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There's "Lots of Open Air" for Bitcoin Down to $7k if This
/r/Scams Common Scam Master Post
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. 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. 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 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. 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.
Door to door scams
As a general rule, you should not engage with door to door salesmen. If you are interested in the product they are selling, check online first. Selling Magazines Someone or a group will come to your door and offer to sell a magazine subscription. Often the subscriptions are not for the duration or price you were told, and the magazines will often have tough or impossible cancellation policies. Energy sales Somebody will come to your door claiming to be from an energy company. They will ask to see your current energy bill so that they can see how much you pay. They will then offer you a discount if you sign up with them, and promise to handle everything with your old provider. Some of these scammers will "slam" you, by using your account number that they saw on your bill to switch you to their service without authorization, and some will scam you by charging higher prices than the ones you agreed on. Security system scams Scammers will come to your door and ask about your security system, and offer to sell you a new one. These scammers are either selling you overpriced low quality products, or are casing your home for a future burglary. They ask to enter your home While trying to sell you whatever, they suddenly need to use your bathroom, or they've been writing against the wall and ask to use your table instead. Or maybe they just moved into the neighborhood and want to see how you decorate for ideas. They're scoping out you and your place. They want to see what valuables you have, how gullible you are, if you have a security system or dogs, etc.
Begging With a Purpose "I just need a few more dollars for the bus," at the bus station, or "I just need $5 to get some gas," at a gas station. There's also a variation where you will be presented with a reward: "I just need money for a cab to get uptown, but I'll give you sports tickets/money/a date/a priceless vase." Three Card Monte, Also Known As The Shell Game Unbeatable. The people you see winning are in on the scam. Drop and Break You bump into someone and they drop their phone/glasses/fancy bottle of wine/priceless vase and demand you pay them back. In reality, it's a $2 pair of reading glasses/bottle of three-buck-chuck/tasteful but affordable vase. CD Sales You're handed a free CD so you can check out the artist's music. They then ask for your name and immediately write it on the CD. Once they've signed your name, they ask you for money, saying they can't give it to someone else now. Often they use dry erase markers, or cheap CD sleeves. Never use any type of storage device given to you by a random person, as the device can contain malware. White Van Speaker Scam You're approached and offered speakers/leather jackets/other luxury goods at a discount. The scammer will have an excuse as to why the price is so low. After you buy them, you'll discover that they are worthless. iPhone Street Sale You're approached and shown an iPhone for sale, coming in the box, but it's open and you can see the phone. If you buy the phone, you'll get an iPhone box with no iPhone, just some stones or cheap metal in it to weigh it down. Buddhist Monk Pendant A monk in traditional garb approaches you, hands you a gold trinket, and asks for a donation. He holds either a notebook with names and amounts of donation (usually everyone else has donated $5+), or a leaflet with generic info. This is fairly common in NYC, and these guys get aggressive quickly. Friendship Bracelet Scam More common in western Europe, you're approached by someone selling bracelets. They quickly wrap a loop of fabric around your finger and pull it tight, starting to quickly weave a bracelet. The only way to (easily) get it off your hand is to pay. Leftover sales This scam involves many different items, but the idea is usually the same: you are approached by someone who claims to have a large amount of excess inventory and offers to sell it to you at a great price. The scammer actually has low quality items and will lie to you about the price/origin of the items. Dent repair scams Scammers will approach you in public about a dent in your car and offer to fix it for a low price. Often they will claim that they are mechanics. They will not fix the dent in your car, but they will apply large amounts of wax or other substances to hide the dent while they claim that the substance requires time to harden. Gold ring/jewelry/valuable item scam A scammer will "find" a gold ring or other valuable item and offers to sell it to you. The item is fake and you will never see the scammer again. Distraction theft One person will approach you and distract you, while their accomplice picks your pockets. The distraction can take many forms, but if you are a tourist and are approached in public, watch closely for people getting close to you.
Dieter Fishbein, Ecosystem Development Lead, Web3 Foundation
Dan: Hey everyone, thanks for joining us for the Polkadot Launch AMA. We have Dieter Fishbein (Head of Ecosystem Development, our business development team), Logan Saether (Technical Education), and Will Pankiewicz (Master of Validators) joining us today. We had some great questions submitted in advance, and we’ll start by answering those and learning a bit about each of our guests. After we go through the pre-submitted questions, then we’ll open up the chat to live Q&A and the hosts will answer as many questions as they can. We’ll start off with Dieter and ask him a set of some business-related questions.
Dieter could you introduce yourself, your background, and your role within the Polkadot ecosystem?
Dieter: I got my start in the space as a cryptography researcher at the University of Waterloo. This is where I first learned about Bitcoin and started following the space. I spent the next four years or so on the investment team for a large asset manager where I primarily focused on emerging markets. In 2017 I decided to take the plunge and join the space full-time. I worked at a small blockchain-focused VC fund and then joined the Polkadot team just over a year ago. My role at Polkadot is mainly focused on ensuring there is a vibrant community of projects building on our technology.
Q: Adoption of Polkadot of the important factors that all projects need to focus on to become more attractive to the industry. So, what is Polkadot's plan to gain more Adoption? [sic]
A (Dieter): Polkadot is fundamentally a developer-focused product so much of our adoption strategy is focused around making Polkadot an attractive product for developers. This has many elements. Right now the path for most developers to build on Polkadot is by creating a blockchain using the Substrate framework which they will later connect to Polkadot when parachains are enabled. This means that much of our adoption strategy comes down to making Substrate an attractive tool and framework. However, it’s not just enough to make building on Substrate attractive, we must also provide an incentive to these developers to actually connect their Substrate-based chain to Polkadot. Part of this incentive is the security that the Polkadot relay chain provides but another key incentive is becoming interoperable with a rich ecosystem of other projects that connect to Polkadot. This means that a key part of our adoption strategy is outreach focused. We go out there and try to convince the best projects in the space that building on our technology will provide them with significant value-add. This is not a purely technical argument. We provide significant support to projects building in our ecosystem through grants, technical support, incubatoaccelerator programs and other structured support programs such as the Substrate Builders Program (https://www.substrate.io/builders-program). I do think we really stand out in the significant, continued support that we provide to builders in our ecosystem. You can also take a look at the over 100 Grants that we’ve given from the Web3 Foundation: https://medium.com/web3foundation/web3-foundation-grants-program-reaches-100-projects-milestone-8fd2a775fd6b
Q: On moving forward through your roadmap, what are your most important next priorities? Does the Polkadot team have enough fundamentals (Funds, Community, etc.) to achieve those milestones?
A (Dieter): I would say the top priority by far is to ensure a smooth roll-out of key Polkadot features such as parachains, XCMP and other key parts of the protocol. Our recent Proof of Authority network launch was only just the beginning, it’s crucial that we carefully and successfully deploy features that allow builders to build meaningful technology. Second to that, we want to promote adoption by making more teams aware of Polkadot and how they can leverage it to build their product. Part of this comes down to the outreach that I discussed before but a major part of it is much more community-driven and many members of the team focus on this. We are also blessed to have an awesome community to make this process easier 🙂
Q: Where can a list of Polkadot's application-specific chains can be found?
A (Dieter): The best list right now is http://www.polkaproject.com/. This is a community-led effort and the team behind it has done a terrific job. We’re also working on providing our own resource for this and we’ll share that with the community when it’s ready.
Q: Could you explain the differences and similarities between Kusama and Polkadot?
