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BCexchange, the decentralized cryptocurrency exchange for everyone
Subreddit for BCexchange (short for Blocks & Chains Decentralized Exchange). B&C Exchange will be an open-source decentralized exchange that completes cryptocurrency trades between users by utilizing multisig signers that compete for blockchain rewards based on their effectiveness and honesty. Trades occur using real cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and NuBits.
MtGox Site Update 26 March 2014: Announcement with regard to consultations with investigating authorities on the disappearance of bitcoins
Direct link: https://www.mtgox.com/img/pdf/20140326-investigation.pdf Homepage: https://www.mtgox.com Text: March 26, 2014 To anyone concerned Mark Karpeles Representative Director MtGox Co., Ltd. 115 Shibuya 2chome, Shibuyaku, Tokyo Announcement with regard to consultations with investigating authorities on the disappearance of bitcoins Following its application for commencement of civil rehabilitation, MtGox Co., Ltd. consulted with the metropolitan police department with regard to the disappearance of bitcoins which is one of the causes for said application. MtGox Co., Ltd. hereby announces that it has submitted necessary electronic records and other related documents. MtGox Co., Ltd. intends to fully cooperate with each competent authority. Further, MtGox Co., Ltd. continues to make efforts to clarify facts as quickly as possible and to recover from damages.
Dear Escapers! We are glad to present you the preliminary patch notes for the 0.12.7 patch! --- Added: --- • Customs expansion (expansion of industrial area, construction site, added many new explorable buildings, stationary weapons, new location for Reshala spawn etc.) • Added new scav boss - Sanitar. A former doctor, he worked in the health resort "Lazurny bereg", and before that in the TerraGroup laboratory. After the events that happened in Tarkov, he gathered a gang with former colleagues and operates on the "Shoreline". Actively uses professional skills in combat, quickly healing himself and the gang members. He uses various stimulants and medications, including those of his own production. He can quickly perform surgery by pulling out a bullet or applying a tourniquet on the field. Sometimes he is loyal to the Scavs and can leave a couple of first-aid kits or other medical supplies for his own group members on location • New quests on Shoreline • System for reporting suspicious players, unacceptable nicknames and game bugs abusers (on the post-match screen) Improved AI behavior: • Bots can pick up items now • Improved AI behavior when they see bodies • Bots now can pick up a second firearm from bodies • AI now can greet each other or player scavs, showing their peaceful intentions • Bots will eat\drink while in peaceful mode • AI will perform a mag check when in peaceful mode • Bots can check someone for friend or foe by aiming at him for some time, if they’re not sure of one’s intentions • Bots will sprint while patrolling if they consider the spot being dangerous • AI will be able to storm the player as a group, if he’s holding position and attacking them • AI will try to avoid dangerous places --- New weapons: --- • FN GL40 Grenade launcher • Mossberg 590A1 Shotgun --- New ammo: --- • .366 AP-M • .45 ACP Hydr-Shock • 9x19 mm QuakeMaker • 9x19 mm 7N31 • .45 ACP Lasermatch FMJ • .45 ACP AP • 7.62x51 mm M993 • 40x46 мм M381 HE • 40x46 мм M386 HE • 40x46 мм M406 HE • 40x46 мм M433 HEDP • 40x46 мм M441 HE • 40x46 мм M576 buckshot --- Added new stimulants: --- • 3-(b-TG) • L1 (Noradrenaline) • P22 (Specimen 22) • AHF1-M • Meldonin • "Obdolbos" cocktail • M.U.L.E • Added an additional icon for the network connection status in case of high packet loss • In the container slots window, the container tag is now displayed in the header --- Iteration of improving and reworking the skill system: --- New skill "Surgery" • Reduces HP penalty for surgery • Improved surgery speed • (Elite) No HP penalty for the restored body part • (Elite) Maximum increase in the speed of surgery New skill "Aim drills" • Increase of the aiming speed • Decrease the volume of aiming • (Elite) No hand shaking at any stamina value, first 2 seconds after aiming • (Elite) Reduced hands shaking during tremor and fracture, the first 2 seconds after aiming Rework of the “Strength” skill • Increase all weight limits • Increase the speed of the sprint • Increase the jump height • Increase the strength of the grenade throw • Increase the strength of a melee attack • (Elite) The weight does not take into account the weapons on the sling and on the back • (Elite) Melee attack can be stronger than usual Rework of the "Endurance" skill • Increased feet stamina • Reduced stamina consumption for jumping • Increased holding breath time when ads • Increased the speed of breath recovery • (Elite) Maximum increase in breathing recovery rate • (Elite) Breathing is no longer dependent on energy • (Elite) Increased stamina reserve Various fixes in old skills • Added 5 HP to the health of “Chest” zone (from 80 to 85) --- Optimization: --- • Optimized the rendering of decals • Fixed freezes that happened when the sound of thunder or the sound of grenades exploding was played • Optimized the performance of the game server • Fixed an issue with killing the boss of a group of raiders who appeared on the scene after interacting with the trigger was leading to errors on the server • Minor optimizations on the first shot or hit • Optimization of hideout sounds • Fixes of errors that could potentially lead to different freezes --- Fixed: --- • Iteration of fixes and corrections in UI • Bug with the PostFX menu that remains on the screen after closing the settings • Bug playing the sound of contusion if the sound is turned off in the settings • Bug of jerky animation of shooting weapons in the Hideout shooting range • The passage of raiders on the laboratory through the doors • A bug that allowed you to quickly move when constantly tapping the "Run" button when overweight • AS VAL with the handle adapter "Rotor 43" is now impossible to fold • Inability to exit the location via the paid exit “Car”, if you reconnect at the start of the exfil timer • Bug with throwing away the magazine when reloading the weapon via the context menu • Error 228 when receiving items from an expired email • Formulas for calculating prices for items with its resource and its commissions • After the reconnect, the equipment that was not searched become searched • The sound of the visor on/off remained at one point, and does not follow the character • Bug that wouldn't block buttons on the bottom panel after reconnecting as a Scav • Interface block if you go to the “Map” screen without a map • Bug when the "Receive all" button opened only the first and last message with items • Various bugs with switching the sound from “outdoor " to "indoor", and back, when reconnecting • Bug of not blocking an item after it was added to the merchant's sales table • Cartridges from packs of cartridges found in raid now have the status " found in the raid” • Error when studying items from the scav box • Fixes in the flea Market • The search will be updated if you delete and add an item to the wish list • Loss of a player's nickname and rating from the offer line after applying filters • The “search by item" option now resets the selected filters • Bug displaying the loading spinner on top of the list of offers • The mount without the “Found in raid" label ceased to be semitransparent (blocked) in the selection of the item for the offer, if you put and remove the mod on it • Bug when the merchant's avatar was flattened • Incorrect tag behavior on marked items for a flea market offer if you select multiple items from the container, closing and opening the container • Horizontal scrollbar on the product sales screen • Bug when the player couldn't put 2 identical weapons on the flea market if one of them was included in the starter kit for pre-order • Error 1508 - You send bad items- when putting an empty pack of cartridges on a flea Market • Bug, when for buying through a flea market goods from npc merchants needed items found in raid Fixed in weapon presets • Displaying the indicator “you have mods to build” when there are no mods for the build in the stash • Bug when the build could have been built with the wrong mod that was not in the preset • Weapon disassembly bug if you build the same preset twice with the same weapon • Ability to select items that are blocked for purchase, via the presets by clicking the button “Select all” • Packs of items are no longer displayed in the purchase lists of preset mods • The purchase lists of presets no longer display items the player's own offers • Added an error about lack of space when purchasing preset mods • Bug when opening presets through the lower panel that caused the game client to freeze Fixed in the hideout • Various fixes in the bitcoin farm • White authorization screen if you improve the pre-order version while in the hideout • Bug when it was possible to install a filter with zero resource in the “Water collector” and it could not be uninstalled • Calculation of fuel consumption time in the “Generator " zone • Bug duplicating the canister icon, when selecting a canister, in the “Generator" zone • Various bugs in group chat • Bugs with the discharge of weapons in the stash • Incorrect position of the fire mod pin and the turn of the barrel of the PPSH • Visual bug for displaying a zero bonus in the base level zones in the Hideout • Visual bug with the availability of time selection before the raid on the Laboratory screen • A bug where the player could spawn outside the location • Spamming error NullReferenceException: MuzzleManager • An error that occurs every time after treatment or getting a fracture • "Failed to create device file" error that occurs during client downtime • Errors when assigning voice commands • Spamming error when a large number of bots are active in the offline mode • Various errors while loading in raid • Various bugs and issues with Customs location • Various bugs and improvements related to AI • Fixed a bug when bots didn't follow a grenade throw with a voiceline • Fixed a handful of bugs related to bots getting stuck • Fixed a bug where a Gluhar would not react to a killed in the head ally • Fixed a bug when bots tried to heal a blacked out body part • Bots are now able to treat debuffs on blacked out body parts again • Fixed a handful of bugs with bots knocking out doors • Other AI related bug fixes and improvements • Various localization fixes and improvements • Other minor bugs and issues --- Changed: --- • Now it is possible to examine items from the construction requirements screen in the Hideout • Added displaying the time before the bleeding effect disappears in the stash • Now if you are not matched to the raid within 45 minutes, the search will be canceled • Updated SV-98 animation, hold, new animations when entering and exiting a sprint, new hold in the menu and on the loading screen • Updated PPSH animation, hold, and new animations when entering and exiting a sprint
Tomorrow [The 27th], at 14.00 Moscow time we plan to start installation of the update 0.12.7. The game will be stopped. Installation of the update will take approximately 4 hours, but can be extended if necessary.
Customs expansion (expansion of industrial area, construction site, added many new explorable buildings, stationary weapons, new location for Reshala spawn etc.)
Added new scav boss - Sanitar.
