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Fake crypto scam sends ransomware, then malware once you pay

(FINANCE) Buying unheard of ICOs just got much riskier as scammers find new ways to scam people out of their crypto investments while stealing their identities. Great.

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Cryptocurrency is hot right now. And while cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are supposedly more secure than regular currency, that doesn’t mean that hackers aren’t looking for ways to take advantage of the trend.

A newly discovered ransomware scam banks on people’s desire to get rich quick by buying cryptocurrencies. The scam advertises a new cryptocurrency called SpriteCoin.

SpriteCoin isn’t a real currency; it’s just a ruse to get people to install ransomware. Often, SpriteCoin ads appear on forums where people learn about and discuss other cryptocurrencies, making SpriteCoin seem like the real deal (hence why social media sites are opting to nix all ads about cyrpto).

The ransomware is disguised as a wallet containing SpriteCoin. While your computer appears to be downloading the blockchain for your SpriteCoin, it is actually encrypting all of your files, while also raiding Chrome and Firefox for your stored passwords. Next, you receive a ransom note demanding that you pay up in order to get a decryption key, or else your files will be locked forever.

The ransom note demands payment in Monero, a cryptocurrency, to the tune of about $100. The note claims that “only we can decrypt your files. Don’t worry, we’ll give you your files back if you pay.”

To add insult to injury, once the Monero ransom has been paid, the hackers install additional malware that harvests personal data and gives hackers the power activate your webcam.

This ransomware scam was discovered by cyber security company Fortinet. Fortinet’s experts think that this scam, which is demanding a (relatively) inexpensive ransom, could be a pilot program for hackers to test out new delivery mechanisms for ransomware and malware. They want to see how many people will fall for the scam before scaling up.

Fortinet also explains that Monero is becoming the new cryptocurrency of choice amongst thieves using ransomware, because Bitcoin transaction fees have gone up and there is typically a delay on payments.

Cryptocurrencies could be a good investment – but make sure you do your research and only buy legit cryptocurrencies, lest you fall victim to such a vicious and repetitive scam.

Ellen Vessels, Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for her wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when she's not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

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Business Finance

How to invest in any cryptocurrency without the IRS hunting you down

(FINANCE) Paying taxes on your cryptocurrency investments doesn’t have to be a headache with this simple tool.

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token tax for cryptocurrency capital gains

As the 2018 tax season approaches, those of you who took a chance on cryptocurrency may be wondering: Do I have to pay tax on my digital investments? Sorry, but yes you do.

Although tax laws are constantly changing, especially in the wild west of cryptocurrency, fear not. Token Tax is the one tool to rule them all, and can help you report cryptocurrency taxes.

In this past year, cryptocurrency investment has skyrocketed. The total market cap rose over 1000 percent, even breaking a record and climbing over $600 billion in December.

Coinbase, the most popular online platform for buying and selling digital currency, gained one million users in one month alone.

Cyrptocurrency’s increasing popularity led to changes in IRS rules.

Although cryptocurrency investors were previously able to use the “like-kind” tax code exemption, the IRS now says digital investments must be taxed as short and long-term capital gains.

Back in 2015, only 802 Americans reported Bitcoin related gains and losses. At the time, cryptocurrency could technically be categorized a property instead of income. The 2017-18 year should show a greater increase in reports due to the new IRS regulations.

It can be difficult to determine how to report your taxes, and many other available tools victimize you with information overload. Understanding your tax liability is no fun at all, but it’s not something you’d want to get wrong unless tax jail sounds exciting.

The newly minted Token Tax does the work for you, integrating directly with Coinbase’s API to import all your investments in an easy to read format that’s directly exportable to the IRS. Kraken, Bittrex, and GDAX are also securely integrated with the platform.

Using FIFO, Token Tax calculates your tax liability and displays it in an easy to read interface. You can then export a fill-out 8949 form directly to your accountant or the IRS for review.

Creators Alex Miles and David Holland Lee say they believe Token tax “could be the TurboTax for crypto.”

Even though Token Tax is still in test mode, not even beta, it caught our attention by winning first place overall in Product Hunt’s Global Hackathon.

If you have invested in cryptocurrency and want to get ahead of the curve for tax season, check out their demo and see for yourself.

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Business Finance

Crypto gets trendy – earn digital currency for taking steps

(FINANCE) Crypto is on exciting, not just with values skyrocketing and falling from day to day, but with new ways to earn and invest.