A (Dieter): Kusama is fundamentally a less robust, faster-moving version of Polkadot with less economic backing by validators. It is less robust since we will be deploying new technology to Kusama before Polkadot so it may break more frequently. It has less economic backing than Polkadot, so a network takeover is easier on Kusama than on Polkadot, lending itself more to use cases without the need for bank-like security. In exchange for lower security and robustness, we expect the cost of a parachain lease to be lower on Kusama than Polkadot. Polkadot will always be 100% focused on security and robustness and I expect that applications that deal with high-value transactions such as those in the DeFi space will always want a Polkadot deployment, I think there will be a market for applications that are willing to trade cheap, high throughput for lower security and robustness such as those in the gaming, content distribution or social networking sectors. Check out - https://polkadot.network/kusama-polkadot-comparing-the-cousins/ for more detailed info!
Q: and for what reasons would a developer choose one over the other?
A (Dieter): Firstly, I see some earlier stage teams who are still iterating on their technology choosing to deploy to Kusama exclusively because of its lower-stakes, faster moving environment where it will be easier for them to iterate on their technology and build their user base. These will likely encompass the above sectors I identified earlier. To these teams, Polkadot becomes an eventual upgrade path for them if, and when, they are able to perfect their product, build a larger community of users and start to need the increased stability and security that Polkadot will provide. Secondly, I suspect many teams who have their main deployment on Polkadot will also have an additional deployment on Kusama to allow them to test new features, either their tech or changes to the network, before these are deployed to Polkadot mainnet.
Logan Saether, Technical Education, Web3 Foundation
Q: Sweet, let's move over to Logan. Logan - could you introduce yourself, your background, and your role within the Polkadot ecosystem?
A (Logan): My initial involvement in the industry was as a smart contract engineer. During this time I worked on a few projects, including a reboot of the Ethereum Alarm Clock project originally by Piper Merriam. However, I had some frustrations at the time with the limitations of the EVM environment and began to look at other tools which could help me build the projects that I envisioned. This led to me looking at Substrate and completing a bounty for Web3 Foundation, after which I applied and joined the Technical Education team. My responsibilities at the Technical Education team include maintaining the Polkadot Wiki as a source of truth on the Polkadot ecosystem, creating example applications, writing technical documentation, giving talks and workshops, as well as helping initiatives such as the Thousand Validator Programme.
Q: The first technical question submitted for you was: "When will an official Polkadot mobile wallet appear?"
A (Logan): There is already an “official” wallet from Parity Technologies called the Parity Signer. Parity Signer allows you to keep your private keys on an air-gapped mobile device and to interactively sign messages using web interfaces such as Polkadot JS Apps. If you’re looking for something that is more of an interface to the blockchain as well as a wallet, you might be interested in PolkaWallet which is a community team that is building a full mobile interface for Polkadot. For more information on Parity Signer check out the website: https://www.parity.io/signe
Q: Great thanks...our next question is: If someone already developed an application to run on Ethereum, but wants the interoperability that Polkadot will offer, are there any advantages to rebuilding with Substrate to run as a parachain on the Polkadot network instead of just keeping it on Ethereum and using the Ethereum bridge for use with Polkadot?
A (Logan): Yes, the advantage you would get from building on Substrate is more control over how your application will interact with the greater Polkadot ecosystem, as well as a larger design canvas for future iterations of your application. Using an Ethereum bridge will probably have more cross chain latency than using a Polkadot parachain directly. The reason for this is due to the nature of Ethereum’s separate consensus protocol from Polkadot. For parachains, messages can be sent to be included in the next block with guarantees that they will be delivered. On bridged chains, your application will need to go through more routes in order to execute on the desired destination. It must first route from your application on Ethereum to the Ethereum bridge parachain, and afterward dispatch the XCMP message from the Polkadot side of the parachain. In other words, an application on Ethereum would first need to cross the bridge then send a message, while an application as a parachain would only need to send the message without needing to route across an external bridge.
Q: DOT transfers won't go live until Web3 removes the Sudo module and token holders approve the proposal to unlock them. But when will staking rewards start to be distributed? Will it have to after token transfers unlock? Or will accounts be able to accumulate rewards (still locked) once the network transitions to NPoS?
A (Logan): Staking rewards will be distributed starting with the transition to NPoS. Transfers will still be locked during the beginning of this phase, but reward payments are technically different from the normal transfer mechanism. You can read more about the launch process and steps at http://polkadot.network/launch-roadmap
Q: Next question is: I'm interested in how Cumulus/parachain development is going. ETA for when we will see the first parachain registered working on Kusama or some other public testnet like Westend maybe?
A (Logan): Parachains and Cumulus is a current high priority development objective of the Parity team. There have already been PoC parachains running with Cumulus on local testnets for months. The current work now is making the availability and validity subprotocols production ready in the Polkadot client. The best way to stay up to date would be to follow the project boards on GitHub that have delineated all of the tasks that should be done. Ideally, we can start seeing parachains on Westend soon with the first real parachains being deployed on Kusama thereafter. The projects board can be viewed here: https://github.com/paritytech/polkadot/projects Dan: Also...check out Basti's tweet from yesterday on the Cumulus topic: https://twitter.com/bkchstatus/1270479898696695808?s=20
Q: In what ways does Polkadot support smart contracts?
A (Logan): The philosophy behind the Polkadot Relay Chain is to be as minimal as possible, but allow arbitrary logic at the edges in the parachains. For this reason, Polkadot does not support smart contracts natively on the Relay Chain. However, it will support smart contracts on parachains. There are already a couple major initiatives out there. One initiative is to allow EVM contracts to be deployed on parachains, this includes the Substrate EVM module, Parity’s Frontier, and projects such as Moonbeam. Another initiative is to create a completely new smart contract stack that is native to Substrate. This includes the Substrate Contracts pallet, and the ink! DSL for writing smart contracts. Learn more about Substrate's compatibility layer with Ethereum smart contracts here: https://github.com/paritytech/frontier
Will Pankiewicz, Master of Validators, Parity Technologies
Q: (Dan) Thanks for all the answers. Now we’ll start going through some staking questions with Will related to validating and nominating on Polkadot. Will - could you introduce yourself, your background, and your role within the Polkadot ecosystem?
A (Will): Sure thing. Like many others, Bitcoin drew me in back in 2013, but it wasn't until Ethereum came that I took the deep dive into working in the space full time. It was the financial infrastructure aspects of cryptocurrencies I was initially interested in, and first worked on dexes, algorithmic trading, and crypto funds. I really liked the idea of "Generalized Mining" that CoinFund came up with, and started to explore the whacky ways the crypto funds and others can both support ecosystems and be self-sustaining at the same time. This drew me to a lot of interesting experiments in what later became DeFi, as well as running validators on Proof of Stake networks. My role in the Polkadot ecosystem as “Master of Validators” is ensuring the needs of our validator community get met.
Q: Cool thanks. Our first community question was "Is it still more profitable to nominate the validators with lesser stake?"
A (Will): It depends on their commission, but generally yes it is more profitable to nominate validators with lesser stake. When validators have lesser stake, when you nominate them this makes your nomination stake a higher percentage of total stake. This means when rewards get distributed, it will be split more favorably toward you, as rewards are split by total stake percentage. Our entire rewards scheme is that every era (6 hours in Kusama, 24 hours in Polkadot), a certain amount of rewards get distributed, where that amount of rewards is dependent on the total amount of tokens staked for the entire network (50% of all tokens staked is currently optimal). These rewards from the end of an era get distributed roughly equally to all validators active in the validator set. The reward given to each validator is then split between the validators and all their nominators, determined by the total stake that each entity contributes. So if you contribute to a higher percentage of the total stake, you will earn more rewards.
Q: What does priority ranking under nominator addresses mean? For example, what does it mean that nominator A has priority 1 and nominator B has priority 6?
