2022 and its seemingly neverending bear market wasn’t just a bad year for crypto prices, it was also a year to forget for a long list of frauds and heavily leveraged gamblers.
From the highly-publicized implosion of FTX and the arrest and arraignment of its curly-haired founder Sam Bankman-Fried to the SEC serving notices to crypto influencers like BitBoy (Ben Armstrong) and Terraform Labs’ Do Kwon fleeing to Serbia, 2022 will go down in crypto history as the year of reckoning.
But there could still be more to come. As 2022 was drawing to a close, news broke that infamous internet provocateur Andrew Tate had been arrested in Romania on charges of human trafficking, just days after he was involved in a Twitter spat with Greta Thunberg.
Tate, for those who haven’t had the dubious pleasure of coming across him already, is a former world champion kickboxer and now online influencer who’s amassed millions of fans and followers by claiming to teach young men how to “stop being losers.”
Now better known for peddling online courses that promise to show how to ‘escape the Matrix,’ the cigar-smoking supercar enthusiast raised eyebrows when he boasted how he’d also set up a pornographic webcam business.
And, as if we couldn’t have already guessed, Tate also has a history of shilling crypto.
Andrew Tate has made influential crypto friends
Tate’s a pretty popular guy in the crypto world. In addition to having many fans in the space, he’s been interviewed – and in some cases even defended — by various popular influencers, including Anthony Pompliano and Laya Heilpern.
Indeed, back in December 2022, Altcoin Daily, a YouTube channel with more than one million subscribers applauded Tate for encouraging people to buy bitcoin and ether. Tate recommended people buy crypto now and sell just three years later with “retirement gains.”
Even Michael Saylor had amicable exchanges with Tate on Twitter with the pair casually applauding each other for holding bitcoin.
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Not only does he talk up digital currencies (or, at least the ones he holds), Tate also appears to use them to do business.
Recently, he’s taken to selling memberships for his ‘elite’ War Room (the self-styled ‘greatest global network which exists on planet Earth’). To join, you just need to pay around $5,500, and yes, it does accept bitcoin, apparently to multiple wallets.
Indeed, Protos identified one of Tate’s bitcoin addresses that receives membership funds for his club while others claim to have confirmed separate addresses that are allegedly used to rake in fees.
From the wallet identified by Protos, Tate received 113 bitcoin, worth around $2 million, and his ‘Hustlers University’ also collects bitcoin, netting around $11 million in just one month.
Of course, with crypto often comes illegal activity. Many of Tate’s courses have recently been promoted on Reddit, but when checking the shop’s bitcoin address Protos discovered that the seller is connected to a crypto scam that stole millions of dollars worth of crypto from Twitter users.
It should be noted, however, that Protos couldn’t find a direct link between Tate and the scammer who owns that particular bitcoin wallet.
Are Tate and crypto made for each other?
So, the question is, what exactly is the crypto community as a whole willing to put up with before somebody is unanimously cut adrift? Apparently, if the warm welcome extended to Tate and the number of supporters he still seems to have is anything to go by, as long as someone pumps bags, morality can take a back seat.
Of course, not all crypto-influencers welcomed him, and some, such as Peter McCormack, were publicly very critical. McCormack also took Laya Heilpern to task for her support of Tate. Sadly, the critical voices are more muted than those who’ve supported him so far.
In a way, it’s no surprise that Tate has found such a firm following among the crypto community. After all, on the surface, they share many of the same ideals — an anarchic or libertarian ideology that’s against the state and is suspicious of official institutions. Indeed, Tate makes no secret of his dislike of the authorities and applauds countries like Romania where “corruption is accessible to everyone.”
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Ultimately, Tate didn’t become famous for his business success or his crypto: He became popular outside the kickboxing world by saying misogynistic and controversial things about women which have garnered him many male fans and followers. But despite this, when crypto and influencers discovered Tate and this army of fans, many crowded around him, praising him uncritically and feeding into the idea that he’s someone who should be listened to.
And this is a potential problem for Bitcoin or any other crypto with designs on total legitimacy. It’s no secret that Bitcoin has struggled to win acceptance from legislators and regulators alike, largely due to its anonymity features that make it particularly attractive to criminals and fraudsters.
And now, with images of one of its most famous advocates being led away in cuffs being beamed around the world, there’s not only egg on the faces of those who welcomed him so readily but more ammunition for those who wish to stamp it out.
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