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Bitcoin Ponzi scams are raking in millions – all without much effort.

That may be self-explanatory to those who traffic the social media forums where the subject is discussed, but to researchers, it’s also a fertile ground for new findings. For them, someone asking for money and promising 100x returns isn’t simply a nuisance, they’re an opportunity for study.

Indeed, the Financial Crypto 2018 conference in Curacao last week delved deep into the many ways these scams are propagating and why some have been so much more successful than others.

University of New Mexico assistant professor Marie Vasek looked through nearly 2,000 scams, revealing research that hinted at the sheer variety seeking crypto gains. Some, she said, last for ages until the hoax is found out, others come and vanish overnight, all without much interest.

By looking at the scams and how long each lasted – what they called the scam’s “time of death” – Vasek shed light on what works the best for scammers, typically launching their scams on popular and reputable bitcoin forums, such as Bitcoin Talk.

The gist? The most long-lasting scams are those where the scammers engage with the community the most and have a thriving community of commenters.

Vasek told attendees:

“Small cores of about five people that are very good at doing this. You see this in our other paper. One will die and another appears.”

Attracting victims, like flies to a light, is as easy as acting as if the scam has tons of attention, she said. To this end, about 30 percent of scam threads have posts from shills, or those that the scammers pay to post positive things about the scam, according to Vasek’s analysis.

But there’s no shortage of strange ways users can lose money in the cryptocurrency Wild West. As such, computer researchers in Curacao looked at some of the stranger ways as well.

Dead or not?

Another report from researcher group IC3 explored how death can cause problems for users who are trying

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