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Fyggex VIP Insiders Interview Series 26: Tom Gillespie, Crypto Scamdemic Investigator

Fyggex had the honour to interview famous Australian crypto Influencer investigator, Tom Gillespie. He has a documentary coming out very soon and is very active on Twitter with profile https://twitter.com/tompetergill  keep on reading, this interview is all about some of the radical and most innovative development within the Cryptocurrency industry

Fyggex: What is your background, how did you get involved with blockchain and cryptocurrencies?

Tom: Well back in summer 2019 … I was invited by my brother Tim to take a look into something called Scootercoin. Actually his son, little Timmy, was very much into scooters,as many young people around the world are. 

This product had been talked about very much online by influencers. One of them, I later found out, was called Bitman360. He was claiming that he had found a way to distribute scooter coins via a small mining device that you attached to your scooter

Fyggex: Wait, wow, that sounds really wild, how did that work?

Tom: Well, this device, called the Buttercup, was attached to the scooter. So when a kid went scootering,they were able to gain certain coins by just moving around and doing different tricks with their scooter. A “Tail whip trick” would be worth 100 Scootercoins for example. 

And the mining algorithm with Scootercoins, this is how it was sold to us, essentially you “mine Scootercoins” with body activity data from kids scootering. I thought that, Wow, this is a really high quality application of some sort of cryptocurrency, unlike the scams online that were linked to Bitcoin, for instance.

I, myself and my brother, put a little bit of money into it as we saw it as a “No- brainer” since there are millions of kids around the world doing scootering. Kids around the world are just dreaming of getting paid for what they love. This was a way to help them “Go Pro”.  

There was also a store in the mobile app, where you could buy Scootercoins, scootering apparel, clothing, wheels etc. Perfect circular economy for kids to earn it and spend it, all within the mobile app. That is basically how I got into blockchain and crypto, that was my “rabbit hole”. 

Yet, you maybe remember the last Bitcoin bubble that popped 2017, I was subject to that. I put quite a bit of money into Bitcoin on top of it and got burned pretty bad. It took a few years and I decided to anyway watch what applications were being built on. Then 2019 I went “in” with Scootercoin.

Fyggex: You were not concerned of GDPR or other privacy regulations that might apply?

Tom: To be hornets, at that time, it didn’t even cross my mind. Everything on the Blockchain is publicly available anyway, you cannot hide. If every kid is on Scootercoin, it is all recorded in a chain and everything can be seen via the scootercoin Block explorer. 

They connect the kid with a wallet. The Buttercup had a GPS locator. Its like any device you give to kids these days. The era of privacy is long gone. 

Fyggex: How about the people behind Scootercoin, did you check their background?

Tom: I had a bunch people I knew, who were technically more savvy than me. So I trusted their judgement and they said it was fine. Looking back, I should have paid more attention to understand what this product actually was capable of. 

Much like with the regular economy, there are many fake products that come to the market and it is not easy to differentiate those from real original ones. My investigation into Scootercoin and especially regarding this influencer Bitman360, is the very reason why I wanted to speak with Fyggex.com. 

Some young people, who are “Wantpreneurial” ,they want the product to be real so badly that they themselves start to believe that the product is real. And then they start to convince others. 

What I noticed is that exactly the same behavior behind real economy fake products and scams are also happening in the cryptoeconomy. I thought they would be different but they are not. It is very easy to get caught by these kinds of scams.

Fyggex. How are you helping around?

Tom: A year ago, I essentially decided to self-fund a documentary to publicly investigate this influencer Bitman360, who I see as the main player behind the Scootercoin blockchain. He is just one of many, there are tens of thousands of this kind of characters online whose only reason to exists is to promote and inflate these coins, not that they would be having any real interest or insight into any real functioning blockchains. 

I have interviewed dozens of people , such as Richard Heart, The Wild West Crypto guys and many others. They all have many good stories to tell. They have a product which everybody wants. And sometimes, maybe they do believe the product is genuinely useful, very often it is not.  There is always a coin attached to it, as well as get rich and EXIT plan. My advice is that be careful where you put your money because basically you might be just participating into a “Pump group” unintentionally. 

Fyggex: If the scamsters are so successful, what could be the best cure against them?

Tom: That is a tricky one, because they often target younger, less tech savvy, non-crypto savvy. Money talks basically. Most of the re-tweets are about the price of a coin, not about warning signals or fundamentals. That is what we saw earlier in the past with the Onecoin scam for instance and right now in Africa with the Crowd1. 

One could say that these guys are using bot armies, if so, why don’t the authorities utilise the same tools. It comes down to ethics. These groups have opposite ways of seeing what are good or correct tools to be used. If the criminals are using these powerful influential tools, why wouldn’t the good guys combat them using the same tools also?

I have been tweeting to get people involved. I want to see what is going on around the world with these investigations. My own main focus has been around Scootercoin, I watched recently the Crowd1 scam documentary from BBC Africa and couple of others. The Onecoin podcast, I have been speaking with the firm Coin Intelligence. 

