I sold most of my remaining bitcoins on localbitcoins this week selling nearly half a million pound's worth. I got nervous that the price was at the start of a long slide, and it's so much money to me that I didn't want to risk it. I want to share my experiences because they might help someone else. I only responded to adverts on LBC, I didn't put any up myself. I got defrauded completely of £500, and nearly another £1000 by choosing buyers that offered unfeasibly high prices but wanted me to release coins before the money arrived in my account because their account was 'international' and it might take up to 24 hours for the money to arrive and the bitcoin price was very volatile. Fortunately for me, the £1000 guy took so long to fake his video that I told him to cancel and that I wasn't going to release the bitcoin until the money arrived. I feel pretty naive and stupid over these. Maybe it's good to get knocked down to size occasionally, and what's £500 to a rich man like me? I hope this confession helps someone else ovoid a scammer. I had a couple of trades with mostly honest guys that went a bit awry. They were cash deposit trades (the buyer deposits cash at a branch of the seller's bank and asks for it to be transfered to the seller). The prices for cash deposit sales were generally a bit higher than for bank transfers. An advantage of cash deposits I believe is that they can't be reversed. I think I've heard of bank transfers getting reversed, but I think it's pretty rare because the scammer has to convince the bank that he sent by mistake or got scammed or something, and that must be a risky business. The first guy told me that you can't make cash deposits larger than ~£12k, so he'd have to split it between different branches, so could I break the trade into parts on LBC. He said he'd approximately honour the price because it had moved against him. The LBC system was playing up a bit for me: I have a bad connection sometimes, so we did the trades outside of it. Anyway, he slightly reduced the rate, but it pretty much worked out. He paid in before I transfered, but he could kind-of trust me because he had my coins tied up on LBC. The second guy was funny. He told me straight-away that the trade was a really large amount of money, and it was obviously more than he had (the advertiser sets a range of trade sizes, but I think some of them like to big themselves up to encourage trust). After a few hours, he said he'd deposited about a quarter of the price, but it didn't appear in my account, he also marked the payment as complete, and I decided he was probably a scammer and disputed the trade with the LBC admins. I phoned him and he swore he was honest. An hour or so later a couple of deposits appeared that added to more than he said, and I recorded them in the LBC chat box. More money arrived in dribs and drabs through the day and he said he'd finish the payments at 10 the next morning, but nothing arrived before 12. The LBC admins told him he had 8 hours to upload proof of payment or they would decide the dispute in my favour (which I guess means that I get the coins back in spite of his deposits). The price had moved quite a lot against him, and I advised him that if he couldn't complete the payment, he should not pay any more because he'd be sweating about whether I would rob him. Later on in the day, the remaining payments arrived in more dribs and drabs. The final deposit was £5, as though he had to rummage down the back of the sofa. I got a strong impression that he was honest and a nice guy, and he seemed delighted with the trade and grateful afterwards. He says he'll be more conservative with his trade limits in the future. My biggest sales were by bank transfer. Another guy had clearly had some difficulty getting the money together, but managed it the same day, although he too marked payment complete before it was. I suppose he didn't want the trade to be automatically cancelled. I did a couple of trades with one of the 'bit-broker xxx' guys on LBC. They have limits of a million pounds, and he swiftly dealt with a 6 figure trade. In hindsight, I'd probably do all my sales to them. Their rates aren't quite as good, but they seem to be professionals, and trading with them doesn't make you sweat. I was getting the buyers to deposit into three different bank accounts: one RBS, and my and my wife's Nationwide accounts. You can transfer assets worth up to £50k to your spouse to reduce CGT I believe. The vast majority of the deposits went into my RBS account because I only use it for bitcoin, so it won't be the end of the world if they freeze it. However, RBS won't accept cash deposits, so about £50k had to go into my Nationwide account, which is my main account. The next day, my main account disappeared from my internet banking. After 30 minutes of classical music, they told me that the fraud dept was too busy to answer the phone, and that they were doing an investigation and would get back to me in a few days. They said that in the mean time payments would go in to my account as usual, and standing orders come out, but that I couldn't use my card, so couldn't get cash or make online payments or go shopping. The day after the account was frozen, I got a call from a guy in Nationwide's fraud department. He asked me about the cash deposits, and I told him I'd been selling digital assets. He asked further questions, and I was open in my answers telling him that I had been selling bitcoins that I had bought around 2013, was selling them at localbitcoins, and that I could give him a screenshot from there showing the trades. He said that since I wasn't trading (repeatedly buying and selling), they didn't have a problem with my activity, and that they'd unfreeze my account. I asked him if they had been investigating the possibility that I was doing something wrong, and he said no: that they were worried that I might be being scammed and/or that my account might be being used as a 'mule' presumably to move money between criminals and laundering it in the process. My account is now unlocked and I've sent him a screenshot of my trades. I hope that the other accounts don't get locked and that that is the end of it. I wish now that I had insisted all the trades went through the LBC system, so I could have sent the Nationwide guy a full record. I now plan to buy a nice house and live happily ever after.
