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Some would say it's half-way to the moon, bitcoin hit $5,000 and currently sits over $5,200 on the dinbits index. 

This coming after yet another barrage of haters calling bitcoin everything from a bubble to a fraud and while this type of banter publicized by the mainstream media may have caused bitcoin to tumble in years past, it doesn't appear to have done so this time. 

In fact, as we can see, it's gone up setting a new all-time record over $5,200. 

This also coming after a drop suffered from the news of China rumors of banning digital currency and Chinese exchanges shutting down. Which was an opportunity to buy for many.

As always, drops are easier to pinpoint, spikes are not always so forthcoming, however the news of Goldman Sachs possible trading platform supporting bitcoin is one of a few reasons the price could be on the rise. 

Then again, it's bitcoin, this is what happens and it's double each year for the past several.

Get on it!



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A Seattle sting operation has resulted in the arrest of Louis Ong from Los Angeles, a bitcoin trader, who has been charged with multiple counts of money laundering.

Once again, it's the HSI who is up to this, once again it's the HSI who setup a bitcoin trader, and once again the trader was unfortunately ill prepared and accepting cash for bitcoin without being in compliance with federal and state laws despite being registered with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

Like Jason Klien and the Mansy case of recent news, Ong was targeted by the Department of Homeland Security Investigations who basically did the exact same thing they have been doing with many others. Conducted transactions with a bitcoin trader while undercover posing as drug dealers, human traffickers, etc.. and in this case the HSI met face to face with the defendant obtaining a mountain of damning evidence his lawyer, Brian Klien, vows to fight.

Louis has pleaded not guilty, and he plans to vigorously defend himself against the charges,” Brian Klein, Attorney.


Climbing Mountains

That might be easier said then done. This is due in part, to the way the federal law is ridiculously written so that it can easily be twisted to fit just about any situation, and also due in part to possible negligence on behalf of Ong.

For example Ong told HSI agents that he "didn't know or care" what his customers used bitcoin for and that it was "better off" he didn't know. This is a compliance violation of KYC laws that govern this type of activity federally whereas under KYC laws not only are financial institutions and money service companies, of which category a virtual currency business (VCB) would fall, required to obtain the identity of a customer when specific thresholds or aggregates are met or exceeded, but a reasonable effort to gain knowledge of the source of funds, final destination, and purpose of the transaction(s).


“One thing I tell people is I don’t really care what they use the bitcoin for,” said Ong, according to charges. “The only thing is … for me it’s better that I actually don’t know.”

That may come back to bite him in the ass as his own statement tends to indicate he may not have been doing things properly, however, it's important to note that this is merely what Ong told the HSI and not necessarily what he did. Many traders who do their best to remain in compliance have standard procedures for obtaining this information when thresholds are met or over the course of the relationship with the customer.

Additionally many traders take a look at transactions when they are suspicious and not just because it's the federal law, but because traders prefer not to involve themselves in fraudulent activity and specifically when that activity leads to them themselves getting scammed. 

The HSI's Finest?

Even if the above is true, for what reason did the HSI even investigate Ong for in the first place? Where is the reasonable suspicion? 

Agents say that Ong charged 7%+ for bitcoin trades and that this in itself was "unreasonable" and possibly leading to the "suspicion", however, if that's what they based it on they based it on a blatant lack of the facts. 7% or more is nothing.

In fact I can't think of many professional traders who would even conduct peer-to-peer trades for a measly 7%. 20% and even up to 30% for some trading methods is not unheard of or even a surprise.

What they are referring to are some large OTC exchanges like GDAX and Bitstamp or services like Coinbase and itBit. Sure you can set a market price and obtain coin for 1% or so if your get the buy, but to do this OTC requires copious amounts of documentation, approvals, funds wired, and generally a waiting period  which can be anywhere from a few hours to several days.

To purchase immediate bitcoin with a credit card or other method for example is not even sold at 1% at the largest company of this sort on the planet, Coinbase. They charge a convenience fee on top of their normal fee which ends up costing you closer to 5% or 6%, which is barely under what Ong was selling for.

