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Author Topic: luke-jr is a scammer - he renegged on a bitcoin futures contract  (Read 8375 times)
ruhvix
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May 18, 2011, 12:16:16 AM
 #1

Don't do any deals with luke-jr, especially ones that depend on him living up to his word.

On March 14, 2011, we made history by entering into the first Bitcoin futures contract that I know of. The value at the time was $0.92. He thought that the value would exceed $1.15 in a month's time and I took the other side. A month later, the price closed at $0.86 and his position lost. I came to him to settle up, but he responded with a long-winded obfuscation and refused to pay.

At the time the deal was made, luke-jr specified that if either side failed to live up to the deal, he would be "publically shamed."

The contract was documented in the #bitcoin-dev IRC channel (starting with http://bitcoinstats.com/irc/bitcoin-dev/logs/2011/03/14/1).

A contract to buy at a future date (a futures contract) is settled based on the difference between the strike price ($1.15) and the last price before the expiration time (the price at 4/12 23:59:59 which was $0.86 according to bitcoincharts mtgoxUSD).

Since the size of the contract was 25 btc, the value of the deal is therefore:

    (25 * $1.15) - (25 * 0.86)  =  $7.25

In my favor.

I'll quote the main text:

The conversation began with a discussion of bitcoin futures (my nick is blarzong):

00:11    luke-jr    blarzong: I will sell him 1 BTC, for a contract to purchase more at a specific rate.
00:12    blarzong    luke-jr: what rate?
00:12    luke-jr    blarzong: I will pay him 1 BTC, in exchange for an agreement that he will buy 50 BTC from me within the next month at $1.25 USD each
00:12    blarzong    luke-jr: that would be a losing proposition
00:13    luke-jr    blarzong: if you know the future, it might be
00:13    luke-jr    I'm obviously betting that it won't go over $1.25 in the next month
00:14    blarzong    luke-jr: the market doesn't expect it to go anywhere near 1.25.. so your proposal wouldn't be favorable to anybody's risk asessment
00:14    luke-jr    blarzong: where is that market analysis?
00:15    luke-jr    I certainly expect that it will go near $1.25
00:15    luke-jr    just not over
00:15    blarzong    luke-jr: i will take that bet
[...]
00:17    luke-jr    blarzong: make it $1.15 and I might bite
[...]
00:17    blarzong    ok $1.15
00:18    luke-jr    blarzong: this is contract to buy, not option, right?
00:19    blarzong    yeah
[...]
00:19    luke-jr    25 BTC so $28.75
00:19    blarzong    ok
00:20    luke-jr    blarzong: please deposit to clearcoin and send the link to the email I PM you
[...]
00:25    blarzong    how can he ensure i will pay up if im the loser
00:25    blarzong    or he will pay up if hes the loser
00:26    blarzong    in the end, one party will give the other the difference in btc
00:27    blarzong    i think someone on the forum said they were developing a market with ricardian contracts you could transact
[...]
00:29    molecular    are you doing a trade or a bet?
00:29    Necr0s    A contract to trade at a later time, yes?
00:29    luke-jr    molecular: kindof a bet
00:30    molecular    your basically making contract to make a trade @1.15 at a certain point in the future?
00:30    blarzong    this is the first btc futures contract
[...]
00:38    blarzong    luke-jr: until we have ricardian contracts in place it will have to be a gentlemans bet..
[...]
01:01    luke-jr    blarzong: I assert that I should be trusted on my word. Tongue
01:02    blarzong    luke-jr: youre a trustworthy guy, so thats fine w/me
[...]
01:16    blarzong    luke-jr is a smart guy.. i think i will probably lose a few btc on this trade
[...]
02:04    luke-jr    blarzong: as of right now, we have no contract. While I assert my word as being trustworthy, that does not extend to taking you at your word. :p
[...]
02:19    luke-jr    Netsniper: why don't we just say max stakes 20 BTC, calculated on the market price in a month?
[...]
02:30    luke-jr    maybe we need a trusted 3rd party to hold the escrows and evaluate the market
[...]
02:44    luke-jr    blarzong: why don't I just plan to buy 25 BTC from you at $1.15 on Apr 13, and if one of us fails to follow through we are publicly shamed? Tongue
02:45    blarzong    luke-jr: fine w/me.. thats exactly what you said before, but im for it
02:45    luke-jr    nah, before I was insisting on clearcoin from you :p
02:45    blarzong    aye..
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Luke-Jr
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May 18, 2011, 12:26:23 AM
 #2

