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Crime and Punishment 3.0

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Suppose a single drop of blood were enough to test you for a host of diseases; you could learn if you had lupus with less pain than from a papercut. That was the marketing pitch of the company Theranos; now the founder is in jail for fraud. The electric vehicle company Nikola (whose last name was already taken) promised zero-emission trucks but demonstrated prototypes that had zero functionality; now the founder is on his way to jail—for fraud. Although vaporware and business scams have existed for decades, examples today seem more creative and egregious than ever. Explore those below and discuss with your team: what did they have in common? Was it mainly their charismatic leaders that led so many people to believe in them?​​

The founder and former CEO of Theranos will be spending time behind bars for defrauding investors. So what is Theranos? 

Theranos Inc. was an American privately held corporation that was touted as a breakthrough health technology company. Founded in 2003 by then 19-year-old Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos raised more than US$700 million from venture capitalists and private investors, resulting in a $10 billion valuation at its peak in 2013 and 2014. The company claimed that it had devised blood tests that required very small amounts of blood and that could be performed rapidly and accurately, all using compact automated devices that the company had developed. These claims were proven to be false!

A turning point came in 2015, when medical research professor John Ioannidis, and later professor of clinical biochemistry Eleftherios Diamandis, along with investigative journalist John Carreyrou of The Wall Street Journal, questioned the validity of Theranos's technology. The company faced a string of legal and commercial challenges from medical authorities, investors, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), state attorneys general, former business partners, patients, and others. By June 2016, Forbes estimated that Holmes's personal net worth had dropped from $4.5 billion to "nothing".  After several years of struggle, lawsuits, and sanctions from CMS, what remained of the company was dissolved in September 2018.

Theranos, Holmes and former company president Sunny Balawani were charged with fraud by the SEC in 2018. Holmes and Balwani were also charged with wire fraud and conspiracy, with Holmes being found guilty on four counts in January 2022 and sentenced that November to 11 years and 3 months in prison. Balwani was convicted on all 12 counts brought against him in July 2022, and in December 2022 was sentenced to 12 years and 11 months in prison and 3 years of probation.

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Holmes led a company that promised to revolutionize the medical industry by running over 240 tests on a single drop of blood, where traditional panels required much larger samples. But it turned out that the company’s tech didn’t work and gave patients inaccurate results. (Holmes was found not guilty on two counts of defrauding patients and one count of conspiracy to defraud patients.) The trial mainly hinged on whether Holmes knew she was giving out false information.

Meanwhile, Holmes’ lawyers filed an 82-page document arguing why she should get a much lighter punishment — 18 months of house arrest and community service, at most — and provided well over 100 letters written in support of the founder.  This is sincerely a case of people too ready and too willing to believe in miracles of "unproven" science. 


“This thing fully functions,” Trevor Milton said in 2016. Well, it didn't. When Nikola Motor Company founder Trevor Milton unveiled a prototype of the Nikola One truck in December 2016, 2020, he portrayed it as fully functional. "We will have a chain on the seats to prevent people from coming in just for the safety. I don't want someone to end up doing something and driving this truck off the stage," Milton said. "This thing fully functions and works, which is really incredible."

But, Nikola now admits that it never got the truck to fully function. "As Nikola pivoted to the next generation of trucks, it ultimately decided not to invest additional resources into completing the process to make the Nikola One drive on its own propulsion," Nikola wrote in a statement. Instead, Nikola pivoted to working on its next vehicle, the Nikola Two. They also claim that Nikola investors who invested during this period, in which the Company was privately held, knew the technical capability of the Nikola One at the time of their investment.


Nikola's larger point is that the functionality of the Nikola One truck is irrelevant because the company now indisputably has a functional prototype of the truck's successor, the Nikola Two. The hype around the Nikola One helped Nikola raise funds that it, then used to pay more experienced companies, including Bosch and Iveco, to help it design and build its subsequent vehicles.

Milton kept on lying and pumping up his story. One of Nikola's key selling points was that the company has supposedly figured out how to cut the cost of hydrogen fuel from today's market price of around $16 per kilogram to below $4 per kilogram. That would be a big accomplishment if it were true, since it could enable Nikola to build a network of hydrogen filling stations analogous to Tesla's SuperCharger network. But Nikola has given few evidence to back up his claim. 

Trevor Milton, the founder and former CEO of electric truck company Nikola, was sentenced to four years in prison after a jury found him guilty of misleading investors about the company’s technology. Milton was also ordered to pay a $1 million i


fines. Federal prosecutor said Milton had lied about Nikola’s capabilities, including an assertion that it had built its own electric truck, the Nikola One, from the “ground up.” They also accused him of staging a video that purportedly showed its Nikola One semi driving under its own power when it was actually rolling down a hill.

But, this guy is the ultimate liar up to the last minute. During the sentencing hearing, Milton made several bizarre statements. He claimed that his resignation from Nikola was not a result of the fraud allegations but because

his wife had an illness. He also said he was a quarter Cherokee and was emotional recounting “ethnic cleansing” against the tribe.

Fallout from the report was swift. GM backed out of the equity deal. The company has continued operation but scaled down its ambitions significantly. In 2021, Nikola halted work on its planned electric ATV and motorboat, a decision that cost the company $14 million, according to regulatory filings. The company’s stock is now trading for less than $1 a share.

Vaporware usually refers to computer hardware or software whose manufacture gets announced to the public but is either made available much later or never produced. Note that since the advent of smart vehicles, the term is also used for them.

Vaporware products are usually announced during the world’s most significant tech events, like CES. Companies that wish to hype their upcoming offerings often talk about them in events that are bound to catch the media’s attention, especially in time for Christmas. But due to time or budget constraints, many such wares don’t make it to market as promised. Some never do. They are mostly a marketing ploy. 

