About the Episode :
Erica Standford educates us on some of the largest crypto scams in history, and some of the biggest items to look at when investing in Crypto currency. Learn how Erica has become an expert in her field and how she teaches thousands of people in her community, The Crypto Curry Club.
About the Guest :
Erica is the author of Crypto Wars: Faked Deaths, Missing Billions and Industry Disruption. Founder of the Crypto Curry Club, the UK’s no. 1 rated networking and educational events for crypto, blockchain and FinTech Associate Guest Lecturer on crypto at Warwick Business School on use cases and applications of crypto and digital currency.
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Before we start today you’re going to want to share this out with at least three people. I’m asking you to get your help to share this out with three people today we’re going to talk about crypto. It’s obviously super hot and everybody wants to know about this but the only way we can grow is by your help because we don’t take sponsors and we don’t run ads for the show. We need your help to continue to touch and impact more and more people. Yes, because now I’ve got the founder and CEO of the crypto Kirk curry club which has 4000 active members it’s the UK is number one rated networking and educational events for crypto blockchain you know all this we’re going to talk about some amazing books that she’s written to because Erica Stanford is on the show welcome Erica.
Hey Rick, thank you so much for having me.
Yeah, thanks for being on! This is obviously a huge thing you know and I know from the time we record to the time we publish is probably going to be about two months or so but I just found out no joke like two nights ago I was talking to a friend of mine and he brought up the Shiba Inu coin he’s like he’s like are you gonna get this thing I’m like I don’t know he’s like I’m thinking about putting 500 bucks into it and I’m like yeah, the value is really really low right, and then I was trying to I had my my account my bank account somehow disconnected this happens from time to time from Coinbase you know, which is one of the one of the exchanges that I that I purchased crypto on and trade crypto and I couldn’t reestablish it so I had to go through like the manual process and I’m waiting and freaking two hours after our conversation is when Elon Musk decides to tweet about the freakin coin like this was just two nights ago like son of a bitch yeah and then it raises by what was it like 65% or something like that and just overnight I mean it it dropped out a little bit you know so now it’s trading what 35 40% higher from where it was but it’s crazy how volatile this marketplace is, isn’t it?
It’s super volatile. It’s super crazy it’s super manipulated it is just wild things and I you can’t there’s no order to it I know people that invest in new traditional shares and it’s very well researched and they they look up and they track companies and it’s it seems to follow a logical path and in crypto anytime you think something logical happen the opposite happens.
There is no logic there with crypto, no, exactly a lot of it to me. I know how you said it’s so manipulated I would love to unpack that today too. You know and I want to talk about a lot of cool things because you’ve got some cool books out there too. Right crypto crypto wars, fake deaths, missing billions and industry disruption we’re going to talk about a lot today. But let’s dive into the the manipulation part of this here because it seems like just like my example writes a tweet from one of the most influential people in the entire world, Elon Musk, goes a long way with anything crypto he’s been doing this for like the past year and a half and it’s been a little crazy to watch
Oh the guy’s smart. There’s a lot of in crypto I mean, a lot of people in the crypto space would accuse him of full on market manipulation I mean Elon is smart, everything he tweets is valid yeah so you know he’s he’s he’s very well protected on that point but like you say he’s got so many followers it moves entire markets. So you’ve got some of this sort of that you’re more overt one tweet by celebrity or influencer or totally and utterly sway cryptomarkets but then you’ve got a lot of more sort of subtle manipulation as well and you know, everything from you know, orchestrated official pumping groups where people join these sort of closed groups on social media platforms so you even pay membership to see which which coin they should buy and you know, when they should buy it and then they pump it up and it goes up crazy and then you know, it all starts to drop and you know, that these these organized groups that in in any other market or space, it just wouldn’t go into space in this total market manipulation, but in crypto, they just seem to sort of get away with it and promote themselves quite publicly.
