Pump and Dump: Everything to Know
By Beluga Research August 15, 2023
- Cryptocurrency pump and dump is a scheme where manipulators artificially inflate the price of a coin, then sell for profit, leaving others at a loss
- Pump and dump schemes have a long history in traditional financial markets but have become more prevalent in the cryptocurrency space
- These schemes involve organizers, insiders and general investors, with the organizers coordinating the manipulation and insiders acting as early buyers
- However, participating in pump and dump schemes carries high risks, is illegal in many jurisdictions and lacks fundamental value
A cryptocurrency pump and dump is a scheme where manipulators artificially inflate the price of a coin, then sell for profit, leaving others at a loss. Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, have gained significant popularity over the years. With their decentralized nature and potential for substantial returns, they have attracted a large number of investors. However, the unregulated and speculative nature of the crypto market also makes it susceptible to various forms of manipulation, including pump and dump schemes.
A Brief History
Pump and dump schemes are not unique to cryptocurrencies. They have existed in traditional financial markets for decades. However, the rise of the internet and the emergence of decentralized digital assets have made it easier for individuals or groups to carry out pump and dump schemes on a larger scale.
In the early days of cryptocurrencies, pump and dump schemes were prevalent due to the lack of regulation and low market liquidity. Some of the earliest instances involved small, obscure coins with low trading volumes. Organizers would promote these coins through online forums, social media, or messaging platforms, enticing investors with promises of significant price increases. Once enough investors were lured in, the organizers would sell their holdings, causing the price to plummet and leaving unsuspecting investors with heavy losses.
Pump and Dump: Everything to Know
Pump and dump schemes typically follow a similar pattern. They involve three main groups: the organizers, the insiders, and the general investors. The organizers are responsible for initiating and coordinating the scheme, while the insiders are individuals who are privy to the plans and act as early buyers. The general investors are the ones who are targeted and enticed to buy the cryptocurrency during the pump phase.
The pump phase begins with the organizers accumulating a significant amount of the targeted cryptocurrency at a relatively low price. They then start spreading positive news, rumors, or enticing messages about the coin across various channels to create hype and attract general investors. As the demand for the cryptocurrency increases, the price starts to rise rapidly.
Once the price reaches a peak and the general investors start buying in, the insiders and organizers begin selling their holdings. This sudden influx of sell orders causes the price to crash, leaving the general investors with losses. The organizers and insiders, having sold their holdings at a profit, walk away with substantial gains, while the general investors are left with devalued assets.
Pump and dump schemes typically begin with a group of individuals, often referred to as "pump groups," who collaborate to coordinate the manipulation of a specific cryptocurrency. These pump groups can be found on various online platforms, including social media channels, messaging apps, and dedicated forums. They aim to attract as many investors as possible to participate in the scheme, creating artificial demand for the targeted cryptocurrency.
Once the pump group has identified a target cryptocurrency, they start spreading positive rumors and hyping up the coin's potential. They use various tactics, such as posting misleading news, issuing exaggerated price predictions, and employing aggressive marketing techniques to attract potential investors. These tactics are designed to create a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) among investors, luring them into buying the targeted cryptocurrency.
One unique aspect of cryptocurrency pump and dump schemes is the speed at which they unfold. Pump groups execute their plans within a short timeframe, often within minutes or hours. This rapid execution is driven by the goal of maximizing profits and minimizing the risk of regulatory intervention or market scrutiny.
Another unique aspect is the use of coordinated buying. Pump groups leverage their collective purchasing power to create a sudden surge in demand for the targeted cryptocurrency. By simultaneously buying the coin, they artificially inflate its price, triggering a buying frenzy among other investors who fear missing out on potential gains.
Additionally, pump and dump schemes often exploit the low liquidity of certain cryptocurrencies. Illiquid markets are more susceptible to manipulation as a relatively small amount of capital can have a significant impact on the price. Pump groups purposely choose cryptocurrencies with low trading volumes, making it easier for them to manipulate the market and create significant price movements.
- Potential for quick profits - Participating in a successful pump and dump can result in substantial profits if an investor manages to buy the targeted cryptocurrency at a low price and sells it at the peak of the artificially inflated price.
- FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) - Pump and dump schemes often create a sense of urgency and excitement among investors as they witness the rapid price increase. This fear of missing out can lead some individuals to join the scheme in hopes of making quick gains.
- Learning experience - Observing pump and dump schemes can provide valuable lessons about market manipulation, price volatility, and the importance of conducting thorough research before investing in any cryptocurrency.
- High risk of losses - The majority of participants in a pump and dump scheme end up losing money. As the orchestrators sell their holdings, the price crashes, leaving those who bought at the peak with significant losses. Timing is crucial, and many investors fail to sell before the inevitable decline.
- Legal and ethical concerns - Pump and dump schemes are illegal in many jurisdictions and are considered fraudulent activities. Engaging in such practices can lead to legal consequences and damage an individual's reputation in the crypto community.
- Lack of fundamental value - Pump and dump schemes are based on artificially inflating the price of a cryptocurrency without any regard for its underlying value or utility. This undermines the principles of a healthy and sustainable market, where investments are typically based on the potential of the project or technology.