Quibi was an American short-form streaming platform that generated content for viewing on mobile devices. It was founded in Los Angeles in August 2018 as NewTV by Jeffrey Katzenberg and was led by Meg Whitman as CEO. The service raised $1.75 billion from investors. It launched in April 2020, but shut down in December 2020 after falling short of its subscriber projections. In January 2021, Quibi's content library was sold to Roku, Inc. for less than $100 million. The platform's concepts and failure inspired widespread mockery.


Quibi was founded in August 2018 as NewTV by Jeffrey Katzenberg (former Chairman of Walt Disney) and was led by Meg Whitman as CEO (former CEO of eBay). In October 2018, NewTV was renamed Quibi. The service targeted a younger demographic, with content delivered in 10-minute episodes called "quick bites" (with the name Quibi derived from "QUI-ck BI-tes"). In 2018, Quibi raised $1 billion in funding from major Hollywood film studios, TV companies, telecommunications companies, technology companies, banks, and other investors including The Walt Disney Company21st Century Fox, NBC Universal,  Sony Pictures, WarnerMedia and many more. This shows even big companies fall for the lure of famous personalities.

There was a lot of hype at the launch of Quibi, but it quickly that fizzled. A lot of subscription figures seemed inflated; the downloads were just not enough.  On October 21, 2020, just six months after Quibi's launch, The Wall Street Journal reported that the streaming service was shutting down. It's a case where investors fell for the glory of charismatic leaders and didn't consider how the environment has changed and new competition has adapted. 

Sadly, the dream is over for passengers who'd signed up for Life at Sea Cruises' inaugural three-year voyage. After weeks of silence, Miray Cruise has acknowledged to passengers that it has no ship, and has canceled the departure, vowing to refund those who'd signed up for cruises costing up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was due to the company not able to get investors after paying the down payment on the cruise ship. Miray investors backed out because of issues such as the conflict with Hamas and oil price pressure. The former CEO Kendra L. Holmes has said the owner Vedat Uğurlu informed her the funds to purchase the cruise was not in place. 

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The cruise was originally due to depart Istanbul, Turkey, on November 1, but shortly before that date, departure was postponed to November 11 and relocated to Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and then to November 30, again from Amsterdam. But on November 17 - less than two weeks before the third departure date - passengers were informed the cruise was off. Some of the passengers who booked the 111 cabins sold are still in Istanbul, having made their way there ahead of the original departure date. Others say they have nowhere to return to, having sold or rented out their homes in anticipation of the round-the-world voyage, as well as jettisoning their possessions.

The company has said it will make repayments in monthly installments, starting from mid-December and completing repayments in late February. It has also offered to pay for accommodation until December 1 and flights home for anyone now stranded in Istanbul. But some say they have no homes to return to. 

This is a case of consumers not doing enough due diligence research before making such a big investment and poor planning by the company.

Luckin Coffee Inc.  瑞幸咖啡 is a Chinese coffee company and  coffeehouse chain. Founded in Beijing in 2017,  and as of March 2023, it managed 9,351 stores which include 6,310 self-operated stores and 3,041 partnership stores. On June 5, the total Luckin coffee store number reached 10,000. Monthly active customer numbers reached 500 million in June 2022. Luckin Coffee quickly expanded over the years and outnumbered the number of Starbucks stores in China by 2019.

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On 31 January 2020, short-selling firm Muddy Waters Research published an anonymous 89-page report on Twitter, claiming that Luckin Coffee had falsified financial and operational figures. The report claimed that the number of items sold per store was inflated by at least 69% in the third and by 88% the fourth quarter of 2019, supposedly backed by 11,200 hours of video footage. Before the U.S. stock market opening on 3 February 2020, Luckin Coffee responded by formally denying all allegations made in the report.  By  April 2020, the company revealed that it had inflated its 2019 sales revenue by up to US$310 million. It resulted in the stock price crashing and several executives being fired. Trading was suspended and the company was delisted from NASDAQ on 29 June 2020. The company filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy in the US in February 2021.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Luckin Coffee emerged from bankruptcy in March 2022 and has replaced most of its top management and ousted its former chairman, chief executive and other employees who carried out the earlier fraud. Additionally Luckin Coffee is now being run by a Chinese private equity firm Centurium Capital, who had earlier made capital injections worth $240 million into the company in the spring of 2021.


Bitconnect was an open-source cryptocurrency in 2016-2018 that was connected with a high-yield investment program, a type of Ponzi scheme. After the platform administrators closed the earning platform on January 16, 2018, and refunded the users' investments in BCC following a 92% coin value crash, confidence was lost and the value of the coin plummeted to below $1 from a previous high of nearly $525.

It even has its own meme. On October 28, 2017, Bitconnect held its first (and only) annual ceremony in Pattaya, Thailand. During the event, an investor named Carlos Matos (bald guy in image) from New York City gave an exuberant presentation and testimonial about the website, which included him intensely screaming "Bitconnect!" several times.

In 2022, a federal grand jury in San Diego indicted the founder of BitConnect for allegedly orchestrating a $2.4 billion global Ponzi scheme, the Justice Department. Satish Kumbhani, 36, is accused of misleading investors about the cryptocurrency’s “lending program,” where he claimed the proprietary technology would bring substantive returns to investors by tracking cryptocurrency exchange markets. It is “the largest single recovery of a cryptocurrency fraud by the United States to date.”

FTX short for short for "Futures Exchange" was a leading cryptocurrency exchange that went bankrupt in November 2022 amid allegations that its owners had embezzled and misused customer funds. Sam Bankman-Fried, the CEO of the exchange, was sentenced to 25 years in prison and ordered to repay $11 billion. Co-founder Gary Wang, his former classmate, took a plea bargain and testified against Bankman-Fried.  


