SEC Launches its Own Fake ICO as Warning to Investors
17 May, 2018, 09:38
"The SEC Has an Opportunity You Won't Want to Miss: Act Now!", the title for an official press release for a fraudulent coin offering from the SEC reads.
On Wednesday, the SEC launched a mock ICO called HoweyCoin, after the Howey test (the test used to determine whether something is a security or not). At first glance, the website looks very similar to any ICO website.
HoweyCoin even has endorsements from athletes, social media influences, and other celebrities who are obviously the top authorities on the quality of the underlying technology.
The SEC has done its part to combat ICO fraud. The project also comes with it's own legit-looking whitepaper, as well. We've recently seen fraudsters pretending to be involved in blockchain technology, initial coin offerings, and crypto-currencies - when really they are simply operating scams created to take investors' hard-earned money.
Howeycoins arrived after a tense period of mixed signals from the US' lead financial regulator, and SEC Chairman Jay Clayton has repeatedly warned investors against cryptocurrencies and exchanges.
In a nice twist, users pressing the "Buy Coins Now" button or attempting to sign up to the newsletter, are instead directed to page at another SEC site - that one with investor education tools and tips.
The page then continues to outline the red-flags the SEC planted on the HoweyCoins' site to demonstrate the false advertising practices that many scam projects employ to rope in investors.
"The website features several of the enticements that are common to fraudulent offerings, including a white paper with a complex yet vague explanation of the investment opportunity, promises of guaranteed returns, and a countdown clock that shows time is quickly running out on the deal of a lifetime", the SEC said in a statement. "We embrace new technologies, but we also want investors to see what fraud looks like, so we built this educational site with numerous classic warning signs of fraud". "It's great that they're educating investors and not just bring (sic) paternalistic, and it's creative too, which I wouldn't have expected", Trevor Koverko, chief executive of Polymath told The Wall Street Journal.
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