OPINION: SEC Trolls ICO Scammers


There are some people who you expect to rickroll you — friends, close family, and web-savvy marketers — but a market regulator is at the bottom of most people’s lists.

However, the US Securities and Exchange Commission had done just that: It has trolled the entire initial-coin-offering community with the launch of its Howey Coins website.

Whoever is responsible for the design of the site did an amazing job creating the website and its supporting documentation.

The authors of the eight-page white paper that describes how the Howey Coin will revolutionalize the travel and tourism industry and will accrue in value penned it as if no lawyer or copy editor reviewed it.

The document’s first sentence sets the feel from the rest of the white paper: “The Internet is a global network connecting individuals and entities around the world.”

Josh Hinze,
Howey Coins

The authors likewise peppered it heavily with the common crypto and libertarian arguments against fiat currencies and how the coin’s backers have exclusive agreements with “a number of large, well-known travel service providers—international hotel and resort brands, airlines, travel industry-related comparison websites, car rental companies and on-demand online car services, large chain restaurants located in travel hotspots, and travel activity providers such as tour companies and equipment rentals (e.g., diving, bicycles, kayaks, etc.), among others.”

Of course, a non-disclosure agreement with their partners prevent the backers from identifying them until the successful conclusion of the ICO.

The website includes every possible red flag for investors-n the promise of guaranteed profits, the acceptance of credit card payments, and celebrity endorsements to name a few.

Regarding celebrity endorsements, the site includes very thinly veiled references to Floyd Mayweather, DJ Khaled, and Paris Hilton, all who have had issues resulting from their previous crypto endorsements.

If visitors click on any of the site’s links to purchase coins, request further information, or contact the backers, the site forwards them to an investor education page listing the tell-tale signs of financial frauds.

Howey Coins is a beautiful honey pot, but the information age has ruined its potential effectiveness. Anyone researching Howey Coins on Google will find the site’s URL sandwiched between page after page of press coverage on the site’s launch.

The only question left regarding Howey Coins is how long it will be before someone appropriates the idea and tries to launch a similar coin in earnest?

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