A visual representation of digital currencies.
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New York attorney general Letitia James warned investors and industry members of the dangers of cryptocurrencies on Monday.
“We are sending a clear message to the entire industry that either you obey the rules or you are closing,” she said in a press release.
James’ warning, directed at individual investors and members of the crypto industry, begins with an important start into 2021 for digital assets like Bitcoin.
The cryptocurrency hit a new all-time high of over $ 58,000 earlier this month after being noticed by Wall Street banks, companies like Tesla, and even the U.S. government.
Bitcoin, which was founded in 2009, has gone from a protest against the banking system to a “digital gold” that is gaining ground among mainstream investors.
Investment banks such as JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs have shown interest in the asset class. Additionally, companies like Mastercard have taken important steps to support cryptocurrencies. Tesla invested $ 1.5 billion in Bitcoin in February.
The price of Bitcoin rose more than 10% in the past 24 hours and hit $ 48,528 as of around 1:51 p.m. ET, according to CoinDesk. Other popular digital currencies are Ethereum and Litecoin.
James told members of the New York crypto industry to be registered with the Attorney General’s Investor Protection Bureau.
Parties who are required to register but do not do so are subject to civil and criminal enforcement, the office said in a statement.
Monday’s warning comes two weeks after the attorney general filed a lawsuit against Coinseed, a digital currency trading platform.
James stated that Coinseed ran a virtual forex trading business in New York that served as an unregistered broker-dealer for more than three years and raised over $ 1 million in investor wealth.
Last week, the Attorney General reached an agreement with crypto firms Tether and Bitfinex for allegedly covering losses of $ 850 million. Both companies agreed to pay a fine of $ 18.5 million, but denied any wrongdoing.
“We will not hesitate to take action against someone who breaks the law,” she said.
“Too often greedy industry players take unnecessary risks with investors’ money, but today we are leveling the playing field and issuing warnings to investors and industry members across the country,” added James.
She also told investors to be careful when investing in cryptocurrencies.
“All investors should exercise extreme caution when investing in virtual currencies. Cryptocurrencies are high-risk, unstable investments that can lead to devastating losses as quickly as they can make profits,” said James.
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