The catalyst was in November 2022, a scoop by crypto news site CoinDesk revealing that the majority of assets held by Alameda Research, a quantitative trading firm and sister company also run by Bankman-Fried, consisted of FTT and other tokens invented and controlled by FTX and its insiders, rather than a fiat currency or cryptocurrency with market-driven and time-tested value.


Scores of investors and customers pulled their funds out of FTX, forcing the exchange to become insolvent and declare bankruptcy. The revelations prompted concern across the cryptocurrency industry that FTX was overly leveraged with Alameda Research, relied on precarious financial accounting metrics, and faced associated financial management risks. It filed for bankruptcy and was sold. John J. Ray III, an American attorney and CEO who specializes in recovering funds from failed corporations, was appointed CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX in the aftermath of its November 2022 collapse

Many institutional investors were involved including Sequoia, SoftBank, Temasek, BlackRock, and even the Ontario Teacher's Pension Plan. Sequoia Capital wrote down its equity in FTX to $0 on November 9, losing some $214 million.  Several public figures also invested in FTX or received compensation for promoting the company. These include football player Tom Brady, basketball players Shaquille O'Neal and Stephen Curry, and supermodel Gisele Bündchen.

FTX sponsored a number of sports teams and organizations. Deals included the naming rights to the Miami Heat's basketball stadium, renaming it FTX Arena, a partnership with Major League Baseball to place the FTX logo on the uniforms of umpires, and a deal with Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team to add the FTX logo to their cars and merchandise. The professional esports organization TSM also had a naming rights deal with FTX, thus the organization became TSM FTX. FTX was even in talks with Taylor Swift for a sponsorship deal.

Cryptocurrencies and other decentralized money tools have helped criminals scheme up new ways to conduct rug pullspump and dumps, and Ponzi schemes. These are clear financial crimes in traditional markets, but when they are taken online, regulators can struggle to keep up. Discuss with your team: who should be prosecuting crimes on new platforms or in a virtual world? You may also want to explore how these questions are resolved in the air and in outer space.


Rug pulls happen when fraudulent developers create a new crypto token, pump up the price and then pull as much value out of them as possible before abandoning them as their price drops to zero. Rug pulls are a type of exit scam and a decentralized finance (DeFi) exploit.

There are three main types of rug pulls in crypto: liquidity stealing, limiting sell orders and dumping. 

Liquidity stealing occurs when token creators withdraw all the coins from the liquidity pool. Doing so removes all the value injected into the currency by investors, driving its price down to zero. These “liquidity pulls” usually happen in DeFi environments. A DeFi rug pull is the most common exit scam.

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Limiting sell orders is a subtle way for a malicious developer to defraud investors. In this situation, the developer codes the tokens so that they’re the only party that is able to sell them.  Developers then wait for retail investors to buy into their new crypto using paired currencies. Paired currencies are two currencies that have been paired for trading, with one against the other. Once there is enough positive price action, they dump their positions and leave a worthless token in their wake. The Squid Token scam exemplifies rug pulls of this kind.

Dumping occurs when developers quickly sell off their own large supply of tokens. Doing so drives down the price of the coin and leaves remaining investors holding worthless tokens. “Dumping” usually occurs after heavy promotion on social media platforms. The resulting spike and sell-off are known as a Pump-and-Dump Scheme.  Dumping is more of an ethical gray area than other DeFi rug pull scams. In general, it’s not unethical for crypto developers to buy and sell their own currency. “Dumping,” when it comes to DeFi cryptocurrency rug pulls, is a question of how much and how quickly a coin is sold.

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Rug pulls come in two forms: hard and soft. Malicious code and liquidity stealing are hard pulls, whereas soft pulls refer to dumping an asset. Hard rug pulls occur when project developers code malicious backdoors into their token. Malicious backdoors are hidden exploits that have been coded into the project’s smart contract by the developers. The intent to commit fraud is clear from the get-go. Liquidity stealing is also considered a hard pull. 

Soft rug pulls refer to token developers dumping their crypto assets quickly. Doing so leaves a severely devalued token in the hands of the remaining crypto investors. While dumping is unethical, it may not be a criminal act in the same way that hard pulls are.

Hard rug pulls are illegal. Soft rug pulls are unethical, but not always illegal. For example, if a crypto project promises to donate funds but chooses to keep the money instead, that’s unethical but not illegal. Either way, like most fraudulent activities in the crypto industry, both types can be challenging to track and prosecute. The collapse of the Turkish cryptocurrency exchange Thodex is a prime example of a rug pull in crypto. The $2 billion dollar theft was one of the biggest crypto rug pulls of 2021. It is also one of the largest centralized finance (CeFi) exit scams in history. 

The following are six signs users should watch out for to protect their assets from crypto rug pulls.

1) Unknown or anonymous developers

2) No liquidity locked

3) Limits on sell orders

4) Skyrocketing price movement with limited token holders

5) Suspiciously high yields

6) No external audit

Bitcoinether and dogecoin reached record highs in value this year, cryptocurrency fans view them as the future of money for the globe. The underlying blockchain technology allows crypto to work by creating a digital ledger that records transactions, which would seemingly create a safer form of currency. But where there's money to be made, scammers aren't far behind. 

Crypto pump-and-dump schemes take advantage of people while making some big money for scammers. They can involve social media influencers who receive financial incentives for telling people to buy a certain digital coin in order to raise its value. Once the value goes up, the scammers and influencers sell their coins and pocket the profits, while everyone else sees their investments lose value. 