If anything 7% is suspicious because its so low, however, that's not why the HSI called it so. They said they thought it was too high. Hell, it's hard to buy Gold or Silver at 7% sometimes and instantly and locally more like 8% or 9% is normal. 

The HSI is either grossly misinformed not accurately stating their reason for suspicion in the Ong case, but whatever the reason, it's irrelevant at this point, Ong has been arrested and indicted on 5 counts of money laundering and one count of operating an unlicensed money-transmission business.

Legal Operations

The most disturbing thing about the Ong case is the fact that he was seemingly operating legally and was at least registered with FinCEN. However, registration is the simple, quick, and easy part. There's allot more to it which Ong may have not been operating in accordance with.

This is the first known case where an independent trader who was federally registered has been investigated and arrested by undercover HSI agents.


That registration may save his ass, it also may not. It would certainly show intent and possibly even compliant operations if he can show progression or some sort of written compliance plan and AML policy that he can prove existed at the time of arrest. It could result in a fine for a violation rather than potential prison if so. At the very least it might be taken into consideration when (if convicted) he is sentenced.

Regardless, in the state of Washington, it is not legal nor has it been for years, to sell bitcoin to it's residents without a money transmission license or exemption. Washington recently put new amendments to it's money transmission laws further clearing up any possible doubt with enforcement laws for those found in violation of the Uniform Money Services Act (USMA), 19.230 RCW, which includes virtual currency. 

In Washington, digital currency is included in the definition of "Money Transmission" in the Uniform Money Services Act (UMSA), chapter 19.230 RCW: "Money transmission" means receiving money or its equivalent value to transmit, deliver, or instruct to be delivered the money or its equivalent value to another location, inside or outside the United States, by any means including but not limited to by wire, facsimile, or electronic transfer.
¹

Like Texas, New York, and a handful of other states and jurisdictions in the United States, Washington is very clear and informative of it's position and the law in the state on virtual currency. They explain this on the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) webpage in plain English in addition to references to UMSA regulations that govern this activity.

Furthermore, federal law requires that an organization be registered federally, have a written AML (anti-money laundering) policy, be periodically trained (AML/KYC) and this training must be recorded, have written and current procedures (controls), and have a qualified and designated compliance officer appointed and listed with contact information on the federal registration. 

Ong may not have complied with regulations. He is slated for court in April (2018) and faces charges,aforementioned, for laundering an alleged $290,000 USD.




Article by dinbits
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FOOTNOTES:
1Virtual Currency Regulation in Washington
2. Virtual Currency Interim Guidance


REFERENCES: 

1. Federal Regulations (BSA)
12 U.S.C. ch. 13 § 1724
12 U.S.C. ch. 16 § 1813
15 U.S.C. ch. 2B § 78a
31 US Code 1022.380 - Registration of money services businesses
18 U.S. Code § 1960 - Prohibition of unlicensed money transmitting businesses

2. Washington State Regulation and Guidance
Washington State Uniform Money Services Act (USMA), 19.230 RCW
Washington DFI Guidance, Bitcoin and Virtual Currency Regulation
3. Additional case references
Federal case 17-3056-01-CR-MDH (Sal Mansy)
Federal case 17-3056-01-CR-S-MDH (Jason Klein)



The opinions expressed by authors of articles linked, referenced, or published on dinbits.com do not necessarily express, nor are endorsed by, the opinions the of dinbits.com or its affiliates.




Josh Garza, CEO of  GAW Miners and a handful of supporting company's has been ordered to pay almost $10 million for his fraudulent schemes which left thousands without their bitcoin (or paycoin) when the scheme imploded.

This coming after Garza's recent guilty plea in July for fraud and is just another nail in the coffin for Garza who will be sentenced on January 5th, 2018.

There's little love for Josh Garza in this industry and you can follow the turn of events on dinbits.com as they happened if you are unfamiliar with the rise, lies, and implosion that was GAW Miners.

The Fall of GAW

There was a point in time that Josh and company were in the black, seemingly doing rather well and believable enough to convince a large portion of the industry that Hashlet's were a realistic investment vehicle after selling millions worth of mining gear to folks.

