By Spencer Kellogg | USA
When I first got started with Bitcoin in September of 2016 one of the first faces that I became familiar with was not Roger Ver or Charlie Lee but instead an Instagram famous, quirky black kid with dreads named Bitcoin Tre. In a world teeming with short white tech-obsessed geeks, Tre stood out like a stray asteroid that had barreled into an obtuse outer region of another galaxy. Sometimes Bitcoin Tre, (AKA The Black Logan Paul) would post pictures of his little kid or the girl that he was with but most of the time he just streamed updates about cryptocurrency to his Instagram. He seemed like he had made it and he made you think you could too. A year later, he is now persona non grata in the crypto community and investors far and wide have spent the better portion of the past week penning their own sob stories about the houses, wives and savings lost on the ugliest scam of 2018, his scam, the collapse of Bitconnect.
In 2016, we were all still on Poloniex and Tre would point his camera at the slate-colored charts to explain his strategies or show newcomers what it looked like to participate in the exploding world of online crypto trading. For beginners like me, Tre came off as a benevolent guy who was ready to help make you rich. By the beginning of 2017, Tre could be seen daily promoting high-interest returns on BTC loans through a project called Bitconnect. Whether out of an innate skepticism or because I was overwhelmed by the hundreds of other cryptocurrencies to research, I never did look up Bitconnect. When it launched into the Top 20 of CoinMarketCap this Fall (Bitconnect CoinMarketCap) I felt sick to my stomach. Bitconnect? That thing that Tre was always shilling, the project that had scam written all over it, had hit pay dirt and I didn’t own one of them! Only two months later, after the closure of Bitconnect (Bitconnect Ponzi Scheme), Tre’s close ties as chief promoter of the maligned project has made him the center of critique and anger throughout the community.
At its heart, Bitconnect was a lending platform that allowed passive income by providing Bitcoin loans through the Bitconnect platform. A user could send their Bitcoin to the Bitconnect platform, make a trade for Bitconnect tokens (BCC) and then lend out those tokens to other users at an interest rate of more than 40% a day over the first two years of operation. Tre gloated regularly about his returns but for most of us, something never quite added up. By the time Carlos Matos snorted a mountain of cocaine and dropped his worst Steve Ballmer impression on the cryptocommunity (BITCONNNECCTTT), the writing was clearly on the wall for any reasoned investor. At its height, Bitconnect garnered a $2.5 Billion market cap and an ever-increasing amount of scrutiny with many users in the cryptocommunity warning newcomers of the platform and roundly calling for its delisting from CoinMarketCap.com. After American securities regulators sent cease and desist letters to Bitconnect in early January, the market was sent spiraling and within a week the valuation of the service had dropped dramatically to less than $150 Million sending investors and speculators into a feeding frenzy of blame and anger that sat Bitcoin Tre front and center.
A cursory glance at Tre’s output (Bitcoin Tre Youtube) will tell you most of what you need to know about Tre: he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. His stylized youtube channel mixed with his singular personality in the Bitcoin world is reminiscent of other hype men like Michael Suppo “Suppoman” (Suppoman Youtube). As a result, for as long as I’ve followed Tre, he has been dogged by claims that he is a scammer by some while others simply poke fun at his hyperbolic and constant uploads of crypto hype thinly disguised as analysis. When the bottom fell out, many in the community pointed their vitriol directly at the man who could be seen every day pumping up speculators on the Bitconnect project. In his rambling, crazed, “final rant” on Bitconnect (TRE BITCONNECT RANT), Tre stumbles his way, awkwardly looking out the window, through a half-assed non-apology to the people who followed his advice and invested tens of thousands of dollars into his pet hype project only to see their money burnt to a crisp in a span of less than 72 hours. Some have given Tre the benefit of the doubt but I find it hard to believe this is one simple little mistake. For example, in the video information from the above link, you can see Tre promoting another alleged scam with a link to the lending platform Davor which has been routinely called out on Twitter in recent weeks for its shady dealings.
I still remember the first days I spent using Circle App to try and exchange USD for BTC. In those days, Bitcoin Tre was one of the first on-ramps, socially, that I knew of in the mysterious world of crypto. Even then, before he became a 24/7 Bitconnect shill, there were detractors and ‘haters’ who would flood the comment section of Tre’s videos with accusations of cons and scams. As a noob, it was difficult to tell the truth from fiction and Tre himself had suggested that he was being blacklisted and attacked because of racial and social differences in the majority whitewashed cryptocommunity. While the community is defiantly white ivy league types, I knew his appeal was a falsity. As the infamous Ben Shapiro quote reads “Capitalism only care about one color – green” and Bitcoin Tre’s appeal to SJW tendencies did little to quiet the skeptics. In the world of high-risk anyone can become a millionaire. While dreams are made every day, more suckers are born every minute. Crypto con men lure new investors and speculators into the dim alleys of crypto while receiving kickbacks and dark bounties for promoting projects that stalwart crypto investors wouldn’t touch if it was given away. In a space that is littered with false promises and moon projections, new investors should be wary of those who seek to take advantage of their hard earned money with promises of glory. Before you buy your next asset, recognize that people like Bitcoin Tre are piranhas that swim in the muddy waters of the crypto boom and you’re their next target.