SegWit would make it HARDER FOR YOU TO PROVE YOU OWN YOUR BITCOINS. SegWit deletes the "chain of (cryptographic) signatures" - like MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems) deleted the "chain of (legal) title" for Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS) in the foreclosure fraud / robo-signing fiasco
SegWit is a "clever innovation" brought to you by clueless / corrupt AXA-owned Blockstream devs;
MERS is a "clever innovation" brought to you by reckless / corrupt Wall Street bankers;
SegWit and MERS both work by simply deleting crucial "ownership data" for transactions.
Of course, the "experts" (on Wall Street, and at AXA-owned Blockstream) present MERS and SegWit as "innovations" - as a way to "optimize" and "streamline" vast chains of transactions reflecting ownership and transfer of valuable items (ie, real-estate mortgages, and bitcoins). But, unfortunately, the "brilliant bat-shit insane approach" devised by the "geniuses" behind MERS and SegWit to do this is to simply delete the data which proved ownership and transfer of these items - information which is essential for legal purposes (in the case of mortgages), or security purposes (in the case of bitcoins).
SegWit allows deleting the "chain of (cryptographic) signatures" for bitcoins - ie, SegWit supports deleting the cryptographic data specifying "who transmitted what bitcoins to whom" (as originally specified in Satoshi's whitepaper defining Bitcoin);
MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems) allowed deleting the "chain of (legal) title" for real-estate mortgages - ie, MERS supported deleting the legal "notes" specifying "who transmitted what mortgages to whom" (as previously tracked by banks / mortgage lenders / originators / notaries / land registries / "cadasters", etc.)
So, the most pernicious aspect of SegWit may be that it encourages deleting all of Bitcoin's cryptographic security data - destroying the "chain of signatures" which (according to the white paper) are what define what a "bitcoin" actually is. Wow, deleting signatures with SegWit sounds bad. Can I avoid SegWit? Yes you can. To guarantee the long-term cryptographic, legal and financial security of your bitcoins:
You should avoid sending / receiving / holding Bitcoins using the dangerous, new "SegWit" addresses. (As far as I understand, "SegWit" bitcoin addresses all start with a "3".)
You should just use safe, "normal" Bitcoin addresses - and avoid using unsafe "SegWit" addresses. (If I understand correctly, all "normal" Bitcoin addresses still start with a "1", while "SegWit" addresses always start with a "3".)
You can also use Bitcoin implementations which encourage using "normal" Bitcoin addresses. (As far as I understand, implementations such as Bitcoin ABC, Bitcoin Unlimited, Bitcoin Classic are being deployed mainly to support "normal", "non-SegWit" Bitcoin addresses - as well as market-based (bigger) blocksizes and (lower) fees.)
You can avoid Bitcoin implementations which require SegWit. (As far as I understand, SegWit2x, UASF/BIP148 are being deployed mainly to support "SegWit" Bitcoin addresses - as well as centrally-planned (smaller) blocksizes and (higher) fees).
MERS = "The dog ate your mortgage's chain of title". SegWit = "The dog ate your bitcoin's chain of signatures."
By deleting / losing the "chain of title" for mortgages stored in the MERS database (in the name of "innovation" and "efficiency" and "optimization" being pushed by "clever" bankers on Wall Street), MERS caused a legal and financial catastrophe for mortgages - by making it impossible to (legally) prove who owns which properties.
By deleting / losing the "chain of signatures" for Bitcoins stored in SegWit addresses (in the name of "innovation" and "efficiency" and "optimization" being pushed by "clever" devs at AXA-owned Blockstream), SegWit could end up causing a financial (and possibly also legal) catastrophe for Bitcoin - by making it impossible (or at least more complicated in many cases) to (cryptographically) prove who owns which bitcoins.
