Since 2021, nearly 50,000 people reported losing more than $1 billion in scams related to cryptocurrency. As a private investigator, you may begin to receive requests from clients to investigate this type of fraud. Therefore, it is important to have basic underlying knowledge in the field. In particular, if you specialize in providing asset investigations, you’ll definitely want to get up to speed in this area. This article provides a list of cryptocurrencies, cryptos, and tokens and a description of each one. In addition, it covers the various financial exchanges where they are bought and sold. Also, you’ll find a helpful (and growing) list of terms and definitions.
As of November 8, 2021, the total crypto market was valued at more than $3 trillion. In addition, there are more than 200 million users in the market. With so much money and so many people in the market, it simply can’t be ignored.
List of Cryptocurrencies
First, as a private investigator, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with cryptocurrencies in general. In many cases, you’ll be asked to investigate scams and/or fraud involving one or more of the cryptos on the following list.
- 1inch (1INCH) – 1inch is an Ethereum token that powers decentralized exchanges.
- Algorand (ALGO) – Algorand seeks to improve the speed, security, and scalability of decentralized applications. Algorand pays interest (aka rewards) to holders of its currency.
- AMP (AMP) – AMP is an Ethereum token that acts as collateral for payments on the Flexa Network.
- ANKR (ANKR) – ANKR is a token that powers a Web3 infrastructure and DeFi platform.
- Avalanche (AVAX) – Avalanche is an open, smart contracts platform designed for decentralized networks.
- Binance Coin (BNB) – Binance Coin is the coin offered by the Binance Exchange.
- Bitcoin (BTC) – Bitcoin is the original cryptocurrency, and many consider it to be the best investment. It allows people anywhere in the work to send money without the involvement of a bank, government, or other financial institution. To learn more about the most popular on this list of cryptocurrencies, visit the website.
- Bitcoin Cash (BCH) – Bitcoin cash is intended to be a peer-to-peer form of electronic cash. Primarily, Bitcoin’s goal is to allow people to pay one another without using a financial institution.
- Bonafida (FIDA) – FIDA is a Solana token on Bonafida, the user interface for the Serum decentralized exchange.
- Cardano (ADA) – Cardano is a proof of stake, open-source, public blockchain platform. Its crypto Ada is designed to facilitate peer-to-peer transactions. One differentiating factor is that Cardano uses less energy than Bitcoin.
- Chainlink (LINK) – Chainlink is a decentralized oracle network.
- Clover Finance (CLV) – Clover Finance is a blockchain platform that helps facilitate compatibility across chains.
- Crypto.com Coin (CRO) – The Crypto.com coin is, of course, the coin used on the Crypto.com exchange.
- Dogecoin (DOGE) – Sometimes referred to as a “meme coin”, as its value tends to be influenced by social media activity. Notably, Dogecoin is a token that is most often mentioned by Elon Musk. At times, his seemingly casual tweets seem to influence the buying and/or selling of the coin.
- Ethereum (ETH) – Ethereum is the second-largest crypto behind Bitcoin. It is a decentralized computing platform that can run a wide variety of applications
- Ethereum 2 (ETH2) – A collection of upgrades intended to make Ethereum faster and less expensive.
- Fantom (FTM) –
- Fetch.ai (FET) – Fetch.ai is a machine-learning, artificial intelligence platform. FET provides a decentralized finance application that helps users automate their trading activities.
- Horizen (ZEN) – Horizen is a blockchain ecosystem that allows developers to build customized blockchains and decentralized apps.
- Jasmy (JASMY) – The Jasmy IoT platform is based on the idea of “democratization of data”.
- Litecoin (LTC) – Litecoin was designed as a fork off of the Bitcoin blockchain. It is intended to be faster and cheaper.
- Livepeer (LPT) – Livepeer is an Ethereum token. LPT’s power the Livepeer network, a decentralized video streaming platform.
- Loom Network (LOOM) –
- Loopring (LRC) – Loopring is an open-sourced, audited, and non-custodial exchange protocol. Loopring’s goal is to allow developers to create non-custodial, order book-based exchanges on Ethereum by leveraging zero-knowledge proofs.
