Kidnapped Bitcoin Exchange Exec Freed After Paying $1 Million Ransom

bitcoin exchange

The director of a UK-based bitcoin exchange kidnapped earlier this week has been released after he paid his captors a ransom of more than $1 million in bitcoins.

Pavel Lerner, 40, was kidnapped on December 26 while leaving his office in Kiev, Ukraine. According to local media reports, a group of men wearing balaclavas grabbed him and forced him into a black Mercedes-Benz.

uk bitcoin exchange
Photo from Pavel Lerner’s Facebook Page

Lerner is an executive at EXMO, a UK-based cryptocurrency exchange that processes approximately $100 to $125 million in trades on a daily basis, primarily against the US dollar and the Russian ruble.

After spending nearly two days in captivity, Lerner was released on December 28 after paying a ransom of more than $1 million in bitcoins, according to a report in the Financial Times.

“He was kidnapped by an armed gang for the purpose of extorting bitcoins,” Anton Gerashchenko, a Ukranian official, told the publication, adding: “We have operative information that he paid more than $1m worth of bitcoins.”

Geraschenko said that Lerner was in a “state of shock” when he was released and was “very lucky that he remained alive.”

On Thursday — while Lerner was in captivity — EXMO revealed that it had been the subject of a DDOS attack, but it is not known whether the two incidents are related. The exchange assured users that, even in Lerner’s absence, the trading platform was operating as usual and that user funds remained safe.

As BlockExplorer explained its previous article on Lerner’s kidnapping, the incident is the latest in a small but growing trend of individuals being targeted by criminals for their cryptocurrency wealth.

Because decentralized cryptocurrency transactions are uncensorable and, in most cases, users retain control of their holdings, cryptocurrency executives and investors prove to be attractive targets for criminal enterprises.

Consequently, users should recognizing the risks of publicizing both their personal holdings and their affiliation with the industry in general and take steps to secure their investments against theft, just as they would with traditional assets.

Featured Image from Pexels

UK Bitcoin Exchange CEO Kidnapped in Ukraine

The chief executive of UK-based bitcoin exchange EXMO has reportedly been kidnapped in Ukraine.

Pavel Lerner, 40, was leaving his office in Kiev on December 26 when he was pulled into a black Mercedes-Benz by a group of balaclava-wearing men, according to a local media report.

Lerner is the managing director of EXMO, a UK-based bitcoin exchange that processes about $100 million worth of trades on a daily basis, according to CoinMarketCap. Though based in the UK, EXMO’s most popular trading pairs are against the US dollar and the Russian ruble.

uk bitcoin exchange
Photo from Pavel Lerner’s Facebook Page

EXMO has not discussed the incident on its blog or social media channels, but the Telegraph reports that the company told a Russian broadcaster that the kidnapping would not affect the exchange’s day-to-day operations.

“We are doing everything possible to speed up the search of Pavel Lerner,” the statement said. “Any information regarding his whereabouts is very much appreciated. Despite the situation, the exchange is working as usual. We also want to stress that nature of Pavel’s job at EXMO doesn’t assume access either to storages or any personal data of users. All users funds are absolutely safe.”

On Dec. 28, EXMO revealed that it was suffering from a DDOS attack, but it is not currently known whether the two incidents are related.

Lerner’s kidnapping comes just weeks after a New York man allegedly stole $1.8 million in ether after kidnapping an unnamed victim and forcing them at gunpoint to hand over their mobile phone and private keys.

Authorities have not revealed the motive behind Lerner’s kidnapping, but both of these incidents highlight the inherent risks of “being your own bank.”

Individuals who are associated with cryptocurrency services like Lerner are obvious targets for nefarious individuals, as criminals may believe they can force them to transfer funds from company wallets.

However, as the earlier case demonstrates, ordinary cryptocurrency users are at risk, too, especially if they have publicly-revealed the size of their holdings or the fact that they invested in the markets at an early date.

Consequently, users may want to consider concealing their wealth from their family members, friends, and — most importantly — social media profiles.

Featured Image from Pexels

Bitcoin Price Approaches New ATH of $10,000

bitcoin trading

The Bitcoin price has increased over 60% in the last 30 days and 20% in the last 7 days, hitting a high of around $9,650 at time of writing, which has pushed Bitcoin’s market cap to over $160 billion dollars. The total cryptocurrency market cap is over $301 billion dollars across all cryptocurrency exchanges. This huge price surge could be coming from many different sources – but financial experts around the world have been increasingly singing Bitcoin and blockchain’s praises as it becomes more legitimized. If bitcoin continues to rise at this rate it will break $10,000 within a few days. Which will more than likely cause another price surge as more people see bitcoin as worthy of a long term investment.

On the flip side, one thing to consider though is whether or not a large number of sells will take place at $10,000 by those who have that as their profit taking number, which would drive the price down. In the long term, whether or not buying power will overcome that is yet to be seen.

