On Yavin – Scam Hunter

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On Yavin, CEO of Cointelligence, is a well-known commenter on all things crypto and is even better known for his very public calling out of people, projects and institutions that he perceives as scammers. At its core, Cointelligence is a research and analysis firm that has evaluated more than 400 difference companies since its inception a little under three years ago. Some companies are researched as part of its rating system but others can attract the wrong kind of attention and Cointelligence, via On Yavin, can be very vocal in its criticism.

Yavin identities three main categories of scams over the past number of years: ICOs, Ponzi MLM schemes and fraudulent exchanges.

He starts off first on the ICOs. I ask if he thinks they will return and Yavin says yes. He quotes Hester Pierce, a commissioner at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also known as ‘Crypto Mum’, who is bringing in new supports for ICOs.  She is offering a peace plan for three years to allow ICOs to figure out what they are – and if indeed they might be a security.

“Right now no one wants to do an ICO because the SEC is looking very critically at all the money raised so far,” he says. “While I like the idea of ICOs allowing ordinary folk to invest – including mom and pop investors – but when there were so many scammers preying on innocent people that made me mad and so I began calling out the bad ones.”

That also brings us to ponzi MLM (multi level marketing) schemes. MLM is legal – but it is selling to family and friends which is tough – but add in a ponzi element and that is scamming family and friends.

Yavin was one of the loudest to call out one of the biggest ponszi MLM schemes – One Coin. Now immortalised in the hugely popular BBC podcast by Jamie Bartlett called The Missing Crypto Queen, Yavin blew the whistle with vigor.  He expresses his disgust that in the UK the FCA is still not pursing people selling One Coin.  It is interesting to note as an aside that the popularity of the investigative BBC podcast has led to more sales in One Coin – an irony that is not lost on Bartlett.

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On Yavin, CEO of Cointelligence, is a well-known commenter on all things crypto and is even better known for his very public calling out of people, projects and institutions that he perceives as scammers. At its core, Cointelligence is a research and analysis firm that has evaluated more than 400 difference companies since its inception a little under three years ago. Some companies are researched as part of its rating system but others can attract the wrong kind of attention and Cointelligence, via On Yavin, can be very vocal in its criticism.

Yavin identities three main categories of scams over the past number of years: ICOs, Ponzi MLM schemes and fraudulent exchanges.

He starts off first on the ICOs. I ask if he thinks they will return and Yavin says yes. He quotes Hester Pierce, a commissioner at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also known as ‘Crypto Mum’, who is bringing in new supports for ICOs.  She is offering a peace plan for three years to allow ICOs to figure out what they are – and if indeed they might be a security.

“Right now no one wants to do an ICO because the SEC is looking very critically at all the money raised so far,” he says. “While I like the idea of ICOs allowing ordinary folk to invest – including mom and pop investors – but when there were so many scammers preying on innocent people that made me mad and so I began calling out the bad ones.”

That also brings us to ponzi MLM (multi level marketing) schemes. MLM is legal – but it is selling to family and friends which is tough – but add in a ponzi element and that is scamming family and friends.

Yavin also spent some time with one of the key UK subjects in the podcast, Jen.  Not only did she lose her money but she encouraged her family and friends to invest.

“This is horrible for her, but it also forms part of my advice when I speak at conferences.  I tell people not to trust their family and friends, and not to trust celebrities.  With the former, family and friends do not want you to lose money but if they are being scammed, then so too will you. So only trust an accredited financial advisor.  As for celebrities, well sure buy their albums or merchandise but not their financial advice.”

The third category are the fraudulent exchanges and here Yavin reserves these operations for his most critical fire.

“There are a number of common characteristics associated with scammy exchanges. The first is the issue of fake trading volume, this is an issue across many exchanges where volume is inflated to create the impression of liquidity.

The next issue is identity. There is no public record of the team, the shareholders or any company information. This means they can lock up funds and just disappear and no one can find them again.”

Finally Yavin speaks about IEOs which he sees as the most extreme form of scam.

“IEOs were meant to replace ICOs. On the surface they looked really promising: the exchange matched the project with the investors. However, aside from a few high profile launchpads, most of the IEOs are purely a means to fleece founders who paid a high fee to list their IEO. The really scammy exchanges would guarantee the founders would raise funds – and this is ridiculous as no one can guarantee this. Other examples include using bogus celebrities as endorsing the IEO – Elo Musk has famously been associated with IEOs that he never even heard of and until I tweeted him he did not know of his impersonation.”

In the rest of this interview Yavin turns his attention to the antics of one particular exchange, calling out its allegedly fraudulent practices and then how they tried to turn the tables on him – by calling him a scam artist.

What follows next is the story of the scammer becoming the scammee in the neo-classic Friends take on messers and messes. Confused? You won’t be – watch the full interview here!