Boy, 16, turns £150 into more than £60,000 in less than a ...

TIL: The latest ponzi scheme - PIPcoin

Well today was interesting. After seeing a ton of people trying to spam their referral links into some of the big Facebook groups we run at work, I decided to investigate a bit more after dinner & a couple of glassses of wine.
Let me introduce you to PIPcoin. (for those like me who missed it when it last came up on the sub)
PIPcoin from the horses mouth
PIPcoin's CEO on SABC
One of his "free" seminars.
Here is a quick recording off their homepage :-(
Pipcoin is Africa’s first P2P Cryptocurrency and is more seen as an emerging digital currency that seeks to revolutionize accessibility and raise awareness about the importance of online trading to the multitudes of both the aspirant traders and those who are completely unaware of the abounding benefits and opportunities offered by the digital market. Thus, for all its worth as a potential life-changing tool, we want Pipcoin to be everybody’s business.
So this is new... lets take a look at their FAQ's because I have many! here are my favourite bits:
What Is The Structure Of A Pipcoin? Pipcoin Concept (for developers) -IF YOU HAVE 0,9999 MICRO-PIPS THEN IT WILL BE ROUNDED OFF TO 1.0000 – MAKING IT 1 PIPCOIN-
lol really? Where does that extra micro tit pip come from?
Why Pipcoin Isnt A Get Rich Quick Scheme Whenever there is a new digital breakthrough it is natural for people to be sceptic, this has been scientifically proven. Even at one stage the internet was said to be a scam, same goes to online trading, they said it won’t last. Same goes to Facebook; they said it’s an information-leaking scam. Same goes again to Bitcoin they said it’s a ‘failed experiment’. Pipcoin is the people’s currency and can never in a scale be compared to ponzi schemes and investment bonanzas; Pipcoin is a friend-to-friend digital currency which has its own crypto keys and public ledger just like any other legit digital currency. Everyone is a host to the currency, every participants’ computers serve as servers to the system and just like forex trading it is a zero-sum game, when you buy the coins there will be someone selling to you.
SkepticalHippoIsSkeptical.jpg
Who Is The Founder Of Pipcoin? However the inception of the idea can be credited to David Schwartz and the inception of the algorithm and mathematics behind to Ref Wayne, a 21 year old South African who is behind the creation of most high-tech forensic software as well as the indicators for financial trading platform (Forex Metatrader), it is without chance that the creation of Pipcoin is water-proof and crack-free.
Aside from the laughable wording, this is perhaps the most interesting part. If you can make it through this interview or this video his story sounds a lot like this "David Schwartz" story here. Excuse the popups but give it a read and obviously the comments at the bottom.
Is Pipcoin Legal? ...After all, there is no authority that can stop anyone from buying and selling a product online.
hahahahahahahahAHAHAha!
Do I Need To Provide Any Id Documents To Join Pipcoin is a cryptocurrency which means it’s completely encrypted, even for its users, it remains completely confidential. You don’t need to submit any documents.
erm... surely this goes against SO many laws in SA?
How Reliable Is This Website In Terms Of Security And Keeping Personal Data And Pipcoins [no ? at the end of these ones for some reason] We pay great attention to security and the confidential information on the website is protected by EV SSL. We don’t divulge any personal data of members to third parties. Your participation too, is strictly confidential.
thats...not really explaining it at all. SSL isnt the be-all and end all - but oh there's another one right below. Im sure that'll clear it up...
Are You Protected From Hackers We have installed power Anti-DDOS protection on our servers and have many other security measures.
well that settles it.
ok ok so whats next?
Some points/gems from their Terms of User PDF [mirror here] (i've never heard that phrase) but looks like something from the lawfirm of Copy, Pasta and Google.
All references to the ‘company,’ ‘us,’ ‘our,’ ‘we’ or ‘Pipchain’ means Pipchain South Africa S.a.r.l., a company registered under the laws of South Africa, with a share capital of EUR 55,222.08, having its registered address at L-2340 South Africa, 1, rue Philippe II, registered with the South Africa Trade and Companies Register under number B 190.078 (Business License number B190078).
I tried to find out if thats real but I couldnt figure out how to do it via the new http://www.cipc.co.za/ site.
Their privacy policy link https://pipchain.com/PrivacyPolicy.pdf 404's
Typos galore eg - " Server failure ordata loss;"
We make no warranty that the Website or the server that makes it available, are free of viruses or errors, that its content is accurate, that it will be uninterrupted, or that defects will be corrected.
wut?!
  1. AGREEMENT TO HOLD PIPCHAIN HARMLESS
wut2
7.2. If you are obligated to indemnify us, we will have the right, in our sole discretion, to control any action or proceeding (at our expense) and determine whether we wish to settle it.
ok...
9.1. You need not use a Pipchain Wallet. If you wish to use the Wallet, you must create a wallet with Pipchain to access the Services (“Wallet”)
I need an adult.
