Cryptocurrency–The Wall Street Journal has published some troubling news related to the industry of cryptocurrency, reporting that a handful of crypto investment “groups” are responsible for manipulating the markets to a tune of $825 million in profits throughout the first half of 2018.
Market Manipulation in Cryptocurrency
In a study published on Sunday, The Wall Street Journal released results showing that collections of traders have coordinated significant efforts to manipulate the market for profit. Specifically, the study highlights small “trading groups” that utilize online hangouts such as Telegram to combine forces and thereby sway the market in the direction they find most beneficial. In addition, these groups utilize common “pump and dump” schemes, with the goal of causing a coin’s price to rise through sudden interest before selling at a predetermined peak. Given the volatile nature of cryptocurrency and lack of informed investing, pump and dump schemers give the impression that a coin is gaining in price when in reality the value has been artificially increased. The result is a massive inflation in price for a coin with no underlying reason or announcement, only to suffer a severe crash shortly after the price gain.
The study reports that through the first six months of the year, such coordinated attempts at manipulation have brought about profits worth nearly $1 billion, while contributing significantly to the volatility and senseless price movement of the market. More troubling are the investors burned in the dump, as schemers sell the selected coin simultaneously, leading to instant losses.
Investment ‘Groups’ In Control
The study covered 175 schemes across 121 different currencies, leaving the interpretation open that manipulation could be broader across the industry,
“More such groups exist, potentially adding millions or tens of millions more in activity.”
In general, the investment groups function via private chats that are accessible only through invitations. The goal is to maintain anonymity and keep the members low and protected to avoid the majority of the market from catching on to leaked price movements.
The WSJ highlights CloakCoin (CLOAK), as an example of such manipulation. A quick glance at Coinmarketcap reveals that the currency has exhibited cycles of boom-then-bust pricing, with little indication from the industry to warrant such change in valuation. The WSJ was able to connect Qa massive pump in CLOAK on Binance with a Telegram group titled Big Pump Signal messaging to buy the coin. Despite the rising price of CloakCoin, other popularly traded coins on the exchange saw almost no price movement, indicating that the currency was acting irrespective of BTC pricing or the general crypto markets.
While investors in cryptocurrency have long claimed to be at the mercy of market manipulators and the ever-present whales, The Wall Street Journal’s study provides rather damning evidence that the space is being controlled by coordinated attacks. Given the massive volume being traded in the top ten currencies by market cap, pump and dumps have typically been held to smaller volume coins. However, it does provide confusion to the average investors to see hardly known coins experiences triple digit price swings in a day, let alone those novice buyers who get caught up in the fallout of an orchestrated sell-off.