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Financial authorities are cautioning investors about the risks of bitcoin, the best-known virtual currency.   © Reuters

Bitcoin dives 40% below peak as sell-off intensifies

Investors take profit as rising risk perception throws cold water on frenzy

| North Korea

TOKYO -- Bitcoin's fall accelerated Friday, with prices of the cryptocurrency poster child plunging from their recent peak by more than 40% during the day as profit-taking set in amid growing pessimism.

A South Korean exchange's collapse this week after a hack widely suspected to have originated from North Korea has rekindled concerns about cyberattacks, while central banks the world over have voiced warnings about the virtual coin's steep climb. Margin calls have exacerbated the drop as retail investors with heavily leveraged holdings have been forced to liquidate.

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