Then you’ve got some that operate on the dark web where they take people’s Bitcoin and use that to sort of do joint pumps and dumps and then you’ve got influencers and celebrities and people that you know, some who don’t necessarily know what they’re doing. They just take money to promote certain crypto projects and then you know, all of that follows by app and it pushes a project up and then you know week later they say oh sorry, I didn’t realize it was a scam or sorry, I didn’t mean for people to lose money when it crashed and others just build up crazy big followings just saying about the next crypto project, you’ll get rich and you know, this is a great, amazing project and see why it’s also good and what they just forget to, to share the fact that they bought the project when it was just worth nothing. Yeah and then all of that was to believe them and buy it up and buy it up and then they look good and yeah, they people think they’re right, because it’s going up in price and they don’t realize that it’s their followers that are influencing their followers that are pushing the price up and then the whole time the influencer is selling out on their followers and then the followers are left with the bags and end up losing all the money and that’s happened so many times in space.
No doubt. I love how you’re describing the manipulation here. And you know, even if it is a marketplace, just like anything else, just like traditional stocks are, you know, or mutual funds and that’s what I’m sure a lot of countries are freaking out about too, because I remember if we continue on Elon Musk just a little bit here. An analogous example was when he tweeted around Tesla and said that he had I don’t know if you remember this, that he had the capital to take Tesla private again, meaning to take the public shares that are floating on the market off the markets and then just got slapped on the hand by the SEC pretty hard because it was the same principle trying to manipulate the markets but then he realized that he couldn’t go that far but this is how do you feel that is because I mean there’s probably regulation coming up we see China continuously clamping down.
There is regulation coming up I mean, especially in the last few years and sort of this whole Ico initial coin offering era where you have 1000s and 1000s of cryptocurrencies being created out of thin air that it was basically treated as a wild west and I think the majority people that were sort of launching a lot of these projects just didn’t know that there might even be regulation one day creeping in and now you know, you’ve got a lot more legitimate projects you’ve got a lot more that are sort of trying to comply with regulation and reckon you can’t keep up man I think it’s a practicality you know, partly because, you know, at least in the UK, we’ve had Brexit we’ve had Coronavirus, we’ve had a lockdown there’s a few practicalities that I have met less resources for minor aspects like crypto the tech is moving so fast and encrypt her and the space is moving so fast rate regulation isn’t keeping up but it will creep in and you’ve still got some of the scams and some of the wild side of it but I think that’s starting to get teamed now slowly.
You know there’s been some crazy stories just because with crypto there’s still been so much hype you had all this time when you know you just add the word blockchain to something or add the word crypto or add the word the Fiat and it was just going up like crazy. I mean, we’ve seen it with NFT’s you know, you’ve got digital commerce selling for like $3 million, or whatever. With money going into this, you say that we’ve been on mass, but it wasn’t that long ago. A couple years ago. The famous example was the Long Island Iced Tea Company. I believe that we’ll check this. I think it’s a Long Island Iced Tea Company that changed their name to the Long Island blockchain company. And the share price went up like 400% or something just you know, overnight, and then they got slapped on the wrist again. By the regulator’s just fought for manipulation but just an example of just how crazy the markets got and have been.
Yeah, everything’s driven by emotion isn’t it? Especially FOMO which is you know, fear of missing out and you see them in the crypto market you see that in anything that’s new right now. You’re I’m seeing this too, you know, and I’m by no means an expert. That’s why you’re on the show, right? Because you’re the expert in this I like it. But I haven’t seen very many Icos and in a while, you know, and I started to look at like, even when it was like the Shiba Inu coin, like I was talking with my friend the other day, I’m like, why can’t I just have a coin? I think I’m gonna put out a coin or something like that or do something like an NFT. But you’re right, because I see these things like digital commerce, you know, and Gary Vee is obviously a big promoter too. But he’s another example of the influencers in this space in the blockchain space that are pushing these things. And what even though I feel that his intentions are good, let’s be real, right? He’s out to make money. He’s an awesome dude.
And he gets in early and who will be being paid for it or he’ll be earning. So he’s risking the money by buying the NFT’s or whatever it is overinflated prices.
I saw him walking through like an NFT physical display at one point and these were the NFT’s were printed on canvas and I was looking at these things. I was like, “What in the world?” I’m like that. The things he was looking at, he’s like, Oh, these are so cool. I’m like, that’s the ugliest art I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s so disgusting. This isn’t something I would hang in my house.
