If you’re looking for someone who really knows how to pull off a great swindle, who would you turn to? Bernie Madoff, perhaps, who pinched around $64.8 billion from 4,800 clients in the largest Ponzi scheme in world history. Well, he’s currently in prison, so that’s a non-starter.
Or maybe infamous Italian conman Charles Ponzi, himself? He died in 1949 so he can’t help either.
And Donald J. Trump’s otherwise engaged in Washington so he’s no good.
But one person who certainly knows his way around an illegal money-making scheme and is always happy to talk is the real-life inspiration for Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort.
In 1999, Belfort pleaded guilty to fraud and related crimes in connection with a massive stock-market manipulation.
And the – reformed – criminal guru is now spending his time warning that the cryptocurrency Bitcoin is extremely vulnerable to scams.
“I was a scammer. I had it down to science, and it’s exactly what’s happening with bitcoin,” he told CNBC. “The whole thing is so stupid, these kids have gotten themselves so brainwashed.”
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“This thing is going to evaporate like a mirage,” he added. “There’s a lot of really honest people who are going to get slaughtered.
“It’s not that bitcoin’s a scam but its nature allows scams to occur.
“It’s a dark market, you can’t see what’s going on behind the scenes. People dive into that and use it to rip others off.”
Belfort, who reckons the cryptocurrency could go bust within a year, says a major problem is that central banks are not on-board because of Bitcoin’s association with money-laundering.
“Central banks don’t want it, they’ve spent all this time trying to stop money laundering, why now allow something that’s anonymous, and lends itself to making money-laundering easy?” he said. “I don’t believe there’s any shot in the world they’ll let that happen.”
And Belfort’s not the only one who doesn’t trust the cryptocurrency. Earlier this year Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest men, called Bitcoin “rat poison.”
Of course, many people disagree with these doom-and-gloom predictions, including Twitter boss Jack Dorsey who is a huge investor and thinks Bitcoin will become the world’s only currency within 10 years.
Time (and all our bank balances) will tell.