A (Will): Priority ranking is just the index of the nomination that gets stored on chain. It has no effect on how stake gets distributed in Phragmen or how rewards get calculated. This is only the order that the nominator chose their validators. The way that stake from a nominator gets distributed from a nominator to validators is via Phragmen, which is an algorithm that will optimally put stake behind validators so that distribution is roughly equal to those that will get in the validator set. It will try to maximize the total amount at stake in the network and maximize the stake behind minimally staked validators.
Q: On Polkadot.js, what does it mean when there are nodes waiting on Polkadot?
**A (Will):**In Polkadot there is a fixed validator set size that is determined by governance. The way validators get in the active set is by having the highest amount of total stake relative to other validators. So if the validator set size is 100, the top 100 validators by total stake will be in the validator set. Those not active in the validator set will be considered “waiting”.
Q: Another question...Is it necessary to become a waiting validator node right now?
A (Will): It's not necessary, but highly encouraged if you actively want to validate on Polkadot. The longer you are in the waiting tab, the longer you get exposure to nominators that may nominate you.
Q: Will current validators for Kusama also validate for Polkadot? How strongly should I consider their history (with Kusama) when looking to nominate a good validator for DOTs?
A (Will): A lot of Kusama validators will also be validators for Polkadot, as KSM was initially distributed to DOT holders. The early Kusama Validators will also likely be the first Polkadot validators. Being a Kusama validator should be a strong indicator for who to nominate on Polkadot, as the chaos that has ensued with Kusama has allowed validators to battle test their infrastructure. Kusama validators by now are very familiar with tooling, block explorers, terminology, common errors, log formats, upgrades, backups, and other aspects of node operation. This gives them an edge against Polkadot validators that may be new to the ecosystem. You should strongly consider well known Kusama validators when making your choices as a nominator on Polkadot.
Q: Can you go into more details about the process for becoming a DOT validator? Is it similar as the KSM 1000 validators program?
A (Will): The Process for becoming a DOT validators is first to have DOTs. You cannot be a validator without DOTs, as DOTs are used to pay transaction fees, and the minimum amount of DOTs you need is enough to create a validate transaction. After obtaining enough DOTs, you will need to set up your validator infrastructure. Ideally you should have a validator node with specs that match what we call standard hardware, as well as one or more sentry nodes to help isolate the validator node from attacks. After the infrastructure is up and running, you should have your Polkadot accounts set up right with a stash bonded to a controller account, and then submit a validate transaction, which will tell the network your nodes are ready to be a part of the network. You should then try and build a community around your validator to let others know you are trustworthy so that they will nominate you. The 1000 validators programme for Kusama is a programme that gives a certain amount of nominations from the Web3 Foundation and Parity to help bootstrap a community and reputation for validators. There may eventually be a similar type of programme for Polkadot as well. Dan: Thanks a lot for all the answers, Will. That’s the end of the pre-submitted questions and now we’ll open the chat up to live Q&A, and our three team members will get through as many of your questions as possible. We will take questions related to business development, technology, validating, and staking. For those wondering about DOT: DOT tokens do not exist yet. Allocations of Polkadot's native DOT token are technically and legally non-transferable. Hence any publicized sale of DOTs is unsanctioned by Web3 Foundation and possibly fraudulent. Any official public sale of DOTs will be announced on the Web3 Foundation website. Polkadot’s launch process started in May and full network decentralization later this year, holders of DOT allocations will determine issuance and transferability. For those who participated in previous DOT sales, you can learn how to claim your DOTs here (https://wiki.polkadot.network/docs/en/claims).
Telegram Community Follow-up Questions Addressed Below
Q: Polkadot looks good but it confuses me that there are so many other Blockchain projects. What should I pay attention in Polkadot to give it the importance it deserves? What are your planning to achieve with your project?
A (Will): Personally, what I think differentiates it is the governance process. Coordinating forkless upgrades and social coordination helps stand it apart. A (Dieter): The wiki is awesome - https://wiki.polkadot.network/
Q: Over 10,000 ETH paid as a transaction fee , what if this happens on Polkadot? Is it possible we can go through governance to return it to the owner?
Q: What is the minimum ideal amount of DOT and KSM to have if you want to become a validator and how much technical knowledge do you need aside from following the docs?
A (Will): It depends on what the other validators in the ecosystem are staking as well as the validator set size. You just need to be in the top staking amount of the validator set size. So if its 100 validators, you need to be in the top 100 validators by stake.
Q: Will Web3 nominate validators? If yes, which criteria to be elected?
Q: How did you manage to prove that the consensus protocol is safe and unbreakable mathematically?
A (Dieter): We have a research teams of over a dozen scientists with PhDs and post-docs in cryptography and distributed computing who do thorough theoretical analyses on all the protocols used in Polkadot
Q: What are the prospects for NFT?
A: Already being built 🙂
Q: What will be Polkadot next roadmap for 2020 ?
A (Dieter): Building. But seriously - we will continue to add many more features and upgrades to Polkadot as well as continue to strongly focus on adoption from other builders in the ecosystem 🙂 A (Will): https://polkadot.network/launch-roadmap/ This is the launch roadmap. Ideally adding parachains and xcmp towards the end of the year
Q: How Do you stay active in terms of marketing developments during this PANDEMIC? Because I'm sure you're very excited to promote more after this settles down.
A (Dan): The main impact of covid was the impact on in-person events. We have been very active on Crowdcast for webinars since 2019, so it was quite the smooth transition to all-online events. You can see our 40+ past event recordings and follow us on Crowdcast here: https://www.crowdcast.io/polkadot. If you're interested in following our emails for updates (including online events), subscribe here: https://info.polkadot.network/subscribe
Q: Hi, who do you think is your biggest competitor in the space?
A (Dan): Polkadot is a metaprotocol that hasn't been seen in the industry up until this point. We hope to elevate the industry by providing interoperability between all major public networks as well as private blockchains.
Q: Is Polkadot a friend or competitor of Ethereum?
A: Polkadot aims to elevate the whole blockchain space with serious advancements in interoperability, governance and beyond :)
Q: When will there be hardware wallet support?
A (Will): Parity Signer works well for now. Other hardware wallets will be added pretty soon
Q: What are the attractive feature of DOT project that can attract any new users ?
A: We are working on integrations on all the biggest and best wallet providers. ;)
Q: What event/call can we track to catch a switch to nPOS? Is it only force_new_era call? Thanks.
A (Will): If you're on riot, useful channels to follow for updates like this are #polkabot:matrix.org and #polkadot-announcements:matrix.parity.io A (Logan): Yes this is the trigger for initiating the switch to NPoS. You can also poll the ForceEra storage for when it changes to ForceNew.
Q: What strategy will the Polkadot Team use to make new users trust its platform and be part of it?
Q: What problems do you see occurring in the blockchain industry nowadays and how does your project aims to solve these problems?
A (Will): Governance I see as a huge problem. For example upgrading Bitcoin and making decisions for changing things is a very challenging process. We have robust systems of on-chain governance to help solve these coordination problems
Q: How involved are the Polkadot partners? Are they helping with the development?
Q: Can you explain the role of the treasury in Polkadot?
A (Will): The treasury is for projects or people that want to build things, but don't want to go through the formal legal process of raising funds from VCs or grants or what have you. You can get paid by the community to build projects for the community. A: There’s a whole section on the wiki about the treasury and how it functions here https://wiki.polkadot.network/docs/en/mirror-learn-treasury#docsNav
Q: Any plan to introduce Polkadot on Asia, or rising market on Asia?
**A (Will):**We're globally focused
Q: What kind of impact do you expect from the Council? Although it would be elected by token holders, what kind of people you wish to see there?
A (Will): Community focused individuals like u/jam10o that want to see cool things get built and cool communities form If you have further questions, please ask in the official Polkadot Telegram channel.