Facts:
  • On April 13, the price fluxuated between 0.92 and 0.93 USD.
  • Significant portions of the log are omitted in the paste above
  • After fumbling around with technical details (escrow topics, etc), we decided to avoid the complexity and:
  • We agreed that I would purchase 25 BTC at the price of 1.15 USD from him on April 13th, with our word at stake
  • He never showed on April 13, up until today, May 17
  • I am still willing to buy 25 BTC at the price of 1.15 USD
  • I was never under any obligation to sell the 25 BTC back, at any time
  • Had he showed on April 13th, I would have completed the sale then, and held onto the 25 BTC until I could sell it at 8.90 USD, making a significant profit
  • (edit-added) blarzong last appeared on IRC on March 15th

It is in fact "ruhvix" who is the scammer at this point.

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May 18, 2011, 12:31:13 AM
 #3

It is in fact "ruhvix" who is the scammer at this point.

That much is blatantly obvious to anyone who can read. I'm just surprised he actually attempted this scam in so public a manner.

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May 18, 2011, 12:37:30 AM
 #4

I guess I just never understand these futures buy contracts...

Why wait a month to do it, why not just buy for $1.25 then? Or better yet, why not just by for the price of $0.92?

I don't get why waiting a month, and THEN buying for $1.25 is any different than buying it then.

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May 18, 2011, 12:49:42 AM
 #5

If the other party holds up their end of the bargain, you are able to conduct business with a commodity at a set risk.  For instance, lets say your business will require more bitcoin in a month, but you know you won't be able afford to pay more than $1.25.  A future allows you to operate on the guarantee that you will not have to pay more than $1.25 for next month's supply of bitcoin.

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May 18, 2011, 01:10:18 AM
 #6

If the other party holds up their end of the bargain, you are able to conduct business with a commodity at a set risk.  For instance, lets say your business will require more bitcoin in a month, but you know you won't be able afford to pay more than $1.25.  A future allows you to operate on the guarantee that you will not have to pay more than $1.25 for next month's supply of bitcoin.
Ah, okay, thanks.

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May 18, 2011, 01:21:11 AM
 #7

Don't worry Luke-Jr, we still love you.   Roll Eyes

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May 18, 2011, 01:44:24 AM
 #8

Im just glad Luke never mentioned tonal once in that entire conversation.

 Lips sealed
ruhvix
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May 18, 2011, 02:16:26 AM
 #9

On April 13, the price fluxuated between 0.92 and 0.93 USD.

Leaving aside the fact that "fluxuated" is not a word, this is not a defense. The contract ended at 4/13. The settlement price is therefore the closing price on 4/12 ($0.86). Otherwise you're claiming you can cherry pick any price you want after the contract is already expired. That's not how futures work.

Significant portions of the log are omitted in the paste above

Not a defense. I pasted the link to the rest of the log for anyone who wants to read the 4 pages where we discuss how you're betting on a particular market event and I'm betting on the opposite.

After fumbling around with technical details (escrow topics, etc), we decided to avoid the complexity and

You initially demanded an escrow, then decided it wasn't necessary. I should've insisted on an escrow, because you clearly had no intention of paying up.

We agreed that I would purchase 25 BTC at the price of 1.15 USD from him on April 13th, with our word at stake. He never showed on April 13, up until today, May 17

You lost the bet. I can collect at any time. You didn't try to pay me and I couldn't find you. Once a futures contract expires, one side is up and the other is down. There is no time limit on repaying what you owe.

You agree that if we had found each other you would've lost $7.25, but have decided that you no longer want to pay.

I am still willing to buy 25 BTC at the price of 1.15 USD

How generous, lol! You bet the price would be at or above $1.15 on 4/13. You can't extend the contract another month to some arbitrary point where you would've made a profit. You lost the bet already on 4/13.

