Can Robert Wenzel Defeat the Encryption Used by Cryptocurrencies?

 photo NizeLinkedin.png Short answer, no.1 Back to that in a moment.

I am not sure who is doing the vetting process for investor relations at Ripple or Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), but if you are running a crypto-related business be aware that not only is Robert Wenzel (aka Raymond Nize) — the proprietor behind EconomicPolicyJournal — dogmatically anti-cryptocurrency but also not who he says he is.

Why make a blog post about this in the first place?  You may consider this water cooler minutiae and frivolous scuttlebutt, however you are known for whom you associate with.  If you hang out with known con-artists — even if you agree with some of what they say, this reflects poorly on you.  Especially when their entire motivation is not to genuinely learn about your product (crypto), but to merely hype their own investment schemes (e.g., commodities specifically gold).

Sock puppet extraordinaire

Last week I received some trollish comments from “Paul Trombley” (paul.XXXXXX@yahoo.com) regarding a lengthy post on this site (an expose of Nize’s sockpuppets), “Paul” states:

Wow. Utterly fascinating. Wish we could find out where Raymond Nize, et al., grew up and went to school, where he has worked, whom he dated, etc.

In the meantime, I will have to be content with another viewing of Pacific Heights.

A quick google search find four sites that zero in on the possible identity of “Paul”:

Obviously even if I had IP addresses this would not be a smoking gun.  But what are the chances, that a sock puppet posting on the only Nize/Wenzel thread on my site also links to EPJ and discusses many of the same topics in the same tone as Nize/Wenzel does?

Why is this important again?

Because Nize/Wenzel has managed to convince some important cryptocurrency personalities and institutions that he is someone who he is not.  He managed to convince Joseph Salerno that he has 20 years of experience on Wall Street. Where did he work?  His current LinkedIn profile (screenshot 1 2) is completely empty in all but the previous 6 years.  Surely someone with the pedigree he says he has would dutifully link to it and his past associates.

Is this an ad hominem?

No, he is making claims about his past life that are untrue which have in turn built up his credibility as a financial guru.  He has then taken these ill-gotten reputational gains and is now providing investment advice to readers and listeners of his website (which is just one of many websites he has created over the past decade under about 10 different pseudonyms, see Part IV for more).

To top it off, he has a clear anti-cryptocurrency agenda that involves spreading misinformation and/or propaganda.  In nearly every post about Bitcoin or some other aspect of cryptocurrencies he drags it through mud while simultaneously showing his inability to full comprehend how cryptography works.  Hint: if cryptography worked the way he describes it, the entire global financial industry, the diplomatic corps, cloud services and all e-commerce (to name a few) would effectively be unable to securely transmit data.  Trace Mayer did an excellent job pointing this out in the EPJ comments yesterday (SS).  Thereupon Nize notes how in his visits to both Ripple and Silicon Valley Bank he left unconvinced of cryptocurrencies potential (SS).

Strawman made of hand-waving

It is certainly understandable to not be convinced of the merits of a particular asset class, that is not the issue.  Not understanding public-key cryptography and then building bi-weekly cryptostrawman to thwack at, is a problem.  While the math may indeed be confusing to beginners and experts alike, the crypto algorithms used by cryptoledgers like Bitcoin and Litecoin are solid.

In fact, there is an monetary incentive to try and break them and no hacker has thus far been able to.2 If Nize truly believed that this crypto did not work, he could take the alleged holes he claims exist and tap into and forge 12.2 million BTC namespaces/addresses (and 25.1 million LTC).  He needs to show us a broken blockchain to prove his claim, yet has not.  If the pseudonomyous features did not work, then he could name the Top 500 BTC holders, but has not.  Disagree?  Who owns the 268th largest BTC address, the one with 4,719?  If the crypto is bad, did you break into it already?

Perhaps he will come around at some point, but this still does not justify the fraudulent personality that visitors are unaware of (and whom have given goodwill towards).  The lesson for investors doing road shows and presentations: do you due diligence and vetting upfront.3

  1. There are theoretical ways to forge entries in the blockchain, such as a 51% attack, but the crypto in the actual generic wallet most people use is currently not known to be brute-force crackable. []
  2. Nize also has epistimological problems regarding apriori utility and value but that is besides the point. See: The value of cryptocurrencies as well as Economics of Bitcoin by Peter Surda []
  3. As an aside, his Google AdSense has generated, ironically, Bitcoin-related services like Gyft that are displayed on his site — here is a screenshot. []
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