'As bad as I feared': Actor Ben McKenzie warns of crypto investments

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Aug 30, 2023

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Actor Ben McKenzie, best known for his roles in “The O.C.” and “Gotham,” is warning about the risks in crypto investments after spending two years investigating the industry. 

McKenzie, who has a degree in economics and recently co-authored the book “Easy Money: Cryptocurrency, Casino Capitalism, and the Golden Age of Fraud,” said he began investigating the industry when his acting roles dried up during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I started paying attention to the financial markets really for the first time in my life,” he told BNN Bloomberg in a television interview Wednesday. “I saw all these things that seemed inexplicable initially – meme stocks, crypto, NFTs – and decided to do some research.” 

McKenzie said his initial suspicions about the industry were confirmed. 

“It’s actually at least as bad as I feared, if not worse,” he said. “It’s been a pretty wild ride, but I have to say a lot of the things I’ve been warning about for the last two years have proven true.” 

McKenzie doesn’t refer to cryptocurrencies as “currency” because he argued that most users are investing rather than using it to buy goods. 

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has been cracking down on the crypto industry in 2023 – an enforcement trend that is long overdue, according to McKenzie.

“What we’re seeing now is the rubber hitting the road,” McKenzie said. “All of these effectively unregistered, unregulated securities are finally coming under scrutiny legally and I don’t think they’re going to stand up.” 

On Wednesday, the SEC was dealt a blow in its fight to regulate the crypto industry, as a U.S. appeals court overturned its block of Grayscale Investments LLC’s first exchange-traded fund tied to Bitcoin. 

INTERVIEW WITH SBF 

For his book, McKenzie interviewed Sam Bankman-Fried, the beleaguered founder and CEO of FTX. Bankman-Fried faces 13 federal charges in the U.S., including fraud, conspiracy, campaign finance law violations and money laundering related to his alleged work with the company.

McKenzie interviewed the crypto founder in the summer of last year before Bankman-Fried’s arrest – and he said the warning signs were already showing. 

“When I sat down with him, I had a lot of questions,” he said. “There were red flags in abundance.”

With files from Bloomberg News