The cryptocurrency mining industry is a strange place. Here, we live by the “guilty until proven innocent” maxim. Anything and everything about a mining company falls under question, and if the tiniest thing seems off, we conclude that the company is a scam. And unfortunately, it seems like that’s just way it has to be. Mining scams are a dime a dozen. Some companies don’t even try to hide the fact that they’re scams. Others, however, are a lot more clever. This is how I, and so many others, were conned by TimeToBit.
How They Did It
June 25, 2014 – A little less than two months ago, TimeToBit showed up in the Bitcoin scene and announced “the launch of our Bitcoin Cloud Mining platform – TimeToBit !”. TimeToBit claimed to be a fully registered UK-based company (which was verified by all users) with hashing power ranging from 50 GH/s to 1 TH/s. They offered competitive prices, a special discount for bitcointalk members, daily payouts, and even mining plan giveaways. Several longtime bitcointalk users won the giveaways and reported that the payouts were real, helping legitimise TimeToBit in the eyes of the community. And with the seemingly friendly staff and slickly designed website, everything about TimeToBit seemed great.
However, it didn’t stop there. TimeToBit reached out to sites like CryptoCoins News like other Bitcoin startups. CryptoCoins News sold TimeToBit a sponsored story, a text advertisement. As always, CCN does not provide any guarantees about the services advertised and endeavors to remove bad actors as soon as they are discovered.
Editor’s Note: A few weeks ago, a CCN freelancer submitted a personal review of TimeToBit which was published in an effort to expand CCN’s industry-leading mining reviews to include cloudmining. This review received regular publication on CCN and has been cited several times as the catalyst for many individuals’ investment in TimeToBit. CCN has since decided to not write about cloudmining services unless there is proof that they actually mine on real hardware. CCN apologizes profusely to anyone that heard about TimeToBit through the aforementioned review article.
Both the Sponsored Story and Review have since been taken offline.
TimeToBit also received favourable reviews from many sources such as MiningContracts.com, and other sites. Like many others, I decided that TimeToBit seemed like a good investment and went ahead and bought a 50 GH/s plan for roughly $100. I received the first few payouts, worth ~$3.20, but the next four payouts were stuck in “pending” status. And then, on August 19 – poof. The site disappeared off the internet with everyone’s money.
TimeToBit was a fairly elaborate scam. However, there were still a couple of red flags that unfortunately went unnoticed. First, some of those slick graphics were actually stolen, such as the server racks in the background here:
But the stolen content doesn’t stop there. TimeToBit’s terms of service were copied almost verbatim from CoinTerra. Then, TimeToBit’s Twitter and Facebook pages weren’t particularly active. The last of two tweets was on July 19, and the only Facebook post was on June 22. TimeToBit also had a “live chat” box on the website that was ironically always offline. Whois information, which typically gives a lot of information about who registered the domain, has been obscured with WhoisGuard. Little was known about the person/people who ran the site, and of course, TimeToBit only accepted Bitcoin payments. Bitcoin payments don’t have fraud protection and are irreversible, making BTC the perfect payment choice for the scammers.
Interestingly, Gavin Andresen just recently denounced the cloud mining industry, suspecting that many companies will end up being Ponzi schemes. This is the first time I’ve ever been conned by anyone, and I’m still in a bit of a shock as to how it could’ve happened. I suppose I was fortunate enough to only lose $100, when others lost thousands. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but I hope to never make such a mistake again. It’s unfortunate that there are so many scammers in this industry, and as a result, it’s difficult to trust any mining company, which hurts the few legitimate companies out there.
There’s a relevant bitcointalk scam thread here, and if you have any more information about TimeToBit, please share it on that thread or in the comments section below.