In the Murky World of Bitcoin, Fraud Is Quicker Than the Law

The call went out on Twitter: “For insane profits come and join the pump.”

It was an invitation to a penny stock-style pump-and-dump scheme — only this one involved Bitcoin, the soaring, slightly scary virtual currency that has beckoned and bewildered people around the world.

While such bid ’em up, sell ’em off scams are shut down in the financial markets all the time, this one and other frauds involving digital money have gone unchecked. The reason, in no small part: Government authorities do not agree on which laws apply to Bitcoin — or even on what Bitcoin is.

The person behind the recent scheme, a trader known on Twitter as Fontas, said in a secure Internet chat that he operated with little fear of a crackdown.

“For now, the lack of regulations allows everything to happen,” Fontas said in the chat, where he verified his control of the Twitter account, which has thousands of followers, but did not give his identity. He added that Bitcoin and its users would benefit when someone steps in to police this financial wild west, and would stop his schemes when they do.

via In the Murky World of Bitcoin, Fraud Is Quicker Than the Law – NYTimes.com.

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