Time is Money
Scam Alert: Monetary Theft is Time Theft
I had an experience last week that actually messed me up. I was contacted by an individual who needed help moving his cryptocurrency from his wallet. This sort of thing is not out of the ordinary. Some people get themselves into crypto, without the knowledge of how to get themselves out later. After meeting with this person and taking a closer look into their wallet, I was quickly able to ascertain that they had been scammed to the tune of $500k CAD. That was this person’s life savings. My stomach turned as I realized that I would have to be the one to break the news to them.
This experience got me thinking a lot about time, money, and theft.
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Time is Money
The english language is a peculiar things. We have overlapping terms in many areas, but time and money is one area wherein I think we take for granted how accurately related the terms actually are.
When we take time to do something, we say we’re spending time.
When we ask someone whether or not they enjoyed an experience, we ask “Was it worth it?”
When we discover a new way to do something quicker or more efficiently, we say we’ve saved time.
When time is spent on a menial or frivolous activity, it is wasted. Similarly, low-quality goods and knick knacks are a waste of money.
When asked “how was your time?”, the questioner is asking the respondent to account for their experience. They will respond with, good, bad, or something in between. The answer is qualitative.
To speak of quality is to invoke the notion of value. We have quality time, and quality goods and services.
Whether we have consciously linked the two concepts together in our minds is beside the point. Time and money are bound together in the nomenclature and vernacular of everyday discourse.
Monetary Theft is Time Theft
When you spend your time working, you’re monetarily reimbursed. You can spend that money, or save it. If you don’t have an immediate want or need to spend all the money you’ve earned right away, it is a good idea to save it.
Saving your money is like storing those worked hours, so you can redeem them for goods or services you need later. The longer you store you savings, in theory, the more you will have. Your savings account is a lot like a stored time account.
So when someone steals money from you, they’ve stolen your time. In my mind, there are few greater offences to the individual than time theft. After all, time is our most precious and scarce resource. We all have a beginning, but the end can come at any time. We know our time is bounded, but we do not know its limits. It could be a decades, or couple of years, or a couple more days.
To steal someones savings (money), is to take their stored and accumulated time, energy, and efforts from them, and claim them as if they had put in that effort themselves. The act is narcissistic, egotistical, maniacal, and psychotic.
The details of the scam that prompted me to write this letter are as follows. The names in this account have been changed as to preserve the privacy of the involved individuals.
The wife (Sue) of the gentleman (Paul) that was scammed was contacted by the scammers (posing as investors). Sue was convinced to give them a couple hundred dollars. Several weeks/month later, she was able to withdraw a significantly higher sum of money. This was key in orchestrating the scam, because it gave the scammers credibility as legitimate actors.
Then, Paul felt comfortable putting in a larger sum of money. He proceeded to send them a much larger sum. In the coming months Paul was informed that his investment had grown unreasonably substantially. Warning sign #1 — Be wary of high gains that happen too quickly
When requesting a payout, the scammers informed Paul that he would need to make a transfer to them in order to pay the taxes on the gains. Warning sign #2 — Companies don’t pay your taxes, you do
Then, when that transfer was complete, the scammers started to prey on the husbands lack of knowledge and understanding around blockchain technology. The scammers said that they needed “Gas Money” to send the transaction through the blockchain. The amount they said they needed was about $125k USD. Even with high Ethereum gas fees, $125k is far beyond anything that is reasonable.
After this was done, the scammers did something clever. They set Paul up with a non-custodial Atomic Wallet. They then deposited about 591,000 USDT into the wallet. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, then you would think that the tokens in the wallet are legit. They even deposited an extra 125,000 USDT to “reimburse” the husband for the gas fees.
At this point, Paul had put a mortgage back on his house in hopes that his money would one day be retrievable. This was also around the time that he contacted me.
The first thing I did was look into Paul’s Atomic Wallet. I asked him to send me his public address so I can look at the tokens in his wallet and verify the authenticity of the USDT. The following picture is an annotated screenshot that I sent Paul to explain to him how I knew the tokens in his wallet were fake, and worth nothing.
The reasons why I know this is a scam
As you can see from the above picture, there are 21,000,000 of these USDT.
They have a market cap of 0
There are only 168 holders of this token
The screenshot below is the real Tether. There is a max total supply of 30 billion tokens, with more than 4 million holders and a market cap that is roughly equivalent to the number of tokens in circulation.
This was enough proof to conclude that Paul had been scammed.
There is not a lot that can be done to help Paul retrieve his funds. Paul is an elderly gentleman in the early stage of his retirement and was the victim of an admittedly clever scheme. This could happen to anyone, which is why I hope to prevent more situations like this by writing this sort of letter to you, my reader. I’ll leave you with some general rules or guidelines that may help you avoid a scam.
If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is
Reach out to experts before making an investment. Clarify your understanding of what you’re investing in. If you don’t understand it, then it’s probably not something you should invest in.
Time is not of the essence. If someone is rushing you to make an investment, treat this as a warning sign. If it’s a good investment last month, it’ll still be a good investment this month. Take your time.
You are smart enough to do it yourself. Have confidence in your own ability to manage and own your investments. I have a general rule to never let a “money manager” or “investment broker” handle my money. This may be just the bitcoiner in me talking, but if you don’t have access to the keys (or password) that controls your investments/money, then you really don’t own your investments. You are trusting that your investments will be redeemable when the time comes. Don’t trust; Verify.
Thanks for reading. If you know of anyone that is involved in a scheme like the one I described above, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I can help clarify their understanding and make sure they don’t make a bad situation even worse. There is no shame in finding yourself involved in one of these scams, I’ve fallen prey to ponzi schemes in the past as well. It’s all a part of the learning experience.