No, the New Zealand mosque shooter didn’t make his money in BitConnect

The neo-Nazi terrorist who murdered forty-nine people in Christchurch, New Zealand released a manifesto.

One of the claims in the manifesto is that he made a pile of money in cryptocurrency — specifically, BitConnect.

This claim is almost certainly nonsense, thrown in there to troll the media — like the rest of the manifesto. Don’t believe it.

BitConnect was called out as a Ponzi, or pyramid scheme, quite early on — but it was the crypto bubble, and number was going up. Some early members may have made money — Ponzis often pay out early members, who then evangelise the scheme to later joiners — but it finished by ripping people off for millions, if not billions.

And — BitConnect started in 2016. The shooter claimed he had made his money in crypto, then gone traveling — but an ABC News investigation shows he had started his travels some time between 2009 and 2011. Surprisingly enough, the neo-Nazi killer turns out to be a liar.

I think the “joke” is that neo-Nazis were getting into cryptos a while back, because PayPal kept cutting them off — so he picked an amusingly useless crypto.

The manifesto is a deliberately deceptive attempt to troll the media, with alt-right memes and Nazi in-jokes from 8chan. The threats are real — but there’s no reason to believe any claim he makes about himself. It’s less than worthless as a document.

If you do want to understand what’s up with the manifesto — there’s an excellent article on Bellingcat that goes through the nonsense, and explains what it’s for.

But mostly — assume it’s the sort of thing you get from the worst alt-right trolls you’ve ever encountered, and about as worth taking seriously for its ideas. The threat should be taken seriously — “just joking” neo-Nazis are still neo-Nazis — but anything they say that sounds like an invitation to debate is a waste of your time.

Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre had these guys’ number pretty early on:

Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.

Jean-Paul Sartre, “Anti-Semite and Jew,” 1946

Update: See my piece on neo-Nazis and crypto in Foreign Policy.

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