- Polkadot (DOT) – Polkadot is designed to allow unrelated blockchains to talk to one another.
- Polygon (MATIC) – Polygon is a token that powers the Polygon Network. The goal is to provide faster and cheaper transactions.
- Quant (QNT) – Quant is an ETH token that connects public blockchains with private networks.
- Render Token –
- SAND (SAND) – A token that powers the Sandbox, a gaming experience in the metaverse.
- SHIBA INU – SHIBA INU is an Ethereum-based meme token developed as an alternative to Dogecoin. However, the tokens are beginning to be used in legit blockchains related to NFTs and decentralized exchanges. As of this writing, SHIB is the least expensive (on a per coin basis) of any other on this list of cryptocurrencies.
- Solana (SOL) – Solana is both a currency and a platform for running crypto apps. It is a competitor to Ethereum that can perform transactions at a much faster pace.
- Stellar Lumens (XLM) – Stellar is a blockchain payment platform.
- Synthetix Network Token (SNX) –
- Tether (USDT) – Tether is an Ethereum token that is tied to the United States Dollar. Coins tied to the U.S. Dollar are also known as “stablecoins”. It is backed by actual bank reserves, making it more stable than other cryptos.
- TerraUSD (UST) – TerraUSD is a decentralized stablecoin that seeks to maintain a value of one U.S. dollar.
- Tezos (XTZ) – Tezos is a blockchain network and platform for smart contracts. Tezos uses a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism. Also, developers can use Tezos to develop decentralized financial applications. Importantly, investing in this cryptocurrency allows you to earn a staking reward, similar to earning interest on a bank account.
- TRON (TRX) – Tron is a project that aspires to create a truly decentralized internet.
- Uniswap (UNI) – Uniswap is a DeFi application that allows users to trade crypto without an intermediary.
- UNUS SED LEO (LEO) – A token for the iFinex ecosystem.
- USD Coin (USDC) – USD Coin is a stablecoin that runs on the Ethereum platform. It can be exchanged for U.S. Dollars at a 1 to 1 ratio.
- VeChain (VET) – VeChain is a blockchain development platform.
- Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC) – Wrapped Bitcoin is an Ether token that represents BTC on the Ethereum blockchain.
- Wrapped Luna Token (WLUNA) – Wrapped Luna is a token designed for DeFi apps.
- XRP (XRP) – XRP is the native currency on RippleNet, a blockchain designed to facilitate payments.
- XYO (XYO) – XYO powers a decentralized network of devices.
- Zcash (ZEC) – Zcash is a privacy coin that was developed by cryptographers to address privacy concerns on the Bitcoin network.
Please visit the website for each individual crypto for more detailed information on the company and how it works. Again, there are many more than what I have on this list, and the number grows each day. I’ll add more to the list as time allows.
List of Cryptocurrencies – The Top 10
Now that we reviewed a list of cryptocurrencies in general, which ones are the most popular? Private investigators may receive requests to investigate cases involving any one or more of the above list. However, most of the requests will likely involve the more popular coins/tokens, as they have the most money. However, given the volatility of the crypto market, it is difficult to say which are truly the best cryptocurrencies to invest in. The one method that most experts would agree on is to consider the market cap. The following list is based on the market capitalization at the time of this writing.
- Bitcoin (BTC) – $1.7 trillion
- Ethereum (ETH) – $520 billion
- Binance Coin (BNB) – $88 billion
- Tether (USDT) – $70 billion
- Cardano (ADA) – $66 billion
- Solana (SOL) – $60 billion
- XRP (XRP) – $50 billion
- PolkaDot (DOT) – $43 billion
- Shiba Inu (SHIB) – $40 billion
- Dogecoin (DOGE) – $38 billion
It is important to note that investing in any coin/token from the above list of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum is highly speculative. The markets are volatile and difficult to predict. They don’t work in the same way as the stock market. Therefore, the overall market and individual currencies may be difficult to understand and nearly impossible to predict.