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In 2021, a group began selling coins based on the hit Netflix show, Squid Game. The $SQUID coin had no ties with the show or Netflix but that didn't stop many from jumping on the hype train causing the value from one penny to $2,800 and then free-fall back down to pennies minutes later. This resulted in the scammer making $2 million while those who purchased the coin lost money.

pump and dump is a securities scam usually involving stocks. Scammers create false hype about a cheap stock in order to generate interest. Once investors start buying shares, the price of the stock goes up. When the price reaches a certain point, the scammers behind the fake hype sell all of their shares. This causes the stock price to plummet, which leaves new investors holding the bag.  The movie The Wolf of Wall Street portrayed the infamous pump-and-dump scam conducted by Stratton Oakmont investment firm in the '90s. 


With bitcoin, ether and dogecoin, well-established cryptocurrencies, it takes someone with the following of Musk to increase or decrease their value.  But developers can create new coins based on existing blockchain technology. Developers can also create billions of these coins, which in turn means they go for fractions of a penny. One Shiba Inu token, for example, costs $0.000047, so you can buy 20,000 tokens for less than $1.  All that's needed is to convince enough people to buy these super cheap coins. This can be done through Discord channels, forums or social media, or by getting an influencer to promote the coin in exchange for their own trove of coins. 

While it's known as a pump-and-dump, in crypto circles the scam is referred to as a "rug pull," as in the rug was pulled right out from under the investors. Part of enticing people to buy these super cheap tokens is to say they're "rug-proof," which means there are measures in place to prevent people who have a large number of coins from selling them within a certain time period. 

Some examples of rug-pulls:

1) SaveTheChildren:  In July 2021, four members of the FaZe Clan participated in a pump-and-dump for a token called SaveTheChildren. The pro gamers, along with other influencers, pushed the coin to their followers. Once the price increased, they began selling off the tokens they were given to be part of the scam, with some making an estimated $30,000. 

2) SafeTrade: Safetrade was supposedly “rug proof.” The person or persons behind it couldn’t cut and run. An account that promotes meme coins, Crypto Gems, was urging their followers to get in — and get in fast. A couple of days later, the rug got pulled. Or at least that’s what looks like the end. Traders were kicked out of the Safetrade Telegram group. Then someone anonymously writes them to send them the remaining Safetrade to a burned wallet to help them recover the funds. It seems like just transferring pennies, but that can add up!


3) Mooncharge: That's a “soft rug.” That’s when the creator of a coin project jumps ship and abandons efforts to promote his or her creation. Often, this essentially renders a coin worthless.  The admin of the Telegram group, presumably Mooncharge’s creator, promised fans in April that he was working on a new version of the coin. V1 plummeted and V2 never came.

Another situation is a honeypot, aka getting ghosted, where they lure investors to buying the product, but then something happens that prevents them from selling, while the scammers sell everything. 

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A Ponzi scheme is when there is no real economic or revenue generating activity; the only income of the system is the payments of new entrants.

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New Zealand regulators had warned the schemes could be a ‘scam’ but they have escaped such scrutiny in Australia and thousands have lost money. Thousands of investors have lost millions of dollars in crypto investment schemes that have escaped regulator warnings in Australia, despite financial authorities overseas warning two of the schemes were a possible “scam” and “suspected pyramid scheme”, a Guardian Australia investigation has found.


The schemes have operated under various names including HyperFund and HyperVerseThey were established by Sam Lee – once dubbed “the crown prince of bitcoin” in Australia – and Zijing “Ryan” Xu, who

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as promoted himself as “one of China’s four bitcoin kings”. The pair are two of the founders of the collapsed Australian bitcoin company Blockchain Global.

International organizations released warnings - The operation of a range of Lee and Xu’s investment platforms, mostly under the HyperTech group established in 2020, has prompted consumer warnings from financial watchdogs in the UKNew ZealandCanadaGermany and Hungary, among others. Prior to HyperTech’s establishment, Lee and Xu ran HyperCapital, which was launched in 2018.

In addition to the HyperTech schemes, Lee has been involved in the promotion of further apparent investment platforms, including StableDao, VidiLook, VAV, V.E.N.D, and We Are All Satoshi. StableDao and We Are All Satoshi remain active, while as recently as August this year Lee was promoting a relaunch of the Hyper brand through a scheme called Hyper Ascension. In September 2023, California’s Commissioner of Financial Protection and Innovation issued a “desist and refrain order” to Lee for the operation of the We Are All Satoshi investment platform, alleging it was a “fraudulent pyramid and Ponzi scheme”. Lee relocated to Dubai in 2021. The whereabouts of Xu is unknown.

If Lee’s claim that the community numbered as many as two million people is true, then the schemes’ value would amount to at least USD$450m, based on the minimum investment of USD$300. However, based on investment numbers boasted by senior leaders of the HyperVerse team, the amount potentially lost could run into the billions. A report from US-based blockchain analysts Chainalysis estimates consumer losses to HyperVerse in 2022 amounted to USD$1.3bn. 

Lee has been directly asked if HyperVerse is a scam. “No, because if it was a scam, the website would be offline and I wouldn’t be even wasting my time trying to get the information from the community in order to hold corporate accountable,” he said in a February 2023 meeting with investors.  Lee also tells people they need to be patient if they want to get their money back, and urges them to sign up to a new platform, known as StableDao.  According to the internet archive, the HyperVerse website became inactive sometime between April and November 2023.

August 23, 2022 - Regulation and enforcement in the cryptocurrency space are hot topics, with the debate centered around the complex issue of whether to classify digital assets as securities, commodities, or a separate asset class entirely. In the middle of this debate, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has sent a message — the classification does not matter for its purposes. In recent prosecutions, DOJ has used the wire fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1343, a law with origins dating back to the 1800s, to bring innovative cases in the cryptocurrency space that do not depend on how a digital asset is classified.