A former doctor, he worked in the health resort "Lazurny bereg", and before that in the TerraGroup laboratory. After the events that happened in Tarkov, he gathered a gang with former colleagues and operates on the "Shoreline". Actively uses professional skills in combat, quickly healing himself and the gang members. He uses various stimulants and medications, including those of his own production. He can quickly perform surgery by pulling out a bullet or applying a tourniquet on the field. Sometimes he is loyal to the Scavs and can leave a couple of first-aid kits or other medical supplies for his own group members on location
New quests on Shoreline
System for reporting suspicious players, unacceptable nicknames and game bugs abusers (on the post-match screen)
Improved AI behavior:
Bots can pick up items now
Improved AI behavior when they see bodies
Bots now can pick up a second firearm from bodies
AI now can greet each other or player scavs, showing their peaceful intentions
Bots will eat\drink while in peaceful mode
AI will perform a mag check when in peaceful mode
Bots can check someone for friend or foe by aiming at him for some time, if they’re not sure of one’s intentions
Bots will sprint while patrolling if they consider the spot being dangerous
AI will be able to storm the player as a group, if he’s holding position and attacking them
AI will try to avoid dangerous places
FN GL40 Grenade launcher
Mossberg 590A1 Shotgun
.45 ACP Hydr-Shock
9x19 mm QuakeMaker
9x19 mm 7N31
.45 ACP Lasermatch FMJ
.45 ACP AP
7.62x51 mm M993
40x46 мм M381 HE
40x46 мм M386 HE
40x46 мм M406 HE
40x46 мм M433 HEDP
40x46 мм M441 HE
40x46 мм M576 buckshot
Added new stimulants:
P22 (Specimen 22)
Added an additional icon for the network connection status in case of high packet loss
In the container slots window, the container tag is now displayed in the header
Iteration of improving and reworking the skill system:
New skill "Surgery"
Reduces HP penalty for surgery
Improved surgery speed
(Elite) No HP penalty for the restored body part
(Elite) Maximum increase in the speed of surgery
New skill "Aim drills"
Increase of the aiming speed
Decrease the volume of aiming
(Elite) No hand shaking at any stamina value, first 2 seconds after aiming
(Elite) Reduced hands shaking during tremor and fracture, the first 2 seconds after aiming
Rework of the “Strength” skill
Increase all weight limits
Increase the speed of the sprint
Increase the jump height
Increase the strength of the grenade throw
Increase the strength of a melee attack
(Elite) The weight does not take into account the weapons on the sling and on the back
(Elite) Melee attack can be stronger than usual
Rework of the "Endurance" skill
Increased feet stamina
Reduced stamina consumption for jumping
Increased holding breath time when ads
Increased the speed of breath recovery
(Elite) Maximum increase in breathing recovery rate
(Elite) Breathing is no longer dependent on energy
(Elite) Increased stamina reserve
Various fixes in old skills
Added 5 HP to the health of “Chest” zone (from 80 to 85)
Optimized the rendering of decals
Fixed freezes that happened when the sound of thunder or the sound of grenades exploding was played
Optimized the performance of the game server
Fixed an issue with killing the boss of a group of raiders who appeared on the scene after interacting with the trigger was leading to errors on the server
Minor optimizations on the first shot or hit
Optimization of hideout sounds
Fixes of errors that could potentially lead to different freezes
Iteration of fixes and corrections in UI
Bug with the PostFX menu that remains on the screen after closing the settings
Bug playing the sound of contusion if the sound is turned off in the settings
Bug of jerky animation of shooting weapons in the Hideout shooting range
The passage of raiders on the laboratory through the doors
A bug that allowed you to quickly move when constantly tapping the "Run" button when overweight
AS VAL with the handle adapter "Rotor 43" is now impossible to fold
Inability to exit the location via the paid exit “Car”, if you reconnect at the start of the exfil timer
Bug with throwing away the magazine when reloading the weapon via the context menu
Error 228 when receiving items from an expired email
Formulas for calculating prices for items with its resource and its commissions
After the reconnect, the equipment that was not searched become searched
The sound of the visor on/off remained at one point, and does not follow the character
Bug that wouldn't block buttons on the bottom panel after reconnecting as a Scav
Interface block if you go to the “Map” screen without a map
Bug when the "Receive all" button opened only the first and last message with items
Various bugs with switching the sound from “outdoor " to "indoor", and back, when reconnecting
Bug of not blocking an item after it was added to the merchant's sales table
Cartridges from packs of cartridges found in raid now have the status " found in the raid”
Error when studying items from the scav box
Fixes in the flea Market
The search will be updated if you delete and add an item to the wish list
Loss of a player's nickname and rating from the offer line after applying filters
The “search by item" option now resets the selected filters
Bug displaying the loading spinner on top of the list of offers
The mount without the “Found in raid" label ceased to be semitransparent (blocked) in the selection of the item for the offer, if you put and remove the mod on it
Bug when the merchant's avatar was flattened
Incorrect tag behavior on marked items for a flea market offer if you select multiple items from the container, closing and opening the container
Horizontal scrollbar on the product sales screen
Bug when the player couldn't put 2 identical weapons on the flea market if one of them was included in the starter kit for pre-order
Error 1508 - You send bad items- when putting an empty pack of cartridges on a flea Market
Bug, when for buying through a flea market goods from npc merchants needed items found in raid
Fixed in weapon presets
Displaying the indicator “you have mods to build” when there are no mods for the build in the stash
Bug when the build could have been built with the wrong mod that was not in the preset
Weapon disassembly bug if you build the same preset twice with the same weapon
Ability to select items that are blocked for purchase, via the presets by clicking the button “Select all”
Packs of items are no longer displayed in the purchase lists of preset mods
The purchase lists of presets no longer display items the player's own offers
Added an error about lack of space when purchasing preset mods
Bug when opening presets through the lower panel that caused the game client to freeze
Fixed in the hideout
Various fixes in the bitcoin farm
White authorization screen if you improve the pre-order version while in the hideout
Bug when it was possible to install a filter with zero resource in the “Water collector” and it could not be uninstalled
Calculation of fuel consumption time in the “Generator " zone
Bug duplicating the canister icon, when selecting a canister, in the “Generator" zone
Various bugs in group chat
Bugs with the discharge of weapons in the stash
Incorrect position of the fire mod pin and the turn of the barrel of the PPSH
Visual bug for displaying a zero bonus in the base level zones in the Hideout
Visual bug with the availability of time selection before the raid on the Laboratory screen
A bug where the player could spawn outside the location
Blockchain, the amazing solution for almost nothing
Article from Jesse Frederik at the Correspondent Highlights: At its core, blockchain is a glorified spreadsheet (think: Excel with one table). In other words, a new way to store data. In traditional databases there’s usually one person who’s in charge, who decides who can access and input data, who can edit and remove it. That’s different in a blockchain. Nobody’s in charge, and you can’t change or delete anything, only view and input data. Nakamoto thought that everyone would be able to work equally hard to solve the puzzles. But some companies have exclusive access to specialised hardware, cheap electricity and space, which makes them much better able to fulfil this role. What was envisioned as decentralised has become centralised again, because of the advantages of scale. Out of over 86,000 blockchain projects that had been launched, 92% had been abandoned by the end of 2017, according to consultancy firm Deloitte. Firstly: the technology is at loggerheads with European privacy legislation, specifically the right to be forgotten. Once something is in the blockchain, it cannot be removed. For instance, hundreds of links to child abuse material and revenge porn were placed in the bitcoin blockchain by malicious users. It’s impossible to remove those. The presumed hackers of Hillary Clinton’s email were caught, for instance, because their identity could be linked to bitcoin transactions. A number of researchers from Qatar University were able to ascertain the identities of tens of thousands of bitcoin users fairly easily through social networking sites. Other researchers showed how you can de-anonymise many more people through trackers on shopping websites. The fact that no one is in charge and nothing can be modified also means that mistakes cannot be corrected. A bank can reverse a payment request. This is impossible for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. So anything that has been stolen will stay stolen. There is a continuous stream of hackers targeting bitcoin exchanges and users, and fraudsters launching investment vehicles that are in fact pyramid schemes. According to estimates, nearly 15% of all bitcoin has been stolen at some point. Solving all those complex puzzles requires a huge amount of energy. So much energy that the two biggest blockchains in the world – bitcoin and Ethereum – are now using up the same amount of electricity as the whole of Austria. Carrying out a payment with Visa requires about 0.002 kilowatt-hours; the same payment with bitcoin uses up 906 kilowatt-hours, more than half a million times as much, and enough to power a two-person household for about three months. OK, so with bitcoin, banks can’t just remove money from your account at their own discretion. But does this really happen? I have never heard of a bank simply taking money from someone’s account. If a bank did something like that, they would be hauled into court in no time and lose their license. Technically it’s possible; legally, it’s a death sentence. Of course scammers are active everywhere. People lie and cheat. But the biggest problem is scams by data suppliers. (for instance: someone secretly registers a hunk of horse meat as beef), not by data administrators (for instance: a bank makes money disappear). A blockchain is a database – it’s not a self-regulating system that checks all data for correctness, let alone one that calls a halt to unauthorised building works. The same rules apply for blockchain as for any database: if people put garbage into it, what comes out is also garbage. Or as Bloomberg columnist Matt Levine wrote: “My immutable unforgeable cryptographically secure blockchain record proving that I have 10,000 pounds of aluminium in a warehouse is not much use to a bank if I then smuggle the aluminium out of the warehouse through the back door.” Data should reflect reality, but sometimes reality changes and the data stays the same. That’s why we have notaries, supervisors, lawyers – actually, all those boring people that blockchain thinks it can do without. But wasn’t that the whole point of blockchain, that you could do without these trusted third parties? So what are they doing here? If you ask me, they’re building a completely normal, run-of-the-mill database, but extremely inefficiently. Once you’ve cut through all the jargon, the report turns out to be a boring account of database architecture. They write about a distributed ledger (that’s a shared database), about smart contracts (that’s an algorithm) and about proof of authority (that’s the right to veto whatever is entered in the database). “I work with code, so people see me as a magician,” he said proudly. It was always rather surprising to him – a magician? He spends half his time yelling at his screen in frustration, while he programmes strips of duct tape to repair creaky PHP script from years and years ago. What Tim meant was that ICT is like the rest of the world – a big old mess. And that’s something that we – outsiders, laypeople, non-tech geeks – simply refuse to accept. Councillors and managers think that problems – however large and fundamental they are – evaporate instantaneously thanks to technology they’ve heard about in a fancy PowerPoint presentation. How will it work? Who cares! Don’t try to understand it, just reap the benefits! According to a recent survey carried out by consultancy firm Deloitte, 70% of business executives said they had a lot of expertise in the field of blockchain. The greatest advantage of blockchain, according to them, is its speed. That's a bit stupid, because even fanatics see speed as a problem, not a feature. This is the market for magic, and that market is big. Whether it’s about blockchain, big data, cloud computing, AI or other buzzwords.
Hello visitors and subscribers of scams! Here you will find a master list of common (and uncommon) scams that you may encounter online or in real life. Thank you to the many contributors who helped create this thread!
If you know of a scam that is not covered here, write a comment and it will be added to the next edition.
Caller ID spoofing It is very easy for anyone to make a phone call while having any number show up on the caller ID of the person receiving the phone call. Receiving a phone call from a certain number does not mean that the person/company who owns that number has actually called you. Email spoofing The "from" field of an email can be set by the sender, meaning that you can receive scam emails that look like they are from legitimate addresses. It's important to never click links in emails unless absolutely necessary, for example a password reset link you requested or an account activation link for an account you created. SMS spoofing SMS messages can be spoofed, so be wary of messages that seem to be from your friends or other trusted people.
The most common scams
The fake check scam (Credit to nimble2 for this part) The fake check scam arises from many different situations (for instance, you applied for a job, or you are selling something on a place like Craigslist, or someone wants to purchase goods or services from your business, or you were offered a job as a mystery shopper, you were asked to wrap your car with an advertisement, or you received a check in the mail for no reason), but the bottom line is always something like this:
The scammer sends you a very real looking, but fake, check. Sometimes they'll call it a "cashier's check", a "certified check", or a "verified check".
You deposit the check into your bank account, and within a couple of days your bank makes some or all of the funds available to you. This makes you think that the check is real and the funds have cleared. However, the money appearing in your account is not the same as the check actually clearing. The bank must make the funds available to you before they have cleared the check because that is the law.
For various and often complicated reasons, depending on the specific story line of the scam, the scammer will ask you to send someone some of the money, using services like MoneyGram, Western Union, and Walmart-2-Walmart. Sometimes the scammer will ask for you to purchase gift cards (iTunes, Amazon, Steam, etc) and give them the codes to redeem the gift cards. Some scammers may also give you instructions on how to buy and send them bitcoins.
Within a couple of weeks, though it can take as long as a month, your bank will realize that the check you deposited was fake, and your bank will remove the funds that you deposited into your account and charge you a bounced check fee. If you withdrew any of the money from the fake check, that money will be gone and you will owe that money to the bank. Some posters have even had their bank accounts closed and have been blocked from having another account for 5 years using ChexSystems.
