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Bitcoin is an Internet currency with no centralized bank or agency underpinning it. I only recently heard about it and I've been trying to understand how it works and if it is safe, however this is a huge question well beyond my expertise.

There are a lot of websites that make a lot of claims about Bitcoin, some for, some against. In this question I'd like to focus on this claim putatively from a BitCoin exchange:

I wanted to make more money. The number on the exchange. A number. I could change it in the programming. Not too much, because their are other exchanges to balance, but a little would be okay to do. So I did it. I increased the Bitcoin value a little. Say from $1 to $1.05. No one noticed and many were happy to see it go up. I was making people happy and the forum enjoyed the fun times with many dreaming big money! haha.

Now I change the Bitcoin price by hand nearly everyday now. I increase the number and more people give me money. Sometimes I let the files do this. It is a miracle like I have a bank haha. I give them numbers and they give me money.

Is it possible for someone running a Bitcoin Exchange to change the exchange rate at will, in order to steal money from its users, with no consequences?

The original source of the claim is somewhat unreliable, as that site indicates, however the general conclusion of that article, and others on the site, along with many of the comments is that it is Plausible. Additionally I have not been able to come up with any mechanism in the Bitcoin system that would prevent this from happening.

N.B If this claim doesn't seem notable enough I could change it to address the whole issue of Trust regarding the use of Bitcoin - for which there is more than enough notability - however, I'm concerned that the question might be too broad. Thoughts?

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    There's a Bitcoin Stack Exchange, probably more likely to get a good answer there - bitcoin.stackexchange.com
    – Tom77
    Mar 21, 2013 at 11:06
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    @Tom77 tbh I don't really understand how Bitcoin works at all, hence why I'm asking about how safe it is. I didn't just want to ask "Is Bitcoin safe?" and post a list of sites claiming for / against, so I picked one of the specific claims and asked it. But it is entirely possible that the one I picked doesn't really mean anything at all... :S - It didn't even cross my mind to check if there was a SE network for it. I'll read through there and then decide what to do with this question, thanks.
    – Ian
    Mar 21, 2013 at 11:15
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    Someone running any kind of exchange is a free agent who can set whatever prices he wishes. If I exchange a rusty 1979 Honda Civic for your $9000, are you being defrauded? If you think someone is not giving you enough dollar for bit coin, or vice versa, then you find someone else. Exchanges working with ordinary currencies have a spread. They buy for a little less an sell for a little more. If the spread is too high, traders will go elsewhere. A gaping loophole in digital currency would be this: that someone can issue counterfeit money without detection.
    – Kaz
    Mar 22, 2013 at 9:45
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    It seems to me that you should ask this question to an economist, not a skeptic. What "empirical studies" can be made on this?
    – Sklivvz
    Apr 1, 2013 at 22:59
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    @Ian: I understand you being nervous about BitCoin, but I don't think this is a good example. What this person is describing is not a scam. It is simply setting the price on a commodity they are selling, which is not only legal but a fundamental part of capitalism. It is like complaining that dishonest shopkeepers are raising their prices because people are willing to pay more. There is no real claim here to answer.
    – Oddthinking
    Apr 2, 2013 at 0:11

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