Ankit Kumar Singh


A Primer on How to Identify Fake ICOs

The Ultimate 7-Pointer guide to identifying the scammers

If you have been following the startup news for a while you must have heard that the VC circuit has been taken by storm with the introduction of Initial Coin Offerings a.k.a ICOs. Through ICOs , startups have been able to raise more than $2 Billion Dollars in the past 6 months alone.

Seems a very big number. Right? Not in the world of ICOs. :P

It’s probably the easiest way to raise money as for an entrepreneur overcoming all the biases that they usually face while trying to go for other methods of funding i.e Venture Capital and Crowdfunding. You can read more about it here. All you need to have is a product which people like, a white paper(A document that outlines road map of your startup), and you are all set raise $20 Million in 30 seconds. (Yep, Possible.)


Human Beings have a tendency to circumvent the rules of every paradigm.

And ICOs are no different.

If you are following the ICOs scene closely, then you must have come across Empire Card ICO .

According to the discussions on various platforms, The ICO was declared fake by many analysts. But it’s just one of the many upcoming ones(Fake ones, mate. )

And like me, If you are really oriented towards investing in ICOs then you should keep a tab on which ICOs are legit ones and which ones are fake.

If you are a regular ICO investor or a newbie looking to investing in any upcoming ICOs, Here is your 7-Pointer guide to identifying the fake ones:-


Startups are genetically ambitious.

But, How about a 6 months old startup which plans to start generating $1 Million in revenue in 3 months or phrases like “No Loss, Only Profit”, “10,000% Profit Ratio” on their flashy website?

Seems a little fishy, Doesn’t it?

It is.

Any startup which plans to have 1 Million DAUs in 3 months or a SaaS startup which assumes Zero Churn rate while doing its calculations or something similar in their Whitepaper is very much a candidate for a counterfeit ICO.

You need to do a comprehensive review of their goals, and how they actually plan to utilize funds allotted to them because if you don’t, there are too many startups out there to scam you.

Founders & Advisers

Another thing that is common with every fake ICO out there is that they put up pictures of people who are not even related to the projects.

Only your research can save you here. For now, Go to Empire Token website and take a look at their members’ profiles. They haven’t provided any links so you will have to copy paste the names into Google search bar and you will be surprised to find that these people don’t exist virtually on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

This is a major indicator that the ICO is a fake one.

Do this search for every ICO you plan to invest in to make correct and informed decisions.

Founders’ Credibility

Let’s assume that founders are very active and vocal on social media about their product. But what if they aren’t capable of doing what they have promised in their Whitepaper?

That’s where you come in. Obviously, There is no way of predicting the success of a startup, but at least you can verify what these people are saying about themselves is true by checking their profiles and what kind of people they are connected to,which people have recommended them etc.

This factor should be given an important weight-age while doing the research if you actually wish to make money out of your investment.


Most of the startups who are about to come up with their ICOs put up their code repositories on GitHub. Before investing, go ahead and check if that is actually something good or 5000 lines of code which actually mean nothing.

If you are not a Tech guy, Get the help of a techie friend to help you out in this part.

This part is very critical to evaluation of ICOs.


Another part of evaluation of ICOs is their playbook a.k.a Whitepaper.

If the only thing that you see in a whitepaper is flashy keywords without no actual meaning, it’s time to close the tab and start researching for some other ICO to invest in.

Online Forums

One thing that you should not forget to check on is what people are talking about the ICO which you are interested. If you have any doubt, you can simply put an open ended question on the forum asking people their opinions.

All the discussions here will be a great indicator about the ICO being an authentic one.

You can go to Bitcoin Talk or Reddit for such information.

But there are people who buy up fake BTC and Reddit accounts. Be aware of that. :)

Compromised Escrow

Escrow is basically a service or a wallet that holds coins for their customers until a certain deal is completed. The vendor gets the funds once the task for the client is finished. If the job is not finished, the money will be returned to the client.

Make sure the startup is using the top Escrow service only. If it’s not, it can be a good indicator about the ICO being a non-authentic one.

In the end, I would like to say that this is not a perfect technique for determining the authenticity of an ICO but some major tick boxes for you to check to ensure a degree of confidence in your investment.

And no matter how alert you remain, there will be a few people in coming times who will con even the smartest of you but as the market matures, the probability of an ICO being a fraudulent one will decrease and ultimately reach a null value.

Good Luck with your investments 😄

Thanks for reading. 😄 If you liked it, You can show your appreciation through claps 👏 .

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