A Scammer Stole 14,000 XRP From A Corona Virus Victim: Here’s What I Think About It
An interesting post on reddit a few days ago told the harrowing tale of a woman, now fighting a covid19 infection, got scammed out of her hard-earned and hard-saved XRP.
Basically, she gave away her private keys to a fake wallet.
She stored her XRP in a ledger wallet. Not having accessed that wallet since 2018, she went to open it using a Google Chrome extension. Back in 2018, Ledger had such an extension. Not so anymore. The extension she accessed was run by a scammer, who currently holds $2.5 million worth of XRP in their wallet.
I think the story highlights a few important things. First, its terrible, and any and all scams should be rooted out of this space because they damage the image of all crypto. But more importantly, these scams will be the main reason why mainstream adoption never occurs.
If the average person cannot keep their funds safe, and currently they absolutely cannot, then there is no reason to consider crypto anything more than speculative investment. If the goal is to have Bitcoin as the digital gold, as the internet’s currency, than we will never get there is that currency can simply be seized through scams and criminals.
This is where a central bank continues to be a better option to store funds. I know many delusional crypto-enthusiasts will scoff at that, but it is the truth. The FDIC insures your funds up to $250,000. Now, maybe you have more than that and want to store it on your own, that’s great. But the average human on the planet has nowhere near that amount of wealth. The technology of blockchain can be used to empower all people on the planet, but as of right now, that also means they can lose that power to scams and tricks. Even Binance failed, with thieves running off with $40 million worth of BTC last year. The Wall Street Journal estimates that $1.7 billion worth of cryptocurrency has been stolen since the tech emerged.
Try convincing someone to put their paycheck into a technology that can be seized in five minutes by a scam artist and never be given back to them. They’ll call you an idiot, and they’d be right.
The other aspect of that ripple scam is the utter irresponsibility of Ledger to allow a false google chrome extension to remain on goggle’s chrome extension page. The lesson here is important: the security of these assets is always on the behavior of the user. That is great in theory, but continues to be a hurdle to widespread adoption. So long as scammers abound, and they always will, lawlessness will reward those ready to stab others in the back with the victim’s loot.
Yes, the immutability of blockchain is one of its strengths, but it remains a weakness as well. I think this weakness can be overcome with proper tech. What is that tech? What could it look like, beyond some sort of biomecha hybrid like key-phrases stored within your hand? I don’t know. I’m not a programmer.
Until then, BTC, XRP and the like will remain a speculative asset. Maybe that’s fine with you, but I think we can do better.