It doesn’t seem as if we are anywhere near the point at which we stop hearing about investors losing money in their bid to invest in ICOs. The reason is that scammers are getting more sophisticated with the advancement of technology that they are nearly difficult to identify. From phishing sites to hacking, there are many points at which an investor or even a company could lose money by getting involved in ICOs.
Experty is a startup that plans to build a blockchain based VoIP calling system in which users would make payments using the company’s token. The company’s ICO is one of the hyped crowdsale for the Q1 of 2018 and expectations were high on the January 31 scheduled ICO. However, on the 26th and 27th of January, subscribers received email announcing the ICO and asking them to send funds to an Ethereum wallet in order to participate.
The email which offered incentives to subscribers looked quite convincing and as at the time of reporting, the fake Ethereum wallet already has more than $150,000. Even at that, the amount may be conservative as it was reported that the emails sent to Experty subscribers have more than one wallet address. Though this cannot be confirmed by a copy of the email made available to reporters, it is possible that the hacker sent more than one email to the subscribers.
One trend that has been noticed in ICOs that were hacked is that the more popular startups are most likely to get hacked because Hackers seem to follow the hype. This makes sense because with much hype, the traffic and attraction of an offering get higher and there would consequently be more money flowing to the ICO. It makes sense as well because when there are more people involved in an ICO, it becomes possible that there would be many that wouldn’t cross-check information they received to know its authenticity before transferring their cryptocurrencies to a wallet.
A company, Bitcoin Suisse is in charge of the sale of the Experty token (EXY), yet the more than seventy investors who sent money to the hacker’s wallet never made any form of verification before making the transfer. According to a Tweet by Chris Koerner, an altcoin expert, the Experty team used Bitcoin Suisse for their know your customer (KYC) registration and still unexpectedly got hacked. The hacker probably got access to the subscribers data by compromising the computer of one of the Experty staff that was involved in the subscribers audit.
Experty and Bitcoin Suisse came up with a statement that they would compensate the subscribers who were victims of the hack, although, in their initial plan, all subscribers in the database were to be issued 100EXY tokens valued at $120.
ICO scams are getting more sophisticated that there may not be a clear means of distinguishing a genuine campaign from a fake. Even when an ICO is genuine, there still are many things that can go wrong such as hacking. This is why it is advisable that every investor carries out some background check around the web on whichever Initial Coin Offering they plan to invest in.
Furthermore, social media sites of ICOs present clues if an email sent to an investor is actually from the company. Most importantly, an investor must not invest amounts that are critical to them.