An examination of the cryptocurrency pump-and-dump ecosystem

J. T. Hamrick, Farhang Rouhi, Arghya Mukherjee, Amir Feder, Neil Gandal, Tyler Moore*, Marie Vasek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

The recent introduction of thousands of cryptocurrencies in an unregulated environment has created many opportunities for unscrupulous traders to profit from price manipulation. We quantify the scope of one widespread tactic, the “pump and dump”, in which actors coordinate to bid up the price of coins before selling at a profit. We joined all relevant channels on two popular group-messaging platforms, Telegram and Discord, and identified thousands of different pumps targeting hundreds of coins. We find that pumps are modestly successful in driving short-term price rises, but that this effect has diminished over time. We also find that the most successful pumps are those that are most transparent about their intentions. Combined with evidence of concentration among a small number of channels, we conclude that regulators have an opportunity to effectively crack down on this illicit activity that threatens broader adoption of blockchain technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102506
JournalInformation Processing and Management
Volume58
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Funding

FundersFunder number
Digital Economics Research Network
Foerder Institute for Economic Research, Israel
UC-Louvain
National Science Foundation1714291, 1849729
Intel Corporation
Harvard University
United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation2016622

    Keywords

    • Cryptocurrency
    • Cybercrime measurement
    • Price manipulation

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