The crypto teenager is growing up

Wall Street entered crypto in January 2024, which caused a big price jump, but there are other price jumps built into the BTC code. Those who have been in crypto for a while will know about “the halvening” that occurs with Bitcoin every four years. The halving of new Bitcoin supply usually results in the price more than doubling. We have seen this several times in the past fifteen years, but this time, there is Wall Street.

What seems strange about this halving period is the level of maturity in the market and in the market players. Crypto has long been a club for young boys; meme coins that did not involve dogs often revolved around techno-jargon or juvenile jokes about body parts or bodily functions. In 2024, not so much.

Leading up to the previous Bitcoin halving in 2020, we had celebrities, ‘finfluencers’ and charismatic cult-leaders, alongside bobble-heads on TikTok and Youtube, promising people the world for a small fee.

Fortunately, the swamp seems to have been drained of these parasites. Kim Kardashian was fined more than double the amount she received for promoting a scam coin. Floyd Mayweather was shut down for the same crime. Schemes (scams) such as Bitconnect, crypto-MLM and Ponzis and pyramids that once flourished like weeds, seem to have died down to a mere handful.

We have witnessed the arrest of Sam Bankman-Fried for his embezzling from FTX, and Interpol chasing down Do Kwan for his Terra / Luna collapse. Alex Mashinsky has been forced to give up funds taken from Celsius and investors have received almost half their money back.

Celebrity Youtube influencer “BitBoy” Ben Armstrong had a very public meltdown, and the guy who made a living from showing off his expensive toys was reduced to begging for money to pay his lawyers. Call it karma or call it schadenfreude, we are happy to see the dishonest players taken down. The surprising thing about it, is the vacuum does not seem to have been filled.

Any good historian knows that when a king is killed, the killer becomes king. Almost a century ago, George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” parodied the communists who overthrew the rulers and preached equality but made themselves into neo-riche royalty. Now that the corrupt kings and queens of crypto-influencing have been almost wiped out, who will take their place?

It feels weird. I am guessing that there may be historical precedents for the uneasy feeling of restrained relaxation that one has when the old villain is gone, and you are unsure when or if the next will appear. Were citizens uneasy after the death of Billy the Kid or Bonnie and Clyde? If most of the big-name celebrity thieves are gone, do new ones step in to take their place? Do we just have golden days with no scams? what happens next?

I am hoping that once-bitten now-wiser investors are reasonably gun-shy of celebrities, particularly those who have almost zero experience with crypto or investing. Perhaps the power vacuum can in fact be filled by the people, who do not really need kings or queens, as we can all be capitalists, communally. Perhaps instead of blindly following a celebrity into a scam, we can all learn to do our own research. To get smarter, visit, a not-for-profit site with heaps of free education on crypto and stock markets.

Meanwhile, be on the lookout for the AI scams that do not just copy celebrities, but can copy friends, family and workmates. Be alert but not alarmed. Just as banks and crypto exchanges insist on two-factor authentication (2FA), feel free to use another authentication method if you seem to receive a message from a friend or loved one who needs you to send money. If you receive a text message, make a phone call. Follow up an email with a video call. Double check, and be smart, because even video calls can be faked (just not very well).

Is this the world’s best scam?

Dateline: February 2024. Scene: A large multinational company with HQ in Europe and a trading desk in Hong Kong. Plot device: An email from the boss in Europe to the representative in Hong Kong: “Urgent: please pay this supplier $25 million, top secret.”

The Hong Kong representative thinks there is a chance that the boss may have had their email hacked, so they email back and say, “Hey, do you mind jumping on a quick video call?”

The boss agrees. Five people are on the video call, including the boss, the Hong Kong rep, the company treasurer and two other higher-ups. The boss on the Zoom call says to pay the supplier and keep it secret.

The Hong Kong representative is now satisfied, and makes the $25 million transfer…

… to the scammers!

Not only was the email hacked, but the scammers had been secretly recording the company’s video calls. They used hours of video footage and “deepfake” video technology to make a pretend boss say what they wanted.

DANG! You lose $25 million here and $25 million there and all of a sudden it adds up to serious money…

How to protect yourself from video call scams

Eye Movements

How the individual’s eyes move is usually a dead giveaway. If their eyes don’t blink and shift naturally as one would during a video call, you need to be careful.

Unnatural Features

Along the same line, look out for strange signs like abnormal skin tones, hair that’s weirdly frizzy or textured, and blurring around certain parts of their body or face.

Glasses Reflections

If the person you’re calling is wearing glasses, look at how light interacts with their lenses: the amount of glare or the absence of plausible reflections. Deepfake technology is not yet able to fully recreate the natural physics of light.

Awkward Audio

Although deepfake technology can recreate voices with an impressive level of accuracy, pay attention to how the audio syncs up with the individual’s lip movements. If it feels like a poorly-dubbed Netflix special, aim to verify the person’s identity another way.

Youtube scams

It’s not just live video calls than can be deepfaked. Scammers can also use #deepfake technology to create convincing YouTube videos of celebrities, famous investors or advisers. They often promise you ridiculously good returns, if you send them a little bit of money. Watch the eyes, the lips, the glasses, the skin. Do not send someone any funds, without several forms of verification. Nobody will give you double your money with zero risk if you just send them some first.

Please share this story around as it may save a friend from losing a lot of money. Your scammed friend then has to come and borrow food money from you and it gets awkward. Better to share the information, save the drama and protect the friendship.

And now for some light-hearted news…

Fun with investment names

By now you may be vaguely aware that there are a bunch of Bitcoin ETFs available on Wall Street. Each of the funds has its own name and ticker code, just like the stock market.

For example, the ticker code for stock in the Commonwealth Bank of Australia is its initials, CBA. For Westpac Banking Corporation, its ticker is its initials, WBC. The ticker codes for stock in Telstra and Tesla are shortened versions of their names, eg. TLS and TESL

Blackrock named its Bitcoin fund in line with their iShares range, all starting with the letter I, so the Blackrock Bitcoin fund has the ticker IBIT. Grayscale went equally mundane, with the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust being GBTC.

Vaneck decided to have a bit more fun with their ticker and made it HODL, a long-known typo for “hold” and a phrase often used in crypto circles.

Not to be outdone, investment manager Valkyrie used the 2020 meme “Money Printer goes BRRR”. This joke referred to the devaluation of the USD by excess Fed stimulus cash printing. The Valkyrie Bitcoin fund ticker code is BRRR, so we know exactly how they feel and who they are.

Aside from having a great sense of humour, the Valkyrie team must love Bitcoin a lot. They are the first in the world to launch a “double Bitcoin” fund. This fund uses leverage to double your returns. WARNING: leverage can double your returns on the way up, so a 10% rise in price will give you 20%. HOWEVER: leverage also doubles on the way down. A 20% fall in price will give you a 40% loss. Be careful.

TLDR: Stay vigilant. Although you can make gains of 100% or more in crypto far more quickly than in the stock market, it only takes a split second to lose everything to a scam.