In 1991, Albania transitioned from communism to a free market economy with few institutions. Most crypto acolytes want a government-free fraudsters paradise. Several development “funds” offered to invest retail money in building companies and infrastructure. Investors stepped in because they promised large yields with insignificant risk. These funds were accounting-wise bankrupt from the outset. Without other revenue, liabilities exceed assets. Regular recruiting and promotion are required. Investors were promised big returns, like in any pyramid scheme. Early investors profit from later investment in a pyramid scheme. Complex accounting and business structure mask low returns. Later investors are enticed by cherry-picked anecdotes about early investors’ returns while ignoring the scheme’s macro cash flows. Late investors discover the scheme’s bankruptcy when they withdraw their money. Scammers quickly flee with the remaining money, leaving victims. In Albania, government employees ran many scams promising basic financial services in a developing country with limited amenities. Two-thirds of the population and 10% of the GDP invested in pyramid schemes in 1997. To attract in the last few victims, the schemes promised 40%/month income. The corrupt administration’s silence about the schemes reinforced their legitimacy. The enterprises were thinly camouflaged pyramid schemes that solicited public funds until crashing. Scammers took the remaining cash. Scam victims rioted and demanded for their money. These protests killed 2,000. Ten initiatives collapsed overnight, followed by the economy and government. Albania was in turmoil and anarchy. Albania shows what can happen when a country follows economically unsustainable policies. Unchecked rumors are disastrous. Systemic bubbles lock up more money than productive enterprise. Competent administration, good regulation, and a financially savvy public can calm popular excitement before pyramid schemes threaten economies and markets. Investors will fight for legalization. Believers. You must believe. Uninformed investors rationalize anything offering free money with emotion, not facts. Albania’s 1996-1997 history resembles the damage caused by pyramid schemes. Investment fraud harms lives, economy, and nation-states if left unchecked. Albania’s pyramid schemes are a warning about the crypto bubble’s unregulated future.