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Coinbase users say the cryptocurrency startup ignored their pleas for help



Michael Pierre was sitting last summer in his Brooklyn apartment when he received a text message on his iPhone from an unknown number, before he immediately lost the service and, concerned that his phone was being hacked, rushed to examine his most valuable app, Coinbase, a cryptocurrency company, where he stored رقمية 100,000 worth of digital coins.


But he was unable to log in, and-panicked – sent an email to Coinbase for help, and later the company told him that “an attacker” reset his password, and drained his account, Pierre said he was shocked because he expected Coinbase security to detect suspicious activity and stop the theft.


“I was thinking about retiring, family and getting money for the hard days,” Pierre added, and”within two minutes everything was taken away from me.”


Pierre, 47, a lawyer and former Coinbase employee, began urging his former colleagues to investigate what happened, and compensate him for lost cryptocurrencies that today could be worth more than دولار 400,000. But he said he had received little help, so last January he sued Coinbase, accusing it of neglecting security procedures and failing to protect its funds.


His cautionary tale is one of dozens of Tales from Coinbase customers around the world who say their accounts have been looted by attackers or that they have been deprived of their life savings without warning or reason, and that the company has failed to spot the problems, doing little to help. As Coinbase prepares for an IPO in the next few weeks-cementing its position as one of the largest cryptocurrency companies in the world – the experiences of its users show how it still sometimes struggles to address core customer complaints.


This raises questions for Coinbase at a crucial moment, as no major cryptocurrency company has gone public before, and some investors have speculated that Coinbase could be worth as much as كوين 100 billion, and its listing would also underscore the rise in popularity of cryptocurrencies during the pandemic, with the price of bitcoin-the most popular cryptocurrency – breaking records since last November.


The lawyer representing cryptocurrency investors, David Silver, says Coinbase’s IPO is ” detailed “for the cryptocurrency industry, but Silver added that if the company wants to be like Goldman Sachs for cryptocurrencies, it” needs to maintain a superior quality customer support service.”


In a statement, Casper Sorensen, vice president of customer experience tracking with Coinbase, said the company is dealing with a “24/7 cryptocurrency economy that-with the surge in demand – has created a unique set of challenges to customer experience,” and to address that, the company said it has added 2,000 customer support employees in recent months and reduced waiting times for help.

Coinbase added that it had never been hacked, saying that 0.004% of its users had experienced “account grabbing” over the past year, where someone hacked their devices, then gained access to their Coinbase accounts, and the company said it had educated its users on how to keep their accounts safe.


Rejected Queen Bess comment on any individual cases or lawsuits.


Compared to regular banks and funds, digital currencies and financial exchanges carry an additional degree of risk; unlike money transferred through a bank, bitcoin can be traded instantly, and in many cases transactions cannot be undone or traced to a specific individual, making it easier to steal. Many laws protecting people’s money, which require banks to maintain tight security, do not apply to cryptocurrencies.


Coinbase was founded in 2012, by CEO Brian Armstrong and others. At that time bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were just beginning to rise as a way to decentralize the movement of money by allowing people to send cash to each other around the world without the need for a bank.


However, trading bitcoin without the help of an institution proved difficult; Armstrong created Coinbase, as a “currency exchange”, a place where people could buy, sell and convert cryptocurrencies through what is known as a digital wallet, and the company charged a fee each time a customer placed an order.


Today, there have Queen Bess 43 million customers, according to the prospectus, has recorded a profit of $ 322 million last year, while increased its revenue more than doubled, reaching $ 1.27 billion. Last December it went public and plans a direct listing, in which no new shares are issued.


As Coinbase grew, it was responding to customer complaints, with concerns centered on two main things – according to legal documents and interviews with more than 10 Coinbase users, as well as social media posts and customer surveys – first that the company’s security was tricked by attackers who infiltrated their accounts and then stole their money, or that they were suddenly


Coinbase said it rarely blocks users from accessing their accounts, but it may do so if it investigates a violation of its terms of service or due to suspicious activity.


Losing access to the account can be crucial, because some people use Coinbase as a physical bank, where they deposit their salaries. Users said frustrations have multiplied because the company often does not respond to requests for help.


The problems have become so widespread that a forum on Coinbase on Reddit has been flooded with requests from people looking for help opening their accounts. One Reddit user-who posted that he lives in Vietnam – left dozens of comments asking for help returning to his account which he said had been frozen for more than a year.


“I need to open my account,” wrote a Reddit user-known as kuromodzz – and said,”Please reply to my emails and give me solutions! I can’t lose my money!”.


Junchalo Maya, 24 – a programmer from Lisbon, Portugal-said he was banned from accessing his Coinbase account, which is about 27,000 euros, or 32,000 dollars last January, and in response he set up a group linked to Coinbase on the Discord messaging platform, which has since attracted more than 300 people, many of whom lamented that they could not access their accounts, and some


“They hurt people,” Maya said, adding that many feel “hopeless.”


After the New York Times asked Coinbase about Maya’s account, he received an email from the company saying he had violated the terms of service and would not be allowed to use the platform.


Coinbase-and other cryptocurrency banks – should act like big banks that need for legal reasons to freeze assets, and are obliged to quickly investigate lost or stolen funds, said Christine dohime, an expert on financial crimes. Dohime added that Coinbase’s inclusion could be a step toward aligning the cryptocurrency world with the laws governing traditional financial institutions.


“Coinbase-by going public and being subject to greater regulatory oversight – is moving more toward the light, where there is-or will be – greater visibility and greater comfort,”duhimi said.


Some users said that one of the most frustrating aspects of Coinbase is that their complaints are not read by anyone as real as they seem.


“There is no one on the other side,”said Cheryl Hong-a marketing consultant in Los Angeles.


Coinbase said that real customer service staff responded to inquiries.


For most Coinbase users, legal recourse is also limited: under the company’s terms of service, users agree to settle disputes through private arbitration or a small claims court, rather than filing a class action lawsuit.


© New York Times Foundation 2021


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