Other cryptocurrencies on the rise as well as Bitcoin

Other altcoins seem to be riding on current bitcoin surge, with Ethereum up past its all time high of $414, now at $475, its gains slightly less than bitcoin at 61% in the last 30 days. Bitcoin Cash also seems to have fared well after its jump earlier this month, now sitting at $1,665 at time of writing with a 7 day gain of 42%. December and 2018 look as if they are going to be a very interesting time for the cryptocurrency market, maybe in the green – maybe in the red, but only time will tell.

Top 25 Cryptocurrency Exchanges of 2017

top 25 cryptocurrency exchanges

Cryptocurrency exchanges have become an important onramp and offramp to the cryptocurrency world. From the infamous and now shuttered Mt. Gox to current industry leaders in volume such as Poloniex and Bittrex, cryptocurrency exchanges and altcoin exchanges are seeing increased use around the world. Every day, billions of dollars are traded back and forth over the top cryptocurrencies on these cryptocurrency exchanges. Traders, buyers, and sellers must trust these exchanges with their money, but are the exchanges really trustworthy? Unfortunately, not all cryptocurrency services are as secure or safe as you might think. In fact, some crypto exchanges have been known to be scams or vulnerable to hacking. This could lead to the loss of any cryptocurrency stored on there.

We take a look at the fees, history, and usability of the top cryptocurrency exchanges available in 2017. Whether you’re seeking to buy Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies as an investment, to utilize margin trading, or anything else – Use this list of cryptocurrency exchanges to help choose an exchange for you.

1. Poloniex Cryptocurrency Exchange Summary:

poloniex cryptoName: Poloniex
URL: https://www.poloniex.com
Total trading pairs: 101
Founded: 2013
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.10% – 0.25%
Margin trading: yes
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Requirements

Limits

Level 1 Email, First & Last Name, Country $2,000, USD Margin Trading Enabled
Level 2 Complete Address, Phone Number, Date of Birth 7,000 USD
Level 3 SSN, Scan of Photo ID, Selfie holding your ID $25,000 USD
Enhanced Verification Contact Support Greater than $25,000 USD

2. Bittrex

Namebittrex crypto: Bittrex
URL: https://www.bittrex.com/
Total trading pairs: 271
Founded: 2014
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: yes
Trading fees: 0.25%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Basic 0.4 BTC
Enhanced 100 BTC

3. GDAX Exchange

gdax cryptoName: GDAX
URL: https://www.gdax.com/
Total trading pairs: 9
Founded: 2016
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.00% – 0.25%
Margin trading: yes
USA accepted: yes
Review: BlockExplorer’s GDAX Review
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Verified Algorithmic

Kraken Exchange

kraken crpytoName: Kraken
URL: https://www.kraken.com/
Total trading pairs: 59
Founded: 2011
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.00% – 0.36%
Margin trading: yes
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

 Individual w/o proof of source $25k USD daily
 Individual w/ proof of source $100k USD daily
 Corporate w/o proof of source $100k USD daily
 Corporate w/ proof of source $1m USD daily

5. Bitfinex Exchange

bitfinex cryptoName: Bitfinex
URL: https://www.bitfinex.com
Total trading pairs: 56
Founded: 2012
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.04% – 0.20%
Margin trading: yes
USA accepted: no
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Individual No limit
Corporate No limit

6. Bitstamp Exchange

bitstamp cryptoName: Bitstamp
URL: https://www.bitstamp.net
Total trading pairs: 11
Founded: 2011
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.05% – 0.25%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Verified No limit

7. WEX Exchange

wex cryptoName: Wex (formerly BTC-e)
URL: https://wex.nz
Total trading pairs: 26
Founded: 2017
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.20%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: no
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Regular 10k USD
VIP 100k USD

8. Coinone Exchange

coinone cryptoName: Coinone
URL: https://coinone.co.kr
Total trading pairs: 7
Founded: 2015
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: yes
Trading fees: 0.00% – 0.15%
Margin trading: yes
USA accepted: no
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Requirements

Limits

Level 1 Email, Country 1,000 KRW
Level 2 Mobile phone authentication 500,000 KRW
Level 3 OTP registration 1,000,000 KRW
Level 4 Operation team review Greater than 100,000,000 KRW

9. Quione Exchange

quoine cryptoName: Quoine
URL: https://www.quoine.com
Total trading pairs: 23
Founded: 2014
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.00% – 0.25%
Margin trading: yes
USA accepted: no
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Indvidual Daily: 30-50k USD; Monthly: 300-500k USD
Corporate Daily: 100-150k USD; Monthly: 1-1.5m USD

10. bithumb Exchange

bithumb cryptoName: bithumb
URL: https://www.bithumb.com
Total trading pairs: 23
Founded: 2013
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.00% – 0.15%
Margin trading: yes
USA accepted: no
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Basic 3 BTC
Enhanced 100 BTC