But it seems that they just can’t keep up with the speed. Education is a slow process. And we should ask ourselves, why do we need it to differentiate one bullshit project from another? Surely there must be short cuts to realize that? You know how in the advertising industry they are tackling influencers when they do not announce that they are advertising? There must be a bit of a similar way. 

Fyggex: You mean the authorities’ reaction against Tether in the USA has no impact?

Tom: Tether is a private company. Now you mean the case that they couldnt prove that they had backing? That they don’t have enough real dollars to back their cryptos? It is not a new narrative attached to that. A lot of times these investigations are just warnings to others that this is what will happen if you don’t take care of these matters.

Look at Ripple, for instance. They also had trouble and what happens, little time goes by and now they are partnering with credit cards companies. It seems like going through a regulation process in these cases serve to  legitimizing it all, it is like a stamp of approval, regardless of the behaviour they had been participating in. 

Fyggex: How about some countries trying to ban cryptocurrencies. Is that a solution?

Tom: No, it is too late to ban any of these projects.They are here to stay. I have been looking into these, China has banned Bitcoin already something like five times and has it changed anything? In Russia also they have tried to ban it several times. The coins are still here. Everytime I hear that this or that country is going to ban something, it sounds like “Click bait” to me, because it never comes to fruition. 

Fyggex: How about tax authorities? They have been quite active hunting Cryptoinvestors in Finland for instance and in the USA we have heard that they scan Ethereum network 

Tom: I think the authorities have necessary “know how” already in place. The technology is there, it is not about that, they can always outsource that work too. It is more about international collaboration, as unfortunately these people (scamsters) are decentralized around the world, by default. Operating in various countries out of reach. Authorities need to find manpower and international collaboration to hunt them. It is a capacity issue instead of technical or knowledge shortcoming. 

Fyggex: How do you see the future development of the cryptocurrency area?

Tom: I think that the world will see very soon the rise of a “Citizen banker”. About 15 years ago there was talk about the rise of “Citizen journalist”, you might remember. Everybody over just one night,when they got a mobile phone with a camera on it, became a live “reporter”. It was called “Citizen journalism” back then, now we call them influencers. 

Now the same is happening with money. Any individual with internet connection and essential comprehension of how fundamentals of decentralized finance (DEFI) works. So, anyone with insight to Defi can run a global financial institution from their laptop. 

Exactly as it happened with Citizen journalism issues earlier, loads of young inexperienced, non-educated, and not competent people will jump into it twisting the truth about serious matters. 

The amount of misinformation increased explosively due to this idea that anyone can be a journalist and we can expect the same to happen with Citizen banker. When everyone is a banker, operating as banks basically, every single individual. We will see how everyone will be lending money and profiting off each other.

Fyggex: Will we see more false digital fake bankers?

Tom: It is going to be very disruptive,that is for sure. When every individual has all the power of media outlet and couple that with the power of a banker. Information with money, that is an explosive cocktail. That kind of power used to be reserved for certain well skilled professionals who went through years and years of education to apply the tools with rigorous training and schools.

Now a 15 year old sitting somewhere in countryside Sweden can be handling millions of dollars, collecting interest with DEFI blockchains smart contracts. What I think we will see is the appearance of more an more online tribes, that circulate around certain individuals shaping the economy and information flows;  Digital dictators!

Fyggex: How can normal people protect themselves?

Tom: I would like to say education, but no. I don’t think it is necessary for everyone to learn how blockchain works or how various crypto projects operate. It is more about enhancing critical thinking. We need to understand the digital filters, how we communicate, for example right now. 

People do not realize when they are chatting online, but they have a small moment before they hit send to edit. When you are writing, you use your brain to think and you have a possibility to edit. In real life live meetings you don’t have that same opportunity.  You cannot do editing on the fly, not at the same level at least. 

We need an evolution in critical thinking, especially for younger people. Even video face-to-face meetings are not good enough. It does not reveal enough. Here in this online call it says your name ,but there is no guarantee that you are you. It could be literally anyone. Or You could even be a specially created “deep fake”.

We need a new awareness campaign on how to evolve and use critical thinking with the tools available in this digital era. Increase awareness and the smartness to disarm those people who are practically pumping “Shitcoins” and any other nonsense on the internet. 

Fyggex: As we are approaching the end, what is your final advice for a common man?

Tom: If they have children, start to speak to them early about the digital filters which we all communicate through. Because younger people just think that when they are chatting with their friends. With text or voice, they think they are just speaking with their friends on the other side of the device. 

The reality is that there are so many other people involved there in the middle, not necessarily people but algorithms, high tech computational systems analyzing those discussions, words used, making assumptions and calculations. I would start to speak to young people about algorithms, how you are served the right ads at the right time, recommendation engines etc. 

Speak to young people about these powerful truth filters. 

Fyggex: Thank you for this opportunity to have a great critical thinking interview with you Tom, and you have also a movie that is fresh now to be published. We and hopefully all our audience will keep an eye on it!

Tom: Thank you, you will be amazed to see what I have been going through during these years with his investigations. Do check it out at thefakefluencer.movie

Fyggex: And now a question to our dear readers, do you think Tom is a human being? Want to check it out? check Twitter: https://twitter.com/bitjoin