Tom Gillespie: The Crypto Scam Investigator [Interview]


In the world of cryptocurrencies, many scams take place. Tom Gillespie is an investigator for crypto scams who has been working to expose these scams and protect people from losing their money. He runs the Crypto Scamdemic website, which is a resource for information about cryptocurrency scams. Tom is also involved in other projects that aim to educate people about the dangers of cryptocurrency scams.

Other projects of Tom Gillespie consist of Hexicans, a documentation about HEX which is currently a work in progress, as well as the Fakefluencer film, which was part of the Swedish International Film Festival 2022 and a feature at the Bushwick Film Festival 2021. His overall priorities are to educate people to avoid being scammed and to expose scammers who design fraudulent schemes to get money from uneducated investors. Not every crypto investment opportunity is automatically a crypto scam but it’s important to know what to look for to manage the risk.

After a conversation we had with him on Twitter following one of our posts, we had the great opportunity for him to share some of his thoughts and plans for the future with us. Are you tired of too much noise on social media about NFT games, cryptocurrencies, and other pseudo blockchain hypes that are actually made up and only there as a crypto scam? Let’s stop the crypto scamdemic with knowledge.

Start of the interview – Thank you, Tom, for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

What are your priorities for the next 12 months?

Within the next 12 months, I aim to complete the post-production and publish my second crypto investigation documentary – Hexicans & The Time Value of Money. In parallel, I am fine-tuning the future production business model by way of Crypto Scamdemic. The idea is to use this website to capture leads and tips from all those people that feel strongly about addressing the crypto scamdemic. This website also has a live vote on it right now, which will determine my next investigation project.

What does crypto mean to you, and what drew you to it?

Coming from the traditional financial world, crypto, to me, appears to be a combination between the Wild West and a school playground. A lot of underdeveloped economic players operate within a system largely run by a few elite early adopters. This combination is what drew me to Bitman 360 and Scootercoin, which was my first point of entry into the crypto world. That particulate story I cover in great detail in my first investigation titled – The Fakefluencer, you can watch it free on YouTube.

What is your long-term view of crypto?

My long-term view on crypto is that it will ultimately largely be absorbed by both states via the so-called CBDC and corporations looking to bring efficiencies to their operations. The utopian outlook appears to have been largely abandoned by most, bar a few fringe DAOs that are mostly made up of hyper-wealthy Bitcoiners. That said, with time and broader public education, I do imagine we will see some revolutionary usages of the programmable money aspects. However, whether or not this aspect will be beneficial to the broader society highly depends on those persons introducing such projects. There is a lot of room for what I call “the rise of the citizen banker” to grow into “the rise of the citizen dictator,” where a concentration of power quickly accumulates in the hands of just a few with the smarts and resources to both launch and rug pull projects at an unprecedented speed with zero accountability.

What advice would you give people investing in crypto?

In a recent presentation I gave at Crypto Hub Malta, I dug down into some of the baseline red flags and questions people investing in crypto should have. Many people coming into crypto are unable to vet code, so they are given white papers to help them make their decision. Along with the role of “community,” which I refer to more as a tribe (given the way they act to defend their chosen token or coin) and the auditing companies and founding members, an investor really has to trust a number of middlemen which as you will be aware were supposed to be eradicated by Blockchain technology, the tech that is supposed to underpin so many crypto projects.

Tom Gillespie - Talking About Crypto Scams With TechAcute
Image: Tom Gillespie

So I would ask an investor to ask themselves how decentralized this project is. Do I trust the numerous intermediaries, companies, and individuals involved? If there is any doubt, then proceed with caution. With decentralization and so the dissemination of go-betweens power, an investor can get closer to understanding the long-term risks. That said, I’m fairly new to crypto and certainly not a financial advisor in the space.

How do you feel about the way the world is regulating crypto?

Regulating crypto as I have come to understand it has been happening since as early as 2014; however, If we abide by the fundamental standards set out by Bitcoin’s Satoshi Nakamoto, crypto will be impossible to regulate due to the nature of the network’s global distributed consensus model. We have seen countries try to ban Bitcoin many times over the years only to have them instead of turn around later and try to emulate it via launching CBDC or similar coins.

Regulation will have to come via giving the public a significant alternative with similar or equal value, and this is quite simple to do technically. The issue, of course, is the growing adoption of a state coin. This will likely happen through forced swaps. Those holding crypto will be offered a state-backed alternative in return for their crypto – along with a message something like “We’re outlawing XYZ coin, you can exchange them for free at equal value by this date, or risk losing the opportunity to be on the right side of crypto history.”

At this point, the state will truly divide the crypto crowd, and my bet is that because most people are only in crypto for the money, most will choose the less risky path of having their crypto holdings recognized by the state instead of holding on to any utopian ideals of how this technology was supposed to provide new social freedoms and powers for all.

End of the interview – Thanks so much for your insights, Tom.

Unclear future for crypto and scams

Cryptocurrencies have been around for a few years now, and in that time, there have been plenty of ups and downs. Unfortunately, the future of cryptocurrencies is still quite unclear. While some countries are starting to regulate them, others are trying to ban them altogether. This makes it difficult to say exactly what will happen to them in the future.

While crypto technologies and coins in itself is neither evil nor illegal, there should be a sort of body of governance able to make sure investors are not scammed. Similar to how Torrent file-sharing technology at some point in time was almost synonymous with software, music, and movie piracy, we should prevent something like that from happening as well with Blockchain technology.

Related article: How to Tell If a Crypto Is a Scam or Legit?

Technology itself is a solution to solve a problem. If someone is using a type of technology for fraud or support other criminal activities, it should not fall back on the technology that enabled the crime. To end the article, I’d like to quote Andy Groves, former president and CEO of Intel: “Technology happens, it’s not good, it’s not bad. Is steel good or bad?” The same goes for blockchain and crypto scams.

While crypto is considered a nebulous artifact in the modern age by some, at the end of the day, ordinary people who decide to investigate their money should always think carefully about what they invest in. This rule of investigation is as old as financial investment itself. Investment always comes with risk, and be careful not to be scammed. If someone blindly believes in memes and a seemingly happy community, there is little that can be done for them. This sort of belief could be acceptable for religion but certainly not in financial investments.

YouTube: “Navigating DeFi” Presentation from Crypto Hub Malta (Tom Gillespie)

Photo credit: All photos shown are owned by and provided to us by Tom Gillespie.
Editorial notice: The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

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Christopher Isak
Christopher Isak
Hi there and thanks for reading my article! I'm Chris the founder of TechAcute. I write about technology news and share experiences from my life in the enterprise world. Drop by on Twitter and say 'hi' sometime. ;)
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