I was never under any obligation to sell the 25 BTC back, at any time

You are confused. You are not selling anything. You are paying the difference between $1.15 (the price you bet on) and the actual price at the expiration date. See the log above:

    00:26    blarzong    in the end, one party will give the other the difference in btc

Had he showed on April 13th, I would have completed the sale then, and held onto the 25 BTC until I could sell it at 8.90 USD, making a significant profit

Not a defense. Your failure to go long on btc isn't my fault. You bet on a 1 month contract:

    <luke-jr>    I'm obviously betting that it won't go over $1.25 in the next month

You agree you made the bet, you agree it expired on 4/13, and you agree you would've paid your debt on April 13. But now that a few weeks have gone by, you want to be absolved of your debt. That's not a defense. If you owe your broker, the bank, or anyone else, there is no time limit to repay.

Saying "I will only pay within this 24 hour time period" is not a valid defense and clearly marks you as a person who will try any desperate measure to weasel out of a contract.

You lost the "obvious" bet, but are trying to weasel out of it to save yourself $7.25. I could care less about the money, which is why I didn't insist on an escrow. I just want others to know that you're a scammer.

I don't doubt other trolls and scammers will come to your defense because you spend a lot of time on chat and on the message boards. You think that this somehow frees you from the responsibility to live up to your agreements. It doesn't.

Also, the fact that I "shorted" btc will probably not be a popular position, since most btc holders want to pump up the market. However, I still think btc is awesome and is the best currency available. That said, I didn't think it would cross the $1 barrier again before April 13 and I was right. You bet the opposite and lost. The facts are plain and simple, and you are admitting most of them, except the part where you actually have to live up to your agreement.

You are a scammer and at least admit you lack principles. You made a bet and lost. Now pay up.
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May 18, 2011, 02:33:07 AM
 #10

Suggestion for next time:
 - http://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Secure_Trading#Make_sure_both_parties_agree_to_the_terms_of_the_trade_with_signed_messages

On a related note:
  - http://wiki.bitcoin-otc.com/wiki/Option_orders


ruhvix
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May 18, 2011, 02:42:12 AM
 #11

is it all over $7.25 or just about 1 BTC?

If so than this is de minimis issue, why don't you guys figure it between yourself in private without bothering forum with all this.


vladimir my friend, it is the principle of it Smiley  it would be nice when bitcoin is the dominant currency of the Milky Way, to say "the first bitcoin futures contract was entered into on march 13, 2011 and settled for the sum of $7.25". anyway, why should others be potentially scammed by this weasel?
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May 18, 2011, 03:34:14 AM
 #12

sgornik, you're a brilliant guy. A Bitcoin master who knows a lot more about it than me. I have a lot of respect for you.

He doesn't dispute the public log, so a signature isn't the issue. In typical exchanges, both parties would have an ISDA contract which could potentially be enforced by a court order (although that's costly, so trust is more important than the threat of enforcement).

Here I can only warn others that luke-jr can't be trusted to abide by trading norms or to engage in fair dealing.

I look forward to the day we have bitcoin exchanges with self-enforcing Ricardian contracts, which neatly takes care of cases when one party "regrets" his trade and wants to back out. GLBSE.com (a btc market) looks pretty cool.

But I accepted the possibility he would reneg and steal my money, so I'm just warning others to watch out for this scammer. I didn't do this deal for financial gain ($7.25 doesn't buy much these days), but on a lark.

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May 18, 2011, 03:35:08 AM
 #13

We agreed that I would purchase 25 BTC at the price of 1.15 USD from him on April 13th, with our word at stake. He never showed on April 13, up until today, May 17You lost the bet. I can collect at any time. You didn't try to pay me and I couldn't find you. Once a futures contract expires, one side is up and the other is down. There is no time limit on repaying what you owe.
Nonsense, I was on IRC all day, as many others can attest. You disappeared shortly after the agreement, and didn't re-appear on IRC until yesterday.
You agree that if we had found each other you would've lost $7.25, but have decided that you no longer want to pay.
No, I do not agree. If you had been there, the trade would have been executed as planned: you would have gained $28.75 ($5.50 profit over market price) and I would have gained 25 BTC.
I was never under any obligation to sell the 25 BTC back, at any time
You are confused. You are not selling anything. You are paying the difference between $1.15 (the price you bet on) and the actual price at the expiration date.
No, by demanding the difference from me, you are in effect demanding I not only buy at $1.15, but also sell back to you at $0.8x.

