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Bitconnect is a MLM For Crypto, That is Clear… But is Bitconnect a Scam?

Thomas DeMichele Published – November 5, 2017

 

The internet is buzzing with two ideas 1. Bitconnect is a great opportunity and 2. Bitconnect is a scam. Is Bitconnect a good deal, is it a scam, is it both?[1][2]

We can’t answer those questions with certainty, and neither can anyone else.

After-all, to know if its a good deal for you or anyone else, I’d have to be able to see the future.

Notes on Bitconnect

What we can do however is offer up some insight that can help you make up your own mind. First some notes, then some facts pertaining to why people say Bitconnect is a pyramid scheme / Ponzi scheme (and why some people will invest anyway; after-all this is the case with many such models).

A disclaimer: I’ve only researched Bitconnect (BCC). And, I only did that after noticing that it had moved up into the top 20 cryptos by market cap! I found this odd. As I dug deeper, the story only got weirder. Clearly, I’m not the only one who thought it seemed like it might be a scam (see the citations for some examples, this article is late to the party, but better late than never). With all that said, I haven’t invested in BCC yet. I will likely play the guinea pig for the benefit of the site in the near future… but honestly, I’m not eager. I find investing in Bitcoin directly, with the upcoming Segwit2xfork on the horizon, stressful enough on its own (as I am personally wary of a post fork dip given the absurd run BTC has had recently). I’ll update the page when I do try Bitconnect, for now all I have is some limited experience with MLMs (Multi Level Marketing “opportunities”), a few years of experience with crypto, and a few solid hours of Bitconnect research.

Next the good: Bitconnect offers attractive returns (if you can get ’em) and uses a theoretically cool PoS / PoW hybrid mining scheme (meaning new coins can be mined and/or gained as interest from holding existing coins). Ultimately there is a token (there is a cryptocurrency underneath their odd system). Further, their Bitconnect token currently has a value in USD and BTC on the few exchanges it is listed on (that means there are active buyers in a market willing to trade Bitconnect tokens for USD and BTC… at least on a few exchanges, some if not all of which seem to have a direct relationship with Bitconnect the entity). So it appears they have at least a little leg up on other “coins” accused of being scams like OneCoinBitpetite, and REcoin. Ultimately, if this is like other popular MLMs, then it isn’t a full on scam. Rather, it is just a cryptocurrency version of the pyramid-like MLM model that many refer to as a scam despite the fact that some people end up doing well under that structure. Remember though, we don’t know the future, and articles like “UK threatens to shut down popular Bitcoin investment site BitConnect” are required reading before entering into Bitconnect. The person trying to get you to enter their downline is likely going to paint a rosy picture, so make sure you have a sober understanding of the risks before locking your Bitcoins up for a year.

Why did Bitconnect’s market cap go down? Bitconnect has a marketcap of $592,505,917, that is down about $1,500,000,000 since people started asking if it is a scam. Market cap is the total dollar market value of a company’s outstanding shares (calculated from multiplying a coin’s shares outstanding by the current market price of one share). In this case the market cap went down because the calculation of total coins outstanding went up, not because the price per-coin went down. It is unclear why the previous tally was incorrect (I’ll update you as I pin down the answer there).

FACTSomeone on Twitter essentially goaded Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin into suggesting that the structure of Bitconnect had a Ponzi scheme vibe. Buterin is obviously on-board with a PoS model (a proof of stake model for mining, which creates new tokens as interest paid to existing token holders), as Ethereum itself is musing on switching over to this model. However, the payouts that Bitconnect claims to offer is what caused the alarm. Let’s not get confused and think Buterin did a full case review here, he just said what anyone would be thinking, that is “these high payouts seem unsustainable and thus seem like a Ponzi scheme.”

Bitconnect scam alert! Is this 800 million dollar cryptocurrency a ponzi scheme? It went from $800 million, up to $1.5 billion, down to about $600 million again.NOTE: One thing to think about in Bitconnect’s favor is this. Let’s assume it is an upstanding business and ends up doing nothing but what it claims. Now, let’s say you plan to hold Bitcoin for 5 years NO MATTER WHAT. That means you won’t consider trading if it goes up $10k or down $6k. You WILL ALWAYS HOLD. If all this is the case, then earning interest while you hold is logical. There are a lot of “ifs” here, if Bitconnect survives and does what it says, if you really would hold Bitcoin no matter what, but there is some logic in here.

Reasons Why Bitconnect is Accused of Being a Scam By Some

From my research, the following points are worth noting regarding the pros and cons of Bitconnect and why some think it is a scam (while others think its a great business opportunity):

The whole vibe and structure of Bitconnect is like a traditional MLM (Multi Level Marketing) “business opportunity.” Some people say that the pyramid-like structure of Bitconnect and other MLMs is literally what a Ponzi scheme is (it mashes up a confusing referral program with a cult-like vibe).

