I believe the “company” known as Halong Mining is a scam and that the majority of customers will either never receive their hardware, or receive it so late (and possibly used) that they won’t ever make their money back, not so dissimilar from the Butterfly Labs situation. At the time of writing, the company has already missed their first deadline to ship out to their batch 1 customers. The only person to have claimed to have received his shipment is a strange person on Twitter / Reddit, but we’ll get to him later.
I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the entities behind this elaborate scam have taken advantage of fears of BITMAIN’s monopoly of Bitcoin mining, and through clever manipulation of social media and with some help from popular Bitcoin twitter personalities, one of which is the CEO of Blockstream (likely unknowingly a party to this scam), they have swindled millions of dollars worth of Bitcoin from thousands of customers.
If you made your way to this article, there’s a strong chance that you may have seen it labelled as “FUD”, or attempts have been made to attack me in attempt to discourage you from reading what I have to say (“Cobra is compromised!”), a lie being spread by Blockstream-associated folks as a smear campaign. But the majority of this article will be composed of facts that you can verify for yourself, so, don’t trust, verify.
The first thing that made me suspicious was the massive social media campaign behind this company when they first launched seeking preorders from the community. The Twittersphere and Bitcoin communities and sites blew up with news that this tiny little upstart company was going to give real competition to BITMAIN. One look of Halong’s site was enough to put me off.
Preorders. No refund policy. And worst of all, the company essentially… did not exist… anywhere. Nobody (even still) can name the CEO, or say where they’re incorporated, or where are there offices? Who are they? You know more about your local barber shop than you know about Halong Mining. Seriously, go and verify for yourself, go Google, try and see if you can find anything legally about them. You won’t be able too. That was a huge red flag. It’s simply unacceptable to collect millions of dollars worth of preorders and not have even basic information about the company to hold them accountable.
Another red flag was how they keep releasing new mining equipment for different algorithms while customers are still waiting for their Dragonmint miners to ship. They are selling ASICs for SHA-256, CryptoNight, Blake-256 and Blake2b. With some of these ASICs for new algorithms supposedly aiming to be delivered in March/April. These ASICs came as a surprise, because back in the original launch, Halong Mining made it seem like it was only focusing on Bitcoin mining equipment. How can a tiny fledgling startup, with no track record, a company where we don’t even know who the CEO is, how can they afford to do all the R&D for all these miners, and to mass produce them? It’s just unfathomable. Of course, nobody knows who their investors are either.
Typical behaviour patterns of a shady company are predictably followed. Everything is shrouded in secrecy and has to be kept under wraps. Comments are disabled on their YouTube videos where they hype these products. The strong reliance on certain “trusted” people in the community to vouch for them, and never actual customers. It’s easy to give some demo units to trusted figures and have them confirm this hardware exists, but that tells us nothing about whether it has been mass-produced, or if it’ll even end up in customer hands on time.
On the topic of ending up in customer hands; there was a huge buzz about a particular customer who showed up on Reddit and Twitter claiming to have received his shipment from Halong, and he was happily retweeted by them. Though something seemed strange about this person as he had freshly created his account on Twitter and he was promptly retweeted by Halong.
This person’s Twitter account is CalvinHe15, and his Reddit account is gairat77. Here is a link to an archive of his Reddit post: http://archive.is/HnxGd. There’s a link to an Imgur gallery mentioned in that Reddit discussion, which can be found here: https://archive.is/wjHXt. I have also archived the tweet by Calvin, in which he uses some of the same pictures as he does in his Reddit account, which can be seen here: http://archive.is/lhDHP. This confirms the link between his Twitter and Reddit accounts.
People were suspicious that this account was so recent, so was rightly asked questions like “why was your account just created?”. Calvin replied that people use Facebook in Hong Kong, and that this was the first time in his life he had used Twitter. Strange. Here’s an archive of that tweet where he claims this: http://archive.li/1Byih. I looked through his Reddit posts and noticed that he had an usual interest in obtaining BITMAIN coupons, and in one post, he posts his Telegram username as a contact detail: http://archive.li/fBmjh.
His Telegram username of “oleg1589” perfectly matches with the username of a Twitter user who was defending overt ASICBOOST (a patented technology used by Halong) and the BDPL (something Halong relies on also to undermine BITMAIN) as a response to one of my tweets just 13 days earlier: http://archive.is/dXe9S. Turns out it wasn’t the first time in his life on Twitter then was it? He was on there just days earlier on his other account. It’s unfortunate that the only “happy customer” of theirs seems to be this strange person, when thousands of people have ordered their equipment, many of them known figures in the community. Why is this guy obsessed with BITMAIN coupons anyway?
If they are legitimate, which I’m almost certain they’re not, they are incompetent at running a business and building good will and establishing trust. No matter how many trusted figures in the community vouch for them, what matters is getting this “product” into customer hands as soon as possible. Everything else is smoke and mirrors. The longer customers wait for their shipments, the more likely it is that it’s all just a scam to play on fears of BITMAIN’s monopoly to con suckers out of their hard earned money.
Stop trusting people on the internet. The whole reason you are probably in Bitcoin in the first place is to not have to trust anyone. Read through everything in this post, and rationally look at the facts. Look at the archives, ask yourself what you know about Halong, ask why it’s all so shady? Wonder why everyone on Twitter seems to be telling you that this “Cobra” person is compromised, in an effort to get you to dismiss my words, even though throughout this article, you have been presented with information which you can verify and cross reference.