The fact is, you lost $5.50 because you broke the deal and never showed up. I lost $193.75 because you broke the deal. If anything, you owe me since you broke the deal.

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May 18, 2011, 03:50:08 AM
 #14

ruhvix, you have the whole idea of a futures contract wrong. If yall were betting on the price, that is not a Futures Contract.

"In finance, a futures contract is a standardized contract between two parties to exchange a specified asset of standardized quantity and quality for a price agreed today (the futures price or the strike price) but with delivery occurring at a specified future date"

I'm really confused as to how what you're trying to claim is a futures contract. I'm going to have to read over the whole IRC conversation first, and I can *add* more to the conversation.

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May 18, 2011, 04:28:05 AM
 #15

Luke Dashjr, you're trying desperately to come up with excuses to avoid responsibility for losing a trade. Your response confirms what I said - you clearly can't be trusted and will renege on any trade where you find it inconvenient to pay.

Nonsense, I was on IRC all day, as many others can attest.

You're at your keyboard 24 hours a day? Nice trick. You weren't there when I msg'ed you.

You disappeared shortly after the agreement, and didn't re-appear on IRC until yesterday.

Not a defense. I have *years* to collect (http://www.bcsalliance.com/y_debt_sol.html). And there's no time limit on having ethics. I don't think a few weeks is too long to collect on a gentlement's bet anyway.

My profits did not fade away like a moldy banana. Your obligations do not disappear just because you made no attempt to pay. Try telling your broker you don't have to pay him when your deals go south.

No, I do not agree. If you had been there, the trade would have been executed as planned: you would have gained $28.75 ($5.50 profit over market price) and I would have gained 25 BTC.

Your numbers are wrong. The profit was $7.25. You don't get to cherry pick the settlement price *after* the contract expired (at 4/13 00:00:00). You're assuming prices that occurred *after that date*. No conceivable futures agreement lets one side arbitrarily decide which price to settle at (there are reams of specifications at CBOT where you can read about how closing prices are determined), so you can end that nonsense. The only fair price is the closing price prior to expiration.

No, by demanding the difference from me, you are in effect demanding I not only buy at $1.15, but also sell back to you at $0.8x.

You're extremely confused. You owe me the difference between the strike price you agreed to ($1.15) and the *actual* price ($0.86). This talk of selling things back is nonsense.

In short, you are assuming terms that didn't exist and that violate every conceivable trading norm there is. Why do you think you should be exempt from the risks and standards that every other market trader in the world is bound by?

As I said, I have no way to enforce the deal short of suing you in Ralston small claims court. I can just warn others that you are someone who will desperately try to weasel your way out of obligatory debts.

You should've accepted the risk that your bet could lose money. That you regretted making the bet later doesn't change the fact you lost.

The fact is, you lost $5.50 because you broke the deal and never showed up. I lost $193.75 because you broke the deal. If anything, you owe me since you broke the deal.
 
In your warped universe, you win regardless of the bet's outcome. Up or down you win! Nice try, scammer. Nothing prevented you from going long on bitcoins.

If you really would've paid me the winnings on 4/13, you should have no problem paying me now. The fact that you won't proves my point.

In the real world, nearly all contract are settled with cash based on the trading position at the expiration time. You can read about it here:

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/cashsettlement.asp

Which is exactly what was in the log:

00:26    blarzong    in the end, one party will give the other the difference in btc
00:29    molecular    are you doing a trade or a bet?
00:29    Necr0s    A contract to trade at a later time, yes?
00:29    luke-jr    molecular: kindof a bet

And here's another quote from the log which I didn't paste originally, confirming that you knew we were settling in cash:

02:20    blarzong    so at the end you're giving me $28.75 (25 * $1.15). if btc is $1.80 you give me 15.97 btc.. and i give you 25 btc
02:20    blarzong    so i could lose 9.03 btc
02:21    luke-jr    blarzong: what?
02:21    blarzong    im just suggesting we close the transaction in btc rather than usd
02:21    luke-jr    you're talking in USD
02:23    blarzong    yeah
02:23    luke-jr    if BTC goes to $1.80, you owe me 14.13043478 BTC; if BTC drops to $0.50, I owe you 14.13043478 BTC

So obviously you agreed to cash settlement based on the position at the end of the deal, which is how the vast majority of futures are traded.