11. HitBTC Exchange

hitbtc cryptoName: HitBTC
URL: https://www.hitbtc.com
Total trading pairs: 327
Founded: 2013
Deposit fees: yes
Withdrawal fees: yes
Trading fees: 0.10% – 0.20%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Verified No limit

12. Gemini Exchange

gemini cryptoName: Gemini
URL: https://www.gemini.com
Total trading pairs: 3
Founded: 2014
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.00% – 0.25%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and deposit/withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Individual ACH Daily Deposit/Withdrawal: $500/$10,000; ACH Monthly Deposit/Withdrawal: $15,000/$100,000; Cryptocurrency: No Limit
Institutional ACH Daily Deposit/Withdrawal: $10,000/$10,000; ACH Monthly Deposit/Withdrawal: $300,000/$100,000; Cryptocurrency: No Limit

13. Korbit Exchange

korbit cryptoName: Korbit
URL: https://www.korbit.co.kr
Total trading pairs: 5
Founded: 2013
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: yes
Trading fees: 0.00% – 0.20%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Requirements

Limits

Level 1 Phone number KRW: 0; Cryptocurrency: 5,000,000 KRW
Level 2 SMS verification KRW: 0; Cryptocurrency: 5,000,000 KRW
Level 3 Address and Bank account registration KRW: 30,000,000 KRW; Cryptocurrency: 5,000,000 KRW
Level 4 Approval process 300,000,000 KRW
Level 5 Approval Process 500,000,000 KRW

14. bitFlyer Exchange

bitflyer cryptoName: bitFlyer
URL: https://www.bitflyer.jp
Total trading pairs: 3
Founded: 2014
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: yes
Trading fees: 0.11% – 0.25%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Requirements

Limits

Level 1 Email, First & Last Name, Cellphone verification 2,000 USD
Level 2 Bank account and photo ID verification 50,000 USD

15. Binance Exchange

binance cryptoName: Binance
URL: https://www.binance.com
Total trading pairs: 3
Founded: 2017
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: yes
Trading fees: 0.1%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and deposit/withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Verified 2 BTC
Institutional 50 BTC

16. Vaultoro Exchange

vaultoro cryptoName: Vaultoro
URL: https://www.vaultoro.com
Total trading pairs: 1 (and it doesn’t involve USD)
Founded: 2014
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.20% – 0.50%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Verified No limit

17. LakeBTC Exchange

lakebtc cryptoName: LakeBTC
URL: https://www.lakebtc.com
Total trading pairs: 8
Founded: 2013
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.00% – 0.20%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Normal No limit

18. BitMarket Exchange

bitmarket cryptoName: BitMarket
URL: https://www.bitmarket.net
Total trading pairs: 5
Founded: 2014
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.00% – 0.45%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Unverified Yearly: 15,000 PLR/EUR
Verified No limit

19. CEX.io Exchange

cex cryptoName: CEX
URL: https://www.cex.io
Total trading pairs: 15
Founded: 2013
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.00% – 0.20%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Basic Daily: 500 USD; Monthly: 2,000 USD
Verified Daily: 50,000 USD; Monthly: 300,000 USD
Verified Plus Unlimited
Corporate Unlimited

20. QuadrigaCX Exchange

quadrigacx cryptoName: QuaudrigaCX
URL: https://www.quadrigacx.com
Total trading pairs: 6
Founded: 2013
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.20% – 0.50%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: no
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Unverified Voucher only
Verified Bank wire: 500,000 USD; Cryptocurrency: 250,000 USD

21. Coinfloor Exchange

coinfloor cryptoName: Coinfloor
URL: https://www.coinfloor.co.uk
Total trading pairs: 4
Founded: 2013
Deposit fee: yes (not on BTC)
Withdrawal fees: yes
Trading fees: no
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: no
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Verified No limit

22. itBit Exchange

itbit cryptoName: itBit
URL: https://www.itbit.com
Total trading pairs: 3
Founded: 2012
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.00% – 0.20%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

2FA Verified Daily: 30,000 USD; Monthly: 600,000 USD

23. Liqui Exchange

liqui cryptoName: Liqui
URL: https://www.liqui.io
Total trading pairs: 196
Founded: 2016
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.10% – 0.25%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Basic 50,000 USDT
Enhanced 500,000 USDT

24. ACX Exchange

acx cryptoName: ACX
URL: https://www.acx.io
Total trading pairs: 6
Founded: 2016
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: yes
Trading fees: 0.00%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

25. Gatecoin Exchange

gatecoin cryptoName: Gatecoin
URL: https://www.gatecoin.com
Total trading pairs: 39
Founded: 2013
Deposit fees: no
Withdrawal fees: no
Trading fees: 0.02% – 0.35%
Margin trading: no
USA accepted: yes
Verification levels and withdrawal limits:

Verification Level

Limits

Tier 1 50,000 USD
Tier 2 Greater than 500,000 USD