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REVEALED: 10 Biggest ICO Scams Swindled $687.4 million

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Initial Coin Offerings are one of the most tempting investment options for those hoping to profit from the ever-evolving world of cryptocurrency. However, the lack of regulation has allowed ICO investors to become targets of sneaky schemes.

Though ICOs have snowballed, with more than 750 being invested in during 2018 alone, the number of scams has also steadily risen, with more victims of fraud falling prey to cryptocurrency criminals.

Following Satis Group’s revelation that approximately 80 percent of 2017 ICOs were identified scams, new data from Fortune Jack has found that just ten of the most high-profile ICO scams have swindled $687.4 million from unsuspecting investors.

In fact, Pincoin and iFan scam stole $660 million, with an estimated 32,000 investors falling prey to the money-making plot from Modern Tech.

As cryptocurrency continues to dominate headlines, more investors are pouring cash into ICO schemes in the hope of turning a quick profit. And with more than 150 scams listed on popular website Deadcoins, it’s easy to see how inexperienced ISO investors are being suckered.

The losses have become so prevalent that the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) launched its own ISO scam in a bid to show investors how easy it is to set up such schemes.

The top ten most notorious ICO scams to date

Scam name Amount of money scammed ($)
Pincoin and iFan 660,000,000
Plexcoin 15,000,000
Bitcard 5,000,000
Opair and Ebitz 2,900,000
Benebit 2,700,000
Bitconnect 700,000
Confido 375,000
REcoin and DRC 300,000
Ponzicoin 250,000
Karbon 200,000

 

Despite the SEC warning that ICOs “bring an increased risk of fraud and manipulation” due to the lack of regulation, the number of ICOs, as well as the amount invested, has increased over the past year.

biggest ICO scams

In 2017 $6,240,046,555 was raised across 371 ICOs. However, in 2018 a staggering $20,074,423,238 has been raised across 789 ICOs to date.

This reveals a 222% increase in the amount raised in 2018 so far, compared to the full year of 2017. Additionally, there is a 113% increase in the number of ICOs in 2018 so far compared to 2017.

If Satis Group’s suggestion that almost 80% of 2017’s ICOs were identified scams is correct, 297 ICOs in 2017 may have been fraudulent. If this trend was to continue in 2018, 631 ICOs could be fraudulent.

Despite such shocking statistics, ICOs remain a relatively popular investment in 2018, with $20.1 billion being invested into ICOs so far.

The amount invested in ICOs in 2018 to date

Month Money invested ($)
January 1,985,750,821
February 1,660,013,613
March 4,173,112,271
April 1,268,948,460
May 1,985,596,961
June 5,778,213,703
July 809,577,207
August 989,375,043
September 1,423,835,159

 

So, what are the red flags that may alert you to an ISO scam? The following were present in the most high-profile incidents:

  • Silence from companies when contacted by investors
  • Lack of a whitepaper and inconsistencies on the ISO website
  • Fake Linkedin Profiles of “the team” with stock images or stolen photos
  • Any text humourous or otherwise outlining a scam
  • Promise of fixed profit or guaranteed ROI

This guest contribution was provided by Fortune Jack

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Emerging Markets More Likely to Adopt Cryptocurrencies from Global Brands, Luno Study Says

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A new study by digital asset exchange Luno indicates that emerging markets are more likely to adopt cryptocurrencies from global brands. This finding was collected from a survey called the ‘Future of Money’ carried out between May 17, 2019, and June 7, 2019. The survey interviewed over 7000 respondents from Nigeria, South Africa, the United Kingdom, France, Indonesia, Italy, and Malaysia.

Emerging Markets, the Future of Money and Libra

According to the ‘Future of Money’ survey, the early adopters of cryptocurrencies are likely to come from emerging markets. The findings, therefore, show a close connection between emerging markets and the future of money confirming the view that those with “less appear to take greater financial risks.”

For instance, more respondents from Nigeria and South Africa than in the UK said a single global currency would make the current financial system better.

African man with smartphoneThese results come at a time when Facebook recently announced that it will introduce Libra, a new digital currency in 2020. The aim of Libra is to help people make financial transactions online, especially in emerging markets where banks are not servicing the population as well as they should be.

Luno’s CEO Marcus Swanepoel said: “As some of the world’s largest tech giants announce they are launching cryptocurrency coins, we believe developing markets will be the lead adopters. Our research shows that in these markets people are more financially savvy because they have to be, which means that they need and understand the benefits the new coins can offer.”

To further show why the future of money could have a greater impact on emerging markets, data from the survey indicated that 33 percent people in Indonesia are more likely to remain within a set budget compared to 0 percent in the UK.

Additionally, the number of people that establish a monthly budget is 80 percent in Malaysia, 65 percent in Nigeria, 73 percent in South Africa, 74 percent in Indonesia, and 54 percent in the UK. Asked why money is crucial to them, the respondents said it was to secure their families’ well-being (60 percent) and to pay for education.  This answer was given by 25 percent of the respondents from Nigeria compared to 8 percent in the UK.

Luno is a global cryptocurrency company headquartered in London and offices in South Africa.

Grassroots Adoption

Crypto adoption will probably take place at the grassroots level than at the institutional level, Swanepoel observed. He based this argument on the findings that most people from emerging markets will probably seek financial advice from family, friends, and colleagues than from government organisations.