General fraudulent funds scams If somebody is asking you to accept and send out money as a favour or as part of a job, it is a fraudulent funds scam. It does not matter how they pay you, any payment on any service can be fraudulent and will be reversed when it is discovered to be fraudulent. Phone verification code scams Someone will ask you to receive a verification text and then tell you to give them the code. Usually the code will come from Google Voice, or from Craigslist. In the Google version of the scam, your phone number will be used to verify a Google Voice account that the scammer will use to scam people with. In the Craigslist version of the scam, your phone number will be used to verify a Craigslist posting that the scammer will use to scam people. There is also an account takeover version of this scam that will involve the scammer sending a password reset token to your phone number and asking you for it. Bitcoin job scams Bitcoin job scams involve some sort of fraudulent funds transfer, usually a fake check although a fraudulent bank transfer can be used as well. The scammer will send you the fraudulent money and ask you to purchase bitcoins. This is a scam, and you will have zero recourse after you send the scammer bitcoins. Email flooding If you suddenly receive hundreds or thousands of spam emails, usually subscription confirmations, it's very likely that one of your online accounts has been taken over and is being used fraudulently. You should check any of your accounts that has a credit card linked to it, preferably from a computer other than the one you normally use. You should change all of your passwords to unique passwords and you should start using two factor authentication everywhere. Cartel scam You will be threatened by scammers who claim to be affiliated with a cartel. They may send you gory pictures and threaten your life and the lives of your family. Usually the victim will have attempted to contact an escort prior to the scam, but sometimes the scammers target people randomly. If you are targeted by a cartel scam all you need to do is ignore the scammers as their threats are clearly empty. Boss/CEO scam A scammer will impersonate your boss or someone who works at your company and will ask you to run an errand for them, which will usually be purchasing gift cards and sending them the code. Once the scammer has the code, you have no recourse. Employment certification scams You will receive a job offer that is dependent on you completing a course or receiving a certification from a company the scammer tells you about. The scammer operates both websites and the job does not exist. Craigslist fake payment scams Scammers will ask you about your item that you have listed for sale on a site like Craigslist, and will ask to pay you via Paypal. They are scamming you, and the payment in most cases does not actually exist, the email you received was sent by the scammers. In cases where you have received a payment, the scammer can dispute the payment or the payment may be entirely fraudulent. The scammer will then either try to get you to send money to them using the fake funds that they did not send to you, or will ask you to ship the item, usually to a re-shipping facility or a parcel mule. Craigslist Carfax/vehicle history scam You'll encounter a scammer on Craigslist who wants to buy the vehicle you have listed, but they will ask for a VIN report from a random site that they have created and they will expect you to pay for it. Double dip/recovery scammers This is a scam aimed at people who have already fallen for a scam previously. Scammers will reach out to the victim and claim to be able to help the victim recover funds they lost in the scam. General fraudulent funds scams The fake check scam is not the only scam that involves accepting fraudulent/fake funds and purchasing items for scammers. If your job or opportunity involves accepting money and then using that money, it is almost certainly a frauduent funds scam. Even if the payment is through a bank transfer, Paypal, Venmo, Zelle, Interac e-Transfer, etc, it does not matter. Credit card debt scam Fraudsters will offer to pay off your bills, and will do so with fraudulent funds. Sometimes it will be your credit card bill, but it can be any bill that can be paid online. Once they pay it off, they will ask you to send them money or purchase items for them. The fraudulent transaction will be reversed in the future and you will never be able to keep the money. This scam happens on sites like Craigslist, Twitter, Instagram, and also some dating sites, including SeekingArrangement. The parcel mule scam A scammer will contact you with a job opportunity that involves accepting and reshipping packages. The packages are either stolen or fraudulently obtained items, and you will not be paid by the scammer. Here is a news article about a scam victim who fell for this scam and reshipped over 20 packages containing fraudulently acquired goods. The Skype sex scam You're on Facebook and you get a friend request from a cute girl you've never met. She wants to start sexting and trading nudes. She'll ask you to send pictures or videos or get on webcam where she can see you naked with your face in the picture. The scam: There's no girl. You've sent nudes to a guy pretending to be a girl. As soon as he has the pictures he'll demand money and threaten to send the pictures to your friends and family. Sometimes the scammer will upload the video to a porn site or Youtube to show that they are serious. What to do if you are a victim of this scam: You cannot buy silence, you can only rent it. Paying the blackmailer will show them that the information they have is valuable and they will come after you for more money. Let your friends and family know that you were scammed and tell them to ignore friend requests or messages from people they don't know. Also, make sure your privacy settings are locked down and consider deactivating your account. The underage girl scam You're on a dating site or app and you get contacted by a cute girl. She wants to start sexting and trading nudes. Eventually she stops communicating and you get a call from a pissed off guy claiming to be the girl's father, or a police officer, or a private investigator, or something else along those lines. Turns out the girl you were sexting is underage, and her parents want some money for various reasons, such as to pay for a new phone, to pay for therapy, etc. There is, of course, no girl. You were communicating with a scammer. What to do if you are a victim of this scam: Stop picking up the phone when the scammers call. Do not pay them, or they will be after you for more money. Phishing Phishing is when a scammer tries to trick you into giving information to them, such as your password or private financial information. Phishing messages will usually look very similar to official messages, and sometimes they are identical. If you are ever required to login to a different account in order to use a service, you should be incredibly cautious. The blackmail email scam part 5: https://old.reddit.com/Scams/comments/g8jqnthe_blackmail_email_scam_part_5/ PSA: you did not win a giftcard: https://old.reddit.com/Scams/comments/fffmle/psa_you_did_not_win_a_gift_card/ Sugar scams Sugar scammers operate all over the internet and usually come in two varieties: advance-fee scams where the scammer will ask for a payment from you before sending you lots of money, and fake check style scams where the scammer will either pull a classic fake check scam, or will do a "bill pay" style scam that involves them paying your bills, or them giving you banking information to pay your bills. If you encounter these scammers, report their accounts and move on. Google Hangouts Google Hangouts is a messaging platform used extensively by all kinds of scammers. If you are talking with someone online and they want you to switch to Hangouts, they are likely a scammer and you should proceed with caution. Publishers Clearing House scams PCH scams are often advance-fee scams, where you will be promised lots of money after you make an initial payment. You will never need to pay if you win money from the real PCH. Pet scams You are looking for a specific breed of puppy, bird, or other pet. You come across a nice-looking website that claims to be breeding them and has some available right now - they may even be on sale! The breeders are not local to your area (and may not even list a physical location) but they assure you they can safely ship the pet to you after a deposit or full payment. If you go through with the payment, you will likely be contacted by the "shipper" who will inform you about an unexpected shipping/customs/processing fee required to deliver your new pet. But there was never any pet, both the "breeder" and the "shipper" are scammers, typically operating out of Africa. These sites are rampant and account for a large percentage of online pet seller websites - they typically have a similar layout/template (screenshot - example) If you are considering buying a pet online, some easy things to check are: (1) The registration date of the domain (if it was created recently it is likely a scam website) (2) Reverse image search the pictures of available pets - you will usually find other scam websites using the same photos. (3) Copy a sentence/section of the text from the "about us" page and put it into google (in quotes) - these scammers often copy large parts of their website's text from other places. (4) Search for the domain name and look for entries on petscams.com or other scam-tracking sites. (5) Strongly consider buying/adopting your pet from a local shelter or breeder where you can see the animal in person before putting any money down. Thanks to djscsi for this entry. Fake shipping company scams These scams usually start when you try to buy something illegal online. You will be scammed for the initial payment, and then you will receive an email from the fake shipping company telling you that you need to pay them some sort of fee or bribe. If you pay this, they will keep trying to scam you with increasingly absurd stories until you stop paying, at which point they will blackmail you. If you are involved in this scam, all you can do is ignore the scammers and move on, and try to dispute your payments if possible. Chinese Upwork scam Someone will ask you to create an Upwork or other freelancer site account for them and will offer money in return. You will not be paid, and they want to use the accounts to scam people. Quickbooks invoice scam This is a fake check style scam that takes advantage of Quickbooks. The blackmail email scam The exact wording of the emails varies, but there are generally four main parts. They claim to have placed software/malware on a porn/adult video site, they claim to have a video of you masturbating or watching porn, they threaten to release the video to your friends/family/loved ones/boss/dog, and they demand that you pay them in order for them to delete the video. Rest assured that this is a very common spam campaign and there is no truth behind the email or the threats. Here are some news articles about this scam. The blackmail mail scam This is very similar to the blackmail email scam, but you will receive a letter in the mail. Rental scams Usually on local sites like Craigslist, scammers will steal photos from legitimate real estate listings and will list them for rent at or below market rate. They will generally be hesitant to tell you the address of the property for "safety reasons" and you will not be able to see the unit. They will then ask you to pay them a deposit and they claim they will ship you the keys. In reality, your money is gone and you will have no recourse. Craigslist vehicle scams A scammer will list a vehicle on Craigslist and will offer to ship you the car. In many cases they will also falsely claim to sell you the car through eBay or Amazon. If you are looking for a car on Craigslist and the seller says anything about shipping the car, having an agent, gives you a long story about why they are selling the car, or the listing price is far too low, you are talking to a scammer and you should ignore and move on. Advance-fee scam, also known as the 419 scam, or the Nigerian prince scam. You will receive a communication from someone who claims that you are entitled to a large sum of money, or you can help them obtain a large sum of money. However, they will need money from you before you receive the large sum. Man in the middle scams Man in the middle scams are very common and very hard to detect. The scammer will impersonate a company or person you are legitimately doing business with, and they will ask you to send the money to one of their own bank accounts or one controlled by a money mule. They have gained access to the legitimate persons email address, so there will be nothing suspicious about the email. To prevent this, make contact in a different way that lets you verify that the person you are talking to is the person you think you are talking to. Digit wallet scam A variation of the fake check scam, the scammer sends you money through a digital wallet (i.e. Venmo, Apple Pay, Zelle, Cash App) along with a message claiming they've sent the money to the wrong person and a request to send the money back. Customer service for these digital wallets may even suggest that you send the money back. However, the money sent is from a stolen credit card and will be removed from your account after a few days. Your transfer is not reversed since it came from your own funds. Cam girl voting/viewer scam You will encounter a "cam girl" on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask you to go to their site and sign up with your credit card. They may offer a free show, or ask you to vote for them, or any number of other fake stories. Amateur porn recruitment scam You will encounter a "pornstar" on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask you to create an adult film with hehim, but first you need to do something. The story here is usually something to do with verifying your age, or you needing to take an STD test that involves sending money to a site operated by the scammer. Hot girl SMS spam You receive a text from a random number with a message along the lines of "Hey babe I'm here in town again if you wanted to meet up this time, are you around?" accompanied by a NSFW picture of a hot girl. It's spam, and they'll direct you to their scam website that requires a credit card. Identity verification scam You will encounter someone on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask that you verify your identity as they are worried about catfishing. The scammer operates the site, and you are not talking to whoever you think you are talking to. This type of scam teases you with something, then tries to make you sign up for something else that costs money. The company involved is often innocent, but they turn a blind eye to the practice as it helps their bottom line, even if they have to occasionally issue refunds. A common variation takes place on dating sites/dating apps, where you will match with someone who claims to be a camgirl who wants you to sign up for a site and vote for her. Another variation takes place on local sites like Craigslist, where the scammers setup fake rental scams and demand that you go through a specific service for a credit check. Once you go through with it, the scammer will stop talking to you. Another variation also takes place on local sites like Craigslist, where scammers will contact you while you are selling a car and will ask you to purchase a Carfax-like report from a specific website. Multi Level Marketing or Affiliate Marketing You apply for a vague job listing for 'sales' on craigslist. Or maybe an old friend from high school adds you on Facebook and says they have an amazing business opportunity for you. Or maybe the well dressed guy who's always interviewing people in the Starbucks that you work at asks if you really want to be slinging coffee the rest of your life. The scam: MLMs are little more than pyramid schemes. They involve buying some sort of product (usually snake oil health products like body wraps or supplements) and shilling them to your friends and family. They claim that the really money is recruiting people underneath you who give you a slice of whatever they sell. And if those people underneath you recruit more people, you get a piece of their sales. Ideally if you big enough pyramid underneath you the money will roll in without any work on your part. Failure to see any profit will be your fault for not "wanting it enough." The companies will claim that you need to buy their extra training modules or webinars to really start selling. But in reality, the vast majority of people who buy into a MLM won't see a cent. At the end of the day all you'll be doing is annoying your friends and family with your constant recruitment efforts. What to look out for: Recruiters love to be vague. They won't tell you the name of the company or what exactly the job will entail. They'll pump you up with promises of "self-generating income", "being your own boss", and "owning your own company." They might ask you to read books about success and entrepreneurs. They're hoping you buy into the dream first. If you get approached via social media, check their timelines. MLMs will often instruct their victims to pretend that they've already made it. They'll constantly post about how they're hustling and making the big bucks and linking to youtube videos about success. Again, all very vague about what their job actually entails. If you think you're being recruited: Ask them what exactly the job is. If they can't answer its probably a MLM. Just walk away.
