TechScape: They used my ID to whip up a cursed cryptocurrency – and then things got weird | cryptocurrencies

I woke up Monday morning to a couple of weird DMs on Twitter. “Sir, Greetings, do you have any information about the Dejitaru Tsuka token?” asked someone, “Dr. Joker”; someone else had a similar question: “Dude, what do you know about Tsuka?”

I hadn’t heard of cryptocurrency, and a quick scan showed it wasn’t worth my time: It was a classic “bokcoin”, a newly created token with no reason to exist other than to buy low and sell high.

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Gambling on Shitcoins takes the altcoin of most of the crypto space and turns it all purpose. There is no pretense here that anyone is relying on widespread use or that the coins have a purpose. The game is to find someone to rise to, buy cheap, push others as much as possible, and then make money at the top. The community uses the terms “shilling”, “pump and dump”, etc., which are often associated with financial crimes. takes emoticons and wears them like a badge of honour.

Tsuka was a classic of the form. The only publicly available description for the token was in broken English, which describes a destined Japanese legend to “breathe flames of vast wisdom and prosperity to all who embrace the ferocity and power of the dejitaru tsūka dragon.” Where can you buy coins?

So I assumed the DMs were the “pump” phase of pumping and draining and ignored them. But then I got a follow up message asking if I was behind the email address “[email protected]” that the Tsuka coin developer sent to the blockchain with the note “encrypted Guardian contact”. He emailed a recipient address and asked if they knew anything about the coin, thinking they were talking to me. The one-word response “Yes” helped create a kind of buying spree.

The numbers are low: before my name was used to promote the coin, it was trading at eight thousandths of a cent (that’s $.000008), and after a massive rally it reached the dizzying peak of almost twice that, at $.00015. . However, this still represented the notional value of around $100,000 built on a lie.

But I had to try to right the wrong. I managed to find Tsuka’s main community channel on Telegram and joined her membership of around 150 users before sending a short message: “I have nothing to do with this project. Someone’s pretending to be me.” But I couldn’t see the response – I was quickly kicked out of the group and my posts were deleted.

It was damaged though. I also changed my Twitter bio to warn that “if someone says I support their shitty money, they’re scamming you” and later found out it was being reposted in the group faster than it could be removed.

As people rushed to sell, the coin went into free fall, and within a few minutes, its value fell by half. It felt strangely awful to watch: even though the entire industry was a giant game trying to find someone else holding the bag when all was said and done, it was my actions that wiped out more than $60,000 from the total “market value”. your coin.

One user DMed me to confirm my story and said he lost his “life saver” in the accident – ​​$400, a pretty substantial amount for a Turk like him, about a month’s salary on average. When he suggested that I refund $200 to anyone who lost money, I had to object; There may be an income difference between the UK and Turkey, but I don’t have $200,000.

My guilt eased a little when I started asking people why they bought Tsuka in the first place. Someone told me “I made it blind in Dextools”. So, a coin they had never heard of appeared on a new coin listing on a crypto exchange, and they invested – or bet on – it without seeing it. The Turk had the same explanation; When I asked him if he had said that a truly random currency had appeared, and that he had invested his life savings into it, his answer was “right bro. this is crypto talk”.

developer talking

Shortly after the crash, I got an unexpected email from the ProtonMail account pretending to be me. I had emailed some questions, but wasn’t expecting a response. What would you say to the person whose identity you stole?

The answer, it seems, is “a marketing talk”. The developer told me that “the community passed a critical part of this experiment… We follow your work and your posts and apologize if someone took this as you are behind the coin. The main thing is that you are reached only through the blockchain. It is by no means a scam. ”

I asked how they could deny trying to trick people into thinking I was involved. They said they intended to have the “Guardian” taken in the sense that they are the Guardians of the project. “I also follow your work closely so the names went well together… I never said you were involved. I guess it’s like [email protected] vs [email protected] Is [email protected] a scammer if he builds a theme park? We don’t know.”

I thought the stalemate was the natural consequence of me talking to an insolent impostor, but the more I asked around, the more it became clear that it was like two people talking for different purposes. The still anonymous developers are sincere that they aren’t scamming anyone, because the meaning of “scam” is necessarily narrow in the world of shit coins. Can lying about who backs a coin really be a meaningful scam when the basic expectation is that every coin will collapse at some point and none have real value beyond the marketing boom and community momentum?