I get a lot of questions about bitcoin from friends and family members. I wrote this up and to the best of my knowledge covers everything a NOOB should know about bitcoin. That being said I probably made some mistakes and welcome any feedback from the community I could get on cleaning up the verbiage. Thanks in advance! Bitcoin For NOOBS Peer to peer digital currency that is scares. It is digitally secure through cryptography and decentralized through open protocol mining principals. Peer to peer: USD: paper dollars can be exchanged peer to peer but any other form of USD exchange requires your banks permission to use your own money. In fact if you try to pull out too much paper USD your bank may question you. BTC: Can be exchanged with no middle man. No bank or government permissions needed for any amount and can be exchanged across the global at any time. Scarsity USD: Print more money just write an IOU to the banks no big deal. Inflationary. BTC: The number of BTCs that will ever exists is a fixed number it will never change. Deflationary. Cryptography: USD: With USD the “keys” to your wallet lie with your identity. If I can gain access to your identity I can gain access to your funds. BTC: Your identity does not travel with the coin ledger. Stealing your identity does not mean your funds can be accessed. Decentralization USD: The federal reserve banks are owned by unknown individuals. Make no mistake the illuminate exists. When the fed prints money the write those unknown individuals and IOU. Out of thin air wealth is created to individuals not the government. You don’t know who they are and never will. BTC: Anyone can mine bitcoin. You dedicate your hardware to mining aka processing transactions. It costs you money to run that hardware. Your reward for your hardware costs is bitcoin. The mathematical principals behind bitcoin do a check for how many mining machines decided if a transaction is real or not. 51% wins. The more bitcoin is used and the more people that dedicate hardware to mining the more digitally secure it becomes. Bitcoins case for calling it gold 2.0: Currently bitcoin is not acting like the USD but instead acting more like gold a store of value. Long ago before the dollar gold was the standard. The government attempted to issue greenbacks however no one wanted them since gold was the tradition and was scares in supply. The government decided to back the dollar with federal gold reserves. Federal reserves no longer exist as they once have in fact if you invest in gold via the stock market there is a slim chance it is backed by any type of gold reserve it’s really just all digital money for the most part now a days. While bitcoin is truly limited in supply and scares not only is it a great store of value but it has even more use than gold. It can be exchanged electronically peer to peer across the globe and used via smart contracts etc. A quick google search say that the total value of gold in the world is at roughly 7.5trillon dollars. Gold does has more use than just a store of value via jewlery electronics etc but let’s compare the numbers side by side. Gold 7.5 trillion BTC market cap 170.5 billion If you agree BTC is a better store of value or at least a decent store of value since it’s truly limited in supply with more usability then it’s easy to see how much upside potential is left on the table. As the fed continues to put out more money during these economic hard times they are causing inflation while BTC has just undergone a halving aka it’s harder for miners to produce a bitcoin reward meaning deflation. Bitcoin is the perfect place for you to store that big fat government stimulus check if you don’t need the money for awhile. Edit: added these sections based on feedback from friends. Dollars and cents: USD: One dollar can be broken down into .01 dollars or 1 cent. This is the smallest unit of measure in USD. BTC: 1 Bitcoin can be broken down into .00000001 bitcoins or 1 sats which is short for Satoshi’s. 1 sat is the smallest unit of measure in terms of BTC. Owning Bitcoin: You can own bitcoin a few different ways but we will talk about two methods in general. Owning coins through a 3rd party such as Coinbase or Robinhood vs owning your coins via your own hardware wallet. 3rd Party: The platform you use can hold some control over you and limit your funds etc just like a bank. They will take additional fees for each transaction you place etc. This really isn’t what bitcoin was intended for but it’s how most people use it currently. Hardware wallet: You own the currency on a hardware wallet like a Ledger wallet etc. there is no middle man. You own the coin and the “keys”
Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analysed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralised and scalable in my opinion.
Below I post my analysis why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
Technology and some more:
Introduction The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
Mainnet is live since end of January 2019 with daily transaction rate growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralised and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. Maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
Zilliqa realised early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralised, secure and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralisation. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
Before we continue disecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
Down the rabbit hole
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here. Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as:
“A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronise cryptographically-secure data”.
Next he states that: >“blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”.* For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
With public blockchains like Zilliqa this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network etc.
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralised and scalable being low.
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimisation on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017. Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (>66%) double spend attacks become possible.
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralisation.
Currently there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralised nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching their transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand. Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public.They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers.The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translates to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
With a high amount of DS & shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralised too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralised in my opinion.
Generalised: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: > “all programmes have two basic components, data – what the programme knows – and behaviour – what the programme can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviours in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behaviour are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.”
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: > OCaml is a general purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognised by academics and won a so called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities safety is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa for Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”.Scilla design story part 1
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue:
In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
“Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
Business & Partnerships It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organisations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggest that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
Zilliqa seems to already taking advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, AirBnB, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are build on top of these blocks.
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”*
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They dont just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
Marketing & Community
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities) also seem to be growing.
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiatives (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggest in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures & Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
Our first generation hardware wallets were made of military-grade aerospace aluminum. We’ve stripped all that down to just focus on air-gapping your private keys.
https://preview.redd.it/0rogeunfujv41.png?width=1024&format=png&auto=webp&s=8a2cf5eff6f30a36fd7e86e16331eb40b4072627 Hey bitcoin! I'm Lixin, longtime bitcoiner and creator of Cobo Vault. I come from a background in the electronic hardware industry, and experienced one of my products being featured in Apple Stores around the world. Back in 2018 Cobo CEO Discus Fish, who also co-founded F2Pool, invited me to help build Cobo’s hardware product line. As we had strong ties to miners in China, we naturally designed the 1st gen with them in mind. In China, mining farms are nearly always built in very isolated places where there is very cheap wind or water electricity. When we built our 1st generation Cobo Vault hardware wallet, we needed to maximize the durability of the device in addition to its security. We used aerospace aluminum rather than plastic and made it completely IP68 waterproof, IK9 drop resistant, and military standard MIL-STD-810G durable for the mining industry. Things changed last year when I went to Bitcoin 2019 and talked to lots of hodlers in the States. I found that 95% of them don’t care about durability. I asked them if they were afraid of their home being flooded or burned down in a fire. The answer is - yes, they are afraid of these things, but see them as very low possibilities. Even if something were to happen, they said they would just buy another HW wallet for 100 dollars. From these conversations, it became more and more clear we should design a product around a normal hodler’s needs. Our 2nd gen product compromises on durability but doesn’t compromise on security. Most hodlers share some needs with miners:
Hodlers want a more air-gapped solution so we kept QR code data transmission between your hardware wallet and the companion app which is also auditable.
A Secure Element is the strongest wall of protection from physical attacks. We are the first hardware wallet - also maybe the first electronic product with SE - to have open source SE firmware.
A battery can be a significant weak point. The 2nd gen continues the legacy of detachable batteries to prevent corrosion damage and will also support AAA batteries in case your battery dies someday.
The 2nd gen also keeps the 4-inch touchscreen so you don’t need to suffer from tiny buttons and little screens anymore. Human error is one of the biggest reasons people lose their assets.
We kept other features like the self-destruct mechanism and Web Authentication, which prevent side-channel and supply chain attacks.
If you'd like to read more about these features, check out our blog posts. Aside from the legacy of the 1st gen, our 2nd gen product will have:
Open source hardware wallet application layer and Secure Element firmware code. With the open source firmware code, you can see: random number generation, master private key generation, key derivation, and the signing process all happen within the SE and your private keys never leave.
At the Bitcoin 2019 conference half the hodlers I met told me they own multiple hardware wallets which they use on the go. We added a fingerprint sensor you can use to authorize transactions without typing in your password. No need to worry about surveillance cameras when using your hardware wallet in airports.