You should generally avoid answering or engaging with random phone calls. Picking up and engaging with a scam call tells the scammers that your phone number is active, and will usually lead to more calls. Tax Call You get a call from somebody claiming to be from your countries tax agency. They say you have unpaid taxes that need to be paid immediately, and you may be arrested or have other legal action taken against you if it is not paid. This scam has caused the American IRS, Canadian CRA, British HMRC, and Australian Tax Office to issue warnings. This scam happens in a wide variety of countries all over the world. Warrant Call Very similar to the tax call. You'll get a phone call from an "agent", "officer", "sheriff", or other law enforcement officer claiming that there is a warrant out for your arrest and you will be arrested very soon. They will then offer to settle everything for a fee, usually paid in giftcards. [Legal Documents/Process Server Calls] Very similar to the warrant call. You'll get a phone call from a scammer claiming that they are going to serve you legal documents, and they will threaten you with legal consequences if you refuse to comply. They may call themselves "investigators", and will sometimes give you a fake case number. Student Loan Forgiveness Scam Scammers will call you and tell you about a student loan forgiveness program, but they are interested in obtaining private information about you or demanding money in order to join the fake program. Tech Support Call You receive a call from someone with a heavy accent claiming to be a technician Microsoft or your ISP. They inform you that your PC has a virus and your online banking and other accounts may be compromised if the virus is not removed. They'll have you type in commands and view diagnostics on your PC which shows proof of the virus. Then they'll have you install remote support software so the technician can work on your PC, remove the virus, and install security software. The cost of the labor and software can be hundreds of dollars. The scam: There's no virus. The technician isn't a technician and does not work for Microsoft or your ISP. Scammers (primarily out of India) use autodialers to cold-call everyone in the US. Any file they point out to you or command they have you run is completely benign. The software they sell you is either freeware or ineffective. What to do you if you're involved with this scam: If the scammers are remotely on your computer as you read this, turn off your PC or laptop via the power button immediately, and then if possible unplug your internet connection. Some of the more vindictive tech scammers have been known to create boot passwords on your computer if they think you've become wise to them and aren't going to pay up. Hang up on the scammers, block the number, and ignore any threats about payment. Performing a system restore on your PC is usually all that is required to remove the scammer's common remote access software. Reports of identity theft from fake tech calls are uncommon, but it would still be a good idea to change your passwords for online banking and monitor your accounts for any possible fraud. How to avoid: Ignore any calls claiming that your PC has a virus. Microsoft will never contact you. If you're unsure if a call claiming to be from your ISP is legit, hang up, and then dial the customer support number listed on a recent bill. If you have elderly relatives or family that isn't tech savvy, take the time to fill them in on this scam. Chinese government scam This scam is aimed at Chinese people living in Europe and North America, and involves a voicemail from someone claiming to be associated with the Chinese government, usually through the Chinese consulate/embassy, who is threatening legal action or making general threats. Chinese shipping scam This scam is similar to the Chinese government scam, but involves a seized/suspicious package, and the scammers will connect the victim to other scammers posing as Chinese government investigators. Social security suspension scam You will receive a call from someone claiming to work for the government regarding suspicious activity, fraud, or serious crimes connected to your social security number. You'll be asked to speak to an operator and the operator will explain the steps you need to follow in order to fix the problems. It's all a scam, and will lead to you losing money and could lead to identity theft if you give them private financial information. Utilities cutoff You get a call from someone who claims that they are from your utility company, and they claim that your utilities will be shut off unless you immediately pay. The scammer will usually ask for payment via gift cards, although they may ask for payment in other ways, such as Western Union or bitcoin. Relative in custody Scammer claims to be the police, and they have your son/daughtenephew/estranged twin in custody. You need to post bail (for some reason in iTunes gift cards or MoneyGram) immediately or the consequences will never be the same. Mexican family scam This scam comes in many different flavours, but always involves someone in your family and Mexico. Sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member has been detained, sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member has been kidnapped, and sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member is injured and needs help. General family scams Scammers will gather a large amount of information about you and target your family members using different stories with the goal of gettimg them to send money. One ring scam Scammers will call you from an international number with the goal of getting you to return their call, causing you to incur expensive calling fees.
Online shopping scams
THE GOLDEN RULE OF ONLINE SHOPPING: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Dropshipping An ad on reddit or social media sites like Facebook and Instagram offers items at huge discounts or even free (sometimes requiring you to reblog or like their page). They just ask you to pay shipping. The scam: The item will turn out to be very low quality and will take weeks or even months to arrive. Sometimes the item never arrives, and the store disappears or stops responding. The seller drop-ships the item from China. The item may only cost a few dollars, and the Chinese government actually pays for the shipping. You end up paying $10-$15 dollars for a $4 item, with the scammer keeping the profit. If you find one of these scams but really have your heart set on the item, you can find it on AliExpress or another Chinese retailer. Influencer scams A user will reach out to you on a social media platform, usually Instagram, and offer you the chance to partner with them and receive a free/discounted product, as long as you pay shipping. This is a different version of the dropshipping scam, and is just a marketing technique to get you to buy their products. Triangulation fraud Triangulation fraud occurs when you make a purchase on a site like Amazon or eBay for an item at a lower than market price, and receive an item that was clearly purchased new at full price. The scammer uses a stolen credit card to order your item, while the money from the listing is almost all profit for the scammer. Instagram influencer scams Someone will message you on Instagram asking you to promote their products, and offering you a discount code. The items are Chinese junk, and the offer is made to many people at a time. Cheap Items Many websites pop up and offer expensive products, including electronics, clothes, watches, sunglasses, and shoes at very low prices. The scam: Some sites are selling cheap knock-offs. Some will just take your money and run. What to do if you think you're involved with this scam: Contact your bank or credit card and dispute the charge. How to avoid: The sites often have every brand-name shoe or fashion item (Air Jordan, Yeezy, Gucci, etc) in stock and often at a discounted price. The site will claim to be an outlet for a major brand or even a specific line or item. The site will have images at the bottom claiming to be Secured by Norton or various official payment processors but not actual links. The site will have poor grammar and a mish-mash of categories. Recently, established websites will get hacked or their domain name jacked and turned into scam stores, meaning the domain name of the store will be completely unrelated to the items they're selling. If the deal sounds too good to be true it probably is. Nobody is offering brand new iPhones or Beats or Nintendo Switches for 75% off. Cheap Amazon 3rd Party Items You're on Amazon or maybe just Googling for an item and you see it for an unbelievable price from a third-party seller. You know Amazon has your back so you order it. The scam: One of three things usually happen: 1) The seller marks the items as shipped and sends a fake tracking number. Amazon releases the funds to the seller, and the seller disappears. Amazon ultimately refunds your money. 2) The seller immediately cancels the order and instructs you to re-order the item directly from their website, usually with the guarantee that the order is still protected by Amazon. The seller takes your money and runs. Amazon informs you that they do not offer protection on items sold outside of Amazon and cannot help you. 2) The seller immediately cancels the order and instructs you to instead send payment via an unused Amazon gift card by sending the code on the back via email. Once the seller uses the code, the money on the card is gone and cannot be refunded. How to avoid: These scammers can be identified by looking at their Amazon storefronts. They'll be brand new sellers offering a wide range of items at unbelievable prices. Usually their Amazon names will be gibberish, or a variation on FIRSTNAME.LASTNAME. Occasionally however, established storefronts will be hacked. If the deal is too good to be true its most likely a scam. Scams on eBay There are scams on eBay targeting both buyers and sellers. As a seller, you should look out for people who privately message you regarding the order, especially if they ask you to ship to a different address or ask to negotiate via text/email/a messaging service. As a buyer you should look out for new accounts selling in-demand items, established accounts selling in-demand items that they have no previous connection to (you can check their feedback history for a general idea of what they bought/sold in the past), and lookout for people who ask you to go off eBay and use another service to complete the transaction. In many cases you will receive a fake tracking number and your money will be help up for up to a month. Scams on Amazon There are scams on Amazon targeting both buyers and sellers. As a seller, you should look out for people who message you about a listing. As a buyer you should look out for listings that have an email address for you to contact the person to complete the transaction, and you should look out for cheap listings of in-demand items. Scams on Reddit Reddit accounts are frequently purchased and sold by fraudsters who wish to use the high karma count + the age of the account to scam people on buy/sell subreddits. You need to take precautions and be safe whenever you are making a transaction online. Computer scams Virus scam A popup or other ad will say that you have a virus and you need to follow their advice in order to remove it. They are lying, and either want you to install malware or pay for their software.
Chinese Brushing / direct shipping If you have ever received an unsolicited small package from China, your address was used to brush. Vendors place fake orders for their own products and send out the orders so that they can increase their ratings. Money flipping Scammer claims to be a banking insider who can double/triple/bazoople any amount of money you send them, with no consequences of any kind. Obviously, the money disappears into their wallet the moment you send it.
Summary: Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses. Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes. First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure: Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:
Alice might take the assets and disappear.
Alice might spend the assets and pretend that she still has them (fractional model).
Alice might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Alice might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Alice might lose access to the assets.
But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
Alice can't take the assets and disappear (unless she asks Bob or never gives them to Bob).
Alice can't spend the assets and pretend that she still has them. (Unless she didn't give them to Bob or asks him for them.)
Alice can't store the assets insecurely so they get stolen. (After all - she doesn't have any control over the withdrawal process from any of Bob's systems, right?)
Alice can't give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force. (Bob will stop her, right Bob?)
Alice can't lose access to the funds. (She'll always be present, sane, and remember all secrets, right?)
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
Bob might take the assets and disappear.
Bob might spend the assets and pretend that he still has them (fractional model).
Bob might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Bob might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Bob might lose access to the assets.
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are! "On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid". "Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since." "As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!" "Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?" "Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party." "Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!" "What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven." "Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!" "We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies. And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often". How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen? Just one. Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so? If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about), you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security. The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle. And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet? Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds. So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
ANY CERTAINTY BALANCES WEREN'T EXCLUDED. Quadriga's largest account was $70m. 80% of funds are in 20% of accounts (Pareto principle). All it takes is excluding a few really large accounts - and nobody's the wiser. A fractional platform can easily pass any audit this way.
ANY VISIBILITY WHATSOEVER INTO THE CUSTODIANS. BitBuy put out their report before moving all the funds to their custodian and ShakePay apparently can't even tell us who the custodian is. That's pretty important considering that basically all of the funds are now stored there.
ANY IDEA ABOUT THE OTHER EXCHANGES. In order for this to be effective, it has to be the norm. It needs to be "unusual" not to know. If obscurity is the norm, then it's super easy for people like Gerald Cotten and Dave Smilie to blend right in.
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
First report within 1 month of launching, another within 3 months, and further reports at minimum every 6 months thereafter.
No auditor can be repeated within a 12 month period.
All reports must be public, identifying the auditor and the full methodology used.
All auditors must be independent of the firm being audited with no conflict of interest.
Reports must include the percentage of each asset backed, and how it's backed.
The auditor publishes a hash list, which lists a hash of each customer's information and balances that were included. Hash is one-way encryption so privacy is fully preserved. Every customer can use this to have 100% confidence they were included.
If we want more extensive requirements on audits, these should scale upward based on the total assets at risk on the platform, and whether the platform has loaned their assets out.
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever. Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see. It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation. A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance. Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.) Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive. Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today. Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here - that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well. Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do. Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):
The inspiration for the paragraph about splitting wallets was an actual quote from a Canadian company providing custodial services in response to the OSC consultation paper: "We believe that it will be in the in best interests of investors to prohibit pooled crypto assets or ‘floats’. Most Platforms pool assets, citing reasons of practicality and expense. The recent hack of the world’s largest Platform – Binance – demonstrates the vulnerability of participants’ assets when such concessions are made. In this instance, the Platform’s entire hot wallet of Bitcoins, worth over $40 million, was stolen, facilitated in part by the pooling of client crypto assets." "the maintenance of participants (and Platform) crypto assets across multiple wallets distributes the related risk and responsibility of security - reducing the amount of insurance coverage required and making insurance coverage more readily obtainable". For the record, their reply also said nothing whatsoever about multi-sig or offline storage.