List of Crypto Trading Platforms and Online Exchanges
Now that you’re familiar with crypto in general, it is important to know where it can be bought and sold. Currently, there are only a few good options for buying and selling crypto. The more mainstream trading platforms like Fidelity only offer the option to invest in Bitcoin ETF’s, rather than individual currencies. The following is a list of the best exchanges:
|Binance||Currently, Binance is the largest Bitcoin and altcoin exchange in the world, by volume. Binance offers a more advanced trading interface for serious traders.|
|Bisq||Bisq is an open-source desktop application that allows you to buy and sell currencies.|
|Coinbase||If you’re a beginner, Coinbase is the best place to start. It is the second-largest trading platform, just behind Binance. The user interface is well-designed and easy to understand. In addition, Coinbase offers a variety of learning opportunities such as training videos, articles, and blog posts. In fact, the exchange will even pay you to learn about certain currencies. For example, I’ve earned $35.00 in various tokens thus far. However, the transaction fees are high. Has more than 100 different currencies. Join Coinbase and get $10.00 in Bitcoin after you buy or sell $100 or more on Coinbase.|
|Crypto.com||Crypto.com is an app-based exchange with low trading fees.|
|eToro||eToro is an Israeli crypto and forex trading company.|
|Gemini||Gemini is a regulated platform that allows you to buy, sell, store, and learn.|
|Kraken||Kraken is an online trading platform that allows you to buy, sell, and learn about cryptocurrencies.|
|Robinhood||In an effort to protect its investors from the dangers of trading cryptos, Robinhood only offers a small selection of coins and tokens.|
|SoFi||SoFi is a personal finance company that offers personal loans and online brokerage services.|
|TradeStation||TradeStation provides online trading and brokerage services.|
|Venmo||Venmo is a payment processor that also offers crypto. Venmo allows users to purchase crypto in amounts as low as $1.00 right from the app. However, at the time of this writing, they only offer four options, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin. Yes, you can buy crypto this way, and yes, they do make it easy. However, if you choose to buy this way, you won’t get access to the same helpful information and data offered by exchanges like Binance, Crypto.com, etc.|
|Webull||Webull is a commission-free trading platform.|
To buy and sell, you’ll need to link a financial account such as a checking account, savings account, PayPal, debit card, etc. In addition, you’ll need to verify your email, phone, number, and identity.
How to Buy Crypto
Once you’ve reviewed the list of cryptocurrencies, signed up with an online exchange, and verified your identity, it’s time to set up payment options. The larger exchanges allow you to connect directly to a bank account. While others allow you to use online payment processors like PayPal. In addition, you can do a wire transfer, but that is usually the most expensive method. Also, some crypto sellers allow you to use gift cards.
All of the exchanges will charge some type of transaction fee. The following is a list of typical transaction fees for the most popular exchanges:
|Exchange Name||Transaction Fee|
|Crypto.com||0.10% to 0.16%|
|eToro||No trading fees|
|Gemini||The greater of either a flat fee ($0.99, $1.49, $1.99, $2.99) or 1.49%|
|Kraken||0.16% to 0.26%|
|Robinhood||No trading fees|
Note: Transaction fees may change at any time. In addition, many trading platforms charge a variable fee that is determined at the time the order is placed.
At times, it may be helpful to review the information, research, and data available through industry associations. However, the industry is still in its early phase of development, and several associations and alliances have already been established:
- Blockchain Association – The association works to educate policymakers on the value of blockchain technology.
- PoS Alliance – The Proof-of-Stake Alliance works to educate lawmakers on the importance and benefits of proof-of-stake mechanisms.
Key Terms & Definitions
To be effective in any investigation, it is important for private investigators to be able to “speak the language”. To help, here is a list of key terms and definitions.
- Atlcoins – Altcoins are just alternatives to Bitcoin.
- Blockchain – At its most basic level, a blockchain is like a ledger. It contains a list of transactions every time someone buys or sells a token or coin.
- DAO – Decentralized Autonomous Organization. DAO’s are a way to organize people and share ownership using smart contracts.
- DeFi – DeFi means Decentralized Finance. Basically, it means that it is a blockchain form of finance that doesn’t rely on traditional banks.
