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Crypto Boy on Netflix: This movie offers three money lessons to everyone

No matter how many Bankman-Fried or Do Kwans are arrested for crypto fraud, our fascination with Cryptocurrency seems to be unabated. Netflix has just released Crypto Boy, the story of a young lad called Amir who gets involved with the promise of riches and discovers fraud. A predictable tale, considering how many real life stories we know, but timely nevertheless. 

This film takes us to Amsterdam, and as in all immigrant tales, we see Amir’s dad in his Mexican restaurant, surrounded by neighbours, watching football and discussing a very important question: should they take the money the developer is offering and move to a new place? Make way for gentrification? 

His son Amir, 20, in the meanwhile is selling Chinese beard growth oil to teens instead of delivering burritos for his dad. Father and son share a love-hate relationship. The father wants his son to work hard because he has had to, and the son who is tired of the everyday struggle. He delivers a burrito to a security guard at an event and stumbles into the world of Crypto. Amir’s ability to smooth talk makes him a part of Crypto Bros, only to be let down by them.

Lesson 1: Dreams of financial independence are good, but be cautious

Amir is so frustrated with his life of delivering burritos and having none or little money to spend, he is easily converted by the speech from an entrepreneur at an event. The promise of ‘Don’t work your life away making money, make money work for you’ is so alluring to a lad who works for tips and lives in his father’s home that he becomes an easy prey. He suddenly makes money, is invited to party with the crypto bros! He even argues with his dad who says that steady hard work is the only way to live.

You too will be tempted by easy money, the promise of unbelievable returns of schemes, and crypto funds. But know that like Amir, initially you will see cash, but when you invest your life savings because you are fed up of living the nine to five life, you will have no help when the fancy offices of the ‘fund’ are as empty as your account and that you are a victim of fraud. 

Not every scheme is rife with fraud, but these are your savings. So don’t throw caution to the winds, find out more about, be smart about loopholes. Be aware of smooth operators.

Lesson 2: If a scheme sounds too good to be true, it probably is

Amir is used by the crypto bros as a money mule. He receives a call from the bank asking him why he had deposited forty five thousand Euros and then taken it out just as quickly. Amir is a simple lad. He doesn’t realise that the bank account number he had shared with the Crypto company is being used to make money disappear. He is assured that all is okay.

Amir doesn’t realise that his sales pitch has worked on a neighbour Berta, who is equally fed up with being poor and has invested her life savings in the same Crypto app. Unbeknownst to everyone, Amir invests his dad’s rainy day fund in the company when his father is hospitalised. Only when the ponzi scheme is all over the news do Amir and Berta realise that they have been defrauded. The cops come in to question Amir, and realise that he has been a victim of the pyramid scheme too.

We consider ourselves smart, but get taken in by the promise that we inadvertently bring in friends and family into pyramid schemes. It’s time to curb that enthusiasm and invest only with reputed financial entities.

Lesson 3: Family eats free. recovering from fraud is never easy

Amir’s father realises that his son wants to get into the world of crypto and money. He doesn’t understand it, but tells his son, ‘I know that you don’t want to be a part of my restaurant and do deliveries. You like working with that Crypto app. I have money saved up, use that to go to college and get an education, learn finance.’

But Amir has already spent that money in crypto and knowing that he has been promised money, he has even splurged money to refurbishing his father’s restaurant. Amir tries to get his money back but a physical fight with the serial fraudster only gets him a bloody nose… The neighbours pool money and Amir’s dad opens a new restaurant. The old rule of ‘family eats free’ still applies, and we see that Amir has learnt his lesson and is helping out.

Sometimes real life recoveries are not as predictable as in the movies. That’s why we have to be extra careful and be adaptable when members of our families make mistakes. We need to rally around them rather than berate them. Also don’t forget that you need to cooperate with the authorities to bring the crooks to book.

Crypto currency is a new and unknown thing. It’s easy to see very young men and women live in condos and spend money like water and be jealous of that lifestyle. But not everyone who delivers food from McDonalds becomes Zhao Changpeng. He studied harder than most people and had to struggle too. Amir’s story is a reflection of many true-life crypto tragedies, and yet it gives us hope.

Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication. She can be reached on Twitter at @manishalakhe. 

 

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Updated: 21 Oct 2023, 12:56 PM IST