To generate fake volume, crypto traders engage in wash trading : The Indicator from Planet Money According to a Forbes report, half of all Bitcoin trades are fake. Today, we unveil crypto's cryptic facade by diving deep into a classic concept: Wash trading.

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The fake market in crypto

The fake market in crypto

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Sean Gallup/Getty Images
A young woman walks past a Bitcoin symbol.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

According to an analysis conducted by Forbes, half of all Bitcoin trades are fake. But how do traders manage to fudge the numbers? And what exactly is cooking behind crypto's cryptic facade?

The answer lies in an age-old practice: Wash trading. This is when people sell assets to themselves, to create the illusion that trade is occurring more than it actually is. Although wash trading was banned in the United States in 1936, the practice is picking up steam again in the legal gray areas that color the crypto market.

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