I lived in the dorms at UCSD for my last two years of college and played chess with my suitemates. One of them beat me consistently. I believe he and I both played the same way, being honest and transparent, explaining our moves to our opponents, offering them the chance to defend against hidden threats or defeat long term strategies as soon as we devised them. This openness may appear to be self-defeating, but that is because we are short-sighted. The goal of chess is not to beat your opponent, but to learn about hidden threats and any long term strategies that may hurt us. Cooperation in this endeavor paid off for both myself and my friend, St.Jean.
I recently had a long conversation with the founder of Wall of Coins
, Robert Genito. We have become friends over the last year because we are both passionate about making scammers learn the lesson that honesty is the best policy by frustrating their attempts to cheat.
Rob described to me some of the methods Wall of Coins uses to screen out scammers and prevent man-in-the-middle attacks, and repair (some of) the damage they do when they happen. I remarked to him during our last conversation that if I write about these things, it will read like a How-To guide for scammers. We agreed to view that as an opportunity rather than a problem. There is a bit of psychology and philosophy that backs up the creation of such a how-to guide, but I don't know of an elegant way to lead you to it. Instead, I'll offer these keywords: "reverse psychology", "failure leads to success", "anti-fragile", "shine light in dark places".
Wall of Coins pushes every transaction and member through what they call a "security intelligence layer." It collects information from several sources, including the metadata in and image analysis of the photographs members send in, the reputation of IP addresses, and the ownership and age of phone numbers. The layer was designed through the cooperation of an individual from EndGame
, another fellow who helped banks, the Navy, and other government bodies with cyber-security, someone from the financial operations of a few of the largest banks in the USA, and several other security experts through many months of trial and error and discussion.
He insisted on blaming me rather than some random employee at FedEx, or anything else that may have happened.. I called FedEx to find out what we could do and they said the sender would have to open a claim. I asked him to do that and he refused, insisting that I was the dishonest one. While I avoided accusing him, my suspicions grew. He wouldn't message me on LBC either, but threatened me with an IRS audit through text messaging. He gets this newsletter, but apparently he forgot about what I learned
from Peter Hendrickson. Thanks for the chuckle, Jeff.
LBC eventually said that since I had already released the trade, they'd have to let him keep the bitcoin. I assume this is something LBC's lawyers explained to them: LBC does not want any liability for making a legally wrong decision, and I had cut them out of the loop when I closed escrow. I do not blame myself for trusting Jeff. His reaction to LBC's lockup of his account tells me he's a pretty miserable guy. I don't know if he's miserable because he's been stealing, or if he's totally honest and just has some weird faith in FedEx employees' integrity. It does not seem that karma bit him. It bit me, and perhaps that is because I'm not charitable enough. So I just emailed him that if he did scam me, I forgive him under the assumption that he needed the money, and the hope that he will connect the dots on the karma side of things, and that if he didn't scam me, to please help me with FedEx. And if Marc Hernandez ever gets this newsletter, I have the same hope for him too. Dishonesty eats at you, even if imperceptibly.