Bitcoin drops 13 percent to below $9,000

- Cybersecurity firm releases report saying cryptocurrencies are ripe for criminal activity

By Barry Eitel

SAN FRANCISCO (AA) – The value of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin dived 13 percent to below $9,000 Thursday, well below half its record value of nearly $20,000 per Bitcoin at the end of 2017.

According to Bitcoin exchange CoinDesk, Bitcoin was trading at $8,932.89 Thursday afternoon, a steep decline from the value of roughly $10,000 it was trading at when markets opened earlier in the day.

The nosedive means Bitcoin, the world's most popular cryptocurrency, is trading at values not seen since November 2017. In December, Bitcoin's value raced to record highs.

At the beginning of 2017, Bitcoin was worth about $1,000. Although technically created by computers based on demand, much of its value is driven by hype.

Several developments likely played into Bitcoin's current plummet. Facebook said earlier this week that it would ban all ads for cryptocurrencies. Several governments also announced regulatory crackdowns in India, Japan and South Korea.

Also on Thursday, cybersecurity firm Digital Shadows released a report stating that criminals are rapidly infiltrating the world of cryptocurrencies. With the explosive growth of some 1,500 digital currencies, these cybercriminals are utilizing the widely unregulated markets to commit fraud and other crimes.

"Cybercriminals follow the money, and right now, they see in the unregulated and largely unsecure world of digital currencies a huge opportunity to target people, businesses and exchanges and make money quickly and easily," Rick Holland, vice president of strategy at Digital Shadows, said in a statement.

"In many ways, it's like the gold rush of the 1840s as people flood to the opportunity cryptocurrencies present and are preyed on by criminals and the unscrupulous."

There is a wide variety of fraud being committed, Digital Shadows contends, from hackers stealing cryptocurrencies from their owners to individuals setting up fake cryptocurrencies to fraudsters falsely inflating the value of cryptocurrencies and then dumping their share.

‘"This is a rapidly changing space and we see new scams crop up daily,” Holland continued. "While the future of cryptocurrencies remains somewhat uncertain, what we can be sure of is that cybercriminals will continue to find new ways of making money as long as there are enough suitable targets and the profits to be made justify their time and effort.”

(AA)

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