Inside Telegram’s Crypto-Bot ghost towns

Put aside the cobwebs of the Telegram group “BitGo Cryptocurrency Exchange” and you will find a ghost town, populated by bots.

Advertising

Once upon a time, BitGo Cryptocurrency Exchange (a rogue channel aimed at luring customers from the genuine and legitimate cryptocurrency exchange named Bitgo, who did not respond to an opportunity to comment) welcomed a vital group of real humans, glorious in their liveliness. Members discussed commercial strategies, unknowingly sent large sums of money to fake addresses, urgently asked moderators to tell them why they had added them to the group – a kaleidoscope of delightfully risky retail action. Not anymore.

Nowadays, the “BitGo” Telegram group is made up almost entirely of spam bots. The robots talk only to each other, in circular puzzles and not incomprehensible sequences. We wonder how everyone’s day is going; another responds by asking if anyone wants to marry him, as soon as possible; another thanks Jesus and Satoshi Nakamoto for the opportunity to invest with BitGo; another asks what time it is.

They are robo-shillers with no humans to rob except for the occasional confused person who wanders among them. It’s like watching an animatronic carnival show go wild.

“I’m looking for a man who can support me,” announces a female bot named “Qingrong He” minutes before the request and account disappear. You have already asked the same question a dozen times; as usual, no gallant knight accepts the offer.

“Karoline”, meanwhile, announces good news: “I have received countless earnings from this platform, thanks to agent Morrison, I do not know how to repay you”, he declares without grammar. In quick succession, four other bots praise her using auto-generated variations on the same response.

“Congratulations”, writes “Mark Kidd”. “There is something special about this investment platform. I am happy when other investors invest and receive immediate payments. ”

“Wow” confirms “Alishia Bethe”. “My heart is full of joy and happiness right now, I have great respect for this company for its sincerity and honesty. I got my winnings back.

Etc!

A conversation with Alisia Bethe. Image: screenshot of BitGo Cryptocurrency Exchange Telegram

The fate of the unauthorized BitGo chain is typical of many cryptocurrency groups: “communities” initially developed around a trading currency, scheme or strategy, which over time and many market corrections eventually die out. These places are no longer full of retail suckers, just robots designed to scam them.

Startup Affirmations. Image: screenshot of BitGo Cryptocurrency Exchange Telegram

Yet it remains some carbon-based signs of life in these otherwise arid wastelands.

As far as I know, the only unauthorized human member of “BitGo” appears to be its moderator, a person who identifies as “Morrison Bernard” and spends most of his time answering bot questions about his group.

Bernard told me that his channel was an investment platform that guarantees a 600% return and invited me to create an account. When I asked why the band’s demographics tended to, uh, algorithmic, Bernard denied that there were any bots. The strangely similar posts from different accounts are actually “different writing and different accounts”, he telegramed me. “The [sic] they are all real human beings.

Would anyone reply if we text them?

“Yes”, Bernard insists. “This will be their wish.”

I tried, “Hey, how’s it going, can I ask you about BitGo?” The other day I wrote in a message to some “members” of the group. “Think about investing.

Alas, no one has answered yet.

Perhaps Bernard himself is a bot, like Bernard of Westworld?

He once told me, in a robotic way, “Cryptocurrency trading is a wealth creation tool and requires people to know the operating system to get the best out of it. on this platform we have well-trained professionals and the right trading software to execute the trading operation. “

When asked about the proof of his humanity, he simply relied on bots singing his praises: “The testimonials in the group chat are proof of this. [sic]”He said.

Well, I believe it!

The best time to buy is now. Image: screenshot of BitGo Cryptocurrency Exchange Telegram

On the other hand: maybe Bernard is coming program all robots? Their Do address him by name. Or has he been isolated from human interaction for so long that he can’t tell where the marks end and the spambots begin?

Rami James, a human who spent years fighting robots on a moderating Telegram group, he told me that the botification process begins when the token held by a thriving community plummets precipitously for a fairly long period. This usually happens when the issuing company is no longer able to fund the mods to get rid of the bots.

“In general,” James said, “if a project fails to finance or manage its funds and cannot afford a team of mods, chat will be a breeding ground for scammers.”

After the human mods have escaped, the automated mods can try to hold the fort for a while. But soon, malicious bots, manipulated en masse by a remote operator, will overwhelm them. Keeping bots out requires community participation, which doesn’t work if no one is around.

I have looked at dozens of these small cap groups, each with tens of thousands of existing members, and many have been inundated in this way. This is where you see those weird bot conversations.

Is today a good day to invest? Image: screenshot of BitGo Cryptocurrency Exchange Telegram

“James”, which I sincerely believe is real, moderates “Ultra Discussion” for the token of the same name, which is the 189th most valuable according to CoinMarketCap. She told me that she keeps symbolic loyalists (and robots at bay) gathered with a heady combination of information.reportage and news, for examplewhich “reassures” them.

“For example,” he proudly stated, “today we worked with Swissborg to implement a DEX on our network.”

But keeping the group afloat is a never-ending battle. Bots have gotten smarter and have better resources, she said, and “now they use human psychology to avoid being seen as bots to trick people into divulging private data.”

Hence the solicitations for cryptocurrency romance and the odd attempt to call and respond occasionally. The armies of these robots are often controlled by a few people, James added, and all it takes to make a profit is for a gullible human in the sea of ​​automatons to fall in love with a human place. “The failure rate is astronomical, but not zero,” he said.

Apparently some of these robots are realistic enough for humans to tolerate working alongside them. The moderator of a group focused on an incredibly valuable altcoin called Ravencoin, which has lost 70% of its value in the past year, told me he was an OG coin holder before becoming a mod.

“Ravencoin Official” has over 21,000 members, but many active members show the same robotic embarrassment as “BitGo” robots. However, the mod – which only identifies itself as “RVN_Announcement”, probably not its real name – is apparently extraordinarily happy in its work. “I love my mod job,” he said to her. He likes him so much that he does it for free, he added, because he doesn’t really need the money. “I got more than enough from the acquisition,” he said. “The bonus received while participating allowed me to make huge profits.”

Sure, some of the bots provide a decent fake conversation, especially if you’re used to the pale praise of crypto bag holders.

True love. Image: screenshot of BitGo cryptocurrency exchange Telegram

“I love the way everyone here is engaging in conversations and promoting good news about this beautiful project,” reads a post on a Telegram group for cryptocurrency Harmony One – to a chorus of automated identikit responses, each of them. which states the value of a worthless currency.

Sound familiar?

Do you want to become a cryptocurrency expert? Get the best of Decrypt straight to your inbox.

Get the biggest cryptocurrency news + weekly summaries and more!

Leave a Comment