Vitalik Buterin has issued a warning about scam ICOs after he was listed as a team member for a highly suspicious blockchain project.
The project was flagged by a user on Reddit, with Buterin moving quickly to react on Wednesday on his Twitter feed to highlight the issue.
In this instance, the project in question is named ‘Othor’ though its website has since gone offline. A promotional video on YouTube appeared to be an edited version of a video from an already existing, bona fide project.
Invented Team Members
In addition, it appears the team members were simply invented – with one profile picture thought to be that of a French teacher in Pennsylvania, USA, implying identity theft.
Although not strictly the first, Ethereum is sometimes described as the original ICO and its success has since led to other blockchain companies adopting a similar fundraising model.
However, the large sums being raised by token sales are also attracting an increasing number of con artists. In December, Canadian Dominic Lacroix was indicted for a $15 million ICO scam in relation to the fictitious PlexCoin project.
ICOs are not yet explicitly regulated, and in practice anyone with a website, an Ethereum wallet and a dupe white-paper can con investors.
Buterin has lately been outspoken about the direction the crypto industry is taking. In December he threatened to leave the industry after tweeting that “crypto communities … need to differentiate between getting hundreds of billions of dollars of digital paper wealth … and actually achieving something meaningful for society.”