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fitness tracker sweatcoin crypto

If investing actual money into cryptocurrency isn’t your thing, consider investing calories instead. Sweatcoin — a free app for iOS and Android devices — allows you to do just that.

The premise behind Sweatcoin is simple: you earn virtual currency for a certain number of steps. When you’ve earned a certain amount, you can redeem your Sweatcoin earnings for a number of different rewards, including things like vouchers for yoga classes, fitness apparel, and Apple products (e.g., an Apple watch or a new iPhone).

In order to begin earning with Sweatcoin, you just need to install the app, turn it on in the background, and start walking. This means that you’ll need the app running for the duration of your workout, so make sure that your battery is charged and that you’ve allowed the app to access your location services before heading out into the great unknown that is your cul-de-sac.

There are a couple of minor caveats for Sweatcoin, the first of which is its overhead fee.

While you don’t have to pay to use Sweatcoin, you’ll only “take home” around 65 percent of what you earn. This is in part due to Sweatcoin’s fraud prevention services, so it’s for a good cause — just don’t count your virtual chickens before they compile.

Another issue with Sweatcoin is that it only counts your steps when you’re outside. If your preferred method of walking, running, or skipping (if that’s your thing) involves a treadmill, you’ll need a pretty long extension cable.

The final caveat is that, unlike other cryptocurrency like Bitcoin or Ethereum, your earnings won’t compound. Sweatcoin is contingent solely on your activity, not on market behavior or current investments; if you’re looking to build up a crypto portfolio, this probably isn’t the ideal venue for you.

Of course, your body is perhaps the strongest asset that you can own, and investing in it is more likely to have serious long-term benefits than is investing in any kind of cryptocurrency. This is the largest benefit of Sweatcoin: it incentivizes you to work out and take extra steps (literally) long enough for doing so to become a habit. That’s hardly a downside.

If you don’t mind an extra few (thousand) steps per day, Sweatcoin is worth checking out.

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Business Finance

Freelancers: How to stop billing hourly and get the cash monies you deserve

Working as a freelancer isn’t easy. Despite the hard work, many professionals choose this route in order to escape the daily grind of working for an hourly wage. Why, then, do clients still insist that freelancers charge them by the hour?

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Value-based billing

Working as a freelancer isn’t easy. Despite the hard work, many professionals choose this route in order to escape the daily grind of working for an hourly wage. Why, then, do clients still insist that freelancers charge them by the hour?

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You became a freelancer to get away from the mindset that each hour of your time is worth a certain number of dollars. So if you are still billing your clients an hourly wage, you may want to seriously consider shifting to value-based billing.

Each hour is not worth the same amount

Robb Eng, a senior marketer and writer for Web Design Ledger, provides some valuable advice for freelance web designers, but his tips hold up for any freelancer who would like to get free from “the trap of trading hours for dollars.”

First, Eng describes some of the problems with billing by the hour – and if you’re already doing it, these should sound familiar to you. For starters, each job requires a number of different skillsets. Some parts of the job require intense concentration and all your years of experience and education. Other parts any amateur could do in their sleep.

Averaging these disparities out into an hourly wage is tricky – and billing different rates for different tasks is far too burdensome.

Besides being confusing and inconvenient, the biggest problem with hourly billing is that it causes the client to focus too much on how fast you can deliver the task, rather than how well.

Quantify your goals

That’s why it’s so important to shift the paradigm to one of “value-based billing.” As a freelancer, you must show the client the value of your services – in other words, how they will benefit the business. Eng gives an example of a website redesign that could increase profitability by $100,000. When you think about the total value your work will bring to the business, suddenly charging $10,000 or $20,000 looks like only a small fraction of the total value you are providing.

When you asked to be paid relative to the total value you are providing from the business, it changes your role from wage worker to co-collaborator.

Instead of stressing about the bottom line, you are working together with the client to maximize profit for both parties.

To convince hourly billers to switch to value-based billing, you may have to ask some questions. As much as possible, get an idea of the quantifiable goals of the project. How much will the project increase profit, lead generation, or conversions? Try to charge between 10 and 20 percent of the value you’ll be providing for the client.

Price plans and tiers

Next, offer a few different price plans, because people love options. You can charge a flat rate for each service, a monthly or yearly rate for ongoing maintenance, or you can provide several tiers of services at different rates.

Of course, before you get to these steps you’ll need to find out if your client is open to value-based billing. If not, consider walking. If so, be sure to maintain positive relationships. Nothing adds value to a job like a trusting relationship.

#NoMoreHourlyWages

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