Ponzi Schemes in Crypto: How & Why Do People Fall For Them?

Ponzi schemes have found a new breeding ground in the world of cryptocurrency investments. They operate on similar principles to traditional Ponzi schemes but with a digital twist. Here’s how they typically work in the context of crypto investments:

1. Luring investors with high returns 

Just like traditional Ponzi schemes, crypto Ponzi schemes promise investors incredibly high and often unrealistic returns on their cryptocurrency investments. These alluring promises can draw in unsuspecting individuals seeking quick profits.

2. Initial investors paid with new investments

To maintain the illusion of profitability, the scheme operator pays returns to early investors using funds from newer investors. This cycle repeats as long as new investors continue to pour money into the scheme.

3. Absence of legitimate investment

Most crypto Ponzi schemes lack a genuine investment strategy or source of revenue. The returns paid to investors come solely from the investments of new participants, creating a deceptive appearance of profitability.

Some crypto Ponzi schemes may use blockchain technology to create the illusion of transparency. They might provide fake transaction records or use blockchain terminology to give investors a false sense of security.

5. Exponential growth

Crypto Ponzi schemes can spread rapidly in the decentralized and relatively unregulated world of cryptocurrency. As more investors are drawn in by the promise of astronomical returns, the scheme can grow exponentially. However, it’s ultimately unsustainable.

Crypto Ponzi Schemes and High-Profile Cases

Several high-profile cases have brought crypto Ponzi schemes into the spotlight:

1. BitConnect: BitConnect was a cryptocurrency lending and exchange platform that promised huge returns. It collapsed in 2018 amid regulatory scrutiny and legal action, causing substantial financial losses for investors.

2. OneCoin: OneCoin claimed to be a legitimate cryptocurrency but was revealed as a massive Ponzi scheme. Its founder, Ruja Ignatova, disappeared in 2017, leaving investors with significant losses.

Why People Fall for Crypto Ponzi Schemes

Understanding why people invest in crypto Ponzi schemes is crucial to prevent falling victim. These are some of the reasons why people are lured into such schemes:

1.Greed and High Returns: The allure of quick and substantial profits in the highly volatile world of cryptocurrencies can make individuals overlook the risks associated with these schemes.

2.FOMO in the Crypto Space: The fear of missing out (FOMO) on the next big cryptocurrency investment can drive people to hastily invest without conducting proper due diligence.

3.Lack of Understanding: Cryptocurrencies can be complex and intimidating to newcomers. Some investors may not fully understand how they work or what constitutes a legitimate investment.

4.Social Influence: Friends and social circles can play a significant role in promoting crypto Ponzi schemes. People are more likely to invest when someone they trust endorses an opportunity.

5.False Sense of Security: The digital nature of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology may lead investors to believe that they are secure from fraud. However, this false sense of security can be exploited by scammers.

6.Lack of Regulation: The relatively unregulated nature of the crypto market makes it easier for scammers to operate without oversight.Cryptocurrency fraud is not likely to go away anytime soon. It will continue to reapppear in new guises, promising more luring incentives. It always makes sense to think that if something’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

Related Reading

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Wikipedia: Ponzi scheme


Flavie Du

Flavie Du was a senior writer at BTW media focused on blockchain and fintech investment. She graduated from King’s College London.

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