Yeah, there’s been crazy amounts of hype around this space. I think there’s crazy amounts of hype. And you know, you say about the Ico is, there was a time mostly sort of 2016 to 2018, when it was just super, super fashionable and, you know, people didn’t realize there was going to be regulation, and it was really easy to create your own coin neatly, it’s open source code, and you had all these experts just popping up on all the freelancer sites, you could literally just go on fiverr.com or any of these Freelancer sites and pay some you know, new found Ico expert to copy a bit of Ico out of the if variable, whatever code you wanted to use and, you know, you could create a Rick coin and decide how many coins you wanted and you know, you’d pay a freelancer of $5 or whatever to create your logo and your website and then you pay a listing platform to list Rick coin, and you can sell any rip coins you want for however much money and you know, as long as you paid somebody to even write a good enough white paper or you know, some of them just copied someone else’s white paper and you know, changed a few words or you know, didn’t bother with anything at all and you create a website with a few cartoons of who was supposedly in your team or make up some names of who supposedly is in your team. I mean, it was just utter nonsense, that the majority of them based on nothing, no business plan, there was no way any of them would have made money, have they gone to a bank for a loan and wanted the seeds for a loan or even got to friends and families for him. But it was just a total hype cycle. And now it’s thought that 98% of all the theories either were scams or failed or lost money or you know, didn’t work for whatever reason, and people lost money.
But that saying, there’s so much we owe to that space, it’s so much innovation coming out of it, so much excitement, so many ideas. So albeit 98% haven’t done well, you know, for for various reasons, everything from they were outright scams from the start through to just bad luck, or incompetence, or whatever but you’ve got 2% that have done well and you know, the 2% that have done well, in some cases have done phenomenally well for their investors and have totally changed how we look at finance and totally changed how we look at storing money or security or sending money or lending or investments. So that you know, the ones that have done well are totally changing how the world is now starting to look at things and bring so much innovation and it’s you know, for all the sort of the negativity in that space, it’s still an incredibly fast moving space, we’re getting like some of the smartest people leaving really well paying jobs and like really good positions in your company and, you know, leaving all of the security and all of the money for jobs in this crypto and defining NFT or whatever starts because they’re so excited by it and because it’s moving so fast and yeah, it’s just moving so fast and there’s so much good things and so much excitement happening in space. You know, I can’t be negative about it and you know, I’ve probably seen more of the scam side of it than probably most people just from researching for the crypto wars book and everything but if you know, it’s too overwhelming and exciting.
Yeah, for sure. You know, I was going to ask you, what excites you so much about the space, but I think you just gave us literally everything because you’re taught it sounds like what really drives you is that 2% right, the innovative 2%.
Yeah, and there’s so much happening, and it’s changing so fast and, you know, the other side is you meet some of the most incredible people working in crypto, and it says people that are, you know, choosing to work in that space, who are excited by it, who often donate the money, they’re there, they’re just really excited by it and you’ve got some of the most amazing projects from everything fruit to you know, changing payments for the unbanked through to animal charities, looking at how to raise money through to some of the biggest sports brands or biggest retailers just totally changing how they interact with people. But you’ve sort of got every industry in every angle. Now looking at the space and looking how they can use things like crypto for incentive payments, or crypto for rewards payments or to prove the UX or, you know, NFT is to improve their brand or to change engagement with customers. So there’s so much happening.
