This Week in Crypto – WEX, Pudgy Penguins, and Ripple

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This week in the crypto world we saw the WEX co-founder jailed for embezzling $450 million in user funds, Pudgy Penguins land in Walmart, and Ripple pull out of its deal to buy Fortress Trust.

Come on, Brad, be a sport.

WEX Founder Jailed for Investor Embezzlement

Aleksey Bilyuchenko, the man who US authorities believed hacked MtGox and who helped operate the fraudulent BTC-e exchange which laundered the proceeds, was this week jailed for three and a half years for embezzling $450 million in cryptocurrencies.

Bilyuchenko co-founded WEX after BTC-e was nabbed by the feds in 2017, but in 2018 WEX shuttered without warning. Bilyuchenko claimed that he was forced to give up the $450 million in WEX user funds to the Russian secret service but this turned out to be bullshit, and he was sentenced to prison time in Russia as a result. His sentence should have been around a decade but his various pleas, including to Vladimir Putin, amazingly paid off.

Pudgy Penguins Make a Splash at Walmart

NFT brand Pudgy Penguins landed in Walmart this week in physical form, marking the first time an NFT collection has taken such an impressive leap. The plush pingus are now available in Walmart stores across the United States, with each toy acting as a pass to the collection’s digital world Pudgy World.

Their availability in 2,000 Walmart stores is the project’s second attempt to link the collectibles with the virtual world after offering them online in May, an indication of web3 brands’ commitment to take virtual items to the physical world.

Ripple Ditches Fortress Trust Plans

Ripple this week decided to back out of its planned purchase of crypto custodian Fortress Trust less than a month after the move was publicized without saying why. Ripple had been attracted by Fortress’ Nevada license which would have allowed it to expand beyond its core offering of blockchain-enabled payments, but the company has pulled out without giving a reason, although it will retain a financial interest.

Ripple’s acquisition of Fortress Trust was announced shortly after Fortress Trust was hacked for between $12 to $15 million, leaving the company to foot the bill.