Wall Street-backed MERS = AXA-backed SegWit It is probably no coincidence that:
Clueless, corrupt bankers from Wall Street used MERS to recklessly delete the "chain of (legal) title" for people's mortgages;
And now clueless, corrupt devs from AXA-owned Blockstream want to recklessly use SegWit to delete the "chain of (cryptographic) signatures" for people's bitcoins.
by supporting the most ignorant developers and "leaders" (lying Blockstream CTO Greg Maxwell and CEO Adam Back, drooling authoritarian idiot Luke-Jr, vandal Peter Todd, etc);
by supporting a massive campaign of propaganda, censorship, and lies (on forums like r\bitcoin and sites like bitcointalk.org - both controlled by the corrupt censor u/Theymos) to try to force SegWit on the Bitcoin community.
Do any Core / Blockstream devs and supporters know about MERS - and recognize its dangerous parallels with SegWit? It would be interesting to hear from some of the "prominent" Core / Blockstream devs and supporters listed below to find out if they are aware of the dangerous similarities between SegWit and MERS:
Luke-Jr u/luke-jr - co-founder of and occasional contractor for Blockstream, in charge of Core's "BIP" numbering process, known for his [delusions] and authoritarianism - and for the messy SegWit-as-a-soft-fork kludge - now leading the brainwashed lemmings and sybils of r\bitcoin off the cliff, with his doomed UASF/BIP148;
Core / Blockstream devs might not know about MERS - but AXAdefinitely does While it is likely that most or all Core / Blockstream devs do not know about the MERS fiasco... ...it is 100% certain that people at AXA (the main owners of Blockstream) do know about MERS. This is because the global financial crisis which started in 2008 was caused by:
CDOs - collateralized debt obligations
MBSs - mortgage-backed securities
MERS - the company / database Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems which "lost" (deleted) millions of people's mortgage notes - leading to "clouded titles" which made possible the wave of foreclosure fraud and robo-signing, which eventually cost the "clever" banks tens of billions of dollars in losses.
Loans originated with MERS as the original mortgagee purport to separate the borrower’s promissory note, which is made payable to the originating lender, from the borrower’s conveyance of a mortgage, which purportedly is granted to MERS. If this separation is legally incorrect - as every state supreme court looking at the issue has agreed - then the security agreements do not name an actual mortgagee or beneficiary. The mortgage industry, however, has premised its proxy recording strategy on this separation, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding that “the note and mortgage are inseparable.” [Compare with the language from Satoshi's whitepaper: "We define an electronic coin as a chain of digital signatures."] If today’s courts take the Carpenter decision at its word, then what do we make of a document purporting to create a mortgage entirely independent of an obligation to pay? If the Supreme Court is right that a “mortgage can have no separate existence” from a promissory note, then a security agreement that purports to grant a mortgage independent of the promissory note attempts to convey something that cannot exist. [...] Many courts have held that a document attempting to convey an interest in realty fails to convey that interest if the document does not name an eligible grantee. Courts around the country have long held that “there must be, in every grant, a grantor, a grantee and a thing granted, and a deed wanting in either essential is absolutely void.”
The parallels between MERS and SegWit are obvious and inescapable.
MERS separated (and eventually deleted) the legal information regarding the "conveyance" (transfer) of ownership of "realty" (real estate)
SegWit segregates (and allows eventually deleting) the cryptographic information regarding the sending and receiving of bitcoins.
Note that I am not arguing here that SegWit could be vulnerable to attacks from a strictly legal perspective. (Although that may be possible to.) I am simply arguing that SegWit, because it encourages deleting the (cryptographic) signature data which defines "bitcoins", could eventually be vulnerable to attacks from a cryptographic perspective. But I heard that SegWit is safe and tested! Yeah, we've heard a lot of lies from Blockstream, for years - and meanwhile, they've only succeeded in destroying Bitcoin's market cap, due to unnecessarily high fees and unnecessarily slow transactions. Now, in response to those legal-based criticisms of SegWit in the article from nChain, several so-called "Bitcoin legal experts" have tried to rebut that those arguments from nChain were somehow "flawed". But if you read the rebuttals of these "Bitcoin legal experts", they sound a lot like the clueless "experts" who were cheerleading MERS for its "efficiency" - and who ended up costing tens billions of dollars in losses when the "chain of title" for mortgages held in the MERS database became "clouded" after all the crucial "ownership data" got deleted in the name of "efficiency" and "optimization". In their attempt to rebut the article by nChain, these so-called "Bitcoin legal experts" use soothing language like "optimization" and "pragmatic" to try to lull you into believing that deleting the "chain of (cryptographic) signatures" for your bitcoins will be just as safe as deleting the "chain of (legal) notes" for mortgages: http://www.coindesk.com/bitcoin-legal-experts-nchain-segwit-criticisms-flawed/ The (unsigned!) article on CoinDesk attempting to rebut Nguyen's article on nChain starts by stating:
Nguyen's criticisms fly in the face of what has emerged as broad support for the network optimization, which has been largely embraced by the network's developers, miners and startups as a pragmatic step forward.