In addition to the fact that the $40m hack represented only one "hot wallet" of Binance, and they actually had the vast majority of assets in other wallets (including mostly cold wallets), multiple real cases have clearly demonstrated that risk is still present with multiple wallets. Bitfinex, VinDAX, Bithumb, Altsbit, BitPoint, Cryptopia, and just recently KuCoin all had multiple wallets breached all at the same time, and may represent a significantly larger impact on customers than the Binance breach which was fully covered by Binance. To represent that simply having multiple separate wallets under the same security scheme is a comprehensive way to reduce risk is just not true.
Private insurance has historically never covered a single loss in the cryptocurrency space (at least, not one that I was able to find), and there are notable cases where massive losses were not covered by insurance. Bitpay in 2015 and Yapizon in 2017 both had insurance policies that didn't pay out during the breach, even after a lengthly court process. The same insurance that ShakePay is presently using (and announced to much fanfare) was describe by their CEO himself as covering “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held,” which is something that has never historically happened. As was said with regard to the same policy in 2018 - “I don’t find it surprising that Lloyd’s is in this space,” said Johnson, adding that to his mind the challenge for everybody is figuring out how to structure these policies so that they are actually protective. “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
The most profitable policy for a private insurance company is one with the most expensive premiums that they never have to pay a claim on. They have no inherent incentive to take care of people who lost funds. It's "cheaper" to take the reputational hit and fight the claim in court. The more money at stake, the more the insurance provider is incentivized to avoid payout. They're not going to insure the assets unless they have reasonable certainty to make a profit by doing so, and they're not going to pay out a massive sum unless it's legally forced. Private insurance is always structured to be maximally profitable to the insurance provider.
The circumvention of multi-sig was a key factor in the massive Bitfinex hack of over $60m of bitcoin, which today still sits being slowly used and is worth over $3b. While Bitfinex used a qualified custodian Bitgo, which was and still is active and one of the industry leaders of custodians, and they set up 2 of 3 multi-sig wallets, the entire system was routed through Bitfinex, such that Bitfinex customers could initiate the withdrawals in a "hot" fashion. This feature was also a hit with the hacker. The multi-sig was fully circumvented.
Bitpay in 2015 was another example of a breach that stole 5,000 bitcoins. This happened not through the exploit of any system in Bitpay, but because the CEO of a company they worked with got their computer hacked and the hackers were able to request multiple bitcoin purchases, which Bitpay honoured because they came from the customer's computer legitimately. Impersonation is a very common tactic used by fraudsters, and methods get more extreme all the time.
A notable case in Canada was the Canadian Bitcoins exploit. Funds were stored on a server in a Rogers Data Center, and the attendee was successfully convinced to reboot the server "in safe mode" with a simple phone call, thus bypassing the extensive security and enabling the theft.
The very nature of custodians circumvents multi-sig. This is because custodians are not just having to secure the assets against some sort of physical breach but against any form of social engineering, modification of orders, fraudulent withdrawal attempts, etc... If the security practices of signatories in a multi-sig arrangement are such that the breach risk of one signatory is 1 in 100, the requirement of 3 independent signatures makes the risk of theft 1 in 1,000,000. Since hackers tend to exploit the weakest link, a comparable custodian has to make the entry and exit points of their platform 10,000 times more secure than one of those signatories to provide equivalent protection. And if the signatories beef up their security by only 10x, the risk is now 1 in 1,000,000,000. The custodian has to be 1,000,000 times more secure. The larger and more complex a system is, the more potential vulnerabilities exist in it, and the fewer people can understand how the system works when performing upgrades. Even if a system is completely secure today, one has to also consider how that system might evolve over time or work with different members.
By contrast, offline multi-signature solutions have an extremely solid record, and in the entire history of cryptocurrency exchange incidents which I've studied (listed here), there has only been one incident (796 exchange in 2015) involving an offline multi-signature wallet. It happened because the customer's bitcoin address was modified by hackers, and the amount that was stolen ($230k) was immediately covered by the exchange operators. Basically, the platform operators were tricked into sending a legitimate withdrawal request to the wrong address because hackers exploited their platform to change that address. Such an issue would not be prevented in any way by the use of a custodian, as that custodian has no oversight whatsoever to the exchange platform. It's practical for all exchange operators to test large withdrawal transactions as a general policy, regardless of what model is used, and general best practice is to diagnose and fix such an exploit as soon as it occurs.
False promises on the backing of funds played a huge role in the downfall of Quadriga, and it's been exposed over and over again (MyCoin, PlusToken, Bitsane, Bitmarket, EZBTC, IDAX). Even today, customers have extremely limited certainty on whether their funds in exchanges are actually being backed or how they're being backed. While this issue is not unique to cryptocurrency exchanges, the complexity of the technology and the lack of any regulation or standards makes problems more widespread, and there is no "central bank" to come to the rescue as in the 2008 financial crisis or during the great depression when "9,000 banks failed".
In addition to fraudulent operations, the industry is full of cases where operators have suffered breaches and not reported them. Most recently, Einstein was the largest case in Canada, where ongoing breaches and fraud were perpetrated against the platform for multiple years and nobody found out until the platform collapsed completely. While fraud and breaches suck to deal with, they suck even more when not dealt with. Lack of visibility played a role in the largest downfalls of Mt. Gox, Cryptsy, and Bitgrail. In some cases, platforms are alleged to have suffered a hack and keep operating without admitting it at all, such as CoinBene.
It surprises some to learn that a cryptographic solution has already existed since 2013, and gained widespread support in 2014 after Mt. Gox. Proof of Reserves is a full cryptographic proof that allows any customer using an exchange to have complete certainty that their crypto-assets are fully backed by the platform in real-time. This is accomplished by proving that assets exist on the blockchain, are spendable, and fully cover customer deposits. It does not prove safety of assets or backing of fiat assets.
If we didn't care about privacy at all, a platform could publish their wallet addresses, sign a partial transaction, and put the full list of customer information and balances out publicly. Customers can each check that they are on the list, that the balances are accurate, that the total adds up, and that it's backed and spendable on the blockchain. Platforms who exclude any customer take a risk because that customer can easily check and see they were excluded. So together with all customers checking, this forms a full proof of backing of all crypto assets.
However, obviously customers care about their private information being published. Therefore, a hash of the information can be provided instead. Hash is one-way encryption. The hash allows the customer to validate inclusion (by hashing their own known information), while anyone looking at the list of hashes cannot determine the private information of any other user. All other parts of the scheme remain fully intact. A model like this is in use on the exchange CoinFloor in the UK.
A Merkle tree can provide even greater privacy. Instead of a list of balances, the balances are arranged into a binary tree. A customer starts from their node, and works their way to the top of the tree. For example, they know they have 5 BTC, they plus 1 other customer hold 7 BTC, they plus 2-3 other customers hold 17 BTC, etc... until they reach the root where all the BTC are represented. Thus, there is no way to find the balances of other individual customers aside from one unidentified customer in this case.
Proposals such as this had the backing of leaders in the community including Nic Carter, Greg Maxwell, and Zak Wilcox. Substantial and significant effort started back in 2013, with massive popularity in 2014. But what became of that effort? Very little. Exchange operators continue to refuse to give visibility. Despite the fact this information can often be obtained through trivial blockchain analysis, no Canadian platform has ever provided any wallet addresses publicly. As described by the CEO of Newton "For us to implement some kind of realtime Proof of Reserves solution, which I'm not opposed to, it would have to ... Preserve our users' privacy, as well as our own. Some kind of zero-knowledge proof". Kraken describes here in more detail why they haven't implemented such a scheme. According to professor Eli Ben-Sasson, when he spoke with exchanges, none were interested in implementing Proof of Reserves.
And yet, Kraken's places their reasoning on a page called "Proof of Reserves". More recently, both BitBuy and ShakePay have released reports titled "Proof of Reserves and Security Audit". Both reports contain disclaimers against being audits. Both reports trust the customer list provided by the platform, leaving the open possibility that multiple large accounts could have been excluded from the process. Proof of Reserves is a blockchain validation where customers see the wallets on the blockchain. The report from Kraken is 5 years old, but they leave it described as though it was just done a few weeks ago. And look at what they expect customers to do for validation. When firms represent something being "Proof of Reserve" when it's not, this is like a farmer growing fruit with pesticides and selling it in a farmers market as organic produce - except that these are people's hard-earned life savings at risk here. Platforms are misrepresenting the level of visibility in place and deceiving the public by their misuse of this term. They haven't proven anything.
Fraud isn't a problem that is unique to cryptocurrency. Fraud happens all the time. Enron, WorldCom, Nortel, Bear Stearns, Wells Fargo, Moser Baer, Wirecard, Bre-X, and Nicola are just some of the cases where frauds became large enough to become a big deal (and there are so many countless others). These all happened on 100% reversible assets despite regulations being in place. In many of these cases, the problems happened due to the over-complexity of the financial instruments. For example, Enron had "complex financial statements [which] were confusing to shareholders and analysts", creating "off-balance-sheet vehicles, complex financing structures, and deals so bewildering that few people could understand them". In cryptocurrency, we are often combining complex financial products with complex technologies and verification processes. We are naïve if we think problems like this won't happen. It is awkward and uncomfortable for many people to admit that they don't know how something works. If we want "money of the people" to work, the solutions have to be simple enough that "the people" can understand them, not so confusing that financial professionals and technology experts struggle to use or understand them.
For those who question the extent to which an organization can fool their way into a security consultancy role, HB Gary should be a great example to look at. Prior to trying to out anonymous, HB Gary was being actively hired by multiple US government agencies and others in the private sector (with glowing testimonials). The published articles and hosted professional security conferences. One should also look at this list of data breaches from the past 2 years. Many of them are large corporations, government entities, and technology companies. These are the ones we know about. Undoubtedly, there are many more that we do not know about. If HB Gary hadn't been "outted" by anonymous, would we have known they were insecure? If the same breach had happened outside of the public spotlight, would it even have been reported? Or would HB Gary have just deleted the Twitter posts, brought their site back up, done a couple patches, and kept on operating as though nothing had happened?
In the case of Quadriga, the facts are clear. Despite past experience with platforms such as MapleChange in Canada and others around the world, no guidance or even the most basic of a framework was put in place by regulators. By not clarifying any sort of legal framework, regulators enabled a situation where a platform could be run by former criminal Mike Dhanini/Omar Patryn, and where funds could be held fully unchecked by one person. At the same time, the lack of regulation deterred legitimate entities from running competing platforms and Quadriga was granted a money services business license for multiple years of operation, which gave the firm the appearance of legitimacy. Regulators did little to protect Canadians despite Quadriga failing to file taxes from 2016 onward. The entire administrative team had resigned and this was public knowledge. Many people had suspicions of what was going on, including Ryan Mueller, who forwarded complaints to the authorities. These were ignored, giving Gerald Cotten the opportunity to escape without justice.
There are multiple issues with the SOC II model including the prohibitive cost (you have to find a third party accounting firm and the prices are not even listed publicly on any sites), the requirement of operating for a year (impossible for new platforms), and lack of any public visibility (SOC II are private reports that aren't shared outside the people in suits).
Securities frameworks are expensive. Sarbanes-Oxley is estimated to cost $5.1 million USD/yr for the average Fortune 500 company in the United States. Since "Fortune 500" represents the top 500 companies, that means well over $2.55 billion USD (~$3.4 billion CAD) is going to people in suits. Isn't the problem of trust and verification the exact problem that the blockchain is supposed to solve?
To use Quadriga as justification for why custodians or SOC II or other advanced schemes are needed for platforms is rather silly, when any framework or visibility at all, or even the most basic of storage policies, would have prevented the whole thing. It's just an embarrassment.
We are now seeing regulators take strong action. CoinSquare in Canada with multi-million dollar fines. BitMex from the US, criminal charges and arrests. OkEx, with full disregard of withdrawals and no communication. Who's next?
We have a unique window today where we can solve these problems, and not permanently destroy innovation with unreasonable expectations, but we need to act quickly. This is a unique historic time that will never come again.