The wire fraud statute is based on the nearly identical mail fraud statute, which was enacted in 1872 to combat fraud committed through the mail. The wire fraud statute expanded the law beyond the mails to include the telephone, and now all forms of telecommunication including email, text messaging and social media. The statute is adaptable; it is not limited by subject matter. Prosecutors have applied it to insider trading schemes, spoofing, and other forms of market manipulation. It is a powerful tool for prosecutors. For this reason, Judge Jed Rakoff famously quipped that to prosecutors the mail and wire fraud statutes are "our Stradivarius, our Colt 45, our Louisville Slugger, our Cuisinart — and our true love."


In the first half of 2022, DOJ charged two innovative NFT rug pull cases using the wire fraud statute, both of which are still pending. First, in March 2022, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) in U.S. v. Nguyen charged the first fraud case involving NFTs. SDNY alleged that the creators of the Frosties NFT collection committed a $1.1 million rug pull by falsely promising purchasers that in addition to cartoon-like images, they would receive perks, such as giveaways and access to a metaverse game. 

Second, in June 2022, the DOJ Fraud Section in U.S. v. Tuan charged the second NFT rug pull against the creator of the "Baller Ape" NFT project, alleging a $2.6 million rug pull. The allegations in that case are even more egregious: the creators did not provide anything to purchasers, not even images.

In neither case did the DOJ allege that the NFTs at issue were securities or commodities, as the classification of NFTs was immaterial to the wire fraud charges. DOJ charged a basic theory of wire fraud — that purchasers of these NFTs did not receive what they were promised.


For a long time, the failure of states to extend their criminal laws to their aircraft while they were outside national territory posed a serious problem. When a crime has been committed during an international flight, however, there may be difficulty in pinpointing when and where it occurred and hence in determining the state the law of which has been violated. This is also the case of crimes committed at the high seas.

Although some systems of national law still adhere to the view that ships and aircraft are part of the territory of the state the nationality of which they possess, this is merely a crude metaphor. There are actually 3 types of state jurisdiction. 

1) territorial jurisdiction over national territory

2) quasi-territorial jurisdiction over national ships and aircraft

3) personal jurisdiction over all other nationals and all persons under a state’s protection, as well as their property

In case of conflict, territorial jurisdiction overrides quasi-territorial jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction, while quasi-territorial jurisdiction overrides personal jurisdiction. 

 in 1963 at Tokyo of the Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft, obliging the contracting states to extend their criminal law and jurisdiction to aircraft of their registry when they are outside national territory. The convention furthermore gives the aircraft commander power to ensure law and order on board his aircraft and to disembark any offender in any contracting state in which the aircraft lands.



For issues and crimes regarding aircraft, countries establishment in 1947 of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) under the 1944 Chicago Convention. The Soviet Union joined in 1970, making ICAO membership almost universal. ICAO is a specialized agency affiliated to the United Nations. One of the most important functions of ICAO is the preparation and periodical revision of international standards and recommended practices relating to civil aviation. It has done much to standardize aeronautical regulations throughout the world. The ICAO Council, under the Chicago Convention, may also function as either a conciliation body or a judicial organ in disputes between members.

A research paper by Danielle Ireland-Piper and Steven Freeland discusses the issue of crime and space. In August 2019, reports emerged of NASA investigating an al legation that an astronaut committed a crime in space. Allegedly, the astronaut accessed her estranged spouse’s bank account. This gives rise to the question: what criminal law is to guide individuals in outer space? The answer has broad consequences because human activity in space is increasing, including with respect to developments in exploration, commercialization, weaponization and tour ism, which means there will be new types of extraterrestrial inter actions.

They identified three categories of potential crimes to which different jurisdictional rules may apply: (1) crimes committed on the International Space Station, (2) crimes committed on commercial space vessels and (3) crimes committed in space other than on a space vessel or the International Space Station. Ultimately, we conclude that existing principles of extraterritorial criminal jurisdiction are not ideal for the unique challenges of space and that development of a specialized jurisdictional regime is necessary.

In the 2019 space station case with the illegal bank account access, the answer is relatively straightforward because both the alleged perpetrator and alleged victim are United States (US) nationals. Additionally, the alleged conduct took place on the ISS, which is governed by an agreement with specific provisions for criminal jurisdiction. Therefore, US law applies. However, if the victim and perpetrator were of different nationalities, or were dual nationals, or had the conduct taken place elsewhere in space (other than the ISS), the answer might be more complicated.

Much like the High Seas, the legal starting point is that space is generally regarded as res communis—it belongs to everyone. It is not any one State’s territory. On Earth it is widely recognized that States can assert jurisdiction outside of their territory on a number of bases: the nationality principle, the universality principle, the protective principle and, more controversially, the effects doctrine.  There are currently five key treaties governing space, known colloquially as: the Outer Space Treaty; the Rescue Agreement; the Liability Convention; the Registration Convention; and the Moon Agreement.  

Even with these different treaties, there are still debatable questions. 

Several key factors that make this issue pressing: 

1) There may also be a distinction between conduct taking place in relation to outer space and activities in outer space. S

2) legal definition of outer space vs air space: As of 2018, though, the “Kármán line” is set at roughly 100 kilometers above sea level.

3) space tourism: equal laws for private citizens and government entities. 

4) purpose test to determine the location.

5) The establishment of ICC (International Criminal Court) like entity for space similar to that on Earth. 

6) Double jeopardy: it only exist within states but not between states. 

7) Human rights: how to determine a universal standard?

With tools like ChatGPT and Gemini, you could easily generate a fake term paper, or college essay, or World Scholar’s Cup outline. Discuss with your team: when, if ever, is it illegal to use AI-generated text—and when should it be? Recent studies have also shown that services intended to spot AI-generated text can be unfairly biased against non-native speakers. Should their use be discontinued?

