Most people who were ‘early’ to crypto have a story about how they lost their private key, their laptop, their other passwords or were phished by scammers.
This writer was the victim of a crypto theft more than four years ago that was covered by the BBC and had more than a million views; those 163 Ethereum are now worth 10X more than the £25,000 at the time.
Even worse, every week I am contacted by victims of scams who seem to think I can help, when all I want is to be not reminded of it or be recompensed by Binance for refusing to take my case seriously.
I did everything I could to retrieve my spirited-away ETH, even spending more crypto on bounty-hunters in the US who followed the trail and gave me clear documents to hand over to the UK Police. The Police in those days were amazing in their response, but ultimately there was nothing they could do. Thank you again, Sussex Cybercrime unit, you did all you could.
Sometimes it’s not too clever to be ‘early’ to anything and while I was more like a lunchtime adopter than an early adopter, I still felt powerless when being faced down by an insouciant exchange, but the fight for justice goes on.
Fortunately, things have started to change and it is the late adopters who may be the beneficiary of how the crypto industry is growing up and becoming part of the mainstream. There is no need here to add to the events of last week and the trials and tribulations of CZ and Binance, but it was interesting to see how well the market held up after the announcement. It was a watershed moment for regulation and one that may be historical in the future story of money.
The appointment (and promotion) of Richard Teng as CEO is also a shrewd decision by Binance, Teng previously being a finance regulator as well as being the global head for regional markets at Binance.
He previously headed up the Abu Dhabi Global Market, the UAE capital’s financial services regulator, and was a past director of corporate finance at the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Those are serious regulation chops and augurs well… for now.
Where regulation leads, lawyers surely follow and not like ambulance-chasers and shysters who jump on any bandwagon (excuse my mixed metaphors) to make an easy penny or two.
In reality, lawyers have been involved for some time in retrieving crypto for scam victims and trying to block stolen funds.
One such is law firm Shoosmiths, which works with marquee brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Travelodge and Octopus Ventures, but also has its own dedicated team to help victims of crypto fraud. Matt Green is the Blockchain Litigation Lead and Co-Head of the Blockchain and Digital Assets Group there.
Green works on recovering digital assets lost as part of ransoms paid, thefts and hacks, romance scams to straight up investment frauds. He works with blockchain analytic outfits and exchanges to identify wrongdoers and those with control over the assets.
“We have been aware of the scandal around crypto thefts for some time now and the tsunami of victims. We are committed to getting our clients’ funds back and we’re increasingly successful at doing so,” he says.
“Complex multinational issues where blockchain technology is involved can be tough. But, anything difficult relating to blockchain or crypto assets is in our particular wheelhouse.”
There is clearly a market for such services and if crypto is finally growing up and becoming a serious regulated market, then justice needs to be part of the whole equation.
Shoosmiths’ conviction that they can be part of the solution gives hope to everybody who’s been a victim of a scam. It might be too late for some, but for others it could be something quite wonderful.
As any Silicon Valley company knows, the only way for a successful tech cluster to grow is for money to circulate and be reinvested into that sector.
Forget ETFs and halvings, the real boost for crypto will be for all of that stolen crypto to be returned to the market and used to create a truly regulated system where the full, and complete, force of the law provides the protection that investors deserve.
Monty Munford advises the world’s fastest-growing companies in blockchain, AI and NFTs on growth and visibility. In the past decade his consultancy has helped more than 40 companies raise money/exit for a total of $1.4 billion. He currently works/invests with EasyTranslate and Degen Labs.
Munford was previously a weekly tech columnist for Forbes in New York, the Telegraph in the UK and continues to write regularly for the BBC and The Economist.
He is also a keynote speaker/emcee/moderator/interviewer and has spoken at more than 200 global events interviewing figures such as Tim Draper, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Wozniak (twice in Beirut and Vienna), Kim Kardashian (once in Armenia), the late John McAfee, Amitabh Bachchan, Ghostface Killah, ZZ Top, Guns N’ Roses and many others.