All fraud will eventually be ‘crypto fraud.’ And that’s okay.
Crypto still hasn’t shaken one of its most garish primordial tails — funny stories about fraud
Artwork by Crystal Le
They say a hallmark of a mania is the rapid rise in the rate of fraud.
The exact same can be said of crypto adoption. In fact, fraud is inevitable.
Normie media is ablaze with the latest in crypto-tinged true crime. An online pastor in Colorado dumped a worthless token on his flock, screwing them out of millions of dollars because “God told him to.”
It’s the sort of Schadenfreude that just rolls off the tongue to coalesce as viral internet traffic. Hence the rush from dozens of outlets in all different languages to run with their own quirky headlines, including the Washington Post.
But this sad tale is not a crypto story. It’s a simple fraud story posing as commentary about crypto.
Separating the concept of fraud from crypto will come easy through mass adoption. Like the hyperbitcoinization that will price the whole world in disgustingly expensive satoshis after price discovery goes parabolic, mass adoption of crypto more broadly would encrypt our entire modern consciousness on blockchain rails.
Your passport metadata would exist on a blockchain. As would your presidential vote. Bank deposits are tokenized and lent out to the highest bidder. Your smart fridge feeds directly from a supermarket price oracle that tells it when your favorite kombucha is on special and orders it for you right away — with all payments settled in crypto.
Read more from our opinion section: Crypto phishing attacks are everywhere. It might not get better anytime soon
At this point, blockchain would thrum beneath every facet of our lives. The jury is still out on whether all that is even beneficial. Still, if everything ran on crypto, then the self-styled Colorado holyman dumping a useless crypto on his followers would be a run-of-the-mill affinity scam and nothing more. Other than really boring.
Over a long enough period, all fraud stories become crypto stories, on account that a stupidly high percentage of fraud would interact with crypto and blockchain if everything in our world does too.
The same effect will happen to business writ large — give this industry enough time and all companies will be “crypto companies.”
Think PayPal, Square, Visa, Mastercard, Western Union, Starbucks and eBay. All those companies are already interacting with crypto and blockchain in some way. At the very least, they’re crypto curious.
Crypto-related stuff makes up only a small fraction of those companies overall. Although, one could reasonably argue their initiatives are enough even now to consider them competitors to crypto-native companies like Circle, OpenSea, Yuga Labs and Trust Wallet.
Some anticipate great technological leaps forward by porting our lives to the blockchain, some of which may even stamp out certain kinds of fraud altogether (scan your eyeballs with the Worldcoin Orb to combat identity theft, for instance).
More fundamental to this thought experiment is this: Of course crypto fraud will be more common over time. Crypto is money and money is valuable, and people do all sorts of stupid and malicious things for stuff that’s valuable.
In a crypto-powered future, a story about two fraudsters bilking $99 million from wine investors in a Ponzi scheme — despite having no bottles of wine at all — might include details like “the perpetrators raised the funds in various cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, ether and tether.”
That wouldn’t at all make the case a matter of crypto crime because everybody uses bitcoin, ether and tether all the time. For everything.
Same goes for a phony Indian cricket league on YouTube that cheated Russian gamblers with fake matches. Mass adoption would mean all bets would be paid in crypto — just like your grocery bill. The crypto element wouldn’t even raise eyebrows, let alone go viral.
As crypto becomes more ubiquitous, stories like these will only become more frequent. A “crypto crime” is a crime that takes advantage of something unique about the underlying technology, whether it’s raiding a token bridge or raiding a protocol through a flash loan attack.
A crime that uses cryptocurrency instead of dollars, rupees or euros is not a crypto crime. It’s just a crime.
All told, this is where we are on the adoption scale: A cheesy online pastor selling a worthless cryptocurrency sounds about right. But it’s still a novelty.
The novelty is very close to wearing off for everyone except those 45 years or older, which, as it turns out, makes up 40% of the Washington Post audience, according to Similarweb. Go figure.
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