Friday, December 9, 2022

Sharks Circling, Francesco Firano Emerges from Self-imposed Exile With … Nothing to Say

Sharks Circling, Francesco Firano Emerges from Self-imposed Exile With … Nothing to Say

With no social media update since a March 15th announcement of the impending reopening of disgraced Italian exchange BitGrail, Francesco Firano finally emerges in an obscure Italian Nano chat group.

Also see: Zeppelin Team Audits ‘US Dollar’ Token, Warns Investors Against It

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Return from AWOL

With an as-yet-unknown reopening date set for BitGrail, Firano appeared to have gone to ground as infuriated investors engaged an Italian law firm to sue the owner/operator, as well as the exchange itself. After an almost two-week hiatus, Firano announced on March 26th that “We’re writing the “transaction” (legal agreement) that needs to be signed by the users… And that needs to be written perfectly” (translated from Italian).

The agreement to which he referred is one in which users would need to accept the onerous terms of returning to the exchange (receiving 20% of their XRB coins and the balance in BitGrail’s newly-minted coins, which are then to be repurchased by BitGrail over time using proceeds from exchange fees. This is available, of course, only to users who agree not to sue Firano or BitGrail).

When asked as to why he had been incommunicado, Firano responded “I more or less communicate only relevant things… Since there are no news I’m waiting to announce only important stuff” (translated from Italian).

What We’ve Got Here Is… Failure to Communicate

The BitGrail exchange has made no formal announcement since March 14th, when it released plans to reopen and presented its compensation plan for victims of the Nano hack. As he is known on Twitter, Francesco the Bomber has not tweeted since March 15th, when he linked to the March 14th announcement. The announcement was also linked by Bomber 9, as Firano goes by on Reddit, from the BitGrail subreddit.

 “I’m Prepared to Answer Any Questions… Unless They’re Too Hard to Answer”

On March 15th bitsonline reached out to Firano via Twitter and he agreed to an interview. He subsequently failed to answer a series of rather probing questions. Firano’s failure to communicate with aggrieved customers or journalists jars with his history of abusing customers, threatening news outlets and Nano developers with defamation lawsuits, and taunting the thousands of victims of the BitGrail hack.

He targeted the Nano development team after they published a conversation between Firano and the Nano team, with a threat to approach the police:

It is unclear whether or not Firano followed through with that threat. The Nano team have argued that suspicious Nano transactions dated back to October 2017, despite Firano informing them of problems only in February this year. If this is indeed the case, one might have considered those details relevant enough for Firano to have announced in a more timely manner than three months late. Not relevant enough for Firano, clearly, who communicates only relevant things… more or less.

On March 18th, Firano followed his announced plans to reopen BitGrail with a bizarre “Never Forget” tweet attacking New Zealand-based exchange Cryptopia, whose own tweet accused users of death threats over their own bungled handling of Nano support tickets. 

Francesco Firano’s Penchant for Threats and Abuse

Firano’s social media hiatus stands at odds with past behavior, where he has demonstrated a malicious joy in abusing, blaming, and belittling others. Firano placed blame squarely at the feet of the Nano code for the hack, accusations that were covered by bitsonline on Feb 14th.

Prior to the revelation of the hack, BitGrail hastily implemented a policy change that prevented non-E.U. residents from withdrawing their Nano XRB coins without first verifying their identities. That verification process was, however, confusing and for some, impossible. Firano had little sympathy for his users facing the awkward BitGrail user interface:

 After Bitsonline reported the problems users were facing, Firano changed the BitGrail interface. Firano is no stranger to controversy, but remaining incommunicado has never been his style. 

The Nano Community Have Had Enough

Firano held a poll on Twitter on February 18th asking his users if BitGrail should file for bankruptcy or reopen. Overwhelmingly, users elected bankruptcy:

There are now active communities of BitGrail victims who appear to be proceeding with legal action through Rome-based Italian law firm Bonelli Erede.cowboy Francesco Firano

The Days of Cowboys Running Exchanges Are Over

Times have changed for cryptocurrency exchanges. Japan’s Coincheck promised to refund victims of a massive NEM hack that occurred late January. Malta-bound Binance offered a $250,000 USD reward for prosecutable information on a hack attempt early March and created a $10M fund for the same purpose in future.

Francesco Firano and BitGrail’s storied incompetence and indifference are now examples of an outlaw attitude that once prevailed in the cryptocurrency exchange space and that, thankfully, is being replaced by actors behaving with a sense of responsibility. BitGrail is a relic of the past. As for Firano, the Italian courts seem set to determine his ultimate destination.

Have your say? Will you be glad to see the back of shady exchanges and irresponsible players in the cryptospace?

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