SEC Launches its Own Fake ICO as Warning to Investors

Avi Rosten
  • The SEC's very own coin named "HoweyCoin" comes complete with a website featuring a team, testimonials and a whitepaper
  • The regulator hopes the fake coin will educate would-be investors about fraudulent ICOs

The SEC (The US Securities and Exchange commission) has today announced an intriguing new initiative designed to educate investors about fraudulent ICOs.

The regulator has launched its own ICO - HoweyCoin - complete with a website showcasing the ICO pre-sale, team, whitepaper - and even tweets touting the potential of the new coin.

The coin aims to revolutionize the travel business, explaining that most travel businesses need “processing, centralized currency and…nickel and dime fees that add up to literally billions.”

Howeycoin differs, however, because:

“HoweyCoins utilize the latest crypto-technology to allow travelers to purchase all segments without these limitations, allowing HoweyCoin users to buy, sell, and trade in a frictionless environment – where they use HoweyCoins to purchase travel OR as a government-backed, freely tradable investment – or both!”

HoweyCoin

The twist is that HoweyCoin is fake - and users who try and invest in the sale are redirected to the SEC’s educational site which reads:

“If You Responded To An Investment Offer Like This, You Could Have Been Scammed – HoweyCoins Are Completely Fake!”

SEC

Presumably named after the legal “Howey test” that the SEC uses to determine whether a financial instrument is a security, the ICO claims that investors can expect to receive 1-2% returns and offers token sale discounts to early investors alongside pictures of exotic locations.

In a press release, the SEC explained that the whitepaper included on the site was designed to mimic other whitepapers, and features:

“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."

SEC

While many within the crypto world regularly express their discontent with regulatory bodies and see them as stifling the industry, this latest move from the SEC will no doubt serve as an important warning to would-be investors, and might at least raise a smile from the regulator’s detractors.

Featured Image Credit: "Securities and Exchange Commission" by "Scott S" via Flickr; licensed under "CC BY 2.0"

Former OneCoin Investor Files Lawsuit Against Alleged Billion Dollar Pyramid Scheme

Christine Grablis, a former OneCoin investor, has reportedly filed a lawsuit against the promoters of an allegedly fraudulent cryptocurrency-related pyramid scheme.

As alleged in court documents filed by Grablis’ attorney on May 7th, 2019, the founders of OneCoin “created a multi-billion dollar ‘cryptocurrency’ company based completely on lies and deceit.”

Nothing More Than “Smoke And Mirrors”

However, OneCoin was nothing more than a pyramid scheme “based on smoke and mirrors more than zeroes and ones,” the court papers stated. Grablis is now seeking damages as a class action lawsuit has been filed - which includes other investors who also claim they were defrauded by OneCoin founders Mark Scott, Konstantin Ignatova, and Ruja Ignatova.

Ignatov Charged With “Wire Fraud, Securities Fraud, Money Laundering”

Other defendants in the Grablis v. OneCoin Ltd. lawsuit include Sebastian Greenwood, the global Master Distributor of OneCoin who was taken into police custody by the Criminal Suppression Division in November 2018 in Thailand.

As confirmed in court documents, Konstantin, who is Ruja’s younger brother, was charged on March 6th, 2019 with “wire fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering offenses for his management of, and involvement with, OneCoin Ltd.” Ruja has now also been charged by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York for the same offenses.

According to court papers, Scott is a licensed attorney who has been accused of misusing his legal expertise to launder funds collected by OneCoin Ltd through various hedge funds. Greenwood has been identified in the lawsuit as the co-founder and “public face” of OneCoin Ltd.

Silver Miller Law Firm Requests Other Affected Investors To Join Lawsuit

On March 7th, 2019, the law offices of Silver Miller, had commended a class action lawsuit on “behalf of individuals and entities who contributed cryptocurrency or fiat currency to OneCoin, Ltd.,” which is referred to as a “$4 billion Ponzi scheme” in court papers. Those affected by OneCoin’s allegedly fraudulent scheme may serve as lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, however they must inform the Court “no later than July 8th, 2019,” Silver Miller’s press release noted.

Between the last quarter of 2014 and the third quarter of 2016, the founders of OneCoin had reportedly raised around $3.7 billion in total revenue from sales. They had also earned “profits” of around $2.5 billion.

Commenting on the matter last month, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., a New York County District Attorney, remarked:

These defendants executed an old-school pyramid scheme on a new-school platform, compromising the integrity of New York’s financial system and defrauding investors out of billions.