Many low-income people invested in the now-disgraced crypto exchange FTX. That’s because the exchange allegedly targeted poor and underbanked people and convinced them that FTX was just as safe as a regular bank.

by Esmé von Hoffman, Jacobin

In early November, as Andrew Gronek learned from YouTubers that FTX, the giant cryptocurrency exchange where he’d deposited his money, was on a downward spiral, he didn’t believe it. After all, the thirty-three-year-old living in Tempe, Arizona, had been told that his cash was as safe in FTX US as it would be in a typical bank.

Furthermore, he saw that FTX’s much-lauded CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, had tweeted that FTX was “fine.”

November 8th 2022, FTT token down -79%. Crypto crash of FTX's coin bankman fried.

But just to be safe, on November 9, as FTX’s valuation was plummeting, Gronek decided to withdraw the small amount of what he believed were his riskier crypto investments, as well as the few thousand dollars that he had directly deposited in the exchange to earn interest. He was counting on that cash to help him cover bills when money ran short. All of these investments provided him much-needed income, and he was “fully expecting to put it back on the platform when it was safe to do so.”

He made the withdrawal request via the FTX US app on his phone — and it looked like it had gone through. But as the days passed, his cash never came.

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