Thursday, November 2, 2017

Scam Hilarity: Suspect ponzi claims to be mining bitcoin w/ perpetual motion engine

Woo, short for woo-woo, is a term used to describe something that is completely implausible, yet explained with pseudo-scientific and potentially-plausible jargon that can fool innocent sheeple. You can encounter woo in all sorts of places, and most of the time they do no harm. However, when they show up in medicine and finance, they can do quite a bit of harm indeed. And today, we'll discuss the a new wrinkle... physical woo on top of financial woo.

But let me start from the beginning.

HYIP, or "high yield investment program" is a form of ponzi scheme that promised impossibly high yields. Claimed returns like 1% per day is not uncommon.

Some of them are pretty transparent in being a scheme, while others may adopt weasel language like "crowdfunding" or "charity". Yet others turn to woo explanations for their ability to pay such high yields that makes absolutely no sense when examined in detail. Frankly, it failed to pass the smell test... If they have techniques that can reliably generate such income, just put down a mortgage or borrow X dollars from credit card or bank, and they'll make it back in no time. Right? Yet there have been, for decades, schemes that attempt to explain their ability to generate such returns, with bogus excuses such as "bridge loans" [DOJ], "P2P lending" [CNBC], "forex" [DOJ], "arbitrage" [wikipedia], "penny auctions" [CBSnews], "prime bank" [SEC] and so on.

The latest buzzword is cryptocurrency, and it's no wonder ponzi schemes have latched onto it as the latest craze, by incorporating something people who have heard of, but do not understand, as their woo. Some launch their own cryptocurrency (that nobody would ever use), yet others latch onto the idea of cryptomining, the idea that you can "mine" bitcoin and other currencies.

While cryptomining is real, it is hard to make money in such because the hardware to mine and the electricity to run them, not to mention cooling, are expensive as well. It may be possible to run such in China and Eastern Europe, where electricity is cheap (by government mandate) and hardware and labor are cheap, esp. if one exploit scale by running massive crypto-mine.

So the latest crypto-woo is launched by a company called USI-Tech, which used to be Forex HYIP (see above), but they've since switched to Cryptomining as their new woo. Recently in London, they've shown their latest "innovation"... they can create "virtually FREE energy" to run their cryptomining machines.
USI-Tech claims they can create "virtually free energy",
but they only want to run cryptomining rigs with it

Perpetual motion machine doesn't exist, as it violates law of thermodynamics. Yet there are plenty of kooks who claim they made one, or claim the knowledge was suppressed by the evil government or energy consortiums or something. Though you had to admit, using one to power cryptomining is rather cute.

But what does this thing look like?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Scam Psychology: Theory on Stupidity, Scam, ponzi, and pyramid schemes

Ever heard of Professor Cipolla's theory on stupidity? Neither have I until recently, but it explains quite clearly how the world works, esp. scams.

According to professor Cipolla, you can measure a person by 2 axis: benefit derived from their own actions... and benefit to others because of their own actions

It roughly goes like this:

Cipolla's theory on stupidity, summarized