Friends and allies are essential to Cryptoland. I met mine in March when I joined a WhatsApp feed of enthusiasts based in the London suburb of Chingford. Every day, around 200 people from The Crypto Crew, as it’s called, exchange tips and offer advice. They serve as a help desk for anyone blocked by the bewildering architecture and terminology of the crypto universe. They sing when the coins go up and ask for patience when they go down.
Before the current downturn, about once a week, someone on the crew would throw up the name of the latest fad coin and a question like, “Hey, do you have any ideas on this one? “
At the beginning of May, it was Bonfire. It had recently increased by 700%. On the chat, a few members passed out. The skeptics were not far behind.
“Does Bonfire have a use case? Asked a member.
“Yes, it sets your money on fire,” another joked.
Whenever a coin is mentioned on the thread, there is a related question: Does anyone know how to buy it? I decided to give him a chance.
You might imagine that a visit to Cryptoland is all about shiny surfaces and precision, like running around inside a Swiss watch. It’s more like a bog where not all the roads are paved and half of the signs are written by crazy people. Most of the websites are slow, buggy, and confusing. Almost every step requires a break to watch a YouTube tutorial.
Also bad, Cryptoland is crawling with crooks. Some people wait for a wrong keystroke so that your money can be intercepted, never to be returned. Some make similar copies of the apps you need to download, making your assets easy to grab. Some produce counterfeit currency that you want to buy. Dozens of coins are called Bitcoin, for example.
Estimates of losses at Cryptoland are difficult to come by and range from hundreds of millions of dollars to $ 1 billion per year. Harry Denley, director of security at MyCrypto, a cryptocurrency management company, claims that every day between 30 and 50 people contact him, seeking help to recover between $ 500 and $ 1.2 million. In almost all cases there is little he can do.