Cryptsy and the house of cards

We all knew this was coming sooner or later: someone just filed a fraud complaint against Cryptsy (one of the *coin exchanges) with the Florida attorney general.

If you have any money in Cryptsy right now, my very strong advice would be to get it the hell out of there -- if the AG decides something is out of whack with Cryptsy, no one's getting their coins back for a long time. And, let's be honest here -- what does Cryptsy look like? It looks like an unregistered securities exchange. (Or a Forex market, once you realize what the ticker symbols represent.)

The picture doesn't get prettier if you dig deeper. Many of the altcoins traded on Cryptsy are basically Ponzi schemes with zero protections for people who aren't computer security experts. "Pump-and-dump" is the byword on altcoin forums. Pump-and-dump = Ponzi scheme. Get in early, pump up the value, and get other chumps to do the same thing, since the perceived value is based on increased cash flow from later buyers. Even if this wasn't the intention of the developers, it's certainly the way many of the *coin markets work today.

What's worse still is that the altcoin markets closely track the Bitcoin market, except the coins are cheaper, less liquid, and have wilder percentage-changes. Sounds a lot like a derivative, doesn't it? I bet the SEC and CFTC would think so, too.

I find the altcoin markets to be fascinating. However, I'd be extremely careful about "investing" any non-trivial amount of money in them, particularly with Crypsty.