It’s amazing. Yeah, it’s interesting to watch the space and yet still I know that we’re at the beginning and I don’t even feel this is just like a hunch or a gut feeling right? I don’t even think that crypto is the biggest thing that has hit the blockchain space at all. There’s, it’s To me, it’s almost like it’s really just the beginning of things. Because there’s so many applications for blockchain outside of currency that are going to exist at some point in the future. I mean, medical records, you know, anything, but it’s awesome and as far as how crypto has now accelerated that technology to a place to where it’s really mainstream now but still, there’s so many I feel too that don’t even understand what blockchain is. You know what the function of it is
I mean you’re totally on it like Bitcoin first came about 12 years ago. It’s it’s basically brand new and it’s evolving so fast and you know, people say oh this this this problem with blockchain or there’s a problem with Bitcoin and it’s it’s changing so fast it’s developing so fast, and you’re right the majority people don’t know what it is and aren’t using it but it’s it’s one of those things like safety looking inland, you know, most people now will have heard of corrosion and large percentages will or at least have bought some more or been looking at it but it’s not London where it’s it’s really sort of needed. You’ve got places that the biggest users of crypto like Venezuela, Ukraine, Russia, places in Africa where, you know, high percentages of people use Bitcoin every day, not because they think it’s super cool, not because they think it’s a really good thing to invest in but because traditional economies or traditional finance systems or currencies have failed in a lot of places in the world, or there’s hyperinflation or people don’t trust banks don’t trust governments. So they see it as literally the only way to store money safely or the only way to get money to support family members because of sanctions or because of you know, their currencies have just gone to hyperinflation.
So it’s incredible how many people are actively using crypto already And that’s growing the user experience which has been the main thing to sort of hold back the adoption of crypto and and even adoption of blockchain that’s changing really, really quickly and you’ve got I mean, everyone’s aware of Facebook sort of actively trying to get into this space and it almost feels like it’s a rush against time that the first one be that Facebook will be that some of a brand will be that some of a startup that that comes up with the crypto wallet with the best user experience you know, it’s just going to take off.
Sure is, it’s exciting to watch it too And then your cryptocurrency club right? You’ve had this right over 240 live events so far.
I have absolutely no idea
That’s the number that I have in front of me I was like holy I don’t
I know we did a bunch of in person events before lockdown. And then since lockdown we did a bunch of virtual events and now slowly, slowly, slowly the wild is reopening.
Yeah, no kidding. I mean, let’s just say that it’s been a lot of events, right? Is that the number but it’s okay. You continuously gain members, I’m sure in this, you know, and what’s the biggest takeaways from your members from these events? So why did they come to the events? What do they learn so much? How do you see them start to accelerate, accelerate themselves?
Yeah, I mean, that’s what’s amazing is getting to know the people in space and we’ve got everything from some of the biggest brands in the world, you know, everything from internet browsers, social media platforms, retail brands, food and drink brands that you know that everybody is familiar with sending people or payment platforms or payment providers or processes or banks coming along to either to learn about the space or to keep an ear on the ground or to find out what what the startups are to and to sort of not get behind and to see what everyone else is doing. So there’s a lot of people and companies coming along to just keep an eye on how fast things are going into meet with some of the startups and some of the innovators in the space future students who are you know, doing dissertations and doing masters and programs studying things like the cultural adoption of Bitcoin or use cases of blockchain so you’ve got everything from students really universities through to academics through to VCs and investors and funds and you know, for them they’re looking at finding the next top startups, fruit startups looking at partners and so forth. So you’ve got the whole incredible ecosystem from them sort of the you know, the tiniest little startup that some of them move super fast food the biggest fans and you know what’s been amazing as some of the you know, what was a couple years ago it was a little startup there now big company making big partnerships and evolving really, really fast. All sorts of different reasons be that be that business be that learning keeping an ear on the ground, just finding out what the latest is or you know, some of them just come to be to debate what’s what’s happening with
That’s got to be interesting to be a fly on the wall with that you mentioned partnerships too and I know this is something you talk about which is this is an area of crypto that I’m not educated in at all is multi level marketing scams. mlms and crypto. What MLM is in crypto.
Massive absolutely massive I mean I’m skeptical slash cynical slash negative about multi level marketing like full stop.
Yeah in any industry.
