn prison and board a flight to Stockholm at the international airport in Keflavik. According to police, he was using someone else’s passport. In an even stranger twist, Stefansson found himself on the same plane as the country’s prime minister while on the run. He was later arrested in Amsterdam.

In an interview with the New York Times, Stefansson said he was looking at international flights on his phone – which weren’t prohibited in his prison – before he booked one and climbed out of his low-security jail cell window. After hitchhiking to Keflavik, he grabbed a plane from the country’s largest airport to Stockholm and from there got to Amsterdam via train, bus and taxi.

Not the First Heist

Stefansson’s case made headlines around the world because low-crime Iceland, with its population of little over 338,000, is a difficult place to be a fugitive – let alone flee from. In the heist, Stefansson and his crew were reportedly able to steal 225 fully functional Bitmain mining rigs with the help of an insider, and wore security uniforms as part of their deception.

It wasn’t their first attempt to steal from bitcoin miners, either. In December 2017 the group had stolen 100 mining rigs from Algrim Consulting and later tried to steal from the Borealis Data Center (BDC), but were unable to get away with their haul after they set off an alarm. Police revealed the group also tried to steal from BDC Mines a couple of days later but again failed, though were successful at the Borgarnes mining facility. There was a further attempt at BDC Mines but alarms again foiled their plans. Iceland has become a hotspot for bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining due its large amount of renewable energy and cold weather which helps keeps computers cool.

What do you think about the Icelandic mining thieves and their sentencing? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comment section below.


Images via Shutterstock and the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police.


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The post Mastermind Who Planned Iceland’s Biggest Bitcoin Heist Jailed for 4.5 Years appeared first on Bitcoin News.

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Blame Banks for Damaging the Environment – Not Bitcoin

Bitcoin Again Targeted by Mainstream Media for Not Being Environmentally Friendly – but What About the Banks?

Another mainstream media outlet has published a piece warning of the dangers Bitcoin poses to the environment. We’ve heard these overly simplistic arguments countless times before. But even if one was to accept that Bitcoin’s energy consumption is substantial, the figure still pales in significance to traditional financial institutions, whose carbon footprint is colossal.

Also read: South Africa Wants to Mandate Registration of Crypto Service Providers

‘Bitcoin Is Oil’

Journalist, former bitcoin miner, and current partner at crypto firm Ocuis, Ethan Lou, penned a Guardian article this week, “Another thing you may not know about bitcoin: it’s killing the planet.” In the article, he argues that “all who dabble in it [bitcoin] will be reborn as enemies of the environmental movement” just like those involved in the oil industry. He goes on to compare bitcoin to the black gold as both have suffered crashes and experienced manipulation by major players, adding:

It is not this day, but a day may come when big oil shrinks or changes, becoming less of a target for environmentalists. Bitcoin is the natural next enemy.

The article adds that the closure of mining sites due to electricity concerns is further cause for alarm, and that firms will continue to fight for their right to mine, as cryptocurrency adoption inevitably grows. These companies will also continue to be confronted for their behavior, the author asserts. “While academics and the media have long noted mining’s electricity usage, 2018 marked the year environmental and progressive publications started sounding the alarm,” Lou writes.

Blame Banks for Damaging the Environment – Not Bitcoin

Why Not Blame the Banks Then?

Like most Bitcoin hit pieces, the Guardian’s effort was one-sided. It is true that cryptocurrency mining uses a lot of electricity. And it’s certainly true that environmentalists have targeted Bitcoin repeatedly of late. But if we are to have an intelligent debate, we must look at all the facts. Attacking cryptocurrencies for their supposed environmental impact is misleading – especially when banks are the prime culprits in the energy-guzzling stakes.

Blame Banks for Damaging the Environment – Not Bitcoin

Dr. Katrina M. Kelly-Pitou PhD, Research Associate in Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, made this clear in her article “Stop worrying about how much energy bitcoin uses” where she argued that the “conversation around bitcoin and energy has been oversimplified,” adding:

Banking consumes an estimated 100 terrawatts of power annually. If bitcoin technology were to mature by more than 100 times its current market size, it would still equal only 2 percent of all energy consumption.