"My transaction is stuck, what to do?" - an explainer [DRAFT]
In the last days we have been experiencing a sharp rise in price, which is historically correlated with many people transacting over the Bitcoin network. Many people transacting over the Bitcoin network implies that the blockspace is in popular demand, meaning that when you send a transaction, it has to compete with other transactions for the inclusion in one of the blocks in the future. Miners are motivated by profits and transactions that pay more than other transactions are preferred when mining a new block. Although the network is working as intended (blockspace is a scarce good, subject to supply/demand dynamics, regulated purely by fees), people who are unfamiliar with it might feel worried that their transaction is “stuck” or otherwise somehow lost or “in limbo”. This post attempts to explain how the mempool works, how to optimize fees and that one does not need to worry about their funds.
TL;DR: Your funds are safe. Just be patient* and it'll be confirmed at some point. A transaction either will be confirmed or it never leaves your wallet, so there is nothing to worry about in regards to the safety of your coins.
You can see how the mempool "ebbs and flows", and lower fee tx's get confirmed in the "ebb" times (weekends, nights): https://jochen-hoenicke.de/queue/#0,30d * if you are in hurry there are things like RBF (Replace By Fee) and CPFC (Child Pays For Parent), which you can use to boost your transaction fees; you will need an advanced wallet like Bitcoin Core or Electrum for that though. Keep also in mind that this is not possible with any transaction (RBF requires opt in before sending, f.ex). If nothing else works and your transaction really needs a soon confirmation, you can try and contact a mining pool to ask them if they would include your transaction. Some mining pools even offer a web-interface for this: 1, 2. Here’s how Andreas Antonopoulos describes it:
In bitcoin there is no "in transit". Transactions are atomic meaning they either happen all at once or don't happen at all. There is no situation where they "leave" one wallet and are not simultaneously and instantaneously in the destination address. Either the transaction happened or it didn't. The only time you can't see the funds is if your wallet is hiding them because it is tracking a pending transaction and doesn't want you to try and spend funds that are already being spent in another transaction. It doesn't mean the money is in limbo, it's just your wallet waiting to see the outcome. If that is the case, you just wait. Eventually the transaction will either happen or will be deleted by the network. tl;dr: your funds are safe
How is the speed of confirmations determined in bitcoin?
Open this site: https://jochen-hoenicke.de/queue/#0,2w Here you see how many transactions are currently (and were historically) waiting to be confirmed, i.e how many transactions are currently competing with your transaction for blockspace (=confirmation). You can see two important things: the differently coloured layers, each layer representing a different fee (higher layer = higher fees). You can point at a layer and see which fees (expressed in sat/byte) are represented in this layer. You can then deduct which layer your own transaction is currently at, and how far away from the top your position is (miners work through the mempool always from the top, simply because the tx's on top pay them more). You can estimate that each newly mined block removes roughly 1.xMB from the top (see the third graph which shows the mempool size in MB). On average, a new block is produced every ten minutes. But keep in mind that over time more transactions come into the mempool, so there can be periods where transactions are coming faster than transactions being “processed” by miners. The second important observation is that the mempool "ebbs and flows", so even the lower paid transactions are periodically being confirmed at some point. In short: what determines the speed of a confirmation is A) how high you set the fees (in sat/byte), B) how many other transactions with same or higher fees are currently competing with yours and C) how many transactions with higher paid fees will be broadcast after yours. A) you can influence directly, B) you can observe in real time, but C) is difficult to predict. So it's always a little tricky to tell when the first confirmation happens if you set your fees low. But it's quite certain that at some point even the cheap transactions will come through.
So what happens if my transaction stays unconfirmed for days or even weeks?
Transactions are being broadcast by the full nodes on the network. Each node can adjust their settings for how long they keep unconfirmed transactions in their mempool. That’s why there is not a fixed amount of time after which a transaction is dropped from the mempool, but most nodes drop unconfirmed tx’s after two weeks [IS THIS CORRECT?]. This means that in the absolute worst case the unconfirmed transaction will simply disappear from the network, as if it never happened. Keep in mind that in those two weeks the coins never actually leave your wallet. It’s just that your wallet doesn’t show them as “available”, but you still have options like RBF and CPFP to get your transaction confirmed with higher fees, or to “cancel” your transaction by spending the same coins onto another address with a higher fee.
Helpful tools to estimate fees for future transactions:
Here are some resources that can help you estimate fees when sending a bitcoin transaction, so you don't end up overpaying (or underpaying) unnecessarily. Keep in mind that in order to take advantage of this, you need a proper bitcoin wallet which allows for custom fee setting. A selection of such wallets you can find here or here. The order here is roughly from advanced to easy. 1) https://jochen-hoenicke.de/queue/#0,24h Here you can see a visualization of how many unconfirmed transactions are currently on the network, as well as how many were there in the past. Each coloured layer represents a different fee amount. F.ex the deep blue (lowest layer) are the 1sat/byte transactions, slightly brighter level above are the 2sat/byte transactions and so on. The most interesting graph is the third one, which shows you the size of the current mempool in MB and the amount of transactions with different fee levels, which would compete with your transaction if you were to send it right now. This should help you estimating how high you need to set the fee (in sat/byte) in order to have it confirmed "soon". But this also should help you to see that even the 1sat/byte transactions get confirmed very regularly, especially on weekends and in the night periods, and that the spikes in the mempool are always temporary. For that you can switch to higher timeframes in the upper right corner, f.ex here is a 30 days view: https://jochen-hoenicke.de/queue/#0,30d. You clearly can see that the mempool is cyclical and you can set a very low fee if you are not in hurry. 2) https://mempool.space This is also an overview of the current mempool status, although less visual than the previous one. It shows you some important stats, like the mempool size, some basic stats of the recent blocks (tx fees, size etc). Most importantly, it makes a projection of how large you need to set your fees in sat/byte if you want your transaction to be included in the next block, or within the next two/three/four blocks. You can see this projection in the left upper corner (the blocks coloured in brown). 3) https://whatthefee.io This is a simple estimation tool. It shows you the likelihood (in %) of a particular fee size (in sat/byte) to be confirmed within a particular timeframe (measured in hours). It is very simple to use, but the disadvantage is that it shows you estimates only for the next 24 hours. You probably will overpay by this method if your transaction is less time sensitive than that. 4) https://twitter.com/CoreFeeHelper This is a very simple bot that tweets out fees projections every hour or so. It tells you how you need to set the fees in order to be confirmed within 1hou6hours/12hours/1day/3days/1week. Very simple to use. Hopefully one of these tools will help you save fees for your next bitcoin transaction. Or at least help you understand that even with a very low fee setting your transaction will be confirmed sooner or later. Furthermore, I hope it makes you understand how important it is to use a wallet that allows you to set your own fees.
When we are faced with a new technology, we often look for analogies to understand and describe it. To bridge the knowledge gap, we seek analogies from the universe concepts familiar to us. In our search for the right analogies, we often risk misunderstanding this new technology. Blockchain technology has introduced a paradigm shift in the way we organize ourselves to generate, account for, transfer and store value. Yet, we are still in early stages of understanding its importance. In this post I will try to shed light on the top 5 major misconceptions about digital assets and about the open blockchain—a technology that underlies them. 1.Blockchain, not bitcoin This misconception stems from failing to realize why blockchain exists in the first place. In essence, blockchain is a shared ledger designed to function in an extremely hostile, open environment. It derives its value from the security of its tamper-proof records. In the blockchain networks powered by proof-of-work (PoW) algorithms, that security is achieved by miners competing to solve a computationally intensive puzzle. The miners do this with the expectation of receiving a digital token as a reward. This digital token can be freely redeemed for fiat currency to cover their operating costs and generate profits. These open systems are designed in such a way that value of their token ultimately dictates the level of security of their network. When we decouple the concept of blockchain from its underlying token, it simply wipes out most, if not the entire, value proposition the blockchain as a concept. Implementing blockchain as a token-less system of recordkeeping within a single company is perhaps the prime example of this misconception. Such an endeavor fails to use one of the most valuable properties of the open blockchain. Implementing a blockchain solution in such settings may even be counter-productive especially when better alternatives exist, in the form of databases with proper access control. Blockchain could be useful in a commercial setting where a consortium of companies decides to use a single ledger to keep track of important transactions. An example of such transactions could be shares of companies that are traded on Wall Street millions of times each day. These transactions are reconciled periodically between the financial institutions by a trusted third-party entity, which could be ultimately replaced by a blockchain-based protocol at a fraction of their cost. That said, these systems may never become as secure and tamper-proof as the open blockchain as the security of the network depends on the number of its minestaking nodes. 2.Exchange Hacks = Digital Assets Are Not Secure Centralized digital asset exchanges are popular avenues for exchanging digital assets for currencies such as USD or other digital assets. However, their design creates a system of incentives for external or internal actors to compromise them. When we hear about exchange hacks in the digital asset space, it almost always involves compromising the security of an entity that operates within the traditional server-client architecture. However, the mainstream consciousness conflates the digital exchange security with that of technology that underlies digital assets. Holding a digital asset in a cold storage is extremely secure. Holding it in an exchange is not. 3.Blockchain has low TPS, hence it will never compete with or replace traditional financial infrastructure Traditional financial systems process a vast number transactions every day. This transaction processing capacity is called throughput and is measured by a metric called transactions per second (TPS). Payment networks such as Visa claim to process up to 56,000 TPS, while traditional exchanges are likely to have much higher capacity to process transactions to accommodate high-frequency trading. Today, the Bitcoin network processes around 4-5 transactions per second while the second largest digital asset network—Ethereum processes around 15. If we compare the current state of the blockchain technology to the demands of the global financial industry, it is easy to see why such claims could be justified. However, this is a myopic view of this new technology, very much akin to the way Kodak dismissed digital cameras as a potential threat to its business model. It failed to recognize (i) the speed at which digital cameras would develop and (ii) the fundamental shift the digital cameras introduced in the way we take and store pictures, despite being the company that invented digital cameras in 1975. As the history shows, that was Kodak’s grave mistake. It is hard to ignore the historical parallels here. The digital asset space is evolving fast. The next-generation networks, which operate under the proof-of-stake consensus mechanism, preserve the securities of proof-of-work, but do away with its capacity limitations. A notable example of that is Cardano. These new networks also represent a shift in the global economic paradigm that many do not seem to notice. 4.Digital Assets Have No Intrinsic Value The concept of intrinsic value, or lack thereof, is often used to describe digital assets as a purely speculative asset class. While this may apply, with some justification, to digital assets which only claim to function as money, such claims fail to capture the wider nature of platform-based digital assets, which derive their value from the direct use of their networks. In digital asset platforms like Cardano or Algorand, the native token gives the holder the right to participate in the consensus of the network through the process of staking. The consensus mechanism secures the network, maintains the decentralized ledger, enables participation in the governance of the network and can sustain myriads of decentralized applications with real-world utilities. Put simply, digital tokens may derive their value from the economic activity that takes place on their networks. The economic activity on such networks, in turn depends on the security of the network, its technical capabilities, its transaction fees and the real-world utility of decentralized applications that reside on them. In that respect, they can be thought of as a new kind of financial instrument. The kind that seamlessly combines the properties of currencies, commodities, and shares of ownership into a single digital token. These new instruments require that we develop and apply new analytical frameworks to value them, much like the concepts of equities and derivatives did when they first emerged as new financial instruments. 