Bitcoin (BTC) has seen its worst quarterly loss in 11 years with price and activity on the blockchain both plunging over the last three months.
The second quarter ending Thursday saw Bitcoin’s price fall from around $45,000 at the start of the quarter to trade at $19,884 before midnight EST on Thursday, according to CoinGecko. This represents a 56.2% loss, according to crypto analytics platform Coinglass.
It’s the steepest price fall since the third quarter of 2011 when BTC fell from $15.40 to $5.03, a loss of over 67% and worse than the bear markets of 2014 and 2018 when Bitcoin’s price slumped 39.7% and 49.7% in their worst quarters respectively.
The past quarter saw eight weekly red candles in a row for Bitcoin and the month of June saw a drawdown of over 37%. This was the heaviest monthly losses since September 2011, which saw the price fall more than 38.5% in the month.
There are also signs that investors are keeping their powder dry — or they’ve run out of funds — during the bear market. Activity on the blockchain is taking a dive with Bitcoin’s spot volume — the total amount of coins transacting on the blockchain — dropped over 58.5% in just nine days, according to a Wednesda analysis from Arcane Research.
But, it’s not just crypto markets in turmoil. Thanks to sky-high inflation and rising interest rates, the traditional stock market has also taken a pounding, with some calling it the “worst quarter ever” for stocks.
Charlie Bilello, CEO of financial advisory firm Compound Capital Advisors, shared a chart on Twitter showing the S&P 500 index was down 20.6% in the first half of 2022, the worst start to the year for the index since 1962 when price return was -26.5%.
The difficult economic conditions have seen a swath of staff layoffs from crypto companies including Gemini, Crypto.com and BlockFi. Most recently, the crypto and stock trading platform Bitpanda cut its employee count by approximately 277 full-time and part-time employees.
Crypto is closely tied to the wider tech sector, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index has fallen by almost 22.5% over the second quarter.
A “Tech Layoff Tracker” from technology jobs board TrueUp reveals that over 26,000 tech employees across 200 company-wide cutbacks just in June alone.
Over the quarter, 307 layoffs impacted over 52,000 staff, with one of the largest coming from Elon Musk’s Tesla, with 3,500 impacted. Crypto exchange Coinbase is featured twice, first for its June 2 hiring freeze and job offer rescission of nearly 350 people and second for its June 14 staff layoff, affecting 1,100 individuals.
The Lazarus Group, a well-known North Korean hacking syndicate, has been identified as the primary suspect in the recent attack that saw $100 million stolen from the Harmony protocol.
According to a new report published Thursday by blockchain analysis firm Elliptic, the manner in which Harmony’s Horizon bridge was hacked and the way in which the stolen digital assets were consequently laundered bears a striking resemblance to other Lazarus Group attacks.
“There are strong indications that North Korea’s Lazarus Group may be responsible for this theft, based on the nature of the hack and the subsequent laundering of the stolen funds.”
Additionally, Elliptic outlined exactly how the heist was executed, noting that The Lazarus Group targeted the login credentials of Harmony employees in the Asia Pacific region to breach the protocol’s security system. After gaining control of the protocol, the hackers deployed automated laundering programs that moved the stolen assets late at night.
Elliptic also noted that the hackers have already transferred over 40% of the $100 million to Tornado Mixer, an Ethereum-based “mixing service” that obscures transaction data and makes it extremely difficult for investigators to trace the movement of funds.
Initially, the Harmony team offered up a $1 million bounty as an incentive for the hackers to return the funds. However, on June 29, Harmony upped the bounty to $10 million and claimed that a full return of funds would end the investigation and no further criminal charges would be pursued.
The $600 million Ronin bridge hack, which occurred in April, has also been linked back to The Lazarus Group. Due to current market conditions, the value of the stolen Ether (ETH) has plummeted more than 60% down to $230 million.
A recent report from Coinclub.com indicates that North Korea has deployed 7,000 full-time hackers to raise funds through cyberattacks, ransomware and crypto protocol hacks. North Korea is the world leader in cryptocurrency-related crime, with over 15 documented instances of cyber theft amounting to roughly $1.59 billion in stolen funds.
Harmony’s Horizon bridge is the latest addition to a growing list of token bridges that have been attacked, including Meter, Wormhole and Ronin, bringing the total amount of bridge token-related theft to a little over $1 billion in 2022 alone.
The largest token bridge to be hacked was Poly Network in 2021, which lost $610 million, almost all of which has since been returned.
“Crypto” is often used as an honorific inside the community. United States Securities and Exchange Commission member Hester Peirce is called Crypto Mom for her steadfast support for digital assets, and Time magazine crowned Vitalik Buterin the Prince of Crypto. When Ruja Ignatova was given the title “Cryptoqueen” in a 2019 true-crime podcast, however, it was with far less endearment.
Ignatova was the creator of OneCoin, a purported cryptocurrency that proved to be a Ponzi scheme. According to law enforcement, her OneCoin Ltd. has defrauded more than 3 million investors of more than $4 billion since 2014. Her company has also been accused of bribing the presidents of Serbia and Bulgaria, among other things.
Now Ignatova can add “most wanted” to her titular stylings, thanks to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which placed her on its top-ten list Thursday and will pay up to $100,000 for information leading to her arrest. According to the FBI, Ignatova was last known to be in Athens. That was in 2017.
Ignatova recently counted among Europol's most wanted as well, although she is no longer on that list.
Ignatova grew up in Germany and holds a Ph.D. in economics. In her heyday, the ethnic Bulgarian was known for her elegant attire and fancy parties. She attracted a crowd of over 3,000 to Wembley Arena in London to hear her speak in 2016, even though suspicions about her activities were already common knowledge by that time.
Since then, OneCoin has been the subject of a class-action suit, and her brother and associates have been brought to trial. The world has taken note of the drama inherent in the case. Kate Winslet is reportedly involved in a film based on the experiences of a OneCoin investor. Variety reports that a deal has been made on a three-part documentary about Ignatova as well.
This Daily Dose was brought to you by Cointelegraph.