We will also support PSBT (BIP174) to be compatible with third-party wallets like Electrum or Wasabi Wallet in case people have need of using Cobo Vault with their own node or coinjoin. Multisig between Cobo Vault and other wallets will be realized to prevent single point failure with any brand of hardware wallet.
By sacrificing the durability, we successfully controlled the price under 100 USD for the basic version.
BTC-only firmware version for people who want to minimize the codebase for less of an attack surface.
We truly appreciate the support from the community and are giving away free metal storage Cobo Tablets with every purchase of our 2nd gen for a week! Add a tablet to your cart and place your order before May 5th, 8 AM PST to claim your free metal storage. Find us on Twitter CryptoLixin and CoboVault - any suggestions or questions are welcome!
https://preview.redd.it/gv5rxrtdt0851.jpg?width=1024&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=861d32aa50c6d836daf2a30edc5f08491a414e3d As UMI grows, evil-wishers may compare this cryptocurrency to a financial pyramid because coin value in user wallets grows at the rate of up to 40% a month. Anticipating potential accusations, the UMI Team has decided to provide effective arguments for all “whistleblowers”. Coin value doesn’t grow on all wallets or by itself. It only grows for users who belong to structures contributing significantly into ecosystem development. Among other things, they also bring in new loyal users interested in promoting the coin. ROY Club’s powerful structures will benefit the project greatly and will be justly honored with reward for their contribution into network development. Inefficient structures, on the other hand, receive low or zero growth (if a structure owns less than 50,000 coins). It means that no one can prey on UMI. Coin value starts to grow only after a user activates the Staking Smart Contract. They should also use their personal addresses within successful structures rather than usual addresses. Therefore, adding coins to a staking structure is more like a bank deposit. Coin value doesn’t grow on the user’s current account — it grows on their structure’s deposit account. Moreover, UMI is designed as an alternative to the existing financial system, with traditional banks on top of the system. In real fact, cryptocurrency is completely different. UMI can be defined as a “unique digital bank of the new generation”. UMI’s advantages over bank deposits and financial pyramids are clearly visible:
Unlike traditional banks, UMI’s digital bank cannot collapse. A usual bank as well as a financial pyramid will shut down if withdrawal exceeds deposit. If at least 20% of bank’s customers decide to withdraw funds from their deposit accounts, the bank will not be able to pay them because it won’t’ have enough cash. UMI, on the other hand, does not generate coins out of thin air or through a stream of fresh funds. New coins are generated using the unique staking technology based on the Smart Contract. Nothing will happen to the UMI network even if 100% of users wish to withdraw their coins from deposit accounts at the same time. The network will continue to operate smoothly, nothing will collapse.
When you make a deposit in a bank or a financial pyramid, funds are locked and sent to the managers. In UMI, coins are always stored on the users’ wallets. The Smart Contract allows people to make “deposits” without granting access to their funds to anyone, not even organizers of the structure. Unlike unfair banks or financial pyramids, organizers of the structure cannot technically flee with users’ funds as they have no access to them.
Banks issue printed money to citizens as loans charging extortionate interest. UMI gives the “printing press” directly to the people allowing them to generate new digital money themselves — and does so free of charge.
Unlike bank deposits, UMI can afford to pay its users a much higher interest. It’s partially because we don’t have to invest into an expensive banking infrastructure or huge management wages. Instead, to cover expenses of the UMI Team, the Smart Contract additionally generates 2% of all coins engaged in staking on a monthly basis. These funds are used to promote the cryptocurrency and pay grants to activists.
UMI earning rates are as high as those in financial pyramids. The idea behind the project is completely different, though. UMI’s Smart Contract GUARANTEES that you will receive your coins and all earnings in 100% of the cases. It’s embedded in the code of this technology. New UMI coins are just generated like Bitcoin and Ethereum tokens. There will be enough for all. While a financial pyramid will surely collapse as all it does is paying to those coming first using funds contributed by those coming next until withdrawal exceeds deposit and the “treasury” becomes empty.
Finally, unlike banks or financial pyramids the UMI network is decentralized and features a completely open source code. It does not belong to a bunch of people — it belongs to all users thus ensuring their funds are completely safe. The open source code guarantees there’s no hidden agenda and rules out any potential fraud.
UMI is a new product with no equivalents. It’s a “unique digital bank of the new generation” that surpasses traditional banks in all parameters. It’s a cryptocurrency that can change the world. Not tomorrow — today. Right here, right now!
In case u/Bitwala blocked your funds, please collect all the emails/documents exchanged with them and upload them on Dropbox. Then please, file a CLAIM with the Berlin Polizei here: https://www.internetwache-polizei-berlin.de/. FILING THE CLAIM IS FREE AND IT TAKES JUST FIVE MINUTES. Add in the claim's description the Dropbox link, explaining what is inside. IMPORTANT: SEND then the claim's PDF to u/Bitwala. FEW DAYS LATER THE PROBLEM WILL BE SOLVED. Here you can also finds some useful contacts: Disclaimer:all the information were collected from public documents and no privacy breach was made. Bitwala number: +49 30 2398 0075 Ben Johnson (Bitwala CEO): +49 ..... Public Link: https://www.creative-city-berlin.de/en/network/membehooptedoodles/
Let's talk about Bitwala.
Bitwala is a platform that provides you a German IBAN to deposit EUR and then buy BTC. The BTC wallet is a multi-signature type. What does it mean? Multi signature means that the userdoes not have 100% control over his wallet. So how worksu/Bitwala ? Forget about Bitwala, in reality you are dealing with a German bank named SolarisBank AG. Your bank account opened with u/Bitwala, is under their control. Bitwala, as stated by their costumer agents, cannot influence any decision regarding the freezing of your funds. Below my deposition made with the Berlin Polizei.
" Giacomo Vico, myself, on the 15.10.2019, registered on Bitwala and made a first deposit from PayPal, for two thousand euro. The deposit was credited and everything *seemed very good.* On the 16.10.2019 other four thousand and five hundred euro were transferred from PayPal to Bitwala. The same day the account was blocked. No warning or explanation.Immediately I tried to stop the second deposit, but it was too late. Emailing instantly Bitwala, a support agent named Brianna, told me that they had no responsibility over the bank accounts, and every decision about them was taken by their bank partner, SolarisBank AG. This last part is extremely poor explained on their website.www.bitwala.com The day after, 17.10.2019, Giacomo Vico requested a formal explanation and provided all the documents proving the ownership of the PayPal. *No answers from Bitwala or SolarisBank.* So, on the 20.10.2019, after a pile of useless and vague emails, Giacomo Vico decided to call directly SolarisBank. He could spoke only with a vague operator, named Jerico and was denied speaking with a manager. The operator told Giacomo Vico that he could only address his concerns, about SolarisBank, through emailing with their partner Bitwala. However, in response, u/Bitwala repeated that they could not solve the dispute because they had no control over the bank account. Stunned by so evident subtle manners, Giacomo Vico, on the 28.10.2019, was obliged to call in his lawyer.Again, SolarisBank was called, in order to solve as gentlemen the dispute, but again we were denied speaking with a manager. Therefore, on the 29.10.2019 my lawyer sent an email to SolarisBank formally requesting the closure of the account and the remittance of the funds. Absolutely no answers. After calling them again they repeated they could not speak with us and we should address our concerns to u/Bitwala. "
Two days, later my lawyer opened a Legal Claim with the Berlin Polizei, against two managers of Solarisbank. ONLY after this, we received an email from SolarisBank asking for an IBAN to remit the funds. All Bitwala Cases:https://www.dropbox.com/sh/kqf0lhcri9i70qq/AAAKLz0B-_v2MI-3BpH5zQVwa?dl=0 Bitwala is directed by four managers Jörg von Minckwitz, Jan Goslicki, Dylan McFadyen, Ben Johnson. Three of them previously operated a company called All4BTC, which many of you may remember.
