SEC Educates Investors by Launching Fake Crypto Site

17 May, 2018, 09:42 | Author: Arnold Perez
  • The fake website set up by the Securities and Exchange Commission contains many of the elements — including a countdown timer — that cryptocurrency scams use to pressure consumers

But please don't expect the SEC to fly you anywhere exotic-because the offer isn't real.

The website's name, HoweyCoins, is a bit of an Easter egg-a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Howey test that's used to determine whether a transaction is an investment contract.

Okay, that's not actually true, but the agency has constructed a clever campaign meant to teach investors how to identify ICO scams - and troll the fraudsters who continue to operate them. It features a countdown clock showing how much time is left to get in on the discounts and outlines different levels of investment against images of tropical islands and foaming champagne.

The HoweyCoins site even comes sprinkled with a group of employees and celebrity promoters.

In 2017 the regulator established a dedicated cyber unit to combat fintech and cyber-related crimes.

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"We've recently seen fraudsters pretending to be involved in blockchain technology, initial coin offerings, and crypto-currencies", the Commission says on its landing page. The agency which regulates financial contracts in the United States launched its own Initial Coin Offering today, complete with an unintelligible white paper, an attractive "investment ladder", and outlandish returns of 2 percent per day.

Howeycoins arrived after a tense period of mixed signals from the US' lead financial regulator, and SEC Chairman Jay Clayton has repeatedly warned investors against cryptocurrencies and exchanges.

The page then continues to outline the red-flags the SEC planted on the HoweyCoins' site to demonstrate the false advertising practices that many scam projects employ to rope in investors.

At the very least, the campaign is a novel attempt to educate investors of the widespread risks of investing in an unregulated market. Others are more subtle-like the warning against investing with credit cards. "We created the bogus HoweyCoins.com site as an educational tool to alert investors to possible fraud involving digital assets like crypto-currencies and coin offerings". "We embrace new technologies, but we also want investors to see what fraud looks like, so we built this educational site with numerous classic warning signs of fraud. I encourage investors to do their diligence and ask questions".

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