10.5. No Storage or Transmission of Pipcoins. Pipcoins are an intangible, digital asset. They exist only by virtue of the ownership record maintained in the Pipcoin network. The Services do not store, send or receive Pipcoins. Any transfer of title that might occur in any Pipcoins occurs on the decentralized ledger within the Pipcoin network and not within the Services. We do not guarantee that the Service can effect the transfer of title or right in any Pipcoins.
and
10.8. No Cancellations or Modifications. Once transaction details have been submitted to the Pipcoin network via the Services, The Services cannot assist you to cancel or otherwise modify your transaction details. Pipchain has no control over the Pipcoin Network and does not have the ability to facilitate any cancellation or modification requests.
In the SABC interview (linked at the top of this post) the CEO says he took bitcoin and 'modified' it to be safer and so you can track 'stolen or lost' coins. So thats a lie.
  1. DISCONTINUANCE OF SERVICES 15.1. We may, in our sole discretion and without cost to you, with or without prior notice and at any time, modify or discontinue, temporarily or permanently, any portion of our Services. You are solely responsible for storing, outside of the Services, a backup of any Wallet Address and Private Key pair that you maintain in your Wallet.
erm, ok but because PIPcoins can only be traded on their website and not transferred to anything else... how does that work?
17.1.3. Use any robot, spider, crawler, scraper or other automated means or interface not provided by us to access our Services or to extract data; 17.1.4. Use or attempt to use another user’s Wallet without authorization
the enter key is a hard one to find on a laptop I'll give them that one...
---- gets more wine ---
They claim to have a 30-35% growth rate on any and all investments! Crazy returns.
I did a bit of a google on them and immediately found these posts.
Some choice excerpts:
The company has promised that it will soon be issuing a debit card. Promising to issue a debit is an old trick used by fraudulent companies to create a false sense of trust and legitimacy to unsuspecting investors.
and
The transfer of pipcoins is verified by one sources, instead of 3 independent source as is usually the case with legitimate crypto currencies with a blockchain.
and
They also use wording similar to ‘get-rich-quick' scheme lines such as “Pipcoin will create over a 100 millionaires by the end of this financial year”. These are revealing signs of a fraudulent scheme. Moreover, pipcoin is a closed system, you cannot trade with anyone other than randomly chose people registered on the website. Their blockchain is not public or transparent, in fact, they do not have a blockchain and, if they do have one, then it is not operational.
So who's behind it? Who is this Ref dude?
According to his Twitter bio he's "Youngest Billionaire in Africa | Founder of African 1st ever digital currency ! Get a minimum interest of 35% @infopipcoin"
here are some choice images from his public FB:
I tried to register on https://mypipcoins.com/ but there's an ASPX error during the registration process and it kept trying to switch between https and http. Great start. I tried in all major browsers and they all failed so I gave up on trying to signup with my temp email [email protected] :(
So then, lets take a closer look at the support they offer on their site. They've got one of those "live chat" widgets on their site and this evening there was actually someone online :)
I said "hello" and saw "busi has joined the conversation" - sweet.
Here is the transcript I downloaded before they killed the chat. Lucky I insta-clicked the download before they killed my chat session.
As you can see by the chat log, Busi linked me to whats obviously the new 'site' they're launching this weekend https://pipchain.com/
The site looks a lot like the blockchain.info website.
Their market page is awesome compared to blockchain.info's one! its even got a bigger market cap! Note the article links are all the same, except for two small things.
  1. None of the links work...because
  2. they've done a find&replace in the code, replacing all instances of "bitcoin" with "pipcoin" XD
Anyway, I thought I'd try signup on THIS site and lo 'n behold I managed to sign up! [email protected] lives!
Here is PIPcoin's dashboard and here is Blockchain.info's dashboard.
Here is PIPcoins transactions page and here is Blockchain.info's transaction page.
So pretty much a blatant copy/pasta job.
-- final thoughts --
Its unfortunate that the quality of journalism in SA is so weak. PIPcoin getting a lot of media attention for something thats honestly so dodgy, if you looked at it for more than 5 minutes you'd know. Many people are going to fall for this and if you look at the comments on twitter or on his FB posts or on any video calling out the scam you'll shake your head.
Someone (not me) has even put this site together https://www.pipcoin.co/ which is as informative as it is awesome! Click the login and it takes you to "Logging in should be the last thing you should be worried about right now." and the bottom of the site has the best burn ever
"This website was built as a public service announcement by concerned citizens (and shows what a legitimate site should look like"
I did try connect with the 'owner' via twitter to find the source/calculation of the "R40 314 800,00 lost & counting" figure but so far no reply.
Anyway its late and I'm going to bed. I hope you learnt something and if you see anyone in your social circles promoting this please make them aware.
EDIT: Reddit formatting is hard.
EDIT2: Got a reply from the person behind the pipcoin.co site - http://imgur.com/a/995oN which honestly shows the lack of skills the scheme has in the development/security field and now if you rewatch the interviews you can see why he's so scripted when talking about the tech stack.
EDIT3: Sigh. I made a comment on the PIPcoin FB page to warn people about this and this is the response I found this morning - http://imgur.com/a/tFoAy I dont even know what/how to respond...
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