Archives For Ponzi Scheme

“Bernie Madoff of Bitcoin” charged in $4.5M Ponzi scheme

Just published on The Daily Dot:

Trendon T. Shavers has been called the Bernie Madoff of Bitcoin. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC) charged him on Tuesday with defrauding investors in a Ponzi scheme worth 700,000 bitcoins, or more than $4.5 million, based on the average price of bitcoins in 2011 and 2012 when the investments were made. Today, that amount would be worth $66,910,000.

Read more here.

A play-by-play look at how one $300,000 ponzi scheme worked.

BlackHatWorld is one of the most popular “internet marketing” forums online. Over 300,000 member accounts and over 1 million visitors in the last month have made over 4 million total posts. The forum is best known for subjects such as the SEO trade, how to defraud search engines, trick advertising services, spam forums and exploit social networks in order to make money.

To begin to get an idea of what sort of place BlackHatWorld is, it’s important to start with the name. In the context of SEO, a “black hat” attempts to improve search engine rankings “in ways that are disapproved of by the search engines, or involve deception.” In contrast, a white hat operates within the law and with “good intentions” as opposed to a black hat operating for personal gain or maliciousness. “White Hats follow rules, Grey Hats bend rules, Black Hats break rules.”  The colored hats are names generally assigned to hackers. BHW does have a smaller white hat subforum.

When YouTube launched a major campaign against artificial view inflation — i.e. scamming YouTube — BlackHatWorld is where you found anger about the decision. YouTube’s acts threw a temporary wrench in the operations of several BHW users. When Lance Armstrong publicly admitted to doping and making millions, BlackHatWorld users asked what the difference is between his scam and their own except, of course, for scale.

Showcasing your internet marketing products on BHW can be quite lucrative. An automated blog writer starts a $37 per month to scam your way to the top of Google. A link builder will create thousands of fake forum accounts to build a mountain of valuable links to fool Google at $100A $57 bot is designed to spam Yahoo! Answers with links to your site and a $40 bot may help you “dominate” Pinterest. Wiki-bombing software will head into highly regarded wikis and add thousands of links to your site.

If you want to run an internet marketing scam, Black Hat World is a good place to start.

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BHW bills itself as “THE forum for Internet Marketers and webmasters.”

Most webmasters and internet marketing experts know and follow all the latest Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques on the internet at BHW. In fact, Blackhat World is not only the #1 website on the Internet for cutting edge Search Engine Optimization methods it is the No 1 “authority” site. Some of the topics discussed on BHW include but are not restricted to: Outsourcing, Blogging, email marketing, Social Networking, Google Adsense and Google Ad words, hiring freelancers, webmaster tools and many more categories and subjects of interest. In addition, BHW is a great resource for beginners (newbies) and seasoned veterans.

In The Verge, reporter Joseph Flatley called internet marketers the snake oil salesmen of the 21st century at best.

But no matter what sort of salesman they are, BlackHatWorld’s membership boasts thousands of tech literate people making a living online. One would expect that sort of population to have some resistance against internet con artists if for no other reason than sheer familiarity. In fact, this is a forum full of self-professed scammers. Most threads are discussions about how to cheat a variety of systems for personal gain. It ought to be no surprise that, given the right opportunity, many of these people would scam fellow black hatters. This should surprise BHW forum regulars least of all.

Right now, there’s a group of black hatters who have lost $300,000 to a scammer. The victims are wondering how they managed to get so thoroughly blindsided. Was it the illusion of honor among thieves? Was it plain naivete, greed, stupidity, delusion, desperation or a costly combination of all of the above?

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