Garza and his Hashlet's were confronted many times since the numbers simply didn't add up to which he responded with a customary over-fluffed communication that contained a few useful words indicating that he was actually full of shit and that Hashlet's were not 100% (if at all) a mining machine or software, but a combination of "investment channels" which likely was the first thing that caught the SEC's attention and who filed the suit leading to last weeks verdict.

However, the real kick in the ass was the concept of Paycoin. That's when folks really started calling "bullshit", dinbits.com included. Paycoin was supposed to do everything and be the answer to the worlds problem presented in a way that if successful would have you believe it may even defy the laws of physics.

The only defiance was GAW actually making good on any of the above, the apparent Ponzi scheme imploded in epic fashion as GAW came crumbing down paying out what seems to be only a few major investors on Paycoins first inbound cash hyped by it's own employees and supporters on a forum controlled by GAW while everywhere else, the skeptics were delivering more and more damning evidence.

By the time Josh was supposed to speak at the 2015 North American Bitcoin Conference (TNABC) things had gone from terrible to a mess from hell few on earth would choose over a receiving route canal while laying on bed of nails after waiving any all all pain killing medication and certainly no laughing gas.

Laughing gas is about the only thing that could have made the GAW situation remotely tolerable but they unfortunately don't sell that for bitcoin or without a prescription and the supervision of a doctor or dentist. It's unlikely to have helped much anyway.

This verdict may be a partial closure for some, the rest may consider the sentencing in January as such, but for most whereas a sense of justice may be realized, anything short of the return of their money just doesn't quite cut it.

Nevertheless, the news certainly doesn't suck ... except for Josh Garza.




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The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Goldman Sachs is kicking around a bitcoin trading operation idea, however CEO Lloyd Blankfien stated on Twitter that he hasn't made up his mind yet.

"Still thinking about bitcoin" Lloyd Blankfein, CEO Goldman Sach.

Goldman is in early stages of creating a trading platform specifically for cryptocurrencies according to the Wall Street Journal. 

Blankfein's statements are opposite those of JPMorgan's top executive who claims bitcoin is a "fraud". Here's a list of recent statements by various financial executives and/or well known people.

Name

Title
Firm
Quote
Jamine Dimon
CEO
JPMorgan Chase
"bitcoin is a fraud"
James Gorman
CEO
Morgan Stanley
"bitcoin is more than just a fad"
Lloyd Blankfein
CEO
Goldman Sach
"still thinking about bitcoin"
Jordon Belfort
Speaker
None (frm. Stoclbroker)
"the problem with bitcoin is that it can be hacked"
Larry Fink
CEO
BlackRock
"I'm a big believer in the potential of what a cryptocurrency can do. "
Gene Simmons
Musician
Kiss
"I could be talked into it"











This goes to show you that people have different opinions and they have a right to them. Meanwhile, bitcoin is at $4,314.18 and has been slowly rising for several days.

Not bad for a "dead" and "fraudulent" asset. 



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Six people were arrested for allegedly robbing a businessmen wishing to purchase bitcoins from Localbitcoins.

The Delhi-based businessman filed a complaint stating that he had been robbed by a gang, whose members claimed to be Bitcoin dealers from the Locabitcoins.com platform.

He was abducted from the Nirman Vihar Metro Station near Laxmi Nagar and taken to Vaishali, Ghaziabad, where he was assaulted, robbed, and threatened.

The alleged victim stated that he uploaded his information to the localbitcoins.com platform an received a call from a Locabitcoins trader calling herself Karishma Rajput offering bitcoin at a rate of Rs 72,000 ($1102.86 USD). 

The supposed "trade" was to occur locally on April 7th, however instead of bitcoins, the complainant allegedly received a beating and was robbed of Rs 36 lakh ($55142.86 USD)

Police raids in NCR, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh located four gang members, Karamvir Singh, Sandeep and Devendra Chauhan and Kunal Sharma, who were arrested on September 2. 

Priya Thakur (aka Karishma Rajput) and Yashashvi Sharma (aka Aditya Rajput) were additionally arrested on September 27. 

Amandeep and Kuldeep are yet to be arrested.

