Anton Cherkasov

@aworker

How to create a Scam ICO? (and not be deceived by one)

Recently we have been faced with an unexpected incident — our project was copied. It was flattering for the first five seconds. After that, we decided to tell everyone about the marvelous scheme that was used on us to create a scam project.

Let’s start from the beginning.

2018 began with the vast excitement for Aworker team: we worked with the first partners, discussed features of the developing application. January 16, our PR manager found the administrator of crypto-related groups on Facebook. The guy offered to pin the post about our news in more than 160 Facebook pages. The price was reasonable too. Even with the latest Facebook announcement about blocking blockchain-related ads, our post looked legit because we don’t ensure and don’t promise anything to our contributors. Not speaking about asking for funds (we found several Telegram channels with our names and photos, but let’s save identity fraud for another story). All in all, the offer seemed to be a great opportunity for us to widen the number of people who know about Aworker. Sounds fantastic, isn’t it?

Well, it wasn’t even close to what we expected. Firstly, we arrange the start of a promotional campaign to the February 2. The guy stopped replying for a week. Things happen, right? But it was only the first sign.

When he came back, we arranged the start to February 12. He explained that he was in a hospital and could not respond because he wasn’t feeling good and there was a weak Wi-Fi signal. But that was the second sign.

As you might have guessed, for the next week we haven’t heard from this guy.

This could be another sad story about the offer in words without any confirmation. Don’t start pitying us; we didn’t give him a penny. Moreover, this is not the end of the story.

Around St. Valentines Day we stumbled upon a post on his Facebook page.

We were shocked. This was a re-written description of Aworker that we previously sent him!

  • We found and agreed with the administrator of the blockchain-related pages about placing our advertisement in his 160 Facebook pages;
  • We sent him banners and information about the project;
  • The admin didn’t respond for two weeks, after the discussion he disappeared for another week and answered only when another team member connected him, allegedly the hospital is one of the reasons;
  • Finally, the publication was scheduled for February 12;
  • On February 12, he continued to ignore messages, BUT a few days later banners about new startup appeared in his communities. It is like two peas in a pod similar to our project! Suspicious, isn’t it? We began to study this project further.

What’s more interesting, we found several other signs of the scam project that we’d like to share with you to prevent the usage of at least this scheme.

It looks like a scam project. Why? Let’s see

1. Website

According to the Roadmap, the site was created only February 12, the day we agreed to start a promotional campaign. I do not believe in coincidences. Do you? Whitelist registration started four days after that. The ICO starts on March 4; it’s 10 days after the whitelist opening, I mean, they probably don’t sleep at all and have 40 people working on it. What an ambitious team, we thought. But it felt odd, so we continued looking at the site.

2. Team

It is necessary to see the ICO team to discover more about the project.

As I mentioned earlier, with the rate of development that they have, it must be a big, strong team of professionals who know how to launch an ICO for a short period. Imagine my surprise when I learned that the team includes only five people. Interesting fact: they didn’t write their second names.

However, in 29 pages Whitepaper, they claim to have 30+ people in the team. Let’s look at the core team first:

  • Telegram channel of Head of Development, Head of Development, who worked at several Social Media Projects;
  • XING Profile of Head of Advisory in which there’s no information about the new project (as well as on Linkedin);
  • No links to the Head of Communication (absurdly fun, no ways to communicate with this guy!);
  • CTO and Co-founder of the startup in London without connections to other team members and the project;
  • Senior Software Engineer & AI-Blockchain Expert as a developer without any data of the new project too.

You’re not going to believe me, but one of them is our ‘Facebook pages’ administrator who agreed to publish our ad on the pages he admins.

3. Social Networks

Facebook page

Facebook page has more than 1.200 followers, highly active postings. For the first sight, it looks fine. Let’s take a look at the older posts. For instance, from November 29, 2017.

Admin uses ‘Crypto Agent Bot’ as a name of a project. He claims that they are the team of analysts and traders with the enormous experience in the crypto world. They even promise 1000 BTC in one year. Wow! But it confuses me because I’m no longer sure that they create job marketplace.

Several weeks after that they updated the cover picture to the one related to another project ‘Moonlite.’

I’m even more confused now.

How did this happen? Remember that administrator who admins more than 160 pages? He just took one of the pages and renamed it into his new project! Thanks to this step, he had 1.282 subscribers on the page and a great history of posts. Therefore, a new and unsuspecting visitor might think that this is a living project. Do you think a real startup will do that?

Twitter

Twitter account created February 12. Today (21/02/18) it has 17 followers. I’d like to remind you that only one day left before the presale. ICO starts on March 4, 11 days from today. Is this look convincing to you?

Telegram

Let’s take a look at the Telegram now. On the website there is a link to the official Telegram channel. It turns out to be a bigger story behind it; I’ll tell you more about it later. We also found a chat dedicated to the project with 5 members. It looks like only core team members were invited in the conversation, not even the whole team mentioned in Whitepaper. It’s February 20, guys, two days before the presale, ICO will start on March 4. Telegram channel with 5 people in it less than two weeks before ICO, do you think it is the real project?

Let’s go back to the Telegram channel. On 20th February there were 402 members. On the next day…1545 members! More than one thousand subscribers in only one day.

20/02/18

21/02/18

I haven’t seen that traction in Telegram even on Remme (one of the biggest Telegram community), DMarket, Universa and other successful projects’ communities. At the same time, the number of post viewers dropped from 300 to 98. All this suggests that the Telegram channel of this startup is not consists of real investors.

BitcoinTalk

I just leave the comments from people on the BitcoinTalk thread here.

I think we can stop right here. I’d like to take a moment to remind you that the guy we reached a month ago disappeared several times and all the data above was created the same week. I thought I was productive; now I know there’s still a lot to work on.

All in all, cryptocurrency market is new, and it’s not surprising that a lot of people are afraid of it and claim it’s all a ‘giant lie.’

Red flags:

  • No KYC for the Whitepaper Members
  • No prototype in 4 days before ICO
  • No advisors
  • No official partners
  • No surnames of the team members
  • Telegram group has only 5 people (probably, the core team is here)
  • Big money in a short time

Startups should be careful with promotional channels because you never know who is going to be your copycats.

For potential investors, it’s not easy to detect a scam startup. You can always conduct your own research and decide whether it’s worth your time and money or not. On the other hand, there’s a new initiative ‘No scam Startups’ which is aimed to evaluate teams that get ready for ICO to find out how transparent they are and do they really want to build a legitimate business on the blockchain.

Experts from the industry, who have already finished the ICO or who know a lot of them (bloggers, advisors) evaluate the teams and find out Who Is Who in the market. Let’s stand up together against scammers to make the market more transparent!

The real teams have nothing to worry about because the evaluation will demonstrate the real people behind computer screens. ‘No Scam Startups’ creates a trust from visitors and investors to the projects and finds frauders to stop them before anyone could send their money to them.

Scammers, you better watch out!

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