Written by 3:00 pm Cryptocurrency

How Gotham and OC star Ben McKenzie became the biggest celebrity cryptocurrency critic

Actor Ben McKenzie, who starred in Gotham and the OC, has become a vocal critic of cryptocurrency, going as far as calling it the “largest Ponzi scheme in history.”

McKenzie, who plans to release a book next year about the cryptocurrency industry, became vocal about the issue last year, writing for Slate about how celebrities promoting crypto was a “moral disaster.”

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“I would suggest that we celebs do our due diligence on what we lend our support to, especially when it comes to dubious ‘investments,'” McKenzie wrote with Jacob Silverman for Slate in October 2021. “Right now, crypto is a wildly anarchic, unregulated form of Wild West financial capitalism that is fueled by rampant speculation, sketchy stablecoins, and the murky dealings of a few big whales and insiders whose influence over these markets may be greater than most traders realize.”

More than a year later, cryptocurrency company FTX, which aired advertisements featuring celebrities such as Tom Brady and Larry David, has collapsed, and skepticism over cryptocurrency is near an all-time high.

On Wednesday, McKenzie testified before the Senate Banking Committee by proclaiming FTX and its subsidiary Alameda Research a Ponzi scheme on the same level as Bernie Madoff’s longtime scheme that defrauded investors out of nearly $65 billion.

“Investment contracts that are effectively valueless are often described as Ponzi schemes, which are regulated under American law by the Securities and Exchange Commission. In my opinion, the cryptocurrency industry represents the largest Ponzi scheme in history,” McKenzie said. “In fact, by the time the dust settles, crypto may well represent a fraud at least 10 times bigger than Madoff.”

McKenzie also estimated the people defrauded by FTX and others who have invested in various cryptocurrencies are being lied to about what they have put money into.

“I believe they and the estimated 40 million other Americans who have invested in cryptocurrency have been sold a bill of goods,” McKenzie said. “They have been lied to, in ways both big and small, by a once-seemingly mighty crypto industry whose entire existence in fact depends on misinformation, hype, and yes, fraud.”

Speaking with CNN This Morning on Thursday, McKenzie talked about how he understood something was amiss about cryptocurrency because he understood language from his experience as an actor.

“I know about lying because I do it for a living. As an actor, you’re aware of what people are doing and how they’re using language,” McKenzie said.

McKenzie called attempts to sell cryptocurrency by calling the blockchain “innovative” or talking about how it will create new wealth a lie.

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“As I know as a storyteller, just because it’s a story doesn’t mean it’s a true story,” McKenzie said.

The Senate hearing McKenzie spoke at also included testimony from other experts, including Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary.

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