Home / Science | Technology / 6 red flags of an ICO scam

6 red flags of an ICO scam

ICOs have opened to most people investments in blockchain ventures. In the 0.33 quarter of 2017 by myself, ICOs raised greater than $1.three billion for crypto ventures — roughly 5 occasions greater than investment raised via project capital within the blockchain house.

There have been greater than 200 ICOs in 2017, and engaging in due diligence on all of them could be extraordinarily time-consuming, even for a an expert analyst, let by myself an beginner investor. This is compounded by way of the truth that blockchain remains to be thought to be to be an early-stage generation, with new consensus mechanisms and use instances being advanced on a daily basis.

With exponential expansion in public passion, esoteric terminology and a lax regulatory framework, it isn’t a surprise that some ICOs were used to fund scams and cheat traders of their cash.

While not anything can compete with high quality due diligence, understanding which red flags to search for so as to steer transparent of scams or dangerous ICOs may also be useful.

Use case does now not require blockchain

Not each and every project wishes a blockchain, and now not the whole thing must be decentralized. This would possibly appear obtrusive, however with the entire hype round blockchain generation and its disruptive possible, it may be simple to latch directly to an thought the instant its whitepaper mentions a big trade the challenge is purportedly tackling.

Even tasks that require cryptocurrencies as cost (e.g. Steemit, which rewards writers on its platforms with a local “digital points system,” Steem) may really well live on with current cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether.

When comparing an ICO, a excellent first query to invite is: “Do we need a blockchain or a native token for this project?” If the solution is not any to each, chances are high that the ICO challenge is an instance of solutionism — crypto for crypto’s sake — or a scam.

Empty repositories for open-source tasks

If an ICO challenge is proposing open-source code, an empty or nonexistent GitHub is steadily a red flag.

One of the important thing characteristics of many public blockchain tasks is the truth that they’re open-sourced. This way the code base is steadily uploaded to repositories like GitHub for all to inspect. For those that have blockchain programming revel in, taking a look throughout the printed code can let them gauge a challenge’s validity.

If one thing turns out like a scam, it most likely is.


One of the obvious red flags for a scam challenge is the shortage of element on how the generation works. For nontechnical traders, it may be useful to easily take a look at if a challenge has any current recordsdata uploaded to public repositories or if a challenge has a functioning product.

While Reddit is in most cases now not an beneficial supply for funding recommendation, sub-threads devoted to discussions of particular ICOs or crypto belongings steadily be offering a excellent access level for the extra technical reviews.

Mining construction disproportionately favors construction crew

While now not all the time an correct litmus check for scams on their very own, the availability agenda and mining construction of an ICO can be utilized to cross-reference different information issues and validate the goal of the founders.

In easy phrases, a premine refers to when a portion of the tokens for a crypto challenge is made to be had to a small staff previous to being made publicly to be had. At occasions, it is a vital car to praise builders and early traders. However, if the share of overall tokens provided during the lifetime of the challenge reserved for a premine is excessive, there’s reason why for worry.

For example, Paycoin, whose founder was once discovered responsible of working a $nine million fraud scheme, had the bulk of their tokens reserved for builders at the challenge. Favoring the advance crew might be an indication that the crew’s intent is to maximise their non-public monetary achieve from the appreciation of the token, moderately than take care of the viability of the blockchain community over the years.

Anonymous crew or crew with susceptible revel in

Understanding who’s at the crew in the back of a blockchain challenge is most likely crucial step to your due diligence. Even if the idea of the project and the addressable marketplace appear sexy, one of the most important determinants of a project’s luck is the make-up of the crew in the back of it.

It is steadily a red flag if the crew in the back of an ICO does now not have any named full-time builders. Additional warning must be taken if none of the management crew has any area wisdom within the particular vertical.

When taking a look at a crew and verifying their revel in, platforms like Twitter and RelatedIn are helpful. However, it’s vital to notice that they don’t seem to be infallible, as profiles may also be faked. If individuals of the crew declare prior affiliation with universities or firms, double-checking with respected third-party assets (e.g. a college newspaper or the corporate web page) can give you the info.

ICOs steadily checklist their advisors on their internet sites. You must additionally examine whether or not the counselors are legit.

Insufficient knowledge on web page/whitepaper

If one thing turns out like a scam, it most likely is. When you’re not sure whether or not a challenge is a scam, it’s higher to err at the aspect of warning. While it’s conceivable that the shortage of well-designed internet sites and detailed knowledge for a crypto challenge is since the challenge remains to be in its infancy, it may be laborious to decide whether or not a challenge is underdeveloped or a scam.

In many instances, they may be able to be each. In the ones instances, traders can both wait for more info (corresponding to within the case of Asia-based ICOs, the place knowledge is best translated into English afterward within the challenge), or just keep away from ICOs they don’t totally perceive.

Nothing can compete with high quality due diligence.


Another a very powerful supply of knowledge for all ICOs is the whitepaper — the report that outlines the challenge, technical main points, crew and different a very powerful main points in the back of the project. While the beginner investor would possibly not have the technical background to completely perceive each and every side of a whitepaper, basic figuring out of blockchain ideas is a should when comparing whitepapers.

Some extra legit tasks (e.g. Ethereum) be offering a high-level whitepaper outlining the important thing issues of the project, along an in depth technical report that explains the generation in the back of the challenge.

No transparent roadmap

Typically, ICO tasks checklist their investment and construction targets on a transparent timeline for traders to peer. The lack of a transparent roadmap may point out that the growing crew has no long-term plan for the challenge, and as such is perhaps motivated only by way of non permanent monetary achieve. Paired with a big premine reserved for the growing crew, this generally is a robust indicator that an ICO challenge isn’t to be depended on together with your cash.

Often, ICO tasks could have devoted Slack or Telegram channels that the general public can sign up for. Through periodic updates dispensed on those channels, possible traders can get a way of how the challenge is growing.

However, malicious scammers can simply create a timeline out of skinny air or supply pretend updates on chat apps. While the shortage of a timeline is no doubt a red flag, the life of one isn’t an entirely enough situation to signify the legitimacy of an ICO challenge.

Featured Image: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

About ShoaibAslam

Check Also

The price is proper! Pace raises £2.5M to automate hotel room pricing based on demand

Pace, a London startup that has advanced tech that makes use of device studying to …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: