One of the most frequently asked questions is how to identify a scammer. We have a discussion on this topic in our forum and we want to inform all investors about these warning signs. The rules described below are derived from examination of a number of borrowers and potential scammers. Not every sign will apply in every case. Nevertheless, these rules should be taken as warning flags, especially if more than one is present. To invest successfully and avoid potential scammers, please read the following short list of advices:
10 Golden Rules for Investing
Rule #1 Engage your borrower
The most important thing in lending is communication. If your borrower is not responding to your questions/comments, or is responding in a manner that’s not coherent, then you should really consider whether you want to risk your heard earned Satoshis. It’s best that you use public means of communication, such as the comment section of the loan, our forum, or any other method of communication which allows the other community members to participate. The reason we recommend that you use public forums is to provide you with more eyes, a bit of the herd effect: the more people are watching, the more likely to spot a scam. We’ve had people who have identified scammers by their punctuation: a scammer used to leave a space after the apostrophe, such as in I’m, he would write I’ m, so people recognized that and pointed him out. If the communication is in public, then you get more chances to protect your investment.
Rule #2 Check the known scammers list
Lenders are encouraged to share information about scammers and we have a thread in our forum that contains all the known scammers which have been encountered so far. Familiarize yourself with that Scammer List and make sure that you’re not lending to one of those people.This is the place to find the most up-to-date information on scammers. If you’re lucky, you’ve found the list before you got scammed. And if you do get burned by a scammer, then don’t forget to leave their name in the list.
Rule #3 Too good to be true? Don’t do eeeet!
Is somebody offering to pay 100% interest? The first thing you need to remember is that old saying, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” BitLendingClub’s homepage has statistics about the average APR on the website and if somebody is offering to pay amounts which are substantially higher, then you should be alarmed. In this specific case the APR is 895% , more than twice the average APR on the website.
Rule #4 Avoid loan spammers like a pro!
Inexperienced scammers will often do loan spamming: they’ll try to get as many BTC out of you as quickly as possible. Jossy2011 is spamming the comment sections of multiple loans in an attempt to get his loan funded. He has spammed 62 loans with the same comment: Another example is salamsunil. You’ll notice that he has a history of loan requests. He started by posting this loan requests: I LIKE BITCOIN (asking for 20 BTC) As you can see on his very first loan, he was asking for 20 BTC with no reputation and no history of repaid loans! HUGE WARNING! His other loan requests, in order: I LIKE BITCOIN FOR MY BUSINESS (asking for 10 BTC) I LIKE BITCOIN FOR MY BUSINESS (asking for 11 BTC) 7 btc @ 3% 14 day loan (asking for 11 BTC) Special Project Funding (asking for 43 BTC!!!) You have to carefully look through the user’s profile and see if they have a number canceled loan requests: if there are a lot of requests with constantly changing titles/amounts, then the person is probably trying to figure out what works.
Rule #5 Understand the scammer mindset
You have to understand the scammer mindset. Understanding their psychology will help you identify them early on and you’ll avoid getting suckered. Some of the common traits are as follows:
- Most of them are just looking for a quick buck. After all, they’re people with limited time resources too. They really don’t want to spend 2 days if all they’re going to get is 0.05 BTC.
- They DREAD spending their own money! It’s like an aversion for them, so many give up on the scam the first moment they have to spend a little money, such as in the case of reputation loans. For some reason they just don’t like to spend their own money, I guess they’re always afraid that someone could scam them in return… who knows.
- Communication is not for them. Maybe it’s because they feel like if they communicate, then they might slip up. Maybe they feel like if they chat with you, then they might humanize their victim. Or maybe they’re just lazy and don’t care about the community and don’t want to talk to anybody. In either case, scammers tend not to communicate too well with the community.
- They tend to be pretty arrogant. In the rare cases that they do communicate with people, they can come of as arrogant. In particular, you will notice their arrogance if there is a conflict of some sort.
- They feel almighty, acting like the funds are their property and they are pretty annoyed when they get that message:
Rule #6 Do your homework and grill them on the details
Our advice is to start by reading the borrower’s profile, ratings and the loan purpose. Some borrowers don’t share many details about the loan, or why they are borrowing. This can be a red flag. Instead, invest in loans from borrowers who have more to say.Do they state the reasons for their loans? Is there an explanation of how the borrower plans to repay the loan? Some bad examples of descriptions: Check the user’s profile summary: How many repaid and active loans does the borrower have? What is the amount of the loans? Please also check the user’s rating and comments from the investors! Most scammers will have some kind of fake story about what they’re doing. The more you grill them on the details, the more they get wrapped up in their own web of lies. A recent scammer claimed that he wanted a loan in order to purchase an ATM, you can read up on the investigation here: A web of lies, featuring alexicc Basically, the user’s story seemed suspicious right from the start. He said he was purchasing the ATM and since we do merchant integrated loans with ATMs, we figured we can get the manufacturer to sign off on the purchase. This would have eliminated the risk of borrower malfeasance, and it would have made funding the loan 10 times easier! After a little digging around, we started to uncover facts, after facts, after facts, which seemed to contradict every part of the scammer’s story. In the case where you suspect the borrower is lying, your best bet is to find out as many facts which contradict the lie and to hold off confronting the scammer for as long as possible. Basically, you want to play into their story for as long as possible and pretend that you believe it. In the meantime, conduct your investigation and double-check every part of their story. If they think that you’re buying their story, they’ll keep selling it to you and they’ll keep adding many amazing bells and whistles to it!
Rule #7 Do not lend to incompetent people
There are basic things that a person has to be able to do on BitLendingClub in order to be able to repay a loan:
- Make a loan request.
- Obtain Bitcoins from other sources (this is pretty important if they’re going to have to pay back a loan).
- Make a payment on the loan.
- Communicate with the lenders.
Reputation loans are specifically designed to demonstrate that a person can do those things without posing any risk to the investors.
Rule #8 Don’t invest in something you don’t understand
Yes, a lot of people overlook that. It’s not related to scammers, but you generally want to avoid getting burned by borrowers with bad ideas. If a borrower comes in and asks for a loan for CEX.IO shares, but you have no clue on earth what CEX.IO shares are, how they work and what the risks are, then you should probably stay out of that loan. Don’t just assume that other lenders did their due diligence on the loan information, and that the borrower’s venture has been vetted. If you can’t vet the borrower’s venture by yourself, then you should avoid investing in it. When you lend to somebody, you’re effectively taking on the same risk as they are, the riskier their venture, the more risk you take. You might be considering investing in something comical, like King Tyler Durden’s website, or something more serious like a PBMining loan for which the borrower didn’t properly calculate the payoff period needed to cover the loan amount + interest.
Rule #9 Know our borrower’s social presence
You should try to learn as much as possible about the borrower’s online presence across all Bitcoin related websites and social platforms. Check to see if their accounts are active and legitimate (real picture, no fake friends, etc). Start here: http://coolkidslist.com/ BitLendingClub allows borrowers to integrated Social and Trusted websites into their profile, so keep an eye out for those as well. Social websites which users can connect with on BLC:
Trusted websites which users can connect with on BLC:
If the user has connected his account to some of the social websites, you can click on the link and find more than enough information to continue your research.
Search the user’s real name and username to find accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Bitcointalk, BTCJam, Ebay, Amazon, Localbitcoins, etc. Sometimes it’s useful to search the name as well as the particular site you’re hoping to find them on, or with the word bitcoin, also with the word ‘scam’ or ‘scammer’. Furthermore you can explore the web by beginning your search with the user’s avatar. Google is your friend! The more data you can get, the better.
Rule #10 Follow your intuition: if something doesn’t seem right, then pass!
More often than not, you might have a gut feeling that something isn’t quite right with the particular borrower. If you have a feeling that something isn’t right, then just pass on the loan. There will be plenty other loans you can invest in, no need to risk it when you don’t have to.
Our system gives you the ability to find all of the information you need, so please take advantage of all of the benefits we offer you prior to investing in a loan and of course have a diversification strategy (and execute on it). Furthermore, analyzing and learning from your mistakes is the best way to help yourself.
If you have ideas about new rules, or ideas which can be of help to investors and borrowers, or if you just simple want to share something, please make a post in our forum or leave a comment at the bottom!
The BitLendingClub Team