The Preston of Park Cities retirement home held a crypto class for seniors. However, the instructor was a fourth of most residents’ ages.
21-year-old Owen Robertson stood in front of 16 senior citizens with elevator music softly playing in the background as a huge television displayed a graphic that read: “Crypto Crash Course.”
Robertson is on the McCombs School of Business Blockchain Initiative board and works as a marketing associate at the blockchain company Quai Network. Coming from the University of Texas at Austin, Robertson is the former blockchain club president.
Today, Robertson was tapped to teach about cryptocurrency, NFTs, and selfies.
The Preston of Park Cities urged its residents to attend the class, which has met three times and is a means to educate seniors on crypto and how to avoid getting scammed online.
“I was a guest lecturer at my university for an intro to blockchain course just because there aren’t a lot of people who know enough to teach this stuff,” said Robertson, majoring in management of information systems at UT Austin.
As the director of community life at The Preston, Debra Dickerson organizes classes to help residents grow spiritually, emotionally, physically, and socially. She also curates classes on vocational skills and environmental and intellectual wellbeing.
“In this case, we wanted to provide them with access to a crypto, NFT, and internet scam expert, to help them better identify online threats and people looking to take advantage of seniors,” she said.
At the first class in July, Dickerson said there were four fewer people than expected, but everyone showed up for the following crypto classes after she promised chocolate ice cream and wine.
While many senior citizens and younger individuals may not be well versed in crypto, cases of fraud and scams are on the rise, especially elder fraud. As reported by Dallas Morning News, a report on elder fraud found a 74% increase in fraud since 2020 and saw older adults in the United States defrauded of $1.7 billion last year through fraud schemes.
Over 5,000 complaints from seniors over 60 cited a loss of virtual currency, such as Bitcoin, amounting to a loss of $241.1 million in total.
“Scammers can be very elaborate,” Robertson told the residents. “The best practice is to never click on a link or PDF unless you know the person who sent it to you and have spoken to them.”
Robertson also warned of the volatility of crypto, sharing the track record of Luna, once a very trusted cryptocurrency that fell from $116 in April to zero, causing investors to lose large amounts of money.
The investment hit a market cap within the first three months, and Luna topped at $40 billion. At that point, investors would have made 1,000 times the initial investment.
“There’s a lot of people who have staked their lives on crypto, and I would say to never do that,” says Robertson. “Most of the cryptocurrencies we see today won’t be relevant in five years; It’s going to keep changing over time. I see it like the internet in the 1990s.”
At the end of the class, Robertson asked the resident to take a “selfie” so he could turn it into an NFT. “What’s a selfie?” asked one of the residents. Maybe a class to answer that question is up next.