5.Developed Economies Do Not Need Blockchain Technology Because They Have Well-Established Financial/Commercial Solutions. While it is easy to see how the blockchain technology could unlock a lot of value in the emerging markets, the idea that developed economies do not benefit from this technology is short-sighted. It is akin to saying that cell phones are a great technology for emerging markets, but developed markets already have land lines, hence do not need them. In a similar vein, we could argue that developed countries do not need internet because most of what internet could do already exists in analog form. We have to realize that (i) at its core, blockchain is a paradigm-shifting infrastructure/technology and (ii) despite its nascent stage, blockchain is extremely cost-effective… To a degree that it has the capacity to fundamentally disrupt a slew economic sectors out of existence, from banking to real estate, and create new ones. When we accept this eventuality, we will have to face some uncomfortable truths that many sectors will not exist in their current form or entirely disappear. Currently these sectors provide economic value, employment and generate taxes. If some blockchain-based solution is to replace them in 3-5 years, where would that value migrate? Losing them to open blockchain networks would not be acceptable politically or economically for many developed countries. One way out of this could be for developed countries to invest in national networks, allowing them to reap the benefits of this new technology, while retaining value from economic activity of their citizens and companies within their jurisdictions. Another, more realistic way, would be to invest heavily into friendly legal frameworks that would encourage both individuals and companies that would ultimately develop or maintain open blockchain protocols migrate to these jurisdictions, drawing in talent, capital and innovation. One thing is becoming increasingly clear: we can no longer ignore the elephant in the room. Much like digital cameras and internet itself, blockchain is unstoppable. If you like this article and would like to have access to our in-depth research in the future, please consider staking with skylight pool (tickers SKY and SKY2). We are working hard to create a suitable space on pooltool.io to disseminate our research to our verified stakeholders. Connect with us: Twitter: u/RealSaidov TG: u/SkyLightPool Website: skylightpool.com
READ ME: Part 1 READ ME: Part 2 It was a few days of me relaxing just taking in the mellow mood that our Cecily- turned sea creature left me with her musical talents. Cecily also gifted me with a relaxing feeling. It helped my anxiety in a way I can’t explain. I fed Doby, the fish I confiscated from the magical book, and bought him a new tank for my kitchen. I think he was another gift from Cecily. I was just happy I was able to put her soul to rest. I spent all that Saturday setting up the sea salt tank fit with plants. Typically, it took time to set up a tank, but I didn’t exactly have time to do that with Doby. I even got him a few companions to keep him company. Then a few days later, as I was feeding Doby admiring the new purple and turquoise blue decor, I felt a sudden need to cut my wrist. I felt like I was in a trance. I walked over to the kitchen, opening the drawer pulling out a sharp knife, I began slicing my arm. I didn’t bleed much, but I had this overwhelming, depressing feeling coming over me. Then I heard my television pop on all by itself. There was a news story about a young girl about sixteen years old that had gone missing. The report was dated three years ago. I knew then it was the book. Dropping the knife, I ran to get a paper towel and some alcohol to clean the wound I created. I heard guns firing lasers, and I saw a blue light illuminating from the book. I took a big gulp; what was I getting myself into? I opened the book to THE MURDER SHOW, which was the next story I was to read, and took a deep breath. I looked down and could see a tiny television featuring two teenagers playing a video game in a room. It was like I was watching a movie. One of them had short bleach blonde hair, the other had long black hair, and I recognized her as the missing teenage girl from the news that had just been featured on my television. Instead of reading this story, I was watching it. I was hearing her voice inside of my mind, or maybe it was out loud. I couldn’t tell anymore. I looked at the pages before me. They were turning on their own like an old fashioned picture book. I watched a girl as her eyes turned and faced me. She had black hair, dark eyes, and pale skin. She had a black t-shirt on with a ton of bracelets. Her thin face was pretty, but she didn’t smile. Instead, I could do nothing except listen to the story titled: THE MURDER SHOW My name is Andrea Becker, and as long as I could remember, I wanted to die. I know it sounds strange, but I looked at death as that permanent nostalgic return to your soul. I swear I’m not a freak. I know I look the part, don’t get me wrong. I am cliche for someone my age. Let me begin by telling you how it all began. When I was ten years old, my grandparents were visiting from out of town. My grandmother was taking a shower, and when she got out, she screamed for my mother as she was having chest pains. She fell over onto the bathroom floor. The EMT’s were there in record time; maybe it was slow- I just know it was all a blur. I watched them trying to bring my grandmother back. My grandpa wasn’t home; he had gone shopping with my dad and older brother. So, I had a front-row to the tragic end of a woman I had loved so much. Then I knew the exact moment she died. I saw her ghost or her soul, whatever you believe. It floated out of her body, and it LOOKED at me! My grandmother’s spirit looked at me and smiled. I knew then everything would be fine, but it wasn’t about me. It was about how at peace she was. I longed for that peace. I lost my grandpa a few years later, but my grandmother’s death stuck with me. I started reading everything in the end. I knew it wasn’t simple science like some claim. You do leave your body when you die. Where you go is anyone’s guess, I just know what I saw that day my grandma died. I had never considered killing myself. That was too weird. Then one day, my best friend, Carla, told me she liked to cut herself. She showed me her scars on her wrists. I was taken back by her self-harm. “What if you go too deep?” I asked her. “I have a couple of times, but I have gotten good at stitching myself up,” she smirked. “Doesn’t it hurt?” I asked her. “Yeah, but sometimes it is the only way I can feel things. I just feel like the world gets to be too much sometimes, and I want to escape it. I just don’t want to die.” That is when I looked at her. “I have always wanted to die,” I said tears in my eyes. “What you mean, like kill yourself?” “No, just be at peace.” “I feel at peace after I feel that rush. Like I get a rush from the pain for a second, and it makes me less - I dunno how to explain it.” “I get it,” I said, and my friend had become my best friend. I never told her, but I started self-harming after that. I had to know if it would give me the peace that I longed for when my grandmother showed me that look in her eyes. Like AT LAST, she could rest! Sadly, over the next few years, Carla and I stopped being so close. She started hanging with a posh stuck up crowd. I still craved death. There was little in common with the mean girls' squad. At seventeen, I had become close friends with a guy named Paul, whom I had a lot in common. We both enjoyed Mr. Fraziers English class, played tons of video games, and enjoyed hacking. Not like professional hacking, just silly stuff like the local website to our local pizza shop. We hacked into it to say that all the prices had been reduced to 99cents. Silly kid stuff. We were never caught. Then one day, Paul came over with two of his laptops. “I have to show you something.” He said to me, excitedly. “You ever been on the dark web?” I shook my head. “No way!” “It isn’t all weirdos; I buy stupid shit on there like electronics. Lots of black market stuff. It isn’t all organs and creepers doing things to people.” “You aren’t messing with those sites, are you?” I asked him, concerned. “No, I just found one, though. I can’t tell if they are serious. It’s called THE MURDER SHOW.” “What the hell, Paul?” “No, I have everything blocked. They can’t find us. I wanted you to see these comments. It freaked me out.” “You are on the DARK WEB PAUL!” I retorted. “Listen, just look at this. Can this be real?” I hesitated and then took his laptop and looked at the site. It was a chat room. I read a few of the posts they talked about murder and the best way to do it. Then I read on. Der786: YOU READY, RANDY? One poster asked. RANDY01: YEAH JUST DON’T HURT ME TOO MUCH. Another user name responded. Der786: YOU GET THAT INSURANCE FILLED OUT? RANDY01: MY WIFE WILL NEVER WANT FOR ANYTHING EVER AGAIN. What the hell? Paul grabbed the laptop. “They let themselves be murdered for entertainment.” “On purpose?” “Yeah, one guy had cancer and didn’t want to live anymore. It even says on the disclaimer that this is the Doctor Kavorkian of murder sites. It is all pity kills. They won’t do it to healthy, happy, or well-adjusted humans. You must prove you are worthy, and they will do the cleanup, so no one ever finds out.” “It is real. Turn it off, Paul.” “Sorry, I didn’t mean to freak you out. I just thought you would think it was at least interesting.” “It is scary and unfortunate if I’m honest.” Paul’s cell phone rang. “Sorry, mom, yes, I forgot. I’m with Andrea. I’m coming.” I looked at Paul, and he ran out and left. He was gone, and so I continued playing a new video game that I had bought with my allowance. I wasn’t paying any attention when I heard someone say, “I see you.” Huh? I said to myself. “You there! Girl with the black hair!” What the hell? Then I realized that Paul had left his stupid laptop on the floor of my bedroom, and it was still on that silly murder site! I peeked over my bed and looked down at the laptop, and just as I was about to close it, a man spoke again. “Don’t close it yet; you had to come here for a reason. Why don’t you tell me what brought you here.” “I- I didn’t. My friend found it by accident, and we weren’t interested in the site.” “That is okay, so you were curious. Can I answer any of your questions?” This was getting too weird for me. “I am good. I think I get it.” “Look, I get it. It’s real live dark web shit. I’d want to close the laptop and burn it too. Only I have seen you. How do you know I haven’t already tracked your address? How do you know I am not using facial recognition to figure out exactly who you are, Andrea Becker.” He said my name. How did he know my name? I was going to kill Paul. I picked up the laptop and looked at the man who didn’t look like your typical weirdo. He was sitting at a desk wearing a polo shirt. He had a friendly smile and kind eyes. Suddenly I felt comforted instead of creeped out, and I didn’t know what it was. “My name is Milton. I founded this site to let people let out a little bit of carnal steam. Tell me about yourself.” “This is weird. I don’t know you.” “Okay, I’ll begin. I’m married. I am a father of two kids. Jessica and Jenna. I work in management. This is just a side thing. I can assure you I am every bit as human as you are. So tell me, why do you wish to die, Andrea Becker?” At that moment, it was like he had spoken to my heart. No one had ever spoken so honestly to me before. It was like having someone see your soul. At that moment, I thought, this is fate. “Peace.” I found myself speaking honestly, and even if I regretted it later, I couldn’t help it. It was nice to see that someone could read my mind. At least it felt like that. “I think most of us who are empathic to the ways of the world feel the same way you do.” “Yeah, I guess.” I sat up straight and leaned into the screen on my laptop. I was beginning to feel much more comfortable than I had thought I ever would. It was strange to trust someone on the dark web like this, but there was something about this man. He had a hold over me. “Tell you what, we are holding an event tonight at eleven, and I hope you will log on to join us to see what we are all about. I promise it isn’t what you think.” “I will have to check it out,” I said, partially wondering if I wanted to have anything more to do with this man. The screen went black, and I shut Paul’s laptop. I decided to go downstairs to grab a wine cooler out of the fridge. It was almost ten o’clock, and my parents were asleep, so I knew I wouldn’t get in trouble. I drank the crappy drink, thinking long and hard about what had transpired and wondering if I wanted to know what went on in this so-called murder show. It was five till eleven, and my cowardice was in full force, so I turned on the television. “A WHITE VAN IS THE SUSPECT IN THE MISSING TEEN’S DISAPPEARANCE IN FRANKLIN COUNTY. WITNESSES SAY THEY SAW YOUNG JAMES MADISON TALKING TO SOMEONE DRESSED AS A CLOWN AS HE WAS ON HIS WAY TO SCHOOL FRIDAY MORNING…” I turned off the disturbing news program deciding I would see the big deal with this “murder show.” There could not possibly be any reason for this nice man I had talked to be part of some sympathy murder thing. The screen was still black, and then I saw a small room come into focus. The chat room was coming alive with flower emojis, and last-minute thank yous and best wishes from viewers who were donating bitcoin to the website’s owner. Then I saw a man sitting in a chair and typing away at his computer. Something oddly terrifying about it was because the viewers seemed to see it, but the man didn’t seem to have anything to do with the viewers as though he didn’t even know he was being watched. I watched as some of the viewers suddenly were also aware of this fact. RHONDA24: Do you think he even knows this is the last night on earth? Davtelly45: Nope, that is how it works. RHONDA24: I know, but I thought he would be more prepared. He has been with us so long here. Davtelly45: He will die soon, but he will be better off. RHONDA24: No more cheating wife, no more debt, and no more anxiety about what tomorrow will bring. Sassy-maria: I’m so happy for him. Davtelly45: Me too, girl. IVANfist: I hope this one is bloody, though. I like them with a little bit of gore. RHONDA24: I have to admit I do too. Maybe he will get slashed on the throat. Davtelly45: I just want our boy to be happy. IVANfist: Fuck that gore all the way! I read the chat, and then I watched as the man sitting at his computer seemed to be working on something very intensely. That is when I heard what sounded like a doorbell ring. The man everyone was watching got up, and walked away. I guessed to answer the door. Then I heard the sound of someone yelling. A