All4btc was a service that let you buy anything on the web using Bitcoin. You copy-pasted in All4Btc the link of what you wanted to buy, enter your shipping details, checkout with bitcoin and lastly wait for All4Btc to buy your product and then ship it to you. Indeed during the brief life of the company a huge number of users hardly complained that they paid for orders, but no items were ever received. Funds recover was impossible because customer service STOPPED RESPONDING. In thelink belowyou will find all theusersthat "lost" their funds withAll4BTC. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/b7s7wao82qqt2ry/AADG7U8_kaTwwhLwvmpHjGT3a?dl=0 After increasing claims,the three of themdecided was time for fresh air.They interrupted all the activities with All4BTC and continued with Bitwala GmbH.
An old friend of mine emailed this to me a while back with the subject line “Hide and Seek” and I’ve been hesitant to post it for reasons that should become obvious as you read it. That said, I feel that enough time has gone by for this to be safe so I’m going to post it here. The only edits I’ve made were swapping out names and formatting, otherwise it’s all exactly as he sent it. T, if you’re reading this then message me. I want to know if you’re alright, and if you are I know you’ll be looking for this story to show up. This is what the email said: Rijento, I’m writing this story because I feel like I need an outlet. I swear to god that you better actually check your email for once in your damn life! Please… As for if you actually are reading this, I want you to wait as long as your (admittedly) better judgment tells you to wait and then post this story online. I know it’s a bit vain, but I want people to know my story. Hell, it might be the last one I ever tell. Double hell, it might actually even help some poor soul out. I’m going to disappear after sending this, hopefully the good kind of disappear and not the death kind. I know nobody but you is going to believe this story but damn if typing this out didn’t make my sorry ass feel better. You were right about that man, I’m sorry for giving you shit for writing so much…
This is the attached file. “Hide and Seek”: Before I get in to the ‘hiding’ and ‘seeking’ I have a bit of a confession that needs to be made. I work as a transporter for a deep web black market site… I hope it doesn’t change your opinion of me too much, sorry for not telling you sooner. I’m the guy they call when they get an order for something they can’t send through the mail. Guns and live animals are two good examples. You’d be pretty hyped to know how many rich assholes just order lions and tigers from the dark web. For obvious reasons, I can’t go in to too much detail, I don’t want to make any dangerous enemies and even after this I still don’t want to lose my job. It’s a pretty sweet gig all things considered, all I have to do is pick up from the seller and deliver to the buyer. I can even choose what jobs I want to take, lets me cling to what little principles I still have. And I DO have principles. After a few years working for the site, my two rules were: no people and no crossing borders. Anyways, I got into a bit of a bind with the cryptocurrency crash that happened early this year. The site mostly pays in Bitcoin and, well, I decided to let my wallet sit and grow. By the time I realized what happened, my savings were destroyed. Nobody expected it to crash that hard… And it probably wouldn’t have been as much of a problem if I hadn’t also gotten used to living a life full of the finer things. I didn’t really ‘save’ all that much to begin with either. So when my savings finally ran dry and the market was still down, I decided to… Lower my standards a bit and take a riskier, higher paying job. Organ transport. I haven’t done it before… I hadn’t been that broke in a long time. Organ jobs pay well too, and I figured I still wasn’t strictly breaking my ‘no people’ rule if it was just their organs. So, I hopped on the site and browsed through the pitiful number of requests in my area till I found what I was looking for. A rich buyer who: had shady connections, was in need of some organs, and lacked either the time or patience to wait for them to come legally. As far as these sort of requests went, this was pretty much the norm from what I’d heard. So I accepted the job and got an email with some additional details about the order: the customer needed two kidneys (which was what I was to transport) and a liver (which they had made a separate request for). From what other people on the site have told me, what should have happened was the job would move to the ‘seeking seller’ section and I’d be on hold till someone… ‘_acquired_’ the kidneys. What actually happened probably should have tipped me off to use my monthly free withdraw… I got a notification two hours later that there was a seller. Rijento, I don’t know how much you know about medicine, but if you do know anything then you’re probably squirming in your own skin about right now. For those who may or may not be reading this that are not in the know, not only do the donor and receiver have to have compatible blood types but kidneys only last about a day outside of a warm body. Not exactly a product you can stockpile. I got another email, about the pickup this time, and began the internal debate between the bad feeling in my gut and my empty wallet… You can probably guess which one of them won out… Anyways, I planned my route; one hour to get to the seller and four hours to get from there to the buyer. I sent the site my plan and within minutes they approve of it and set up an actual meeting point. I sighed and grabbed my things, trying to swallow my nerves the entire hour it took me to reach the meeting point. I sat down on a bench in a city park and waited for what seemed like ages before I felt someone staring at me. It took me a solid minute to pick out who it was even though there were only a few people around. He was sitting with his back to me at a picnic table about ten yards away from me and whenever I looked away I could feel his eyes on me. When we eventually did make eye-contact he bounced excitedly in his seat and waved me over; my heart sank as he also slid a small case into my line of sight. I forced myself to smile, walked over, sat down, and hid my annoyance. Most of the buyers on the site were practically carbon copies of each other. Probably because you could only become a buyer if another buyer knew and endorsed you. The sellers, on the other hand, were all certifiably insane. None of the other transporters I’d chatted with had ever met with a ‘normal’ seller. Because of this, all of them quickly learned to keep conversation to a minimum and to not under any circumstances piss any of them off. I decided to follow in their example. The man sitting in front of me looked friendly enough, overly so if anything. He was scrawny, didn’t look like he would be strong enough to… well… kill someone and harvest their insides. He had a strange smile on his face, and even now I can’t get it out of my head. The kind of overly friendly, wide toothed smile that mothers warned their children to stay away from. It somehow managed to be both inviting and creepy at the same time. I smiled back and spoke up, “So you’re the seller then?” I asked, and the man nodded. He nodded and responded in a sickeningly sweet voice… He sounded like a child in a toy store, his voice strained with excitement and wonder as he droned on to his parents about what toys he wanted. “Oh I’m so glad you found me. For a minute there I thought I’d have to call ‘olly olly oxen free.’” He said with a pleased sigh, pushing the case to my side of the table. “You know… Over the years I’ve gotten quite good at playing hide and seek. So good, in fact, that I’ve never been found. Not. Even. Once. Do you want to know my secret?” the man asked, his voice still just as unsettlingly sweet as his smile. “Sure, what’s your secret?” I asked. I really, really didn’t want to know what the hell he was talking about; but if it kept him happy then… He clapped rapidly and bounced in place, “Oh I’m so glad that you’re a curious one. My secret is that the seekers never know that they’re playing.” “Makes sense…” I said, opening the case momentarily to verify. Two kidneys in pristine condition, doused with preserving fluid, wrapped in plastic. and packed in ice. “If the seeker doesn’t know they’re playing then how would they know to start looking?” I said, leaving out the fact that it would just be stalking at that point before swallowing hard when I thought about where these kidneys came from. “You’re a smart one…” he said with a smile as I sent a message confirming the pickup. All that was left was to wait for the transaction to process. “I was worried about this last one though… she came right up to me. This. Close.” he said, leaning in till our faces almost touched. I struggled to keep my composure, and managed to keep from jumping or pushing him away. “So what did you do?” I asked as he leaned back, my suspicions about these kidneys being all but confirmed. “Why, nothing of course…” He said, a slightly bewildered expression on his face. He looked as though I just asked him how to breathe. I glanced down at my phone to see if the transaction had been verified yet and he snapped his fingers like he remembered something. “Oh I must apologize!” he said, making me look up, “I forgot that you don’t play much… I simply held my breath, closed my eyes, and wished that she would just… go away.” “You’re