Then it goes on to quote "Bitcoin legal experts" who claim that using SegWit to delete Bitcoin's cryptographic signatures will be just fine:
Marco Santori, a fintech lawyer who leads the blockchain tech team at Cooley LLP, for example, took issue with what he argued was the confused framing of the allegation. Santori told CoinDesk:
"It took the concept of what is a legal contract, and took the position that if you have a blockchain signature it has something to do with a legal contract."
Stephen Palley, counsel at Washington, DC, law firm Anderson Kill, remarked similarly that the argument perhaps put too much weight on the idea that the "signatures" involved in executing transactions on the bitcoin blockchain were or should be equivalent to signatures used in digital documents.
"It elides the distinction between signature and witness data and a digital signature, and they're two different things," Palley said.
"There are other ways to cryptographically prove a transaction is correctly signed other than having a full node," said BitGo engineer Jameson Lopp. "The assumption that if a transaction is in the blockchain, it's probably valid, is a fairly good guarantee." Legal experts asserted that, because of this design, it's possible to prove that the transaction occurred between parties, even if those involved did not store signatures. For this reason, Coin Center director Jerry Brito argued that nChain is overstating the issues that would arise from the absence of this data. "If you have one-time proof that you have the bitcoin, if you don't have it and I have it, logically it was signed over to me. As long as somebody in the world keeps the signature data and it's accessible, it's fine," he said.
There are several things you can notice here:
These so-called "Bitcoin legal experts" are downplaying the importance of signatures in Bitcoin - just like the "experts" behind MERS downplayed the importance of "notes" for mortgages.
Satoshi said that a bitcoin is a "chain of digital signatures" - but these "Bitcoin legal experts" are now blithely asserting that we can simply throw the "chain of digital signatures" in the trash - and we can be "fairly" certain that everything will "probably" be ok.
The "MERS = SegWit" argument which I'm making is not based on interpreting Bitcoin signatures in any legal sense (although some arguments could be made along those lines).
Instead, I'm just arguing that any "ownership database" which deletes its "ownership data" (whether it's MERS or SegWit) is doomed to end in disaster - whether that segregated-and-eventually-deleted "ownership data" is based on law (with MERS), or cryptography (with SegWit).
Who's right - Satoshi or the new "Bitcoin experts"? You can make up your own mind. Personally, I will never send / receive / store large sums of money using any "SegWit" bitcoin addresses. This, is not because of any legal considerations - but simply because I want the full security of "the chain of (cryptographic) signatures" - which, according to the whitepaper, is the very definition of what a bitcoin "is". Here are the words of Satoshi, from the whitepaper, regarding the "chain of digital signatures": https://www.bitcoin.com/bitcoin.pdf
We define an electronic coin as a chain of digital signatures. Each owner transfers the coin to the next by digitally signing a hash of the previous transaction and the public key of the next owner and adding these to the end of the coin. A payee can verify the signatures to verify the chain of ownership.
Does that "chain of digital signatures" sound like something you'd want to throw in the trash??
The "clever devs" from AXA-owned Blockstream (and a handful of so-called "Bitcoin legal experts) say "Trust us, it is safe to delete the chain of signatures proving ownership and transfer of bitcoins". They're pushing "SegWit" - the most radical change in the history of Bitcoin. As I have repeatedly discussed, SegWit weakens Bitcoin's security model.
The people who support Satoshi's original Bitcoin (and clients which continue to implement it: Bitcoin ABC, Bitcoin Unlimited, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Classic - all supporting "Bitcoin Cash" - ie "Bitcoin" without SegWit) say "Trust no one. You should never delete the chain of signatures proving ownership and transfer of your bitcoins."
We define an electronic coin as a chain of digital signatures.
