Have you ever felt that someone is controlling the crypto markets, increasing prices to lure you in and crash it all as soon as you buy? Well, US authorities have apparently heard your whining because they are now reportedly suspicious manipulation is indeed occurring.
Spoofing and Wash Trading
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has reportedly launched a criminal investigation to determine if big money traders are manipulating the prices of Bitcoin, Ether and possibly other cryptocurrencies. The illicit trade tactics that the DOJ is looking into include spoofing and wash trading, and federal prosecutors are working in collaboration with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on the investigation, this according to “four people familiar with the matter” cited by Bloomberg.
Spoofing refers to creating false buy orders to attract other traders (usually bots) to get in, with the intention of manipulating the market price in order to make a profit by actually selling. The Dodd-Frank Act defines spoofing as “the illegal practice of bidding or offering with intent to cancel before execution.” Similarly, wash trading is when someone simultaneously sells and buys the same financial instruments to create misleading activity, meant to make it appear as if an asset has more trade volume than it really does.
US authorities are reportedly concerned that cryptocurrency markets are prone to manipulation for a number of reasons including doubts that all trading venues are on the lookout for fraudsters, massive price swings that make it possible to steer valuations and a lack of strong regulations on crypto exchanges.
While many will surely applaud the DOJ for its diligence in protecting crypto investors, skeptics might wonder if US authorities are not doing this also in an effort to further cool the market down by frightening investors. They are not generally known to be welcoming toward the field, and only recently it was revealed that American regulators also took part in a crackdown on what they call “fraudulent ICOs and crypto-asset investment products.”
Are cryptocurrency prices manipulated and is it the US DOJ’s job to investigate these global markets at all? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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