Don’t put faith in detectors that are “unreliable and easily gamed,” says scholar.  Since the launch of ChatGPT, no fewer than 7 developers or companies have countered with AI detectors.These new algorithms are pitched to educators, journalists, and others as tools to flag cheating, plagiarism, and mis- or disinformation.  That should be a good thing right?

However, in a research paper by Stanford Scholars (Weixin LiangMert YuksekgonulYining MaoEric WuJames Zou), they claim that the detectors have a bias against non-English speakers.

The numbers are grim. While the detectors were “near-perfect” in evaluating essays written by U.S.-born eighth-graders, they classified more than half of TOEFL essays (61.22%) written by non-native English students as AI-generated.

“It comes down to how detectors detect AI,” says James Zou, a professor of biomedical data science at Stanford University, a Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI affiliate, and the senior author of the study. “They typically score based on a metric known as ‘perplexity,’ which correlates with the sophistication of the writing — something in which non-native speakers are naturally going to trail their U.S.-born counterparts.”

Zou and co-authors point out that non-native speakers typically score lower on common perplexity measures such as lexical richness, lexical diversity, syntactic complexity, and grammatical complexity.  Not only that, detectors could easily be fooled. A student wishing to use ChatGPT to cheat might simply plug in the AI-generated text with the prompt: “Elevate the provided text by employing literary language.”

Zou recommends not relying too much on these detector as of now, especially in settings with many non-English speakers and also for the community to come up with new algorithms. 

Depending on where you live, if you have ever backed up your DVDs or had your phone repaired, you may have broken the law without knowing it. Explore the following examples, and discuss with your team: should they be legalized? If not, should we stop them from happening?


Reverse engineering means a method or process of developing or manufacturing a known product was discovered through “working backward”, such as taking apart, of the known product. Reverse engineering is often being used in machine development, software maintenance, and many other areas. Similar to other developing methods, reverse engineering can be beneficial but can also be spoiled. Other than reverse engineering to improve their own development, competitors may reverse engineer to create a similar 

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product, or a knock-off, to steal a share of the market. For software, attackers may reverse engineer to find a weakness in the software, and through exploiting the vulnerabilities, the attackers can create malware. Reverse engineering is generally legal. In trade secret law, similar to independent developing, reverse engineering is considered an allowed method to discover a trade secret. However, in patent law, because the patent owner has exclusive rights to use, own or develop the patent, reverse engineering is not a defense.

File sharing is not illegal, but sharing copyrighted content is illegal. The illegal duplication and distribution of copyrighted files is known as piracy. Copyright infringement issues also arise with regard to streaming media. Legal issues arise when peer-to-peer networks and other methods are used for the unauthorized transfer and copying of copyrighted materials, such as music, books, and movie files. People should be familiar with piracy laws to avoid getting into trouble by the law.


Jailbreaking is the process of hacking an iOS device to remove software restrictions imposed by the manufacturer. Jailbreaking allows the user to gain full access to the root of the operating system and install software other than what the manufacturer has made available. Jailbreaking is done by exploiting a security vulnerability and using it to escape the locked down environment. The term originated with the iPhone/iOS jailbreaking community and has also been used as a term for PlayStation Portable hacking; these devices have repeatedly been subject to jailbreaks, allowing the execution of arbitrary code, and sometimes have had those jailbreaks disabled by vendor updates.


Apple views jailbreaking as a violation of the end-user license agreement and strongly cautions device owners not to try to achieve root access through the exploitation of vulnerabilities. While sometimes compared to rooting an Android device, jailbreaking bypasses several types of Apple prohibitions for the end-user. Since it includes modifying the operating system (enforced by a "locked bootloader"), installing non-officially approved (not available on the App Store) applications via sideloading, and granting the user elevated administration-level privileges (rooting), the concepts of iOS jailbreaking are therefore technically different from Android device rooting. To read more about ios jailbreaking.

Are ad blockers legal?  Short answer is "Yes!" What's now legal about this? It's not ad-blocking that is illegal. It is the circumvention of "technological measures" that is. Ad blockers don’t just block ads. Most current-generation ad blockers have an additional layer of technology that goes around technological defenses of ad-block-detection scripts used by publishers.  Some websites have taken countermeasures against ad blocking software, such as attempting to detect the presence of ad blockers and informing users of their views, or outright preventing users from accessing the content unless they disable the ad blocking software, whitelist the website, or buy an "ad-removal pass".

In September 2023, after a period of testing that began in May 2023, the American video hosting site YouTube began launching countermeasures at viewers with adblocker software running when viewing videos. A popup message appears warning the user is breaking the terms of service and may experience blocked viewing after three videos unless they whitelist the site, or purchase YouTube Premium. This sparked extreme controversy and backlash across the YouTube communities. In October 2023, Irish privacy advocate Alexander Hanff filed a criminal complaint against YouTube due to its ad blocking detection script, which is believed to violate European Union privacy laws

Some digital publications turned to their customers for help as a form of tip jar. For example, The Guardian is asking its readers for donations to help offset falling advertising revenue. According to the newspaper's editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, the newspaper gets about the same amount of money from membership and donations as it does from advertising.

Fansubbing—the unofficial creation of fan-made subtitles for TV shows and movies—is illegal, a Dutch court ruled this week. Indeed, that's exactly what the court ruled: that subtitles can only be created and distributed with permission from the rights holders. Doing so without permission is copyright infringement, and thus punishable with either jail time or a fine, depending on where you live. Subtitle downloads are hugely popular on the Internet: there are thousands of websites that offer free subtitle files for TV shows and movies. Sometimes those subtitles are ripped from the original stream or disc, but often—especially if they're not in one of the handful of primary languages—they are the work of fansubbers.