Right and you know everything statistically 90% of people that get involved in multi level marketing lose money, it’s a pyramid scheme. The people who get in early the people at the top make a load of money, you know, make absolutely crazy amounts of money, and then some do Okay, and then the vast majority at the bottom gets sucked in and have to pay to get in and lose money. So I’m totally against multi level marketing. You know, there’s enough documentaries if anyone wants to watch them on Netflix or Amazon. Right where you see so many normal people just losing so much time and money to these schemes, and it’s pyramid schemes, but where multilevel marketing has got really bad in crypto because you know, normally multi level marketing, it’s selling a product, they’re selling vitamins, or they’re selling something which keeps it legal, but where multilevel marketing gets bad in in crypto, I mean, it’s basically mergers and Ponzi schemes, because they don’t sell anything they basically sell off and how they sell promises they sell, you know, this concert or we’ve bought Bitcoin mining machines, so send us your Bitcoin and we’ll mined Bitcoin for you or we’ve got this amazing new cryptocurrency sentence your Bitcoin or crypto will send you these amazing new coins that are going to double in quantity or double in value we’ve got this amazing trading algorithm or whatever this trading bot that’s you know, it’s so magical it can outperform every bank and experienced trader and every hedge fund you know, out there and they make all of these incredible slash unbelievable often claims and sometimes it’s really believable claims
They make all of these claims just to get people to send in their bitcoin, but you know that they all sound different at surface value and they mask it under the guise of well you know, also this educational package or you’ll get whatever it is in exchange for your money but all of them just offer these high commission payouts and these high incentive payouts to get people to send over their Bitcoin and of course once they’ve got people’s Bitcoin that’s you know for the majority of them it’s by by Bitcoin or by by your money yeah, but as with any good Ponzi scheme, you know what’s what’s really sad about how big they’ve gotten how much they’ve taken over you know as as with the good Ponzi schemes they pay out at first so you know that they’ve got their their networks of promoters and then innocent people get involved and you know, send in their money and then they get their money back with profits that they think is good so and then of course, because they get the high commissions they go out and tell their friends and their families or you’ve got religious leaders going out to sell it to their communities or to their followings or congregations or community that’s going out to sell it so they spread really really really fast and it’s a bit of a gray area because some people are actually victims and actually think is good and actually think their friends and families do what we’ll do get out of it and you know others know that it’s a scam and just don’t care and just want the commission payouts but it’s really gray areas you don’t know how to dress but often people buy into them not because they’re being sold to by the scam but because they’re you know, their religious leader their community, their friend, their family, whatever have told them it’s a good thing and they trust them and it just spreads and spreads and spread so you’ve got people following them from all around the world and then also people feeling really bad all around the world because you know when They find out that it’s a scam that they’ve lost their money not only have they lost their own money, they’ve lost the money for their friends, their families, their communities, whatever so that they just spread so big, just using these commission structures.
Yeah, for sure. I was I was thinking as we were talking about MLM and you mentioned there you know, the educational products I’m like, that’s gotta be one of the biggest ones, you know, yeah, info product Ponzi scheme for these MLM scams with crypto, and even amongst family members, too, because this is something that has been true that I’ve noticed my entire life is that money darkens a lot of hearts. Right? Well, when you dive into this, I mean it can make people hold on to money as if it’s the be all and end all in life, and you need money to continue to do things but I’ve always said too and this is why one reason I love crypto is because I like to not just look at the market caps. I also very much like to look at the trading volumes, because I love seeing the money move and the best way to stimulate an economy is the movement of money, not the hoarding of money, but the movement of money. I hope crypto can help us with that as we continue trying to recover from the pandemic to just continuing to move money throughout the world economy.
Yeah, and the good crypto projects sort of the genuine ones are doing exactly that and you know the problem with Ponzi schemes is I mean one one coin, which is it’s been made popular by the BBC is missing Queen Podcast Series popular is not the right word. It’s been made first by the missing Creek jQuery podcast series, but it’s fought to be the biggest scam in crypto. And you know, it’s it’s one of those at first they thought they’d stolen about $4 billion and now it’s estimated to be up to about 25 billion dollars and it’s still sort of finding victims and still finding people that are you know selling it it’s crazy one they never even had a cryptocurrency they never even had a cryptocurrency it was just a Ponzi scheme just setting venet but they were the first one to bring in this concept of multi level marketing meets crypto flash sending educational packages which were you know totally and utterly plagiarized and not worth anything but so many of them have copied that exact model and you see scam of the scam after scam copying that exact model you know with no technology no real cryptocurrency and it’s you know it’s sad because you look at crypto it’s absolutely amazing that the potential for technology the potential for speeding up payments for cheaper payments for financial inclusion for getting micro payments out for micro loans for micro insurances and million and one super cool amazing use cases for this way is it can you know, it can help people it can do good it’s that it’s an amazing technology and then you’ve got these scams that are just totally detracting sort of from that and actually aren’t using anything anything to do with the technology there’s nothing to if it was at all it’s literally opportunists taking advantage of the space and they know what they’re doing. They’re not going after sophisticated investors they’re going after the most vulnerable people and they have really big marketing budgets often so they make themselves look really good they sound really good you look at some of the websites with scams and you’re like wow this is really good and they’ve got really big social media presences and they have in person events said everything about them looks good on the surface you can’t blame people for falling for them if you don’t know what you’re
That’s one of the top rules of marketing right: you are what you say you are not maybe what you actually do. That’s marketing 101 for sure. This is obviously a huge passion of yours and that’s why we’re talking about some of the things that you know, just one or two things that are the big things to look out for. For crypto scams you know that you can see that’s like here’s the big red flags.