Localbitcoins

It's important to note that these individuals were not really "Localbitcoins traders" or bitcoin traders at all and there is no affiliation with Localbitcoins or bitcoin at all with these idiots. The trading platform and digital currency were a vessel and a tool for these alleged criminals to obtain cash. 

The gang members registered on Localbitcoins under aliases and would call or contact buyers through Facebook and convince the them to transact cash-in-person bitcoin trades, a popular but dangerous trading method, where people meet one-on-one or party-to-party to exchange cash in person for bitcoins.

Once the trade was arranged, the other gang members would then meet and rob the victim. 

This is type of crime is more common than many realize. In 2014/2015 a Houston trader was bashed in the head with a glass bottle during a cash-in-person trade and an Australian trader was abducted among many other incidents world-wide. 

Granted, not all were violent, but if that doesn't ruin your day, just try explaining this scenario to the police which is not only problematic, but scrutinized as many local law enforcement agencies remain clueless as to what bitcoin or any digital currency is.

Quack Quack

On April 7th the price of bitcoin around $2500 and these guys were "selling" for a rate of $1,100 USD. That's should have been a big fat red flag right there because if it wasn't fraudulent as it turned out to be, the coins were likely to have been stolen or some other scheme would have likely been in play.

If someone offers to sell you bitcoins for 15% or more under the market rate, be cautious (although note that 10% under market is actually realistic), if it's nearly 50% or more as in this case, run like hell!

If it's too good to be true, it likely is and as we always say, if it walks like a duck... it's a fucking duck.




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The "Wolf of Wall Street", Jordan Belfort, agrees with JP Morgan's Jamie Dimon calling bitcoin a "fraud".

Like Dimon, Belfort claims bitcoin has all kinds of issues, and like Dimon, Belfort said a various stupid things to back up his claims. In a recent interview Belfort says:

"Sooner or later, a central bank or a consortium is going to issue their own cryptocurrency, and that’s what will take hold."

Well it would at least make it possible for it to be valuable, but I don't think he realizes that some governments and banks are already trying to do this. I also don't think he realizes is these groups are the exact reason digital currency exists in the first place so it's kind of silly when you think about it.

If Bank of America makes BofA-Coin, rest assured a large portion of the current industry isn't going to be impressed.

I am certain there is a portion of the population that would like it, however, it's going to be a cold day in hell that a government or bank creates something like a cryptocurrency they can't control. That makes it vulnerable to foul play which ultimately makes it pretty worthless and no better than fiat money today.

Note that fiat money is already currently digital, so it's not going to be much of an improvement over the current system if any at all.

He offered opinions such as “I don’t think it’s a great model,” and “It seems kind of bizarre” which is fair enough, everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but in addition to holding out for BANK-COIN he claims bitcoins biggest problem is it's ability to be hacked.

Seriously?

That one took a couple second-glances to sink in. Belfort said this. His exact words were:

“the biggest problem I see from Bitcoin, and why I would never buy it, is because they can easily steal it from you through hacking. I know people who lost all their money like that.”

Apparently Belfort is unfamiliar with SHA-256 or the 6.4 Quadrillion years it would take with current technology to hack bitcoin underpinning technology, the blockchain. Truth is that bitcoin is the only financial network on earth that hasn't been hacked.

He claims he has "friends" that lost their bitcoin when someone hacked their phone. Well if that's the case then they were improperly storing their bitcoin somewhere without any thought of security and under that same scenario one could steal a multitude of sensitive information, money, credit cards, and other valuable items from one's phone.

If one is going to be an idiot, one is going to be hacked.

Properly secured with Two Factor Authentication on both Phone and Wallet (bitcoin wallet), secured private keys, and a current backup, one won't have this kind of silly problem.

Better yet, don't do something stupid like store "all of you money" on your phone. Seriously, who on earth does that? Does Belfort take "all of his cash" with him when he goes to the market? Of course not, nor would anyone store "all of their money" on their cell phone.

The three most notable things from his statements, at least to this author is that, one, Belfort clearly doesn't like bitcoin and is joining in the recent bash to get a soundbite. Two, he clearly doesn't understand bitcoin or how it even works, and three, Belfort's "bitcoin-phone-storing" friends are complete idiots.



