The Litecoin blockchain is a fork from the Bitcoin chain. It was initially launched in 2011 when its founder, Charlie Lee, was still working for Google. Well-known as a cryptocurrency expert, Charlie Lee is backed by a strong development team who appear to be achieving what they set out to do. They have recently achieved a very notable accomplishment with the first successful atomic swap.
In 2009 Satoshi Nakamoto had found a way to build a decentralized coin and cash system without a central unit. From this Bitcoin was introduced to the world as the first digital currency of its kind. The “blockchain” is the master ledger that records and stores all the transactions and mining activity, trades, and purchases. At the same time, it requires validation of ownership. Technically a transaction is not finalized until it is added to the blockchain which usually takes a few minutes and is irreversible. During the time between transactions, the units are not available for usage by either side, which prevents double spending, fraud, and duplication. Each user has a “wallet” with specific information that confirms them as the owners of any specific cryptocurrency. Each user’s wallet allows them to send and receive coins and acts as a personal ledger of transactions. These wallets are built to be secure however additional measures and passwords need to be considered to keep them secure. The wallets can be stored on a cloud or an internal hard drive. The “Miners” act as the “record keepers” for the cryptocurrency communities. Through technical methods they create new coins and verify the blockchains.
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Two members of the Silk Road Task Force—a multi-agency federal task force that carried out the U.S. investigation of Silk Road—seized bitcoins for their own use in the course of the investigation. DEA agent Carl Mark Force IV, who attempted to extort Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht ("Dread Pirate Roberts"), pleaded guilty to money laundering, obstruction of justice, and extortion under color of official right, and was sentenced to 6.5 years in federal prison. U.S. Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges pleaded guilty to crimes relating to his diversion of $800,000 worth of bitcoins to his personal account during the investigation, and also separately pleaded guilty to money laundering in connection with another cryptocurrency theft; he was sentenced to nearly eight years in federal prison.
Ripple was launched in 2012 and is based on a distributed ledger. All transactions pass through nodes and validators, which is similar to the Bitcoin system. However, Ripple has a high level of governance when compared with alternatives such as Bitcoin. There is a concession ledger that relies on specific validators, which are facilitated by global banks and other institutions.
Most cryptocurrencies are designed to gradually decrease production of that currency, placing a cap on the total amount of that currency that will ever be in circulation. Compared with ordinary currencies held by financial institutions or kept as cash on hand, cryptocurrencies can be more difficult for seizure by law enforcement. This difficulty is derived from leveraging cryptographic technologies.