Copyright law does not condone fansubs. The Berne Convention, an international copyright treaty, states that its signatories—including Japan—grant authors exclusive right to translation. Hatcher states that fansubs could "potentially" be legal within Japan given the nature of Japan's domestic copyright laws, although the target audience of fansubs is the non-Japanese market. However, Hatcher notes that copyright law in the United States—the frame of reference for most online discussions of fansub legality—construes translations as derivative, and holds that fansubs infringe on the author's right to prepare derivative works and to reproduction by copying original source material.

Interestingly, the fansite fansubbing just renamed itself into prosubbing. 

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HP sued (again) for blocking third-party ink from printers, accused of monopoly.  Suit seeks injunction blocking HP from bricking printers using third-party ink.

In January 2024, HP has used its "Dynamic Security" firmware updates to "create a monopoly" of replacement printer ink cartridges, a lawsuit filed against the company on January 5 claims. The lawsuit, which is seeking class-action certification, represents yet another form of litigation against HP for bricking printers when they try to use ink that doesn't bear an HP logo.

HP was wrong to issue a firmware update affecting printer functionality, and users were not notified that accepting firmware updates "could damage any features of the printer," the lawsuit says. The lawsuit also questions HP's practice of encouraging people to register their printers and then quietly releasing updates that change the printers' functionality. Additionally, the lawsuit highlights the fact that the use of non-HP ink cartridges doesn't break HP's printer warranty.

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HP is proud of its strategy of locking in printer customers. Last month, HP CFO Marie Myers praised the company's movement from transactional models to forcing customers into continuous buys through offerings like Instant Ink, HP's monthly ink subscription program. 

The new lawsuit claims that HP's firmware updates forced customers to buy HP-brand ink that costs more than competitors. The lawsuit accuses HP of raising prices on its ink "in the same time period" that it issued its late 2022 and early 2023 firmware updates, which "create[d] a monopoly in the aftermarket for replacement cartridges, permitting [HP] to raise prices without fear of being undercut by competitors. 

HP has also been fighting a lawsuit complaining about some of its printers refusing to scan and/or fax without HP ink loaded into the device, even though ink isn't required to scan or fax a document. (This is something other printer companies are guilty of, too).

Despite already enduring payouts regarding Dynamic Security and calls for HP printers to be ousted from the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) registry, HP seems committed to using firmware updates to try to control how people use their own printers.


DeCSS is one of the first free computer programs capable of decrypting content on a commercially produced DVD video disc. Before the release of DeCSS free and open source operating systems (such as BSD and Linux) could not play encrypted video DVDs.

DeCSS's development was done without a license from the DVD Copy Control Association (CCA), the organization responsible for DVD copy protection—namely, the Content Scramble System (CSS) used by commercial DVD publishers. The release of DeCSS resulted in a Norwegian criminal trial and

subsequent acquittal of one of the authors of DeCSS. The DVD CCA launched numerous lawsuits in the United States in an effort to stop the distribution of the software.

DeCSS was devised by three people, two of whom remain anonymous. It was on the Internet mailing list LiViD in October 1999. The one known author of the trio is Norwegian programmer Jon Lech Johansen, whose home was raided in 2000 by Norwegian police. 

The first legal threats against sites hosting DeCSS, and the beginning of the DeCSS mirroring campaign, began in early November 1999 (Universal v. Reimerdes). The preliminary injunction in DVD Copy Control Association, Inc. v. Bunner followed soon after, in January 2000. As a response to these threats a program also called DeCSS but with an unrelated function was developed. This program can be used to strip Cascading Style Sheets tags from HTML pages. In one case, a school removed a student's webpage that included a copy of this program, mistaking it for the original DeCSS program, and received a great deal of negative media attention. The CSS stripping program had been specifically created to bait the MPAA in this manner.

In protest against legislation that prohibits publication of copy protection circumvention code in countries that implement the WIPO Copyright Treaty (such as the United StatesDigital Millennium Copyright Act), some have devised clever ways of distributing descriptions of the DeCSS algorithm, such as through steganography, through various Internet protocols, on T-shirts and in dramatic readings, as MIDI files, as a haiku poem (DeCSS haiku), and even as a so-called illegal prime number.

Copy protection encourages people to continue to strive to make new and better creative products. Consumer choice determines which creative products succeed and which fail. However, if the industry cannot protect its copyrighted material, the creative community will have less incentive to produce and distribute more motion pictures and television shows. As a graphic example of the impact of the DeCSS hack, the rollout of DVD audio – which was to have relied on the CSS system -- was indefinitely postponed because of the proliferation of DeCSS, depriving consumers of the choice of this new higher quality audio format.


Advanced Access Content System Licensing Administrator (AACS LA)  is a standard for content distribution and digital rights management, intended to restrict access to and copying of the post-DVD generation of optical discs. The specification was publicly released in April 2005. The standard has been adopted as the access restriction scheme for HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc (BD). It is developed by AACS Licensing Administrator, LLC (AACS LA), a consortium that includes Disney, Intel,  MicrosoftPanasonicWarner Bros.IBMToshiba and Sony. AACS has been operating under an "interim agreement" since the final specification (including provisions for Managed Copy) has not yet been finalized.

Since appearing in devices in 2006, several AACS decryption keys have been extracted from software players and published on the Internet, allowing decryption by unlicensed software.

 The Free Speech Flag is a symbol of personal liberty used to promote freedom of speech. Designed by artist John Marcotte, the flag and its colors correspond to a cryptographic key which enabled users to copy HD DVDs and Blu-ray Discs. It was created on May 1, 2007, during the AACS encryption key controversy.

Marcotte was motivated to create the flag after the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Advanced Access Content System Licensing Administrator (AACS LA) began issuing cease and desist letters to websites publishing the key 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0 (commonly referred to as 09-F9). 

