Despite still showing no signs of ever paying off, the Iraqi dinar scam not only lives on, but appears to have found a new home where the worthless currency can easily be bought and sold without arousing suspicions: the craft website Etsy.
The long-running dinar scam began shortly after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, when the country’s currency, already having lost most of its value due to sanctions, dropped to the point where millions of dinars could be bought for a few hundred dollars.
Currency speculators began baselessly betting on the idea that the dinar would “revalue” to be worth as much or more than the dollar once Iraq had a stable government and flowing oil exports—making those who held millions of dinars actual millionaires.
Within a few years, an ecosystem of gurus who shared “intel” on when the revalue (also known as the “RV”) might take place worked alongside brokers who sold dinars at outrageously high markups. Using this system, they were able to skirt banking laws that regulate who can give financial advice and ones that regulate investments by selling dinars as collectibles. Together, they managed to convince Americans to spend tens of thousands of dollars in the hope that the dinar revalue would make them rich.
It never did. Eventually, the gurus’ promises that the revalue was coming soon became unbelievable to the point of absurdity. Many of the major dinar brokers were indicted for fraud, and many aspects of the scam—most notably the idea of a guru having inside information on a great event that was always about to happen—were rolled into newer conspiracy movements such as QAnon.
But the dinar scam has quietly continued, moving away from currency broker websites ostensibly marketing the money as a collectible to craft stores like Etsy and auction sites like eBay that actually do sell collectibles.
There are still dinar buyers hanging on to and even increasing their purchases based on information from online gurus. And their loved ones continue to marvel at how a fraud that has gone on for twenty years can possibly have no end in sight.
“My parents sadly believe a re-evaluation of the currency is imminent,” said “Carl,” who requested the use of a pseudonym.
Carl’s parents spent the last three years buying both Iraqi dinars and listening to gurus claiming that it’s still on the verge of revaluing. All told, Carl estimates his parents have spent about $3,000 on currency speculation, mostly buying dinars on eBay, where it’s freely sold by stores with over thousands of almost uniformly positive reviews, such as “ValueDelivered” and “Iraqi Dinar Store.”
They also listen to voice chats and read dinar updates on Telegram and on blogs from a host of dinar gurus who have six-figure followings.
“Dennis” told the Daily Dot that his uncle “was in the U.S. Army Reserves, was deployed to Iraq [and] got sucked into the dinar thing by a guy he met while in Iraq. He got my dad and others in my family to buy into the scam, and my dad now has about $5,000 worth of dinar in a safe at my parents’ house.”
According to Dennis, his father still gets “intel updates” and is hanging on to his stash waiting for it to revalue—well over a decade after his uncle first bought it. Selling them now would not only mean taking a loss, it would preclude making a big score if the RV ever does actually hit.
And for those who think it still is coming, both eBay and Etsy have emerged as some of the easiest and most durable places to buy dinars and other nearly valueless currency—a process that’s just as simple as buying a craft item or bidding on a piece of electronics. And while many of the past dinar broker sites required large purchases, on Etsy and eBay, it’s easy to dip even the smallest toe in the waters of the dinar speculation.
A search on Etsy for Iraqi dinars brings up more than 1,600 entries, with the top row ads bought through the site for premium placement.
The current bestseller is an entry for “250,000 Iraqi Dinar: 10 x 25,000 [uncirculated] Iraq Banknotes” selling for $375—despite 250,000 dinars only being worth about $191 at current exchange rates. Another hot listing offers half a million dinars for $700—a massive markup from their current value of $382.
Those who just want to ease into the conspiracy can do so too on Etsy, where you can buy one 5,000 dinar note for $8.45—even though it’s worth less than half of that.
Etsy offers free shipping, next-day delivery, guarantees of authenticity, and even allows for returns and exchanges. But because selling dinars as an investment without being licensed is illegal, none mention the revalue or offer any sort of economic advice. They are all marketed as collectibles—just one that has no scarcity and is hugely marked up for no apparent reason.
Similarly, eBay, which has been selling dinars as collectibles for the past twenty years, has thousands of listings for Iraqi dinars. They range as high as one million dinars for just under a thousand dollars to individual thousand-dinar notes for less than $2.50—despite being worth about 78 cents. Like Etsy, all of them are massively marked up and selling for far more than they’re actually worth.
The press offices at Etsy and eBay didn’t respond to specific questions from Daily Dot regarding dinar sales.
But these sites aren’t just selling dinars, its users are making money selling a basket of other “collectible” currencies that are not actually collectable or valuable.
Even at the height of the dinar scam, there were other currencies that speculators bet big on revaluing, despite no indication that such spikes would ever happen. Many new online sellers have apparently realized that at 20 years and counting, it might be time for something new. So just like dinars, many Etsy sellers offer bricks of massively marked-up currency from Bolivia, Greece, the Philippines, Venezuela, Hungary, and a “full set” of banknotes from Zimbabwe for $400—notes that are not actually legal tender, since the country has used the U.S. dollar for 14 years.
Indeed, Carl’s parents aren’t just buying dinars, he told the Daily Dot, but Venezuelan currency as well. The bolivar—which Bloomberg described as “plummeting” and “battered”—completely cratered in value, losing a third of its buying power against the dollar in just a month.
But this worthless currency still has value as long as gurus continue to hype and inflate it. These know-it-alls have “access” to secret intelligence, the latest news from Iraq, insights into foreign markets that nobody else has, and sometimes, just divine knowledge.
Those completely worthless Zimbabwe dollars? According to dinar guru “Bruce’s Big Call,” the “zim” is still very much alive, and about to equal the dollar in value.
“In our case, the Zimbabwe dollar is really a bearer bond. So they’re like mini bearer bonds, but the denomination on that bond, as you guys know, can be as high as $100 trillion,” Bruce claimed on a June 20 dinar intel call. “So we are on a one to one with Zimbabwe. And that’s what makes the value of those bearer bonds so high and so valuable for us.”
Needless to say, any event where a person can spend $400 and become a trillionaire would instantly destroy the world’s economy.
Like before, the careful balance between gurus who can’t sell dinars because of laws against selling investments without a license and brokers who can’t offer advice on dinars due to similar legal restrictions is still in effect. None of the major guru websites or intel clearinghouses mention Etsy or eBay as good places to buy dinars.
Likewise, none of the Etsy dinar listings that Daily Dot looked at mentioned any specific gurus or intel websites, or even offered any hint that there might be another purpose to buying dinars besides the intimation they’d become “a very hot collectors item worldwide in recent years.”
One which still hasn’t gone up in value and likely never will.