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The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is suing a New York man and his company over an alleged bitcoin Ponzi scheme.

The CFTC says that Nicholas Gelfman of New York and Gelfman Blueprint, Inc., "fraudulently solicited more than $600,000 from approximately 80 persons."

According to the agency Gelfman preyed on those interested in investing in his bitcoin fund where he "employed a high-frequency, algorithmic trading strategy.", however instead of obtaining bitcoin or any investment of any such sort, investors only funded a Ponzi scheme.

It's very much like the multitude of scams we've warned about time and time again. They're either a Ponzi or a Nonzi and it never ends well.

"The purported performance reports were false, and -- as in all Ponzi schemes -- payouts of supposed profits ... actuality consisted of other customers' misappropriated funds," said the CFTC.

Typical of these schemes instead of bitcoin or any returns the only thing anyone saw was either a small amount of other investors misappropriated funds, or a notice of a "computer hack" staged by the defendant.



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Overstock is at it again. Making things happen. Here's the press release in full:

-------------------------------


SALT LAKE CITY, Sept. 27, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- tZERO, a subsidiary of Overstock.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:OSTK), RenGen LLC and the Argon Group today announced an exclusive joint venture that teams the market-leading strengths of each company to launch an Alternative Trading System (ATS) that will transform the trading of security tokens issued in Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) in compliance with SEC and FINRA regulations (Joint Venture). This rapidly emerging asset class of blockchain-based digital tokens has raised more than $2 billion so far this year (per Coindesk.com’s ico-tracker) and cryptocurrencies overall (including digital tokens) have a current market cap of $137 billion (per Coinmarketcap.com), making this a huge growth industry. Digital tokens and cryptocurrencies are also changing the face of emerging growth company financing. In the first half of this year, more money was invested in fintech through cryptocurrencies than through venture capital (over $1.2 billion, per CNBC).

“With ICO blockchain offerings surpassing traditional early stage VC funding and U.S. regulators seeking legitimate venues to support security token offerings, with this JV tZERO continues to maintain its leading edge in blockchain financial technology,” said Patrick M. Byrne, CEO of Overstock. “tZERO has been at the forefront of the blockchain revolution for years, working closely with regulators since 2015 – launching the world’s first SEC compliant ATS for blockchain assets, the first private blockchain bond offering, and the first ever public issuance of a blockchain security,” continued Dr. Byrne.

“Now, by combining our expertise with Argon's advisory services and RenGen's electronic trading, deep liquidity and market making capabilities, we are in a position to launch the only U.S. SEC compliant token trading venue,” concluded Dr. Byrne.

The landmark Joint Venture aims to redefine the way the ICO market looks at security tokens, and enhance liquidity to accelerate market development. Lack of liquidity has been a significant impediment to security token market development. This topic has received much attention since the issuance of the SEC Report on the DAO Release No. 81207 / July 25, 2017, where the SEC made clear that any digital token with an income stream is a security, and furthermore that security tokens may only be traded on an ATS or a National Securities Exchange.

“We have long been advocating that issuing digital tokens as securities gives issuers and purchasers the greatest certainty about the legal regime that applies to the sale and the widest range of options to provide an attractive return for investors,” said Emma Channing, CEO and General Counsel of the Argon Group. “The key issue to date has been the need for an appropriate marketplace to provide liquidity. This joint venture between tZERO, RenGen and Argon has the potential to completely change the face of ICOs.”

The Joint Venture will be built in an exclusive collaboration that draws on the distinct strengths of each company, combining tZERO’s groundbreaking, blockchain-based trading platform with RenGen’s ability to provide liquidity, market making and algorithm technology, and the Argon Group’s premier ICO advisory experience and security token clients. The Joint Venture will also take advantage of SaftLaunch for AML and KYC capabilities.

“This Joint Venture allows us to continue achieving our goal of leveraging our existing U.S. equity market infrastructure and smart order routing technologies within the blockchain space,” said Joe Cammarata, President of tZERO. 