For the developer, my accusation that they were scamming people was a serious accusation. This implied that they had a secret code on the coin that would allow people to take their coin in a way outside of the rules of the game – perhaps by locking them up to suddenly print millions of coins and flood the market, or to prevent someone else from selling them. . In turn, it is within the rules of the game to spread lies about who backs the token. “DYOR”, do your own research, is a buzzword in the industry; If you are caught on such an easily refutable claim, you have clearly failed DYOR and the losses are your fault.

third act

I thought this newsletter would end here – pretending to be me, popping their bubble and learning something valuable about the crypto world. Then I double-checked Tsuka’s value, hoping to find it around zero. Instead, I was surprised to see it rise.

I asked a few of the investors in the coin and was alarmed when I found out that not only were people starting to buy back, but there was a growing theory that the developer was actually me, claiming I was being faked. some kind of genius double bluff. A new telegram had been set up with an experienced shit money influencer at the helm, and I was getting ready to do the same dance again and asked for a link.

What happened was unexpected. When I proved to be the real Alex Hern, I was met with a wall of joy. One user spammed “YOUNG_HERN_IN_THE_HOUSE”, another wrote “ITS_FUCKING_ALEX”. “ALEX NEXT ELON”, “SAVE OUR ALEX BAGS”… someone had sent “ALEX TYPING” fifteen times before I even sent my first real message. When my debut felt like a parent interrupting an illegal house party, it felt more like a second coming, so I reluctantly took on the role of Jesus.

Things got worse when I said I wanted to talk to people for a story about it. No matter how frank I was, I thought the whole thing was stupid as hell – dumber than I thought possible for an already extremely stupid industry – news of an upcoming article spread like wildfire. One user noted that the Shiba Inu, an unexplained $7 billion crap coin, has a very similar origin, with the majority of the first press just mocking it as a low value. – Effort clone of the original Shitcoin Dogecoin.

The crypto influencer Epitaph, who was responsible for the coin’s rebirth, argued that the whole event should have been less alarming than it felt to me. “It’s pretty common right now,” he said. In terms that are more appropriate for a multiplayer video game than any functional financial market, “a few months ago the meta had evolved into LARP tokens, tokens that the team would go to extreme lengths to entice buyers. They are linked to famous celebrities/musicians/bigger coins.”

When I asked if others had tried to fend off such “LARPs,” I didn’t get the answer I was hoping for: “While it’s unheard of, it’s somewhat rare for someone with a high profile to actually participate. Last week, Martin Shkreli joined the Telegram communities of two tokens launched out of respect for him.”

I’m not sure I want to be in a club with Martin Shkreli.

Meanwhile, the Telegram channel was moving so fast that I could see history breaking down in real time. “I want to ask some questions for an article” had become “Alex Hern will introduce Tsuka in an article”; others have taken this claim to Twitter and other Telegram channels. Each time I tried to fix them, my reappearance in the conversation was seen as proof that I was personally—literally—invested in the success of the coin.

Considering that Tsuka’s final stage will almost certainly “crash and go to zero” like any other piece of crap money, I’m starting to get pretty worried. The older they get, the harder they get hit when they collapse. I asked Epitaph if there was a way to prevent this from happening: “The only way this won’t happen is if you haven’t really messed with the coin (still not sure what I believe) and never set foot on it. [telegram channel] none. Then people would know it was a LARP and the coin would die within a few hours.”

But he said you shouldn’t feel bad. Everyone here knows what you’re getting into, especially during LARP season. It’s no secret that everything we buy is fraudulent on some level. The question isn’t ‘is this coin a scam’ because all of them are, the question is ‘was this scam done well enough to persuade other people to buy it?’”

If it’s not clear by now: I don’t think you should buy this crap money or anything else. And if it’s not clear by now: people will continue to ignore me here and I’m sure they will have a lot of fun doing it.

The wider Shitcoin Techscape

  • If you’re intrigued by the idea that Shitcoins are a massive multiplayer video game, I just finished reading You’ve Been Played by Adrian Hon, which goes into detail on the same idea. Every major social trend takes on the characteristics of an “alternate reality game” these days, from QAnon to Crypto, and it has a very strange effect on our social fabric.

  • My Shitcoin adventure has mostly been led by Telegram, but Discord is probably the more important social network for the crypto space, and guess what: it’s full of scammers.

  • A deep dive into DYOR

  • Remember the “stablecoin” which is nothing but Terra? It rebooted and crashed immediately. Also, if it wasn’t obvious, the initial failure wasn’t the result of a deliberate attack, it was just a bad idea that eventually broke down. But it still ruined lives.

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