Well the biggest one is any sign of multilevel marketing so if there’s commission payments you know or commission infrastructure at all if there’s any cryptocurrency or any sort of related project that’s going to be paying commissions to bring in new people in that I would say that’s a massive massive massive red flag the good crypto projects just don’t need to It doesn’t work like that so it’s a massive red flag I haven’t seen a legitimate project work on that model so you know if there’s commission payments or you know if you can see that there’s a multi level marketing structure runaway screaming pretty pretty much and you know the other thing is you can’t trust what projects say by definition you know you’ve got a lot of scams they’ll have these amazingly good looking websites and they’ll make all of these claims you know you see scam saying well you know we’re regulated by so and so you know by such and such governing board or whatever well such and such regulator were partnered with such and such companies you know, big name companies we’ve got such and such companies as big name priors, we’ve got seven so famous people influences or whatever on our advisory board in it we will issue visa cards and master cards to our to our users they make all of these claims and they put all of these logos on their website and you know say all the things so people believe that and they think well you know if they’re issuing mastercards or if BMW is their client or if they’re you know, associated with whatever university or regulated by whatever it must be good and they’re not they literally make that up out of thin air and put the logos up on their websites you know, and in time the real company is in question and we’ll find out and you do or try and get their logos and whatever taken down but you just can’t trust that at face value.
So what I would say for any you know, a project where you’re not sure about is just do your own research and double check everything if a project’s claiming anything double check it can you see proof of that elsewhere and the minute you see one thing that doesn’t stack up like I say they’ve got such and such company as a customer and the other company doesn’t say that or if there’s anything against that or you know they say such and such person is there advice when you can reach out to such and such person and they find you know, they say they’ve never heard of the project I’d say if there’s any one sort of red flag that doesn’t stack up probably run away screaming because probably the rest of that is equally fabricated so it’s adequate that they make all of these claims and they make themselves look really really good. And but you know, definitely if there’s commission payments if anyone’s paying a commission to try and get you on board,
That’s great info good to look out for. I appreciate that crypto curry club. That looks really really amazing and everyone can go to crypto curry club calm to join this is worldwide you can jump on
The events were in the UK until locked down. And you know we’ll see what happens when the world reopens. But we’ve got about two events. We’ve got an industry publication blockchain industry review that sort of sums up there’s some really cool features and interviews with some of the coolest people in the space and we have a weekly newsletter, the crypto carrier that sums up things that are happening in space.
That’s awesome. I’ll tell you I’m gonna sign up for it. You know, like I said, I wasn’t even educated on the MLM stuff that was going on with crypto today. But that’s where everyone can go, Erica, you’ve been amazing. we’ve only scratched the surface of things here. We could probably talk for hours. But for everyone find Erica on LinkedIn and Erica Stanford and also crypto curry club.com. I’m going to be joining myself. I want that newsletter because this is here to stay. Erica, you’re amazing. Amazing. Thank you for being on.
Thank you so much and anyone that will say more about crypto scams, it’s crypto, crypto Wall Street, decimating billions in industry disruption with all the biggest hacks and scam in crypto.
Boom, love it. Thanks.
Thank you so much, Rick.