Episode # 17

GET RICH QUICK!

Jul 7, 2021

“Want to know how to Get Rich Quick? In crypto, there’s plenty of folk promising the answer to THAT question

But how many of them should you listen to? How do you tell your staking from your scams, and your pyramids from your ponzis?

Stick around, and we’ll be giving YOU the TOP FIVE LESSONS that MILLIONS have had to learn the hard way. 

Welcome to School of Block.

It has been said that the cryptosphere is a little like the WILD WEST. And whilst the space has matured in recent years, there’s still no sheriff in town, and along with the highway bandits who’ll try to phish your pockets – more on that in a coming episode – there’s also plenty of fake gold, to go along with the real digital deal. 

But what are the tell tales for a scam project? Well, crypto scams aren’t new, so let’s cast our beady eye back into history and look at some of the grandest scams that have besmirched our door – to help you spot the new ones a mile off. 


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PONZIS AND PYRAMIDS

Back in September 2014, ONECOIN was launched. Pitched as the ‘cryptocurrency of the future’, it’s founder Ruja Ignatova promised a financial revolution. You just had to buy in – with real money – and you received a certain number of OneCoins back. In theory, OneCoin was an innovative ultra fast cryptocurrency on the world’s first private blockchain.

In reality, OneCoin wasn’t really a crypto scam at all – as there was never any actual crypto involved. The coin NEVER EXISTED, nor did the fictional blockchain it ran on. 

How did it work? Well, you paid your dollars, pounds or euros – saw your online “OneCoin” account credited with a certain number, but there was absolutely nothing behind it. Just a made up number on a web portal. 

And that’s because OneCoin was a spectacular ponzi scheme that raised almost 5 BILLION DOLLARS in two and a bit years. Yes, you heard that right – 5 BILLION DOLLARS. 

Some of its leading figures have since been arrested and prosecuted, but THE MISSING CRYPTOQUEEN – also the title of an excellent BBC podcast covering the saga – Ruja Ignatova disappeared in early 2017 and hasn’t been seen since. 

But OneCoin wasn’t the only pyramid scheme to take advantage of newcomers’ lack of familiarity with crypto. In February 2016 BITCONNECT was launched.

The idea here was that an incredibly smart trading bot bought the lows and sold the highs in the bitcoin market every day, and you just had to buy some Bitconnect Coin with your bitcoin in order to gain exposure to the ultrabot and… profit – to the tune of up to 571% a year.

The difference to OneCoin was that Bitconnect actually existed – or the token did, at least. The bot, unfortunately, DID NOT.

So what 1.5 million people – as it turned out – were actually buying into, was a PYRAMID scheme. Bitconnect in fact hardly even tried to hide it, with graphics like THIS showcasing its AFFILIATE MARKETING scheme [show].

By 7th January 2018 the market cap of BCC – the bitconnect token – was $2.6 BILLION, with each token worth $432. But what the HODLERS didn’t know is that the regulators were coming for Bitconnect, and the company insiders were about to dump their tokens before the news went public. By the 18th January the token was worth just $25 and shortly afterwards it was delisted by every crypto exchange in the world. 

Some of those 1.5 million people who bought into BITCONNECT had lost their life savings. 

One word – GRISLY. 

And BITCONNECT wasn’t the last of this breed. Shortly after the FBI turned up for the BCC bandits, PLUSTOKEN was launched in April 2018, offering monthly payments to users of its crypto wallet. 

Yep, that was a Ponzi too, as was USI TECH – a dubai based crypto and forex trading provider.

And there are still projects out there trying to do EXACTLY THE SAME THING.

BUT, Ponzis and pyramids aren’t the only way to lose money whilst trying to GET RICH QUICK in crypto. 

And this is where we need to talk about SCAMCOINS and MEMECOINS…

SCAMCOINS AND MEMECOINS

What’s the difference? Well, SCAMCOINS are fake cryptocurrencies designed to steal money from people who support or invest in the coin and redistribute it to the creator. They’re usually clones of an existing coin or are pre-mined.

MEMECOINS on the other hand are legit. Kind of. They’re essentially a JOKE that takes off and becomes traded in high volumes. And as the price goes up and the network effect takes hold, the coin’s fundamental value grows with it. 

The most well known MEMECOIN is, of course, DOGE. Does it have a team of developers behind it, continually refining the tech and adding functionality to the protocol? No. But is it a relatively quick network, secured by proof of work (like bitcoin) and highly liquid on exchanges? Yes. 

And when we talk about MEMECOINS, we also have to mention MEMESTOCKS. 

The most recent examples here are GAMESTOP and AMC. The difference between them and a coin like DOGE? Well, when the price of a MEMESTOCK moons, the effect on the underlying business of the company isn’t really affected – so the value of the stock is essentially DISCONNECTED from the underlying fundamentals. 

