Community, Security

A Very MEW Halloween

In the oral narrative tradition of many cultures, horror stories (or even fairy tales, in their Grimm, un-Disneyfied form) have always been told to teach lessons, to warn about dangers, and to build tolerance against the brutal, unfair world. The bloodcurdling tales of protagonists who were too foolish or too self-confident to hedge against certain risks served a vital educational purpose in a time when the written word didn’t exist, or was not widely disseminated.

In the West, we associate Halloween with gruesome accounts of wrong turns, dark basements, and the cruel loss of happy innocence. The holiday’s roots, however, are in early Christian and pagan festivals that were less about gory scares, and more about remembering and communicating with the dead. After all, ‘Hallows’ means Saints, rather than vindictive ghosts.

For this year’s Halloween, we decided to combine the two traditional narratives of the holiday, and bring you chilling crypto tales from the beyond that double as valuable lessons for the future. With the help of crypto’s best spiritists, known in wider circles as MEW’s support team, we present to you: communications from funds that are no longer with us…

Death by... Sending to random address

Where are they now?

Depending on the luck of the draw, either appropriated by the surprised recipient for their individual needs, or languishing in a wallet that no one owns or accesses. Of course, you may get lucky, hit a wallet with an exceptionally conscientious owner, and have the funds sent back to you – but the chances of that are vanishingly slim.

Message from the dearly departed:

It takes just one wrong letter or number to send your precious coins into the abyss! Admittedly, it’s hard to keep 42 alpha-numeric characters straight – that’s why you should consider getting an ENS domain name for yourself and advise your friends to do the same. It’s like having an email address for your wallet! Besides, now you can apply these names to non-Ethereum wallets too and make all your crypto transactions safer.

Death by... Sending to a smart contract

Where are they now?

Locked forever in the smart contract, unmoveable, wasting away with no purpose. Even the smart contract owners are not able to access those funds.

Message from the dearly departed:

Double- and triple- check all addresses before sending! Transactions to the blockchain are final and irreversible. If you’re dealing with exchanges or smart contracts, and if you’re unsure about where you should actually send your funds, do extensive research before going through with the transaction.

Death by... Giving away keys to scammers voluntarily

Where are they now?

Depending on the scammer, being HODLed or used to purchase a Lambo. To be fair, your funds could go on to be used for any imaginable purpose, but given how they were obtained, it’s not likely that they are financing access to clean water in an African village.

Message from the dearly departed:

How can we make this clear? NEVER NEVER NEVER give your private key or seed phrase to anyone! Not to your best friend. Not to your boo. Not to ‘support’. Not on Reddit, not on Telegram, or Facebook, or WhatsApp, or anywhere. They don’t need your keys to give you money (like THAT will ever happen anyway). They don’t need your keys to manage your account. They don’t need your keys to help you figure out how to use your wallet. The only reason ANYONE EVER will ask for your keys is to STEAL YOUR CRYPTO.

Death by... Phishing via fake websites and unsafe key storage

Where are they now?

These hackers are inventive and professional. In fact, chances are that you were phished by a bot. Your access information was lifted off your drive or cloud storage, or you gave it yourself on a fake website… Often, phishers set up a series of transactions so that it’s more difficult to follow the money. No one knows where they are now, but you are certainly never getting them back. No, we can’t investigate the phisher. Even the FBI may have a difficult time, and they certainly won’t try for the sake of 1 or even 100 ETH.

Message from the dearly departed:

Here’s the hard truth: in the crypto space, when it comes to the security of funds, a great deal still depends on the user. So, read this and then this. And then read them both over again. Oh, and also this, if you’re STILL using private key, mnemonic phrase, or keystore file for direct online access (DON’T. STOP NOW.)

Death by... Forgotten or lost keys

Where are they now?

Still where you left them, but forever separated by the invisible veil of lost wallet access. Unless someone happens on your wallet by chance (which is nearly impossible given the mathematical realities of the blockchain), they’ll be in your locked wallet for the rest of blockchain existence.

Message from the dearly departed:

Financial freedom, like any freedom, comes at the cost of responsibility. With client-side wallets, ONLY YOU can decide when and where to move your funds, and no one can tell you that you can’t. But also, ONLY YOU have the access to that wallet, and no one can restore or reset your access information. When you created a wallet, you took responsibility for your funds and it was a beautiful thing. Don’t let your coins down again :(

Death by... Investment and market volatility

Where are they now?

Crypto that leaves you under the circumstances of bad investment or a downturn in the market is not technically gone, of course. It’s like the Earth’s water cycle: the funds evaporate from your accounts to rain money into someone else’s when the market is back up.

Message from the dearly departed:

Wherever you get your investment advice, you shouldn’t expect anyone else to take responsibility for your choices. The wisdom is old, but it’s true: never invest more than you can afford to lose, and always, ALWAYS do your research. Whether it’s the team behind an ICO, or the tech behind a particular blockchain, do the searching and the reading. If you do, who knows – you may see your departed funds coming around again (in a good way, not in the Walking Dead way…)

Although on the blockchain, as in life, time can’t be reversed and the dead can’t be brought back, lessons can be learned and passed on to newbies just starting out on their crypto journey. To avoid unnecessary bloodshed, consider reviewing the five most common preventable causes of crypto death.

Our beloved lost funds will never be forgotten, but we can listen to their messages from beyond the grave and assure them that their sacrifice was not in vain!

Here’s to scary stories with happy endings!

Happy Halloween from MEWteam!

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About Katya Michaels

Community Advocate at MEW. Writer, editor and educator focusing on disruptive technology and the way it changes society.
  • Los Angeles