The Rise of BitConnect
Soon after the initial coin offering and launch, BitConnect started to rise on the CoinMarketCap Top 100 (based on total market cap). We analyzed historical CoinMarketCap snapshots of BitConnect, the table below shows you the price shortly after the ICO (30 January 2017), up until the end of September 2017.
|20170130||2017-01-30||$ 0,201773||$ 1.019.149|
|20170330||2017-03-30||$ 3,35||$ 19.391.384|
|20170630||2017-06-30||$ 51,39||$ 349.899.404|
|20170930||2017-09-30||$ 136,16||$ 931.678.818|
How did BitConnect spread throughout the world? We used search volumes to analyze interest throughout the world.
Note: This article is part of a bigger series of articles, you can read part 1 of 3 here.
Google Trends data gives us an idea in which regions people first started to search for BitConnect related search terms. It was no surprise that India showed the most activity in the early period of BitConnect (2016-11-06 – 2017-06-26), and more specifically, the Gujarat region:
We looked into the Google Trends data to see which countries showed an early interest in BitConnect related search terms:
Dark green = high search volume detected, Green = search volume detected and Red = no search volume detected
After filtering out tiny countries (like Aruba and Greenland), we found that the countries below showed the most interest during the first period of BitConnect:
- United States of America
- United Kingdom
- The Netherlands
This is where the promoters came into play.
BitConnect would not have become what it has been if it weren’t for the promoters. Due to the high paying pyramid affiliate scheme, it was incredibly tempting to promote it. Victims would be lured in by advertisements of an ROI of up to 40% per month.
Users would trade on the BitConnect lending platform, converting Bitcoin into BitConnect. They would then lock the value of the BCC (BitConnect Coin) for a set period to earn interest. The higher the amount you would lend, the more money you would make. Promoters luring in new users would get 7% of all their lending profit, but would also gain earnings from referred users from their referrals, as seen on the schematic below:
Examples of promoters
Some of the BitConnect promoters went out of their way to get more referrals. Continuing their affiliate promotions after they full and well knew that BitConnect was a scam. Because of this, we’re exposing some promoters, all of who got away with it.
Trevon James is a cryptocurrency YouTuber with ~115K subscribers. He actively promoted BitConnect to his viewers, while also denying any claims that BitConnect could be a scam. Trevon was also investigated by the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and subpoenaed to testify in September 2019. The investigation didn’t lead to any conviction; meanwhile, he’s still actively promoting scam coins to his viewers.
CryptoNick is a 17-year old YouTuber who actively promoted BitConnect in his videos. In total, he earned more than $900,000 from his lending profit and affiliate bonuses, while spending the earnings on luxury items, like a Nissan GTR.
There has been a class-action lawsuit against him and a couple of other promoters. However, the status of this lawsuit is unclear. In the meanwhile, CryptoNick has removed his Twitter account and YouTube videos.
Another promoter of BitConnect was the 27-year old Laura from the Netherlands. She ran a Dutch YouTube channel, combined with a Facebook page and a website. She explained in detail how to trade BitConnect and presented BitConnect to large audiences. She also made a commercial for BitConnect in which she shows herself driving a Mercedes-Benz and drinking expensive Champagne. In the last part of the commercial, she’s opening the BitConnect website and showing her earnings to the viewer.
She also got Derk Boerrigter involved with BitConnect. He’s a former football player for AFC Ajax and got involved for a short time.
She also involved another football player, Ola John, as seen below on 31 December 2017:
Cryptogirl Laura claims to have sold her house and purchased $160.000 in BitConnect. When asked if she still believes in BitConnect, she says: “BitConnect has always received negative attention, but it is certainly not a scam.” It’s unclear whether she is involved in any lawsuit or faces any repercussions.
These three examples are only the tip of the iceberg. There have been many YouTubers promoting BitConnect, knowing it was a scam.
During the bull market (Q4 2017), cryptocurrencies didn’t need much to jump in price.
On October 28, 2017, BitConnect held its first (and only) annual ceremony in Pattaya, Thailand. It was held at the Peach Convention Center of the Royal Cliff Hotel. More than two thousand people attended, and the ceremony was broadcasted live on YouTube.
The ceremony started at 6:30 p.m. with an impressive performance by Thai drummers and musicians in a symbolic sword fight accompanied by traditional Thai dancers.
Two masters of the ceremony came onstage to introduce Michael Crypto who provided some inspiration before BitConnect communities from the countries attending were introduced: Thailand, Philippines, US, Canada, UK, Belgium, Australia, Netherlands, Japan, China, Cambodia, South Korea, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and South Africa.
Top promoters from each of 14 countries were escorted onstage to each give a brief inspirational talk about their BitConnect ventures.
At around 7:30 p.m., winner of the Thai Got Talent Show, Ku Ling performed his impressive aerial acrobatic prowess on a strip of red silk.
Luxury cars and money were given out
Seven top promoters, including John Bigatton John from Australia and Jean Simon from Canada, received US$ 50,000 in BCC awards.
New cars were handed out to the five most active promoters; a Porsche 911 went to Mr. Glenn of the United States; a Mercedes Benz to Mr. Santoso of Indonesia; an Austin Martin Vantage to Mr. Divyesh of India; a Ferrari California to Mr. Choi and Mr. Kim of South Korea; and a Lamborghini Hurricane to Vietnam’s top promoters: Mrs. Thannh and Mr. Minh.
At 9:00 p.m. the top BitConnect YouTubers were awarded. Jeti Knight, East Coast Crypto, Mr. Lancer, Crypto Girl, and Rhino M each won $10,000 in BCC.
The top affiliate awards went to three people, including Trevon James, while the top lenders were recognized by Mr. Lathitya, Mr. Kim and Mr. Choi; the BitConnect Understanding Reward went to three, including Mr. Weber. All of these people were given $10,000 in the BitConnect coin.
Next, top BitConnect supporters, including Michael Crypto, Mr. Jonas, and Mr. John, each won a $50,000 BCC prize. The awards for promoters of each region were also announced.
The presentation that became an internet meme
During this event, an investor named Carlos Matos from New York City gave an energetic presentation and testimonial about BitConnect.
After enthusiastically greeting fellow BitConnect investors in attendance, Matos goes on to reveal that since June 2017, he’d generated over $140,000 off a $25,610 initial investment.
Shouting “Bitcoooonect!!,” and “Wassup!” like a screaming pig, Carlos’ presentation struck a chord with the crypto-community and most of us laughed for weeks. In no time, parodies started hitting YouTube, and BitConnect became well known in the crypto industry. It was pretty obvious Matos was somewhat of a “unique” individual. His presentation quickly became an internet meme.
While Matos’ story of investment into a Ponzi scheme and receiving money isn’t unique, his delivery certainly was – and ultimately makes for some of the most bizarre Ponzi promotion we’ve ever seen.
BitConnect’s price more than doubled
The price on the day of the event was 212 USD. After the event, the price rose to an all-time high of 463 USD. It had more than doubled.
Why did people get sucked into BitConnect?
If you’re wondering how people got sucked into BitConnect, look no further than Matos and the people he convinced. It’s the irrational passion which in itself is harmless. However, it can be devastating when it’s applied to financial fraud, even more so when you have business models that promise more significant returns when you reinvest your profits.
In the third and final part of ‘BitConnect: The Full Story’, we will elaborate on the fall of BitConnect and its deaths.
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