The more people you refer, the bigger your bonus gets. This multi-tired pyramid like structure is common to almost all MLMs.

MLMs tend to do live events full of hype and no substance. Bitconnect does this.

MLMs alway use buzzwords like freedom, stability, independence, etc. They call you a company and a business. They make you feel like you are a successful business person. Bitconnect uses this gambit. As an actual business person, this has always rubbed me the wrong way. Real business opportunities require hard work, lambos are something that people in rap videos and people with trust funds have. I’m not saying that a business owner won’t blow a bunch of money on a lambo, I’m only saying that when you work hard for your money you tend to spend it on more sensible things (like Bitcoin itself).

Pyramid schemes tend to promise returns that are too good to be true. Bitconnect does this.

Bitconnect’s Twitter spends a lot of time warning you about scams. That seems a little shady. I mean, we do that, but… we aren’t selling you a token.

No one knows who is running Bitconnect (although they just did a live event). So, there is no one to hold accountable if say someone runs off with countless millions in Bitcoins.

The market isn’t exactly setting the price. The price of Bitconnect is directly influenced by the platform. Its essentially part of the package. So it didn’t organically grow to the current price, its tied to the growth of the Bitconnect user base (where new users pay more and more Bitcoin the later they sign up). As long as new users pay a higher rate and Bitcoin’s price goes up, paying out existing users is somewhat sustainable (especially if they are paid in Bitconnect tokens). However, if Bitcoin’s price goes down, there is potential for things to get messy. Speaking of which…

…Bitcoin has been going up recently. Thus, it makes sense that people would be getting payouts from Bitconnect at the moment… All they have to do is take your BTC, sell it for a profit, and then give you back a bit… but what happens when that stops?

Bitconnect gives you a native token in exchange for Bitcoin. The Bitconnect token only has value as long as people are willing to pay for it. It is the same with Bitcoin, but there is a lot of demand for Bitcoin on the open market. Meanwhile, good luck selling a Bitconnect anywhere other than on their native platform and 3 other exchanges.

Bitconnect says it is decentralized, but between them creating the token, the payout system, and a Bitconnect exchange… it seems pretty centralized to me.

Bitconnect claims that they use a trading bot to make profits. This is how they explain the insane returns they offer. The problem here is two-fold. 1. Either this is BS and payouts are simply divvied up out of the Bitcoin they are taking in; or, 2. They are one of the forces currently manipulating the Bitcoin market (i.e. they [their bots] are the whales who spiked BTC’s price). Shoot, go down that rabbit hole and you might start suspecting they are behind Bitcoin Gold or even Segwit2x. Imagine if everyone was giving these people millions in Bitcoin, and then they turned around and used that stash to manipulate the market, only to take out more money. They could be scamming on an epic level, like a multi-layer scam that makes Madoff look like a chump. Why is Bitcoin up so much since the summer? Is it a natural bubble, or is the entire community about to get taken to the cleaners? There is a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories one can come up with here…. but I mean, if you are watching the fundamentals on the exchanges on a daily basis, you are likely in the skeptic camp along with me (not a hater, but a skeptic, who is asking, “why is this thing I love so much going off the rails to a degree where I’m not even wanting to hodl anymore”).

With Bitconnect, your returns are guaranteed (according to the site). However, to get this guaranteed return you have to lend out your Bitconnect tokens. So you trade your Bitcoin for  tokens called Bitconnect (BCC), then you lock up your money by lending it, then you get USD back daily (they say you get USD, but the way the PoS mining works… it really seems like you get BCC back). This is all handled from within Bitconnect’s platform. I tried to Google around and find someone who had gotten a payout, but I just found a bunch of odd comments trying to get people to use their referral link.

The bottomline: Clearly Bitconnect uses an MLM structure. MLMs aren’t illegal. In fact, the US Government seems A-OK with certain MLMs. If it is good enough for Uncle Sam, well then its probably good enough for some of you. This is the case with other longstnading MLMs. I say to my friend “I’m not sure about this.” They say to me, “they told me you would say this, we can’t be friends any more because you want to crush my business opportunity” (something like that). So I assume it will be the same deal here. If you want to be extra cautious, realize that Bitcoin itself offers amazing returns. You can even set up your own trading bot (if you want to rely on a bot). You aren’t going to get the pep rally you get with Bitconnect, but on the other side of the token, you won’t be subject to the risks of Bitconnect either. The important thing here is to come into Bitconnect with a sober mind, don’t transfer the hype of Bitcoin onto Bitconnect. A decentralized currency like Bitcoin requires no middleman, don’t feel like you have to move down the coins by market cap to find a good money making opportunity, you can always just invest in Bitcoin directly.

Citations

  1. The BitConnect scam exposed
  2. BitConnect scam
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