right… You are good at hide and seek...” I said, wishing to myself that he would just go away and hearing the familiar ding of a successful transaction sound on both of our phones as if to answer my prayers. I reached out my hand as a formality and he grabbed it and shook it vigorously. I forced a smile and stood, although what he said next made my blood nearly freeze. “You’re the first person to find me in oh so long…” He trailed off as he said it, his voice slowly shifting from that of an exited child to the cold blooded maniac that he was. “Maybe my games won’t be so one sided from now on,” He said, his voice disturbingly normal. Although, even without looking back I could tell that the same sickeningly sweet smile was glued to his face. I kept walking but waved my arm as though saying goodbye. The worst part was that I could feel him watching me as I walked back to my car… Not just at first, like if he was watching me leave, but the entire way back, and even as I got in my car. I took a moment to look around and sighed as I saw nothing. It might not sound like much to you. I don’t know, I can still hardly describe it myself, but he had this… creepy way of getting under your skin just by talking to you. I wrote it off as me just being paranoid, the guy harvests organs from people for a living so of course everything he says is creepy. I groaned and started my car, but it wasn’t until I hit the freeway that I was finally able to shake the feeling of his gaze. It’s not like he could’ve been following me, by then I was already paranoid enough to be checking for that, making a few detours just to be sure of it. And because of my detours, I ended up being about an hour past the scheduled drop off with the buyer… Lost my chance at a tip for sure, guy was furious and there was nothing I could tell him to calm him down. I’m pretty sure, ‘sorry I’m late, but the seller was a total psycho and I wanted to make sure he wasn’t following me,’ wouldn’t have been a very good excuse. Whatever, I had my money and the buyer had his organs and plenty of time for whatever operation that used them. Not much to complain about on either side, well except for the fact that I already knew I wouldn’t be sleeping that night. Especially because the feeling of being watched had returned as soon as I set foot out of my car which was, again, impossible. The site never tells the sellers anything about the buyers or transporters, so there’s no way he could have known where I was headed to and no way that he could have followed me. I hopped back in my car and started to head for home, hoping that a few tabs of melatonin would be enough for at least a few hours of sleep. And again, I could feel eyes on me as I drove and I saw his eerie smile everywhere until I hit the highway. I felt a weight lift off of my shoulders then, although I made sure to take the most winding path home that I could afford gas for (which was quite a bit after a job like that). By the time I did get home it was starting to get dark, and I had made a few loops around my apartment just to be sure I didn’t still feel his eyes on me. Luckily, my apartment building has a public parking garage attached to it so even if I was being followed I felt safe enough that nobody would be able to find my room. But Just to be sure, I took the stairs for the first time in months. Have any of you ever climbed seven flights of stairs out of paranoia before Rijento? Well in case you haven’t let me tell you what it’s like. Do you remember running up the stairs from the basement after turning off the lights as a kid? That feeling of unease and terror? Well it’s like that, but you aren’t a kid anymore. It’s not the dark or what imaginary monsters could be lurking in it that frightens you anymore. Instead, you’re worried about who could be hiding in the darkness, what real monster could be following you up those stairs… I’m no slouch when it comes to exercise but it still drained everything out of me hauling my body up those stairs on my hands and feet like an animal as fast as I could. I got inside and locked the door securely behind me, panting, covered in sweat, but I sighed in relief with the fact that I hadn’t felt anyone watching me at all during my climb. I took a moment to catch my breath, slumping down by the door and chuckling to myself while shaking my head. I couldn’t believe that I’d let that freak get so deep under my skin. Once I had caught my breath, I stood up and made my way to my couch before flopping onto it. I wanted nothing more than to go to sleep then and there, but I had to be smart with my money this time. I immediately cashed the Bitcoin out. Better to pay myself out in small increments, but I had bills to pay and I’d already learned my lesson about leaving things in Bitcoin. Once business was taken care of, I grabbed the remote control and flicked on the TV. The familiar faces of the local news anchors greeted me and I began drifting off to sleep while listening to the happenings of our city. It was around seven a.m. when I was woken up by the sound of the ‘breaking news’ alert coming on. “We are just receiving reports of a ghastly murder of one [yeah, I’m not gonna put her name or age here] year old college student living on her own. Police investigators say that several of her organs were found to be missing and that they found evidence of someone living in her home without her knowledge for quite some time before the murder…” The reporters kept talking about how much of a tragedy the situation was… But I wasn’t listening. How could I listen… I’ve never been less happy to be right then I was at that moment. I shuddered thinking about it. My thoughts and paranoia regarding the man I’d met the other day bubbling back up to the surface. It was then that the reality of what I’d done hit me like a freight train. By accepting that contract I doomed that girl to die… All because I needed some quick cash. I stood up and went to the kitchen and opened my liquor cabinet. Without looking, I grabbed a bottle of something with shaking hands and fumbled with the top while trying to keep my mind clear of thoughts. Once I had the cap off I took several deep swigs from the bottle, spilling quite a bit down my chin before I set it down and gasped for air. The burn of the alcohol in my throat gave me something to focus on while it worked its magic on the rest of my body. As my mind slowly clouded I found my way to a chair and found it easier to think about what happened without panicking. My first thought was that I needed to do something. I knew the guy’s face, I should go to the cops! It was at this moment that the… Less impulsive side of my brain kicked in. I go to the cops and all I do is give myself a one way ticket to an early grave. My employers don’t take kindly to police interactions. I slowly resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to live with the consequences of this job for the rest of my life… I’m a coward, I know. Anyways, the next few days passed by slowly. I was… Not in a good place mentally and I’m sure you remember how much alcohol my cabinets were stocked with. I blacked out more than once only to wake up gasping for breath from drinking too much. It was honestly a miracle that I didn’t kill myself through alcohol poisoning. But I… Managed to come to terms with everything. Don’t get me wrong, I still had nightmares where I was the guy hiding in that girls closet… But I wasn’t drinking my problems away anymore, although I think that was more because of the fact that I’d run out of liquor than any meaningful character development. It was about a week later that I was able to get my first night of actual sleep. I didn’t dream about anything either so that was a plus. I know it probably sounds bad, but I was starting to feel normal again… Like I could maybe find a way to just be myself… Either way, even after all that I still wanted to keep my job. I just added a new rule: no organs. From there I fell back into more or less my old routine. I went to eat out almost every day though, I thought any excuse that got me cleaned up and out of my place was worth taking… And then, I began to feel it again. That skin-crawling sensation of eyes on me from somewhere that I felt the day I met Mr. Hide&Seek. I didn’t think much of it at first, I only felt the eyes when I was surrounded by other people so of course one or two would be looking my way right? I thought I was just guilty and paranoid. But no matter what I did, I would always feel like I was being watched whenever other people were around. So I started driving more and more and eating out less and less. Not driving anywhere in particular, just driving… I felt safe on the open road, I couldn’t feel any eyes on me… For about a week. It started small. A shiver down my spine here and there. A sharp sensation that made my eyes snap to one car or another. Then it came more frequently, and I began to get more and more paranoid as the feeling became stronger and stronger. I started driving less and less, and whenever I did, I kept my eyes on the cars around me. Trying desperately to find where that feeling was coming from. To find who was watching me… Trying to catch a glimpse of his face in a passing car. I even thought I did see him a few times… Except that was just paranoia… I hope. Eventually, I stopped driving unless I had to. I shut myself in my apartment, only going out to get groceries and always, always making sure that I didn’t feel anyone watching me before I parked. But that feeling would always find me whenever I