In response to attempts to remove the key from the Internet, netizens publicized the cryptographic key on the news aggregator website Digg. Some sites that rely on user-submitted content, like Digg and Wikipedia, tried to remove any mentions of the key. The Digg administrators eventually gave up trying to censor submissions that contained the key. At one point, Digg's "entire homepage was covered with links to the HD-DVD code or anti-Digg references."

This sparked what some describe as a digital revolt or "cyber-riot", in which users posted and spread the key on Digg, and throughout the Internet en masse, thereby leading to a Streisand effect. The AACS LA described this situation as an "interesting new twist".

A Hackintosh is a portmanteau of "Hack" and "Macintosh", which is when a computer that runs Apple's Macintosh operating system macOS on computer hardware that is not authorized for the purpose by Apple. This can also include running Macintosh software on hardware it is not originally authorized for. Benefits of "Hackintoshing" can include cost (older, cheaper or commodity hardware), ease of repair and piecemeal upgrade, and freedom to use customized choices of components that are not available (or not


available together) in the branded Apple products. macOS can also be run on several non-Apple virtualization platforms, although such systems are not usually described as Hackintoshes. Hackintosh laptops are sometimes referred to as "Hackbooks". As early as mid 1988, people have been making Macintosh clones. In 1989 an emulator called A-Max was released for the Amiga that allowed users to run Mac OS on that platform.  There are websites that teach you how to hack your computer, including  


Although the practice of "Hackintoshing" has existed since the 1980s, a new wave of "Hackintoshing" began as a result of Apple's 2005 transition to Intel processors, away from PowerPC. Since 2005, many Mac computers have used the same x86-64 computer architecture as many other desktop PCslaptops, and servers, meaning that in principle, the code making up macOS systems and software can be run on alternative platforms with minimal compatibility issues. In 2020, Apple began to move to ARM64-based Apple silicon processors. The company has said it will eventually stop supporting the x86_64 architecture. This will eventually end the ability for users to install new versions of macOS on Intel-based hardware.

The macOS EULA forbids installations of macOS on a "non-Apple-branded computer". On July 3, 2008, Apple filed a lawsuit against Psystar Corporation[61] for violating this restriction, among other claims. Apple claimed Psystar "violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by dodging copy-protection technologies Apple uses to protect Mac OS X." Apple employs technological protection measures that effectively control access to Apple's copyrighted works. Specifically, Apple charged Psystar with acquiring or creating code that "avoids, bypasses, removes, descrambles, decrypts, deactivates or impairs a technological protection measure without Apple's authority for the purpose of gaining unauthorized access to Apple's copyrighted works." The legal brief revealed that Apple considers the methods that it uses to prevent macOS from being installed on non-Apple hardware to be protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

On November 13, 2009, the court granted Apple's motion for summary judgment and found Apple's copyrights were violated as well as the DMCA when Psystar installed Apple's operating system on non-Apple computers. A hearing on remedies was set for December 14. On January 14, 2009, the Gadget Lab site of Wired Magazine posted a video tutorial for installing Mac OS X on an MSI Wind netbook, but removed it following a complaint from Apple. Textual instructions remain, but include an EULA violation disclaimer. On May 15, 2012, the case Apple vs. Psystar Corporation ended. The court ruled that Psystar had "violated Apple's exclusive reproduction right, distribution right, and right to create derivative works", putting an end to the case.

Have you ever wanted to download a video from youtube? youtube-dl is a free and open source software tool for downloading video and audio from YouTube and over 1,000 other video hosting websites. It is released under the Unlicense software license.  As of September 2021, youtube-dl is one of the most starred projects on GitHub, with over 100,000 stars. According to, 308 other


packages and 1.43k repositories depend on it.  Numerous forks exist of the project, which means taking one software and developing it for another version with a similar software. It not represents not only a split in the software but also a split in the community. 

youtube-dl was created in 2006 by Ricardo Garcia. Initially, only YouTube was supported, but as the project grew, it began supporting other video sharing websites. Ricardo Garcia stepped down as maintainer in 2011 and was replaced by Philipp Hagemeister, who later stepped down and was replaced by dstftw. In 2021, dstftw stepped down and was replaced by dirkf and so on and on and on.

On October 23, 2020, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) issued a takedown notice to GitHub under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), requesting the removal of youtube-dl and 17 public forks of the project. The RIAA request argued that youtube-dl violates the Section 1201 anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA, and provisions of German copyright law, since it circumvents a "rolling cipher" used by YouTube to generate the URL for the video file itself (which the RIAA has considered to be an effective technical protection measure, since it is "intended to inhibit direct access to the underlying YouTube video files, thereby preventing or inhibiting the downloading, copying, or distribution of the video files"). Users criticized the takedown, noting the legitimate uses for the application, including downloading video content released under open licensing schemes or to create derivative works falling under fair use (such as for archival and news reporting purposes). It started another Streisand Effect. On November 16, 2020, the repository was reinstated, after the Electronic Frontier Foundation sent GitHub a letter cautioning that its removal might set a precedent for other copyright holders to misuse the notice-and-takedown process to remove software tools from the Internet-based only on the argument that those tools could be used for copyright infringement.

Example code: 

For downloading video or playlist: youtube-dl <url>

Path of the output can be specified as: (file name to be included in the path):  youtube-dl -o <path> <url>

To see list of all available file formats and sizes: youtube-dl -F <url>

The video can be downloaded by selecting the format code from the list or typing the format manually: youtube-dl -f <format/code> <url>

Best quality video can be downloaded with -f best option. Also, the quality of audio and video streams can be specified separately and merged with the + operator.

A portion of the video can be downloaded with the help of ffmpeg. FFmpeg is a free and open-source software project consisting of a suite of libraries and programs for handling video, audio, and other multimedia files and streams. At its core is the command-line ffmpeg tool itself, designed for processing of video and audio files. 

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