So, according to Satoshi, a "chain of digital signatures" is the very definition of what a bitcoin is.
Meanwhile according to some ignorant / corrupt devs from AXA-owned Blockstream (and a handful of "Bitcoin legal experts") now suddenly it's "probably" "fairly" safe to just throw Satoshi's "chain of digital signatures" in the trash - all in the name of "innovation" and "efficiency" and "optimization" - because they're so very clever.
Who do you think is right? Finally, here's another blatant lie from SegWit supporters (and small-block supporters) Let's consider this other important quote from Satoshi's whitepaper above:
A payee can verify the signatures to verify the chain of ownership.
Remember, this is what "small blockers" have always been insisting for years. They've constantly been saying that "blocks need to be 1 MB!!1 Waah!1!" - even though several years ago the Cornell study showed that blocks could already be 4 MB, with existing hardware and bandwidth. But small-blockers have always insisted that everyone should store the entire blockchain - so they can verify their own transactions. But hey, wait a minute! Now they turn around and try to get you to use SegWit - which allows deleting the very data which insisted that you should download and save locally to verify your own transactions! So, once again, this exposes the so-called "arguments" of small-blocks supporters as being fake arguments and lies:
On the one hand, they (falsely) claim that small blocks are necessary in order for everyone to be run "full nodes" because (they claim) that's the only way people can personally verify all their own transactions. By the way, there are already several errors here with what they're saying:
Actually "full nodes" is a misnomer (Blockstream propaganda). The correct terminology is "full wallets", because only miners are actually "nodes".
Actually 1 MB "max blocksize" is not necessary for this. The Cornell study showed that we could easily be using 4 MB or 8 MB blocks by now - since, as everyone knows, the average size of most web pages is already over 2 MB, and everyone routinely downloads 2 MB web pages in a matter of seconds, so in 10 minutes you could download - and upload - a lot more than just 2 MB. But whatever.
On the other hand, they support SegWit - and the purpose of SegWit is to allow people to delete the "signature data".
This conflicts with their argument the everyone should personally verify all their own transactions. For example, above, Coin Center director Jerry Brito was saying: "As long as somebody in the world keeps the signature data and it's accessible, it's fine."
So which is it? For years, the "small blockers" told us we needed to all be able to personally verify everything on our own node. And now SegWit supporters are telling us: "Naah - you can just rely on someone else's node."
Plus, while the transactions are still being sent around on the wire, the "signature data" is still there - it's just "segregated" - so you're not getting any savings on bandwidth anyways - you'd only get the savings if you delete the "signature data" from storage.
Storage is cheap and plentiful, it's never been the "bottleneck" in the system. Bandwidth is the main bottleneck - and SegWit doesn't help that at all, because it still transmits all the data.
Conclusion So if you're confused by all the arguments from small-blockers and SegWitters, there's a good reason: their "arguments" are total bullshit and lies. They're attempting to contradict and destroy:
Satoshi's original design of Bitcoin as a "chain of digital signatures":
"We define an electronic coin as a chain of digital signatures. Each owner transfers the coin to the next by digitally signing a hash of the previous transaction and the public key of the next owner and adding these to the end of the coin. A payee can verify the signatures to verify the chain of ownership."
Satoshi's plan for scaling Bitcoin by simply increasing the goddamn blocksize:
Satoshi Nakamoto, October 04, 2010, 07:48:40 PM "It can be phased in, like: if (blocknumber > 115000) maxblocksize = largerlimit / It can start being in versions way ahead, so by the time it reaches that block number and goes into effect, the older versions that don't have it are already obsolete."
The the notorious mortgage database MERS, pushed by clueless and corrupt Wall Street bankers, deleted the "chain of (legal) title" which had been essential to show who conveyed what mortgages to whom - leading to "clouded titles", foreclosure fraud, and robo-signing.
The notorious SegWit soft fork / kludge, pushed by clueless and corrupt AXA-owned Blockstream devs, allows deleting the "chain of (cryptographic) signatures" which is essential to show who sent how many bitcoins to whom - which could lead to a catastrophe for people who foolishly use SegWit addresses (which can be avoided: unsafe "SegWit" bitcoin addresses start with a "3" - while safe, "normal" Bitcoin addresses start with a "1").
Stay safe and protect your bitcoin investment: Avoid SegWit transactions.
[See the comments from me directly below for links to several articles on MERS, foreclosure fraud, robo-signing, "clouded title", etc.]
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