They thought they were getting the pump. Instead they got the dump.

People who took part in a massive $112 million pump-and-dump cryptocurrency scheme openly spruiked on social media over the weekend have taken to the same medium to complain they lost years of savings.

An anonymous Twitter user that appears to have borrowed the name and iconography of Wall Street Bets, the Reddit forum made famous by its bet on Gamestop earlier this year, told their hundreds of thousands of followers at 4am AEDT on Sunday to use Bitcoin to buy PIVX, a privacy-oriented cryptocurrency.


The price of PIVX quickly increased by over fourfold – but just for a matter of minutes.

PIVX price chart
The PIVX/BTC chart on Binance, showing five-minute candles.

Around 1,500 Bitcoins were used to buy and sell PIVX on the Binance exchange during the hour, a sum worth about $112 million.

PIVX’s trading 24-hour volume on Binance is more typically around 20 or 30 BTC, sometimes in the low hundreds.

Predictably, a number of people lost money on the dubious scheme.


PIVX in a nutshell

Launched in January 2016, PIVX is a fork of cryptocurrency Dash (itself a fork of Litecoin). It was originally called Darknet but rebranded to PIVX (Private Instant Verified Transaction) in February 2017. For a time that year it even ranked as a top 10 cryptocurrency by market capitalisation – but has fallen by hard times more recently. On Monday it was ranked as No. 340 on Coingecko and No. 382 on Coinmarketcap.

“Although PIVX had a lot of promise coming out the gates, it seems that the bottom has fell out of the project,” Coinbureau wrote in a review last year.

“In addition to being sidelined by its most notable developers, the ‘decentralised’ structure of its development funding has put PIVX in a self-imposed trap.”

It was trading on Monday at $US1.59, about the same level as before the pump. It’s up sevenfold from a year ago, but down 88 per cent from an all-time high of $US13.56 hit during the January 2018 bubble.

Brazen scheme

The plan to pump it was announced by Twitter user @WallStreetPump, which has 759,000 followers. (621,000 are real, according to Twitter Audit).

While the user has a similar name and the same icon as the WallStreetBets Reddit forum, there’s no evidence of any connection. The forum’s rules forbid pump and dump schemes, market manipulation or even the discussion of cryptocurrencies.

The user has over 80,000 subscribers in a Telegram channel, as well as a related Discord channel.

Pump and dump schemes are illegal when it comes to stocks, but cryptocurrencies it seems are still the Wild West, with few rules or regulations.