Although you may not have heard much in recent months about QAnon, the right-wing conspiracy theory is still very much alive and well.
And for powerful QAnon promoters looking to make money, those believers are proving to be simple targets for duplication.
According to a recent report by the tech-based fact-checking company Logically, two QAnon influencers are taking advantage of their reputations within their conspiracy communities to prey on their followers and defraud them of millions of dollars through cryptocurrency scams.
Whiplash347 and PatriotQakes, two QAnon influencers with sizable Telegram followings, have advertised numerous fraudulent tokens to their followers on the messaging app.
The two frequently use QAnon conspiracy theories as weapons to trick their followers into investing in their various cryptocurrency schemes, along with other leaders in the chats.
The two primarily use their Telegram channels to carry out their scams, according to Logically’s research. An anonymous QAnon influencer named Whiplash347 has amassed 277,000 followers on Telegram as a result of his years-long advocacy of QAnon conspiracies.
PatriotQakes also oversees the Quantum Stellar Initiative (QSI) Telegram channel, which has 30,000 subscribers and has used her real name, Emily Tang, unlike Whiplash347.
“I am without doubt that Whiplash347, Emily, and QSI are scam artists,” said a former admin of the QSI chats, Rocky Morningside, to Logically. “[They] were promoting pump and dumps, and this appeared to be a very large and well organized Ponzi Scheme.”
In-depth analysis of these cryptocurrency scams’ behavior on the Stellar blockchain is provided by Logically. The QAnon influencers would create fictitious tokens on the Stellar network, a platform similar to Bitcoin or Ethereum, and then exchange their holdings for real money or more established cryptocurrencies after encouraging their followers to invest.
In the cryptocurrency community, this is referred to as a “rug pull.” The “Indus.Gold” domain was used to create the tokens, and QAnon influencers would tell their followers that a real New York bank of the same name was backing the cryptocurrency.
In fact, many fraudulent cryptocurrencies used a similar naming scheme to make themselves seem affiliated with legitimate businesses. Logic revealed that none of these tokens were related to the organizations for which they were named.
For instance, the Sungold token, which was promoted to the group’s supporters as being “backed by a Kazakh gold mine,” was purportedly “linked” to a Russian firm by the same name. Logically, no evidence could be found to support this claim. However, according to Logically, this scam brought in about US$2 million for the QAnon influencers.
The vast right-wing conspiracy theory QAnon adherents hold a number of outrageous and obviously false beliefs. The movement was founded on the lie that former President Donald Trump was attempting to bring down a global Satanic child sex trafficking ring run by baby-eating Hollywood elites and Democratic Party members.
These conspiracies appear to be used by QAnon influencers in their money-making schemes. The channels provide investment advice on which cryptocurrency assets to invest in. They would claim that their investing knowledge was obtained through “secret military intelligence,” and that they “knew which assets were going to succeed.”
The Telegram chat leaders allegedly made claims that “aliens will facilitate a ‘quantum’ wealth transfer to the followers” and also allegedly made references to “Donald Trump, Elon Musk, and JFK Jr.”
JFK Jr., the late president John F. Kennedy’s son, is allegedly still alive and a Trump supporter, according to long-held QAnon lore. Whiplash347 actually played a significant role in the spread of Kennedy-related conspiracies.
The Telegram channel had a significant impact on some of the cult-like QAnon phenomena, such as the gathering that took place in Texas’ Dealey Plaza last year where participants thought the assassinated former president would reveal that he was still alive.
According to Logically, their investigation uncovered a Telegram support group that consisted of victims of the two QAnon influencers’ scams who were working to warn others. 52 people who participated in the survey in that chat estimated that they had lost a total of US$223,494 to these cryptocurrency scams.
The family of one person who lost more than 98 percent of his US$100,000 investment in these QAnon influencers’ cryptocurrency scams was also contacted by Logically. The man later committed suicide, according to the family, because he was “tired of losing his house and construction business due to unpaid debts.”