At FundYourselfNow, we review a lot of ICO projects on a daily basis. Even as professional ICO reviewers, the ingenuity of the scammers who run these schemes amazes us sometimes. These guys are adept at manipulating the emotions of investors, creating urgency and false sense of security.
Here are some of the red flags that you should take note of:
Flag 1: Beware of over-usage of buzzwords for the ICO
Scam ICOs like to confuse the backers by including lots of buzzwords, like blockchain, AI, marketplace or even invent their own terms when not needed. They also tend to promise investors outrageous returns that are too good to be true.
Bitconnect Ponzi Scheme -> Capital back after 120 days.
If you spend 10 minutes watching the ICO video and still have no idea what they are doing or how they are going to accomplish their goal, then it is probably something that we recommend you to strongly avoid.
Flag 2. Token sale & Subscribers are faked
Successful ICOs like to show their token sale progress by displaying their token sale address prominently, since it’s free marketing for them. Scam ICOs, on the other hand, tend to hide their token sale progress by giving individual contribution addresses so that no one knows how much is actually raised.
A common tactic involves giving your visitors a big “sold out” message to create a sense of urgency. What happens is that the ICO has already sold out in the presale and round A,B,C token sale. When you scroll down the bottom, Viola! You see see Round D token sale open now for you!
Token sale & Subscribers are faked
Another common tactic for pre-ICO is to inflate the number of subscribers to your ICO to create FOMO. I have seen ICOs who have claimed to have a few hundred thousand subscribers on their mailing list. An example is Plexcoin which was recently arrested and jailed by US SEC and Canadian Regulators.
Inflate the number of subscribers
You don’t need that many people for a successful ICOs, Kyber Network which raised 60 million only had 50,000 whitelisted participants. Getting 10,000 interested participants is more than enough for a 10 million fundraise.
Flag 3. Fake LinkedIn Profile, Fake Advisors
Many scam projects now make an effort to do up a proper linkedIn profile, so you have to scan their profiles carefully. Look at their experiences and see if they have relevant qualifications and check out the companies which they work at previously.
Some of them will make obvious mistakes such as an ICO founder who claimed had 20-year “working” experience although he is only 30 years old.
Scam ICOs also tend to use logos of big well known companies, for example Visa and Mastercard, Microsoft, or Apple. The more logos you see, the more cautious you should be.
Interestingly, this also seems to be the modus operandi for many big coins post-ICO nowadays by announcing “fake” partnership before their coin gets pumped. A recent case is IOTA, where the market cap quadrupled on the news of a fake microsoft partnership which they eventually clarified.
If there are advisors listed on the ICOs, especially the more famous ones, you should email them and confirm if they are indeed an advisor to the project. Vitalik, Founder of Ethereum, was listed as an “Advisor” or “Supporters” in so many ICOs that he had to come out to make an official statement that he is not advising any ICOs except OMG and Kyber Network.
Flag 4. Practice Makes Perfect!
No one can truly become an expert without actual practice of your professional scam hunting skills. Here’s a fun website http://yetanotherico.com where you can put the theory you learned to practice!
We hope that you have enjoyed this article.
If you liked this article, do leave your comments below and let us know what are the other ingenious ways you have seen!