An Interview with Bruno Kucinskas: The Anti-Scammer
After the invention of bitcoin, one of Satoshi Nakamoto’s greatest legacies is something that is far less talked about, yet almost as instrumental to the rise of cryptocurrency as the bitcoin code itself. On November 23rd, 2009, Satoshi penned the first post of his “new Bitcoin forum.” In its early days, the forum served as the most central way to communicate ideas on and contributions to the betterment of Bitcoin. It attracted a number of serious minds, such as Gavin Andresen, Jeff Garzik and Mike Hearn, all who made numerous improvements on the Bitcoin software, resulting in the creation of the Bitcoin Core client as we know it today.
Though Satoshi ceased commenting on it shortly after a year later, his forum, residing at the address bitcointalk.org, has since garnered over 2.3 million members, 44 million posts and almost 4.8 billion page views. Approximately 447 new members continue to register with the forum on a daily basis. After almost 9 years in operation, it remains the go-to hotbed for bitcoin-related activity, developments, news and opinions. In addition, pretty much every single altcoin which has ever enjoyed any amount of success has its roots on bitcointalk.org in the form of an “Announcement” thread. Top altcoins like Ethereum, Litecoin and Dash all got their start on Bitcointalk.
One of the most prolific (if not the most prolific), renowned and controversial members to ever join Bitcointalk is Bruno Kucinskas. Seasoned members of the Bitcoin Forum will recognize him from his member names Phinnaeus Gage, Gleb Gamow and most recently the moniker of his ICO project, YuTü.Co.in. Sometimes referred to as “the Most Interesting Bitcoiner,” Kucinskas is a master story teller, internet sleuth and eccentric individualist. Without a background in cryptography or finance, in some ways, he is just your every-day guy with access to the internet. In other ways, he is a force to be reckoned with, exposing a countless number of bitcoin and cryptocurrency-related scams over the years, shutting down many in their tracks and saving investors potentially millions of dollars in the process.
Kucinskas joined the forum in 2011, before bitcoin was much of a blip on the media’s radar and his antics have provided hours of entertainment for forum viewers, in addition to providing education for investors. Much like Satoshi, his background story isn’t what is so important; it’s his contribution to the community that is.
We managed to get a hold of Kucinskas (it was surprisingly easy: after all of his personal information was doxed by a disgruntled scammer whom was exposed, Bruno decided to make it public to prove he had nothing to hide) and got him to agree to an interview about his experiences as a Bitcoin Forum legend and his upcoming ICO project. We found that, contrary to what some may believe, he is quite an amiable and charming fellow – that is – if you stay on his good side, which by all reasonable accounts is an easy thing to do. His responses were often peppered with links and images conveying their underlying sentiment, something he frequently does with his posts on the forum, and we leave a few of them here for the reader’s benefit of understanding the full Bruno.
An Interview with Bruno Kucinskas, the Anti-Scammer
CC: What initially drew your interest to the whole bitcoin space?
BK: It intrigued me upon stumbling upon it for the first time while searching Google for the viability of hoarding US copper pennies as a retirement fund (so to speak). While plugging in different keywords, e.g. “coin”, bitcoin kept coming up (circa mid-2011). I finally clicked one of the Bitcoin links and found myself on BitcoinTalk where I did nothing but read for the next 3 days prior to finally joining the forum as Phinnaeus Gage so to interact. Prior, was not a forum dude, with a brief foray on the 2+2 poker forum using the same name or variant thereof… Is the interview now over?
CC: Lol. I’m afraid not. Why “Phinnaeus Gage”?
BK: As Marshall Long would say, GOOD QUESTION! It was created very shortly after the birth of Julia Robert’s twins being in the news and crossing my radar via Google News: http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/people/columns/intelligencer/10620/
More recently, it’s what the “P” in P. T. Barnum stood for. There’s also Phineas Gage, who lost a chunk of his brain in a railroad accident in 1848, becoming belligerent and an intro-psych case study. I, too, was a Jehovah Witness briefly when I was younger, now 58 and agnostic, albeit open to Last Thursdayism.
