SEC Launches Fake ICO to Educate People on Fraud

US Government Launches Scam Crypto Site

The website, HoweyCoins.com, uses numerous same sales tactics used by fraudulent ICOs. Generally, if something passes the Howey test, and is therefore considered a security, it is subject to SEC regulation. Named after the legal test for securities, the Swiftian token purports to be another improbable blockchain project for the travel industry.

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday made like an excitable late-night infomercial announcer as it amped up its battle to warn investors against possible too-good-to-be-true crypto-asset come-ons. However, the United States agency is not content with dealing with fraudulent ICOs after the fact and instead hopes to educate investors to prevent such scams being successful in the first place. The SEC, of course, hasn't completely banned ICOs across the country, although they do believe the industry is filled with scam opportunities. The end result is a website that educates users about the dangers of ICOs in a creative way.

The ICO website links back to a warning from US SEC.

Clicking one of the many "Buy Coins Now!" buttons on the mock site directs visitors not to an opportunity to buy but to investor education tools.

SEC is now pursuing a dozen companies for allegedly conducting ICO exit scams. In January 2018, the agency stopped a fast-moving ICO that was seeking to raise an incredible $1 billion from thousands of investors in an effort to create "the world's first decentralized cryptocurrency bank".

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What follows is a long list of classic "red flags" in scam projects.

"Fraudsters can quickly build an attractive website and load it up with convoluted jargon to lure investors into phony deals", said Donley. "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". SEC created a bogus hedge fund offering in 2003, called "GRDI Select LP", the name is a reference to greedy.

Taking a look at the ICO's website, the campaign has all the trimmings of a sketchy coin offering. There's a massive countdown timer to the pre-ICO, for example. The ICO presents investors with a lifetime chance of making money from "sun-soaked beaches and crystal-clear waters".

"HoweyCoin is the newest and only coin offering that captures the magic of coin trading profits AND the excitement and guaranteed returns of the travel industry", explains the website.

HoweyCoins is part of the SEC's effort to combat an explosion of scams and securities fraud associated with cryptocurrencies. The SEC says many ICOs are probably fraudulent, with bad guys evading investor protections and selling digital tokens that turn out to be worthless for the buyers.

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