man with a black mask on was soon dragging the man who had just been sitting at the computer into his office. “No, I have changed my mind! Please, I don't’ want to-” His throat was slashed in front of the computer. The slash was so deep it nearly decapitated the man who was only moments ago typing away at his laptop. I gasped, watching the scene unfold before me. Then the chat room exploded. RHONDA24: Bye, Randy. We will miss you. UNKNOWN: no, we won’t. Davtelly45: SO long, Randy. I hope you can now be at peace. UNKNOWN: Randy will never be at peace now. Hope he rots in hell. Davtelly45: WHo is this? RHONDA24: I will miss Randy, but anything will be better than dealing with a cheating wife, too much debt, and not knowing what tomorrow will bring. I long for my day to rest. UNKNOWN: You should just put yourself out of your misery. Davtelly45: Seriously, what the hell? Guy, this is pretty insensitive. We are celebrating the life and death of a warrior. There was some strange interference, and I shut off the laptop, unplugging it. I texted Paul to get his stupid laptop, and he told me he would be over tomorrow to get it. I was sick to my stomach. Had a real-life murder just taken place? I knew without a shadow of a doubt it had. I was paralyzed with fear and yet oddly jealous. I secretly wished I would be able to feel that peace that Randy felt. It terrified me, though, to no end. \*************** I woke up the next morning and prepared for school. I had strange dreams of the people on the computer screen. I had dreams of them talking about me the way they had Randy. I was sweating when I got out of bed, and I readied myself for school and what the new day would bring. Paul came over after school to get his laptop, and I made sure I didn’t mention what happened the night before. I just wanted that website out of my life. Paul seemed unphased by the fact I had his laptop. He had a few, so what was one going missing? Following that incident, I stayed off my computer as much as possible. Then I had to log onto my own laptop to finish a school project about two weeks later. When I logged into my email, there were many messages from a person that called themselves FALCON. “Andrea Becker, this is FALCON, Milton wanted me to let you know that he knows you logged on to watch Randy transition, and he wanted to see how you were since viewing our little show.” I deleted the messages. I didn’t want anything to do with these weird people. As I had this thought, I got an instant message from MILTON. Milton: Andrea, I am sorry you seem alarmed by Randy’s transition. Tell me, how did that make you feel? It is okay to feel scared, terrified, sad, angry, or all of the above. I looked at what he was typing, and that same sweet consoling man made my guard go down. I would have asked him how he got my email, but I already knew that if it were easy for them to get my name, how much harder would it be to get my email? Milton: Andrea? Me: Hello, Milton. I don’t know how I feel about what I saw. I don’t think I want anything to do with this. Milton: Andrea, talk to me. Me: I don’t know what to say. You killed a man. Milton: Yes, but he wanted it. We helped him transition. We can help you. I looked at what he was saying. I had wanted so badly to feel at peace and lose all of my earthly worries, but this was too much too fast. Me: I have to go to Milton. Milton: Andrea Becker, reconsider. You don’t have to participate, but we are people that understand you. I read your online diary, your poetry, and I know what you wish for. I was stunned and felt violated. How did they hack into my online diary? It was private thoughts on my blog site I never made public. I was terrified, and then Milton said something else that made me reconsider. Milton: I have seen your interactions with others. We have watched you interact with your friends. We know it wasn’t you that initially found our website. We don’t care. We welcome you. We only ask that you keep our little secret to help others like yourself, and like Randy. I don’t know what made me do it. I began to trust Milton. For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel weird about my feelings on death. These people seemed to understand. Me: I feel so weird talking about it. Milton: It is hard to acknowledge your feelings at first, but once you do, you will begin to understand. Me: Are there others like Randy? Milton: We try not to allow too many transitions at once. We give people time to mourn in our community after someone transitions. We have another coming up at the end of the month. This person has yet to be named.” Me: How does it work? Milton: We take a vote on who is next. Once the vote is in, the nominee gets contacted through a congratulations email to give them time to tie up loose ends. Then they are not told the day or time of their death. We feel that it would ruin the transition. Me: What if they change their mind? Milton: They are given no way to back out. It is in our clause. If you are on track for transition, which I feel you are, just being a part of our community is an agreement. You have already witnessed a transition - an illegal act. So you have already agreed to the clause. Me: What about you? Milton: What about me? ME: Can you transition? Milton: I will in time. My agreement was after my children will be old enough to understand. Once they are, then I will join others like Randy and you. “Oh,” I typed Milton: I have to go now; it was nice chatting with you. Remember, if you ever need someone to talk to, we are here. We understand how you feel. He logged off the chat, and I sat in front of the chat. Then another name popped up. RHONDA24: Hello, Andrea. I didn’t respond right away. RHONDA24: I just want to let you know if you ever need a friend. I am not much older than you, and I get how you feel. You can reach out to me. Me: Thank you. I have to go now. RHONDA24: Have a great evening, Andrea. I logged off the computer. ############# As time wore on, I realized that I enjoyed the community. I had made a few friends within the community. I had several bad days in the last month; one of them was that I had a falling out with Paul. He was angry with me for spending time online in the “transition” community as I had learned to refer to it as. The community helped me overcome some of my anxieties, so I didn’t think so much about dying anymore. If anything, I wanted to live because I felt relieved that I now had a group that understood how I felt. After all, they felt the same way as me. Then the day came out of nowhere. I was planning my graduation speech, as I had been elected by Mr. Frazier to give my class a short address. I typed, re-typing, and over-editing everything I was writing when I got a ding on my computer. My email popped up, and I recognized the email address. It was fromFALCON. CONGRATULATIONS ANDREA BECKER YOUR COUNTDOWN TO TRANSITION BEGINS 5-4-3-2- NOW. I gulped reading the email because I didn’t feel the way I had before. I didn’t want to panic. This had to be a mistake. I was no longer depressed; I had things to live for now. Why had they voted on me transitioning? I saw that Milton was online. ME: Milton? I think you made a mistake. I am the least qualified to transition. Especially that now I feel so much better! Crickets could have chirped from the computer. Instead of responding as Milton had hundreds of times before, he ignored me and logged off. This was a nightmare. I stood up, looking around my room. Indeed, I’d have time to graduate. I was at the disadvantage of being home alone. My parents were at some Union banquet because my father was on the teamster's board. I got up from my computer desk and locked all of the doors and secured the doors. I turned on the radio to think. There was a story on the radio about a White Van and how another child had been missing. Another witness saw someone dressed as a clown talking to the child. Ugh! Not something I needed to know to hear right now. I flipped the station to some soft music. Sarah Mclachlan came on, so I left it. I needed to think. I logged into the chat, and I could see all the congratulations Andrea comments in the chat. ME: Hey guys, I think there is a mistake. RHONDA24: Congratulations, Andrea! DAVTELLY45: I hope you have the best transition. UNKNOWN: I hope you bleed into the camera for daddy. ME: WHAT? Who would say such a thing? UNKNOWN: I can’t wait to cut you from ear to ear. RHONDA24: DUDE! Get out of here! I got a private chat request from Rhonda24. I accepted it. Rhonda24: Don’t sweat it, Andrea. The guy is some weirdo that has been harassing a bunch of us. We can’t block him. He has this crazy firewall system. Just please know how happy I am for you and how much I will miss you. I couldn’t think of anything else to say. I was about to log off when there was a bang from outside my house. Before I could do anything, a stranger wearing a black mask burst through my bedroom door. I stood in pure terror and shock. It was happening now! I did the only thing I could think of and grabbed the desk chair in front of me, and flung it at the stranger. He was tall, thin, and didn’t seem to have been prepared for my sudden means of survival. He lurched forward and grabbed me by the throat. I could feel his large hands trying to suffocate me. I looked over to the computer and saw it had popped back on - all on its own accord. A red light flashed on the screen. I realized I was being recorded for someone’s amusement. The darkness engulfed me in this very moment, and I sprung up, kicking the man in the groin. He growled in pain, and for a moment, I had time to run but not for long before the man stood up and shut my bedroom door so I had no means of escape. He pulled out a knife from behind him, and I looked around my room to find something else I could defend myself with. I saw a coffee mug, grabbing it and throwing it at his head. To my luck, he stopped to rub his head, and I barreled past him towards the door. Then I was caught off guard by a swiping of the knife to the back of my leg, causing me to scream in pain. I hit the ground, and he went for my throat with the knife. I rolled over quickly, causing him to stab the floor instead of me. I kicked him in the head this time as he struggled to get the knife out of the wooden floor. He fell to the ground, and for a moment, we both worked with the knife. Finally, I managed to grab it and stab him inside the chest. The struggle was over. Someone had transitioned tonight, but it wasn’t me. It wasn’t going to be me. I had far too much to live for. I took a deep breath and then took off the mask of the man. To my utter despair, it was Paul. How had Paul gotten involved with trying to kill me? It all made perfect sense now how they all had known so much about me. Still, Paul had been my best friend for years. I ran downstairs to find my cell phone and call for 911. The dispatcher said they would be sending for someone as soon as possible. I saw a large white truck coming towards my house, barreling down my street. I jumped into the road, flagging them down. There was something strange about the truck. I realized when the headlights were no longer blinding my vision that it wasn’t the ambulance. I backed up onto the sidewalk and continued to look down the street for the ambulance. The truck did something strange, though. They stopped in front of me back up, so my view down the road was blocked. A door to the back of the truck opened up. There were two tall men dressed as clowns. One had blue hair and a red nose with what looked like blood around his mouth and dirty teeth. He grinned big at me. The other had on a red and yellow wig with green makeup. He looked more sinister than the other clown. They stood looking at me, and then circus music began to play. I was annoyed by whatever joke they were trying to play, especially at a time like this. I could hear the ambulance now as it was making its way down my street. I tried to walk around the two stupid clowns. It was all so ridiculous to me. That is when one of them grabbed me. I screamed for them to let me go! I had to help Paul! Then the other one helped get me by the legs. Before I knew it, I was no longer breathing. I, Andrea Becker, died that night. I won’t bore you with the details. It was gruesome, and it was horrid. I have been missing for three years. I hope someone can see my story and relay what happened to me. I’d like my parents to be able to have peace. We all deserve some peace. I saw the book close on its own then. There were tears in my eyes as I read the last words of Andrea Becker. I wasn’t sure how I could help, but I went over to my computer. There were numerous reports on the sightings of clowns in connection to missing children. I decided to search for the area combining missing person cases from around the region. I didn’t know how I was suddenly able to hack into systems using multiple databases, but I was doing it. For Andrea Becker’s sake, I was doing it. That is when I found something very crucial. There were several sightings recently in my neighborhood. There were also six missing persons in a five-mile vicinity. I clicked, I typed, and I searched until I put the connections together. In all of the disappeared persons, there were three bodies found. One was of a seventeen-year-old female. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that it would be the remains of Andrea Becker’s young body. I forwarded the information to the detective working the case. How had they not put it together on their own, I had no idea. I did now have gifts now that helped me help those who could not help themselves. Later that night, there was a break in three of the missing person cases. No thanks to me. I was tired after Andrea Becker’s story. That book never rests, though. Last night in the middle of the night, I heard music coming from somewhere. It woke me from a dead sleep. I decided to find out what the matter was. It sounded like circus music. I walked into my living room, and parked in front of my house was a white van with clowns in the driver's seat. I stared at them for a long while and then opened my front door. Two maniacal clowns got out of the back, and as they slowly made their way towards my house, I let out a deep breath. Then I yelled. I was using my new found thunderous gift their windows to the van all burst. They both held on to their ears as though they were in pain. I had no doubt why they were here. I heard someone yell, “HELP ME, PLEASE!” It was a woman. I became momentarily distracted by the sound of wailing behind me. Sad, painful wailing. I looked away from the clown van towards the READ ME book on my couch. When I looked back toward the street, the van with the clowns was now long gone. I would see to it they were punished, but until then, I had other pressing business. I picked up the book, and inside it, I read the chapter to the next story. I was the Youngest Member of the Lunatic Asylum...
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