Note my avatar:
CC: Was _not_ expecting the part about Julia Roberts! Did you read through any of Satoshi Nakamoto’s old posts? What was your take on him (her, or them) at the time?
BK: I’m pretty sure I’ve read them all, some more than once, as I attempted to figure out who he/they are back in the day. My take “now” echoes that of some others, with my own theory as to who or what entity may have created the pseudonym.
CC: I read in your inaugural post to Bitcointalk, dated June 17, 2011:
I’m not a reporter of any kind, but wanted to see if I could help solve the missing bitcoins mystery.
What was the mystery? Did you ever solve it?
BK: The mystery being Allinvain’s missing bitcoins –> https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/12/a-brief-history-of-bitcoin-hacks-and-frauds/. No, I didn’t solve it. It was the early days of me earning my Google-fu “diplomer”.
CC: Google-Fu being the secret mastery of Googling information on shady individuals, correct?
BK: Google-fu is defined as “skill in using search engines (especially Google) to quickly find useful information on the Internet.” StackExchange says, “It is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek reference to Kung-Fu, which is generally perceived as requiring a high degree of skill to master in the western hemisphere.”
CC: Since your early days, you’ve developed quite a renowned reputation as a scam buster on the forum. For a while you had quite an ongoing feud with the ASIC manufacturing company, Butterfly Labs. We know who won in the end (spoiler for the reader: it wasn’t BFL). How did you get mixed up with them?
BK: Actually, they did more or less win, with nobody getting financially harmed or sentence except one person pertaining to the snafu. Got mixed up with them via BFL’s official BitcoinTalk’s thread where the info they initially provided didn’t jive/make sense.
CC: I would like to know how they won, seeing as how they were ultimately forced into bankruptcy.
BK: Yes, bankruptcy. Is that where you hide the company’s moneys and claim you don’t have any to continue operation? Well, at least one person was sentenced pertaining to BFL. Most of BFL’s principals were mining bitcoins with their personal miners provided by Sonny (Vleisides) and Josh (Zerlan), inclusive. Jody (Drake) had hers in a former chicken coop. Sonny upgraded his new home to accommodate the power needed. BitPay accepted the BTC they once gave to BFL and converted it back to fiat to be deposited in various banks under Sonny’s control, an act that was/is illegal for them to do cuz … wait for it … BitPay is not an … wait for it again … exchange. All documented.
CC: In addition to busting scams of all sorts of natures, you’ve come down particularly hard on some seedy ICOs in the past, no doubt saving people perhaps millions of dollars by dissuading their interest in making ill ICO investments. What’s the worst or stupidest ICO scam you’ve ever seen?
BK: The worst was BitConnect and EthConnect, among others of the same ilk. Stupidest ICO could be one of late where the principals recently posed in front of Big Ben but there’s no scaffolding around the structure, currently in place as it undergoes needed renovations. Its name is Arbitao.
They went silent after the above was asked of them to explain.
CC: It’s pretty amazing the lengths that people will go to (or not go to) in order to make some easy money through dishonesty. As a rough estimate, how many crypto scams do you think you’ve tackled over the years?
BK: Somewhere north of three dozen is a rough estimate. Make that four dozen. Make that somewhere north of a full deck count including its jokers.
CC: That’s got to be a record! I noticed that Phinnaeus Gage is up there as one of the most prolific posters of all-time, according to forum stats.
BK: I’m mostly likely the number one poster on BCT when taking into account my other user accounts, all revealed.
CC: You’re pretty much a legend in the bitcoin space and a lot of the forum looks up to you. What are the accomplishments you take pride in the most as a long-standing bitcoin community member?
BK: Protecting the community via its non-formal self-policing policy, albeit at the loss of not advancing myself early on in the space. No regrets, for I was more than happy to provide for the community sans personal gain. To date, I have never accepted one satoshi for my noble efforts in spite of being asked for a bitcoin et al. wallet address so to remit to me a tip, of which I have no idea what the amounts were since they were all declined, but thanked for the thoughts. Seriously! (I’m truly weird that way).
