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Meet the ICO Pumper Who Makes His Living Manipulating Crypto Markets

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How do you get into the business of market manipulation? It’s easy if you try.

Alexey Andryunin, a 20-year old college student from Moscow, became a sensation after he quite openly told CoinDesk how his company was helping little-known token projects get traction via inflated trading volumes.

He spoke with CoinDesk about the business of market manipulation and explained why he believes the current market rules make manipulation inevitable.

“I’m 20. I got into the crypto business when I was 18. I was studying at the university, there were some problems in my family, let’s put it this way, and I needed money. I got an entry-level job at a crypto startup. The main part of my salary was in tokens, I trusted that startup, I knew absolutely nothing about the crypto industry,” he said.

At that startup, Andryunin was in charge of listing tokens on exchanges and on CoinMarketCap. He soon realized he was in a tough spot.

“CoinMarketCap at the time required the daily volume as high as $100,000 to list a token, and those exchanges gave us pennies, absolutely nothing… like, $100, $200, $300 — and that was not so bad as it was right after our ICO.”

The team realized they needed to fake it until they made it. Andryunin and his school friend created their first trading bot.

“We would create a buy order from one account, a sell order form another account, they would meet inside of the spread where there are not other orders,” he said.

The bot helped the startup get their token listed on larger exchanges and CoinMarketCap, but Alexey soon realized he and his friend could build their own business. One day, instead of his regular university volleyball training session, Alexey went to a crypto event in Moscow and met his first partner who helped create his company, GoBit.

“Our product now is providing the full control over the token’s market: the volume, the price, the liquidity, and making money on the price movements,” he said.

The clients were small token projects with an ICO. They wanted to calm their investors and look a bit better on exchanges. In a couple of years, Gotbit helped 28 projects look legitimate.

“I think, there are about 100 companies, minimum, that can offer the market making services. They all advertise only inside of the community, you can’t come across an ad banner. Rather, you would get a message on LinkedIn, on Telegram, if your project has its own chat, somewhere else — this is how it usually happens,” he said.

Andryunin is bearish on the market as a whole.

He said the industry itself created the market conditions in which the projects can’t get on the serious platforms without artificial volumes.

“In the crypto world, if a token is not on CoinMarketCap that project doesn’t exist, right? Without our service, or a service like ours, or without a real trading volume, which well known projects can command, you can’t get on CoinMarketCap,” he said.

“It’s investors and those who believe in the crypto industry who are losing here. Because those serious institutional guys are afraid of entering it. But sooner or later, this all will get cleaned up, and personally, I’m for that, for getting it cleaned up and putting this to an end.”

And the end is near. Andryunin believes that the industry is getting more regulated, ICOs are now over, and new clients are hard to find. The answer? Gotbit’s team is exploring other opportunities. However, he said he was happy to tell us about his “questionable” business in order to share a real story of how the market once was.

“People should know the history of what has been going on. When the new rules for regulating the crypto exchanges come in place, people can learn from the shortcomings of now.I think our experience, the experience of our colleagues and clients, it can be a good example of what needs to be done to regulate this industry correctly.”

In this video excerpt Andryunin talks about the origins of his business. We will have a longer – and more revealing – video available this week.

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About the author

Michael Williamson

Michael Williamson is a content marketer who formerly worked out of Unbounced's Montreal office. A writer by day and a reader by night, he is loathe to discuss himself in the third persona, but can be persuaded to do so from time to time.

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