“I have long believed that securitization is one of the best use cases for blockchain technology – and the transformative ICO market has proven so,” said Suleyman Duyar, Managing Partner, RenGen LLC. “Patrick Byrne and tZERO had great foresight in developing and registering the first digital ATS, and now, in partnership with Argon, an industry-leading ICO consultancy, we are excited to bring our high-volume participation in cryptocurrencies, technology and trading expertise to this promising venture. It is a very exciting time to be an investor in ICOs.”

Media Contacts:

Alex Sotiropolous, 212-754-5615, asotiropoulos@intermarket.com
Kelly Ferraro, 646-277-1291, kelly.ferraro@icrinc.com
Alex Thompson, 646-277-1234, alex.thompson@icrinc.com

About Overstock.com

Overstock.com, Inc. Common Shares (NASDAQ:OSTK) / Series A Preferred (Medici Ventures’ t0 platform :OSTKP) / Series B Preferred (OTCQX:OSTBP) is an online retailer based in Salt Lake City, Utah that sells a broad range of products at low prices, including furniture, décor, rugs, bedding, and home improvement. In addition to home goods, Overstock.com offers a variety of products including jewelry, electronics, apparel, and more, as well as a marketplace providing customers access to hundreds of thousands of products from third-party sellers. Additional stores include Worldstock.com, dedicated to selling artisan-crafted products from around the world. Forbes ranked Overstock in its list of the Top 100 Most Trustworthy Companies in 2014. Overstock regularly posts information about the company and other related matters under Investor Relations on its website, http://www.overstock.com.

About tZERO

t0.com, Inc. (“tZERO“) is a majority owned subsidiary of Overstock.com, focusing on the development and commercialization of financial technology (FinTech) based on cryptographically-secured, decentralized ledgers – more commonly known as blockchain technologies. Since its inception, tZERO has pioneered the effort to bring greater efficiency and transparency to capital markets through the integration of blockchain technology. More information is available at tZER0.com.

About The Argon Group

The Argon Group (the "Group") is an investment bank with a focus on digital finance - the emerging cryptocurrency and token-based capital markets. The Group provides financial advisory, placement, and technology services to companies seeking to raise equity, debt, and non-dilutive capital. The Group develops technical placement solutions, including digital tokens powered by advanced smart contracts, which Argon operates through a digital asset placement platform TokenHub.com. For more information, please email info@argongroup.com, follow @theargongroup, visit www.argongroup.com.

About RenGen LLC

RenGen LLC is an investment, technology and financial services firm focusing on innovative blockchain technologies. We are high volume participants in ICOs and an active cryptocurrency secondary market participant. Our issuance portal SaftLaunch.com offers a unique service for companies seeking to issue an ICO or raise funds through a SAFT agreement, including a proprietary AML/KYC solution and positions us to co-invest into the best early stage projects in the pre-ICO phase.

-------------------------



BTC-e, who were shutdown in July, have made good on their promise to return with the launch of the new WEX exchange.

Which looks pretty much exactly like BTC-e in design and functionality and according to a Twitter post by the team behind it, this is the result of a months work beginning shortly after the
July raid by US Authorities.

"We thank all ex-users of BTC-E for their patience at such a difficult moment for all of you guys. We on our part have spent a lot of efforts and energy to create a new platform for trade in the shortest time limits. Our platform will operate according to AML/KYC laws and world legislation in this field. " - WEX Team

Notably in the statement from the WEX exchange website, they plan to abide by all anti-money laundering and know-your-customer laws that govern their operation and the jurisdictions governing their user base.

WEX claims they are unrelated to BTC-e but anyone with half a brain can clearly see it's the BTC-e platform with a new coat of paint.

BTC-e 2014 Compared to WEX - 2017


Additionally the BTC-e users are already present on the platform and mention of bonus tokens (to repay those who lost money on BTC-e) can be found in their website statement.

"We thank all ex-users of BTC-E for their patience at such a difficult moment for all of you guys. We on our part have spent a lot of efforts and energy to create a new platform for trade in the shortest time limits."

BTC-e stated in August it would relaunch in September after being shutdown in July on a 21-count blast from the United States packed with a $110 million dollar fine (seems a bit extreme).

Thus, the answer and fulfillment of the latter appears to be ... WEX.




Article by dinbits
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