CC: In spite of the numerous setbacks the cryptocurrency industry has had in terms of credibility, and the ever-increasing flood of entrants who don’t care about learning the technology so much as getting rich quick, are you still encouraged by the potential for cryptocurrency to transform the future?
BK: Simple answer: 100%.
CC: A couple weeks back we wrote an article about the origins of Satoshi Nakamoto and floated across the idea that bitcoin may have been developed by the secretive hedge fund manager James Harris Simons. Admittedly that theory was inspired by you. In addition to the fact that he’s obviously a very smart man with an NSA background and famous for his ability to put together capable teams of talented individuals, what else leads you to believe that Simons is a candidate for being Satoshi?
BK: His penchants for secrecy first comes to mind. Then, it all centers around money, of which hedge funds and the like need a constant and new source of influx. Enter cryptocurrencies. First, you acclimate the populace to the new ideal as you set the stage within “The Law” on Wall Street, exactly what we’re seeing now in virtually real-time.
CC: Speaking of Wall Street and the law, do you have any particular take on what will become of the Bitcoin ETF? Is it a sure thing, or not, or not relevant to bitcoin’s continued success?
BK: I honestly think it’ll become a reality, and a good thing for the space, especially for the powers that be assuming, of course, them powers that be [in the shadows] exist… I don’t believe for a second that some one dude using the name Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin, forfeited his fortunes, then disappeared … all for the betterment of mankind. I reserve the right to amend said sentiment if by happenstance he raises from the dead in three days… Given that we’re now at the stage of “Satoshi, why have you forsaken us?”
CC: It might come as a surprise to those who are familiar with you that you are indeed launching your own ICO, named YuTuCo.in. How did you come up with the idea of introducing YouTubers to cryptocurrency?
BK: A few years ago (I’ll get the exact date for you, but till then …) those of us in the community continually espoused ways to advance the ideal. I, perhaps, was the first to suggest via YouTubers, of which there was no replies to my comment. At some point thereafter, I started to explore the concept in my mind, then penned it to paper. Then the name manifested itself. Then I procured the domain name and formally started to express the idea in great detail to the best of my skill sets so to get others onboard in bringing the concept to fruition. To date, I’ve yet to read of anybody poking major wholes in the idea as currently presented, albeit minor adjustments have been made upon onboarding a wonderful Team.
CC: Can you explain it to us in a nutshell? What advantages does it offer to YouTubers and to ICO investors?
BK: In simplest terms put, we’re trying to help YouTubers of all shapes and sizes refill their coffers in the form of cryptocurrency in the wake of YouTube’s decision to issue some stark new monetization requirements. Over the last couple years they’ve in essence disqualified 98% of all YouTube channels from ever being eligible for partaking in their revenue sharing programs. By allowing a YouTuber to “crypto-commoditize” their channel, we’re giving them a chance to have their own cryptocurrency that represents their specific channel brand, a portion of which will go straight into the YuTü.Co.in account of the YouTuber. These coins, called “yaltz,” will be tradeable on our own exchange, for our Ethereum token, YuTüCoin (YTC), which can then be traded for both Bitcoin and Ethereum, thus supplying YouTubers with a source of funding formerly unachievable. For ICO investors, it’s a chance to buy YuTüCoin on the ground floor and at wholesale prices.
CC: Sounds like a pretty novel idea, with lots of potential. Who is your favorite YouTuber?
BK: My favorite YouTube personality is Frankie MacDonald of Nova Scotia.
CC: Last question: Any words of advice for somebody just getting started in cryptocurrency?
BK: The hackneyed “do your due diligence” comes to mind and enjoy the ride.
CC: Well, thank you for your time sir, it has been a privilege. Any final words?
(full disclosure / statement of interests: the author of this article is the author of the YuTü.Co.in whitepaper.)