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"

Failed ICO Goes on Sale on eBay for $60,000

Omar Faridi
  • Decentralized crypto project Sponsy now selling on eBay for $60,000. 
  • Project founder admits project does not require a blockchain and only needs "simple client-server model."

Sponsy, a blockchain-based platform that was being developed to help sponsors engage with their clients in a decentralized manner, has reportedly made its way to eBay, a leading e-commerce and online auctions site.

Sponsy’s developers are now reportedly trying to sell their failed blockchain project and idea on eBay - with bids starting at $60,000. This, after the project’s founders attempted to raise millions of dollars for it, an initiative that still does not have a clearly defined product or project roadmap.

Sponsy's Founders "Call It Quits"

As reported by ZeroHedge, the project's leaders seemed to have “called it quits” and they’ve listed their company on the e-commerce website for what now seems to be a paltry $60,000 - when compared to the millions they were planning to raise through an initial coin offering (ICO) in late 2017.

In statements shared with the Financial Times, Ivan Komar, a member of Sponsy’s founding team said it was normal for blockchain projects without working products to acquire millions in funding due to the “crypto mania” - which saw digital asset prices reach all-time highs towards the end of 2017.

However, Komar’s lawyer reportedly suggested at the time he shouldn't seek funding for Sponsy via an ICO until the company had either developed the product itself or at least created a compelling proof-of-concept.

In a transcript presented to the news outlet, Komar revealed what he believes went wrong with the Sponsy project, which was conceived during the historic crypto market bull run. Komar argued: 

We hired a lawyer and that was a big mistake for us. Because our lawyer basically told us that we should not launch any ICO before we built a real product that might have some users. And I asked him why, because I saw so many ICOs out there who did not have any idea for any product, yet they managed to raise tens of millions of dollars.

Should ICOs Launch Without a Working Product?

Acknowledging that his lawyer may have meant well as it was not the best strategy, from the customer’s point of view, to raise funds through an ICO before introducing a working product, Komar noted it would have been beneficial to seek funding when the market was booming.

Commenting on how his firm would have approached things differently if given a similar opportunity again, Komar stated:

We would not have tried to build a product first, we would have tried to run a token sale as soon as possible, to jump into this crypto craze bandwagon, and raise as much money as possible before building any product. And that’s exactly what others were doing.

Instead of capitalizing on the potential investment opportunities presented during the bull market, Komar says he now regrets having waited until mid-2018 to raise funds. By that time, consumer and investor interest in the market waned as capital began to flee from the fragile crypto ecosystem.

Sponsy Didn't Need a Blockchain, Founder Admits

Explaining how his platform will be implemented, assuming an investor with a large research and development (R&D) budget decides to invest in it, Komar told ZeroHedge:

The core business model would run just as well in the centralized world without any tokens or crypto or blockchain. They can easily eliminate the crypto functionality out of this. The core component is a platform. It doesn’t require any crypto or blockchain component to work. Just a typical, centralized server.

According to Komar, $60,000 is a very reasonable demand for his project and that it’s worth at least $200,000 - if not more. There are now reportedly four days remaining for the bid to close on eBay. Currently, there are no bids that have been placed on the project and it also does not have any watchers.