As well as looking at how much energy is being used by banks, it’s important to consider what kind of energy is being used. Bitcoin mining typically uses energy which is surplus to demand and which would have otherwise gone to waste. By and large it doesn’t use dirty base power such as coal. Banks, on the other hand, have funneled billions of dollars into the fossil fuel industry – with JP Morgan Chase criticized for funding tar sands oil and coal mining. Kelly-Pitou further uses Iceland, where bitcoin mining is becoming popular, as an example. The country relies on nearly 100 percent renewable energy for its production, and therefore its energy consumption is relatively benign from an environmental perspective. Rather than targeting cryptocurrency, the media should be focusing on major industries – including banking – whose reliance on fossil fuels should be substituted for something greener.

Blame Banks for Damaging the Environment – Not Bitcoin

It is ironic that bitcoin, a genuinely useful and transformative financial system, is being targeted for not being green enough when the corrupt institutions that exert hegemony over the global financial system are complicit in exacerbating climate change. Bitcoin, in comparison, leaves only the faintest of footprints on planet earth.

What is your opinion about how bitcoin is portrayed in the mainstream media? Do you think its impact on the environment is overstated? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.  


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


OP-ed disclaimer: This is an Op-ed article. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support views, opinions or conclusions drawn in this post. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the Op-ed article. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the content. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any information in this Op-ed article.

The post Blame Banks for Damaging the Environment – Not Bitcoin appeared first on Bitcoin News.

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What on Earth happened to ICOs?

Keep your pants on for now. ICOs are having a hard time, but they are not dead.

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The ICOs (Initial Coin Offering) are in deep trouble. When a year ago a typical shelf company with 20 selfies as a team and shady whitepaper with no product, no money and no skills could raise millions of $. But today real companies, with existing product, business and revenue have hard time raising even hundreds of thousands $. The realistic amount is closer to tens of thousands $ actually. This is how bad things are.

But you will not hear this from so-called top advisors and ICO marketing agencies. They will still charge you over $100k just for basic stuff, even thought they know you have no chances of being profitable.

On several occasions I have advised companies not to do an ICO if they have at least some funds to start a business or have possibilities in raising funds the other way, from private investors for example. And in case of being broke, to wait at least for several months. Even though telling so is not be in my personal best interest. But as a consultant I just don’t feel right giving the wrong advice.

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Sure there are ICOs that still raise millions, and I’m part of two of them currently, but in this situation 99% of funds are coming from private investors, which means that they could raise this money even with an ICO.

So why did this happen?

First of all ICO is very young industry, it’s only a little bit over year old. And unfortunately it dated in the time of a another crypto bubble. This made ICOs to sky rocket in the beginning, and then fall even harder. In a normal market situation it would take years for industry to grow to the size to what ICOs grew, but here it just happened way too fast.

This caused lot of investors to lose huge amount of funds. We are talking about tens of billions United States Dollars here. This is how much money has faded away from the token market since December 2017.

This is basically the same if Bitcoin had cost 100$ already in 2011, and then it would fall back to 1$. The trust in Bitcoin would have been lost since almost no one except few early adapters had a chance to cash out before it was too late.

And now for most tokens it’s unfortunately too late. Sadly they will never regain their previous value and will die out in the end completely. This is also due to the fact that most of the ICOs turned out to be scams, and the revolutionary product that promised will never be ready. Actually it hasn’t even been started in most cases.

What should we do now?

Relax, stop panicking. You will only make things worse. The money you stupidly invested in gone, but by spreading the fear you will risk destroying the whole industry.

There is nothing bad in ICOs. What simply happened is that euphoric investors poured money into ICOs because frankly they had no idea what they were doing and now they are paying for it.

If you did this, you can only blame yourself. Don’t blame the industry, it’s the same if you had invested in bad stocks, it just happened that most of the ICOs were bad, and this happened thanks to the idiots like you who though that putting money into something they didn’t understand was a good idea.

Right now we are entering the phase where all frauds of ICO companies are revealed and people are very cautious. Though as human nature is, they are again doing it wrong.

Instead of being wisely cautious, they are terrified of everything that says ICO. Now they are not investing even in the companies in which they would normally invest in, if it was a traditional fundraising.

This is why now we have to wait until fear will pass and people will finally view ICOs in a reasonable matter. When this will happen is unsure. But in order it to happen the whole crypto market, and Bitcoin as priority has to recover from last fall to at least the same value as the last all time high. After that we can see another boom in crytpo industry and see new assets coming to the market. I would expect this to happen within one year, and after that we can see the rebirth of the ICOs. And hopefully this time, investors will be smarter.

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What on Earth happened to ICOs? was originally published in Cryptocurrency Hub on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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