Instead of making up your own rules, why don't you just follow the same procedures that CBOT or any exchange uses if you were really trying to play fair? I don't care about the money, but it's clear you desperately want to weasel out of a bet you wish you hadn't made.
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May 18, 2011, 04:34:45 AM
 #16

ruhvix, you have the whole idea of a futures contract wrong. If yall were betting on the price, that is not a Futures Contract.

No, that's incorrect. He agreed to pay price X on date Y. That is a type of futures contract known as a forward (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forward_contract).
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May 18, 2011, 04:55:32 AM
 #17

You're still wrong, a Futures/Forward Contract involves someone actually Buying or selling something. Call it what it is, not something else, thus my original confusion with your accusations. I don't see how either party could OWE anything different than the agreed upon amount on the Delivery date.

With a Futures/Forward contract, on the Delivery date, Ruhvix should have bought 25 BTC for 25 times the agreed upon price From Luke. You send the Cash, he sends the BTC, end of deal. (if I've got this backwards, sorry guys bear with me)
If you agreed to pay $1.15ea, you would pay it regardless of what the market rate is. With a Futures/Forward contract, If the spot price on the Delivery date is lower than $1.15ea, Luke wins, by making the difference in profit when the sale is made. If the spot price is higher than $1.15ea, You win, because you can turn around after the sale and simply sell them at the current higher spot price and make a profit.

I fail to understand how this makes any sense in terms of a Futures/Forward contract:
""if BTC goes to $1.80, you owe me 14.13043478 BTC; if BTC drops to $0.50, I owe you 14.13043478 BTC""

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May 18, 2011, 05:39:01 AM
 #18

Take a look at: http://www.theifm.org/tutorial/contracts2.htm

The vast majority of futures contracts are terminated by offset or a final cash payment rather than by delivery

Markets have abstracted all this into standard cash-based trades which are the norm of how nearly every contract is done. He agreed to the bet and cash settlement obviously.

So the way it works is:

He agrees to buy 25 units @ $1.15 on 4/13 ($28.75). But on 4/13, 25 units are only worth $21.50. Therefore his bet that the price would be above $1.15 is on the losing side and he owes the difference (the net value of position is down $7.25).

Ruhvix should have bought 25 BTC for 25 times the agreed upon price From Luke.

No, I am not the buyer.

I fail to understand how this makes any sense in terms of a Futures/Forward contract:
""if BTC goes to $1.80, you owe me 14.13043478 BTC; if BTC drops to $0.50, I owe you 14.13043478 BTC""

That's his quote and is an example of a cash settlement where he wins if the price goes up (it didn't).

Each side is trying to win by predicting the future value of btc:

00:15    luke-jr    I certainly expect that it will go near $1.25
00:15    luke-jr    just not over
00:15    blarzong    luke-jr: i will take that bet
00:17    luke-jr    blarzong: make it $1.15 and I might bite
00:17    blarzong    hmm
00:17    blarzong    ok $1.15
00:17    luke-jr    blarzong: will you use clearcoin?
00:18    blarzong    luke-jr: sure
00:18    lfm    blarzong: and luke-jr you prooly should have an escrow for that

Obviously he bet wrong, but now wishes he had never made a bet in the first place.

I didn't insist on the escrow (and he figured it wasn't worth it either), which it wasn't for such a small amount. But he still lost the bet. This was a bet on price, in principle and in fact, a standard forward contract if there ever was one, and now the weasel wants out because he lost the bet.
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May 18, 2011, 05:42:29 AM
 #19

I still don't really understand yall's dilemma any more, but I understand more about Futures Contracts than I did before Grin

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May 18, 2011, 06:26:26 AM
 #20

In the real world, nearly all contract are settled with cash based on the trading position at the expiration time. You can read about it here:

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/cashsettlement.asp


Cash settlement only applies when you are involved in two contracts, one to buy and one to sell. Luke-Jr was only involved on the buying side, thus no cash settlement applies.  Please quit whining, you broke the contract.

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