- Fork – A fork happens whenever a community makes a change to the underlying set of rules. For example, Cardano recently launched a major update known as the Vasil Hard Fork.
- Gas – Gas is the fee to conduct a transaction. Also, gas refers to the fee to execute a smart contract on the blockchain.
- Memecoins – Memecoins generally refer to cryptocurrencies that originate from internet memes. Examples include Dogecoin and Shiba Inu.
- Mining – The term mining is usually associated with Bitcoin. Bitcoin mining is the process of creating a new bitcoin by solving a puzzle.
- NFT – NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token. Each NFT is unique and can be used to authenticate ownership of digital assets.
- Proof of Stake (PoS) – Uses randomly selected validators to validate transactions on a blockchain. The process uses specific amounts of cryptocurrency as collateral. This process is called “staking”.
- Proof of Work (PoW) – A consensus mechanism used by older blockchains to verify that the transactions are legit.
- Smart Contract – Smart contracts are programs that automate the execution of an agreement.
- Stablecoin –
- Staking – Staking is a method of holding certain cryptocurrencies to earn rewards. For example, Tezos, Algorand, Cosmos, and Ethereum all pay rewards of up to 5%. However, unlike interest earned from a bank savings account, it pays out much more frequently. Sometimes daily, or every few days. Also, you can see the interest accruing in real-time (something I like).
- Token – In general, all cryptocurrencies are tokens. However, the word token has evolved to mean a digital asset that runs on top of the blockchain of another crypto.
- Wallet – A wallet is a secure place to store private keys. Wallets can be physical devices, using something called a Ledger. Or, they can be a mobile app. For example, Coinbase offers wallets within its platform. Customers can use them as an added layer of security to help protect their currencies.
Important Tips to Keep Your Money Safe
Following is a list of tips and reminders for potential investors.
The cryptocurrency market is volatile and very difficult to predict. The market does not follow the same investment principles as the stock market.
It involves complicated technologies that are difficult for the average user to understand. Also, due to the relatively immature age of the crypto market, and the sometimes irrational behavior associated with those who invest in it, it is quite difficult to tie the price or performance of the crypto directly to the value or performance of the company. For example, the price of Dogecoin was manipulated using online news stories, social media, and discussion forum posts. The mere existence of “meme coins” is an indication that prices are easy to manipulate and not always based on reality. Here is some general advice should you choose to invest:
- Choose a reputable exchange. Stick with the most well-known exchanges like CoinBase and remember, the biggest isn’t always the best.
- After you join an exchange, be sure to activate all of the safeguards available through the exchange, like multi-factor authentication, alerts, vaults, etc. Surely, these may seem like a nuisance during the setup process, but they are an important step in securing your account. Unfortunately, hackers and thieves are constantly trying to steal money from exchanges. In most cases, they tend to target users who don’t take the time to set up these extra precautions.
- Don’t click on links in emails, even if they appear to be from the exchange. Always visit the site’s login page, verify the URL, and log in using a strong username and password. In addition, set up multifactor authentication. For example, Google Authenticator will send a random number to an app on your phone. Then, you must enter the number to log in.
- Set up a wallet to add an extra layer of security. Wallets can be set up to require multiple people to approve transfers. This will help keep your money safe.
- First, before you jump in and buy a particular currency or token, do your research. Read through the overview provided by the exchange. Then, look for any articles that directly cover crypto (pay attention to the source). Then ask questions like, “Is the company providing the information from a reputable company like Motley Fool, Forbes, US News, or other well-known publication?
- Take the time to understand the underlying technology (if it exists). The more you understand about what you’re buying, and how it works, the greater your confidence in the potential for the value to increase.
- Invest in small amounts. Never put in more than you can afford to lose.
Taxes and Financial Statements.
Most types of crypto transactions are taxable events. However, each type may have its own set of rules and exceptions. If you sell, convert, spend, earn, or stake crypto, you need to report the transactions on your tax return. Thankfully, many exchanges make tax reporting easy. For example, Coinbase has a simple tax report generator.
If you have any questions about this list of cryptocurrencies, please post a comment below.
Also, learn more about other types of financial investigations.