went out. This went on for about a month. I started to drink again, I didn’t go out to eat or drive anymore. I paid someone to deliver my groceries to the garage of my building. All I did was eat, sleep, drink, and watch movies or play games… I’d be living the dream, if I didn’t think a serial killer was stalking me. Part of me believed that I was just being paranoid and to be honest I desperately wanted to believe that part of me… But not enough to stake my life on it. And after another week of living like a shut-in the feeling of being watched started to re-surface. Like before it started off small. I felt a ping of eyes on me and from then on I kept the blinds securely closed. Even then, the feeling persisted for days, gradually gathering in strength. So I emptied out all of my closets and cabinets daily… Eventually I just left all of the doors open and everything on the floor so that I could look in to any hiding spot in an instant… But that feeling still persisted. I stopped drinking because I was terrified of being attacked. I started sleeping less and less and when I had to sleep, I slept inside of my closet and barred the doors shut from the inside. I ate and drank only when I felt hungry and always with my back to a corner of the room or locked in my closet… But I could still feel eyes on me, feel His eyes on me the same way I had back at the park. It was about a month later when I finally discovered my haven. The one place left that I didn’t feel watched. The stairwell of my building. I found that whenever I went down and back up the stars to get my groceries – as I’d long since stopped using the elevator – that I would have a brief respite from the feeling of being watched. I started to spend all of my waking hours there, sat on one of the stairs without a care in the world. I only left them to eat and sleep and whenever I entered the building proper I would feel eyes on me almost immediately. But having those stairs to return to made my life almost bearable. It had been a long time since I had anywhere I felt safe, and like every place before it I kept waiting form the feeling of being watched to follow me into the stairwell… But it never did. For another month, I fell into a somewhat bearable rhythm. I’d wake up in my closet feeling watched, I’d eat in the corner of my kitchen feeling watched, and then I’d scurry off to the stairwell where I could blessedly feel alone – Especially near the top floors where the stairs were seldom used. But all good things must come to an end and all that, and while I never did feel watched in the stairs, I did run out of money. Apartments and cars don’t pay for themselves after all, and while I managed a few months on the blood money from my last job it was finally time to get back to work. In the months since I last logged on to the site, things had calmed down significantly and there were now plenty of jobs that didn’t break any of my rules… So I decided to go with a route that I’d done before a couple of times. A gun run. The seller always treated me to a drink or two at his bar and was also always well armed so I felt that it would be a nice and easy job that I could feel safe doing. After confirming the job I closed my laptop, pulled on a fresh set of clothing, and headed out the door. I wanted to get this over and done with, and thankfully the feeling of being watched was rather light that day. I do admit, however, that I lingered in the stairwell for a bit before heading out. I wanted a bit of time alone before being out in the open for the first time in months. Anyways, I hopped in my car after about thirty minutes of blessed stairwell time and headed to the bar. After about two hours of paranoid and twisting driving I managed to make it just on time and pulled my car into the alleyway behind the bar. The owner greeted me with a smile as I got out of my car, “T, long time no see!” he said, his smile fading as I walked up and he got a better look at me. “Holy shit man, are you feeling okay?” he asked, genuine worry in the eyes of the large man. “No… I’m pretty far from okay…” I said with an exhausted sigh. I could still feel the faintest hint of eyes on me even now, though I know that the owner wouldn’t let me be jumped at his bar. “It’s a long story,” I offered, realizing for the first time that it might be nice to actually tell someone what happened. “Is that so.” he said with a hint of a smile and a shake of his head. “Well, hows about we get you a drink while the boys get ready to load up your car.” He offered in return, making me smile. “There’s always plenty of time for stories at my bar.” He said proudly. “I’d like that…” I said with another exhausted sigh, managing to keep the smile up as he put an arm around me and lead me in the back door of the bar. “Oh, by the way, how did you hold up during the bitcoin crash? I heard it hit a couple of transporters pretty hard.” he said, making me chuckle as we made our way through the kitchen. “Funny you should mention that,” I said, making him raise an eyebrow, “because that’s how my long story star—” I began, only to stop short when I looked at the bar. HE was siting there, sipping on a beer without a care in the world. He noticed me out of the corner of his eye and that same sickeningly sweet smile crept onto his face as his eyes met mine. I froze. There was no way that this was a coincidence. There was no way that he just happened to be at this bar at this time. I was broken from my trance by the bar owner waving his hand in front of my face and saying my name, “Hello? T, you alright?” I quickly ducked back into the kitchen and started to hyperventilate. How did he know? How could he possibly have known that I would be here? Did he follow me? “Did who follow you?” The owner’s voice brought me back to reality once again as I realized I’d been thinking out loud. His face was concerned, bordering on scared. “How long has that guy been at the bar?” I asked, hoping that the owner knew who I was talking about. “If you mean tall, thin, and creepy then about an hour… What is going on T?” He asked, as I slumped against the wall. I started crying. I broke down and burst back into the bar only to see that Mr. Hide&Seek he was already gone. “I… I need to go. I need to get home!” I said, pushing past the owner and running to my car. He called after me, trying to get me to stay and explain what the hell was happening but I wasn’t listening. For all I know, Mr. Hide&Seek could be breaking in to my apartment already. I drove straight home and threw open the door to my apartment. It had still been locked, but I wasn’t taking any chances. I grabbed a knife from the kitchen and checked everywhere. But he wasn’t there. Then, my phone rang and scared the living hell out of me. I checked the number and gulped when I saw that it was blocked. I considered not answering but in the end I picked up the call. “H-Hello?” I asked tentatively. “T… What the hell happened at the bar?” a modulated voice rang through the speaker in my ear, making me wince. It was one of the site admins for sure. I was silent for a moment before telling the admin everything. I couldn’t see the man, but I could feel a sudden change when I mentioned seeing Mr. Hide&Seek at the bar. “T,” the admin began, a serious edge to his voice. “I need you to log in to the site… _Now_” he said, and something in me told me to listen. I booted up my laptop and hopped on to the site. As soon as I logged in a dialog appeared that I’d never seen before. ‘ADMIN would like to take control of this computer. Do you consent to this?’ With two buttons. One for yes. One for no. I clicked yes and watched as my cursor began to move on it’s own. “Thank you T. This will only take a moment…” the admin said, a practiced calm in his voice as he downloaded several files and began to do… Something on my laptop. A minute later a dialog box popped up that said, ‘Threat detected!’ and the admin sighed and his voice sharpened as he spoke. “T… You’ve been compromised. You’ve had a nasty piece of spyware installed on your machine, for about a month by the looks of things. It’s been recording your keystrokes and giving someone remote access to your camera…” the admin explained, making me gulp as I realized that all of my information was insecure. “B-but, there’s no way! I haven’t download anything!” I said, making the admin mutter something as a bout of typing could be heard coming through the phone. The admin’s voice was cold and calculated when he spoke next. “No… No you didn’t…” he said, making me gulp. “This software was installed via _USB_…” the admin said, making my heart nearly stop. Hide&Seek had been in my home! He had been here without me noticing and put that program on my laptop. Even after all of my paranoia, he still found his way into my room without me knowing. “I’m going to delete the program,” the admin said, and a few keystrokes later, “done… What the—” As the admin deleted the program, thousands of windows began popping up on the screen of my laptop. All of them saying the same thing… ‘olly olly oxen free’ After that, I threw my laptop in the trash and got a new one as well as a new phone, sim card and all. I was taking no chances. I got all new accounts for everything and the admin told me he revoked Mr. Hide&Seek’s membership personally. But I’m going to disappear all the same, I have a plane ticket to somewhere and my bags are already packed. Don’t look for me, and if you ever start to feel like you’re being watched… It’s because you are.
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