“It is very clear that if money is not simply a ‘nice to have’ and is vital for your future, then you spend more time understanding it, managing it, preserving it and to an extent being creative with how you maximise the use of it. Therefore, if a cryptocurrency can provide a secure and cheaper means of exchanging value better than the existing system, it will be used. This is why we believe that as new cryptocurrencies linked to global brands are introduced, they will find an important audience in emerging markets,” Swanepoel added.

Luno’s study paints a clear picture of what the future of money could look like. However, certain factors such as Internet connectivity could inhibit the fast adoption of crypto in developing markets.

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PIVX Announces Launch of PIVX Foundation at UN’s Blockchain for Impact Summit

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PIVX announced the official launch of the PIVX Foundation at the UN’s second Blockchain for Impact Summit held in New York on June 4, 2019. The summit, which focuses on how blockchain technology can be used to drive the achievement of sustainable development goals, was led by the United Nations’ Blockchain Sustainability Commission.

The PIVX Foundation

Bryan Doreian, the PIVX Global Ambassador and Co-Founder of the PIVX Foundation, made the announcement to his fellow delegates during the summit.

“The launch of the PIVX Foundation, an independent non-profit focused on supporting PIVX and the larger blockchain ecosystem, provides a massive opportunity for PIVX to grow. Donors can now leverage charitable contributions (charitable contributions can offset taxes they might otherwise be paying) – AND help support the PIVX ecosystem at the same time. This is a major win for community members who may have been donating to fund projects through PIVX in the past without a charity tax receipt,” he said.

The PIVX Foundation is a registered charity, an extension of the PIVX community, and a component of the SDG Impact Fund, a donor-advised fund in support of UN’s SDGs. The Foundation’s mission is to leverage innovation to create impact.

best PIVX walletsPIVX is a community-focused cryptocurrency that operates as a decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO), which means that it is run by the people, for the people. The PIVX Foundation will be run in the same way.

The community makes monthly donations when the treasury budget is not enough to cover a project’s needs. Donors will now start receiving tax benefits for the money they contribute.

According to a published statement from the PIVX Foundation, a generous community is presently funding the Foundation and its governance is under the PIVX community. “In order to receive the budget to fund impact development programs, grant applications will need to run through the PIVX Proposal system and be voted on by the community to ensure the SDGs maintain top priority for all funded initiatives,” the statement explained.

The PIVX Foundation is run using the PIVX currency, PIV. This means that donors contribute in PIV to help fund projects.  As the first cryptocurrency-driven foundation within the SDG Impact Fund, PIVX has a place at the UN as a top impact technology.

The First Project

The PIVX Foundation will fund the first project in collaboration with Vendible and the SDG Impact Fund. Doreian will be leading this project with the aim of developing a payments processor with zero-fees on transactions, hence eliminating the three to seven percent processing costs associated with traditional online charitable platforms.

“Since the PIVX Foundation is a sub-component of the SDG Impact Fund, it is already taking part in leveraging its resources and insights to help build out some novel charitable donation platforms including the payment rails for the SDG Impact Fund and all affiliated charities to accept crypto donations. All of this will be of incredible use for the philanthropic realms, as well as more tangibly align blockchain with charity, putting PIVX in the central focus,” Doreian elaborated.

The announcement of the PIVX Foundation launch comes after the project introduced an iOS wallet app, an important step to increasing the adoption of the PIVX currency.

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South Africa’s Xago Deploys RippleNet in its Gateway to Boost Financial Inclusion

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Xago, a money transfer startup that aims to increase financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa, has announced the integration of RippleNet to its gateway.

The Xago Gateway

The South Africa-based fintech company has deployed RippleNet to its gateway to enable local and international fiat currency and digital asset transfer. RippleNet is a blockchain-based global payments network that is made up of payment providers, banks, and financial institutions launched by San Francisco-based Ripple.

According to Xago, the users of its payments platform will be able to access the transfer and exchange of digital assets via the XRP ledger. Additionally, the integration of RippleNet to the Xago gateway will enable customers to exchange the South African Rand for XRP.

“Xago uses the XRP Ledger as a distributed exchange where users can exchange XRP for ZAR,” said Xago.

The Xago gateway provides an entry point to the Ripple Network where customers can enjoy low-cost cross-border payments, instant payments, frictionless transfers, and transparent transactions.

Xago’s gateway is built for businesses while Ripple’s payments network is an enterprise blockchain solution. The Xago gateway acts as a connection between market makers and customers.

How it Works

XagoTo register to use the gateway, both businesses and individuals will need to undergo a KYC process. Xago also uses a third-party service provider to ensure that the platform is compliant with the Financial Intelligence Centre Act regulations.

Xago acts as both an issuing gateway and a private exchange with the gateway offering “a way for money and other forms of value to move in and out of the XRP ledger.”

Xago’s withdrawal fees are fixed at ZAR 8.50 while transaction fees vary with market prices. All fees are quoted for customers once an order is placed.

Boosting Financial Inclusion to the Unbanked

Xago said it picked RippleNet for its gateway because the network offers low-cost, secure, transparent, and instant payments to the unbanked, according to a report by TodaysGazette. The move could boost Xago’s goal of increasing access to financial services through technologies such as mobile phones to the unbanked.

According to data from the World Bank, 66 percent of the Sub-Saharan African population does not have access to financial services. However, mobile money is driving financial inclusion in the region with the number of adults holding mobile money accounts doubling to 21 percent. That could mean that mobile phones could be the key to driving financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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