US Justice officials are investigating to see if wild swings in cryptocurrency values are linked to scams.
The price of Bitcoin and other digital currency can vary hugely – with the value plunging from nearly $20,000 a coin in December to $7,572 in trading now.
That amounts to around a 36% loss in five months – after the price soared from $900 at the start of 2017.
Federal prosecutors from the Justice Department and Commodity Futures Trading Division are reportedly looking into tens of thousands of digital currency transactions to try to detect spoofing and wash trading.
Spoofing and wash trading
Spoofing is when the market is flooded by fake orders to increase demand and push prices up. The orders are then cancelled as the market rises.
In wash trading, a trader trades with himself to artificially inflate the market and drive up prices.
The investigation follows a ban on initial coin offerings by the US regulator the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC alleges many ICOs were scams that allowed traders to illicit funds from investors, only to disappear with the money.
Market analysts suggest the peaks and troughs in cryptocurrency prices are triggered by financial regulators acting against exchanges in South Korea, China and Japan.
Prices may be hit further in the coming months as internet giants Google, Facebook and Microsoft ban cryptocurrency advertising in a bid to stamp out alleged fraud.
Here are the latest trading prices from cryptocurrency tracker cryptocompare.com.
|A week ago||$8,124.85||$681.73||$132.69||$0.67||$381.89|
|One month ago||$9570.56||$684.86||$160.13||$0.90||$514.01|
|Three months ago||$10,175.51||$854.70||$206.60||$0.94||$632.10|
|A year ago||$2,445.28||$193.03||$34.80||$0.29||$142.50|
|High in year||$19,345.49||$1,385.02||$357.51||$2.78||$1,433.41|
|Low in year||$1,975.08||$169.10||$22.83||$0.20||$96.58|
|Market cap this week (billions)||$129.60||$58.84||$7.02||$24.07||$2.78|
|Market cap last week (billions)||$138.43||$67.83||$7.52||$25.70||$3.09|
|Market cap change in week (billions)||-$8.83||-$8.89||-$0.50||-$1.63||-$0.31|