Why are we talking about all these? Because all of these kinds of projects come with a lot of hype. Social media platforms are ablaze with stories of how much money you can make on them. And this may be true if you’re one of the first in. But if you’re not, that might be some rather THIN ICE you’re skating out on, separating you from a big, FREEZING LAKE of REKT. 

Essentially all of the types of projects mentioned offer a kind of CULT INVESTING. People buy into the NARRATIVE, the PERSONALITIES, the ICONOGRAPHY – and not necessarily the fundamentals. 

This kind of investing is frequently subject to CONFIRMATION BIAS, where investors cherry pick the news that fits their beliefs, and ignore anything to the contrary. 

And this is actually extremely easy to fall into, when your social media’s echo chamber only feeds you a reflection of your perspective on the world. Crypto isn’t the only sociological dynamic to have experienced this. It’s an influence that has shaped the world around us, and it’s all too easy to miss when it’s right in front of us. 

So if you’re lucky, you might get rich – for a bit… but if you look at the lessons from history – they tell you one thing again and again. The value in these types of projects usually isn’t permanent. 

And speaking of volatile price movements, we probably ought to talk about the ALTCOIN market in general.

ALTCOINS

Right now, there’s over 10,000 different crypto tokens listed on coinmarketcap. Some of them go up in value. Some of them go down. You don’t have to delve far into crypto twitter – or crypto youtube – to be shilled coins CERTAIN to do a 10x tomorrow. 

But be aware if you enter the altcoin trading game, that the prices are HIGHLY IRRATIONAL. What might look like a perfect setup can be quickly destroyed by a sudden move in the price of Bitcoin.

And don’t forget the impact that even individuals can have – Elon Musk might tweet an emoticon and suddenly the whole market will dump.

There’s a term for this kind of market activity – REFLEXIVITY. Too big a topic for this video, but basically be aware that prices may not always be connected to fundamentals, in the short term at least. 

So what should you do, you ask? Well – take your time to do your RESEARCH. Look into the FUNDAMENTALS of a project. Who are the PEOPLE involved? What have they done before? Is there a GITHUB page showing heavy updating and thus development of the protocol? What about a DISCORD or TELEGRAM group? Can you message the FOUNDERS directly and are they OPEN TO QUESTIONS? 

For the best projects, and the ones that deserve your time – the answers to many of these questions are YES. And if you take your time, there are much greater rewards possible. You might even consider a watch of Episode 15 where I break down how DeFi enables you to earn passive income. 

But, before I forget… what about those TOP FIVE LESSONS from crypto history I promised at the top?

Well, here we go:

NUMBER FIVE

Ask yourself, am I getting overly excited about something? Am I emotionally invested? If so, you might consider yourself to be IN THE CASINO. Is that where you wanted to be? If not, you might want to reconsider. 

NUMBER FOUR

Look at the COMMS from the project. 

Are they spending more on MARKETING than TECH? Do they only talk about PRICE? 

How do their promoters behave on social media? Do they tweet saying ‘YOU NEED TO BUY THIS NOW”? 

Hmm, you know what… that affiliate marketing diagram sure looks like a pyramid. Some of the spelling is pretty off key too. 

I wonder why? Probably nothing. Sure it’s fine. 

NUMBER THREE

Does the project feel like a braintrust of nerds in the valley, or an evangelical church? One common theme we’ve seen with scams of the past – they engage their audience EMOTIONALLY, not RATIONALLY. Does the project do all this, and ask for BELIEF? If so, RUN. 

NUMBER TWO

Pull all the ideas of price or value out of your head, and ask yourself some practical questions: 

Do the mechanics of the BUSINESS MODEL make sense? 

Is the offering TOO GOOD to be true? 

Does it seem like EVERYONE is getting rich?

Is the team posting people of themselves PARTYING, or buying LAMBOS and ROLEXES?

You can work out where the RED FLAGS are there.

And yes, of course – some legit projects might do one or two of these things – so we’re not being judgey or giving investment advice here… just giving you the heads up on the RED FLAGS so you if you see a bunch of them you can behave accordingly.

And, the biggest one, in all of crypto – not just the scams, the ponzis, the memes or the alts. 

NUMBER ONE

Crypto is FREEDOM, and freedom has benefits but it also has risks – as you’d expect with no central authority to advise you – so fundamentally it’s YOUR MISSION to protect your money. And the first and best way to do that…?

Don’t FOMO in. There’s always MORE TIME than you think. Always.

Next time, we’ll be giving you some top tips for how you can make BETTER DECISIONS that lead to better outcomes. Until then, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. 

You’ve been watching School of Block, presented by Ledger and the Defiant, demystifying decentralisation, one block at a time. Don’t forget to subscribe, drop us a like if that’s what you’re into, and as always – here’s to your financial freedom.”

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