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7 Major Crypto Scams Events and What We Can Learn From Them
Crypto scams have been around ever since Bitcoin came out in 2009. Crypto researchers found that from 2020 to 2022, cybercriminals stole almost $9 billion online.
The growth rate of cryptocurrencies has increased over time, with most coins, such as Bitcoin, hitting an all-time high of over $65,000. Unfortunately, while intelligent minds have come up with coins and companies backed by blockchain, scammers have also upped their game to target unsuspecting investors.
Major Crypto Scams of All-Time
As much as cryptocurrencies have revolutionized transactions, they have also been a target for significant scams. So let’s look into the major crypto hacks and what we can learn from them!
OneCoin – $15 billion
In front of thousands of fans, Dr. Ruja Ignatova announced in 2016 that she would launch a new cryptocurrency, OneCoin. She mentioned that it would work just as any crypto. For instance, it would reach global payments, involve mining, etc. The coin would have had a $120 billion supply on the network.
Even though all the information was very similar to Bitcoin, people still fell for it. More so, they thought that Ruja was perfect. She could speak several languages fluently and had a Ph.D. from Oxford University. Above all, she appeared in top magazines as a crypto expert.
As part of this crypto scam, people had to select education packages that cost between €110 and €188,000. In each package, several tokens would correlate to mining OneCoins. However, the only way to sell the tokens was through the internal exchange. Also, only users that purchased more than the starter package could buy these tokens.
As you probably have guessed, the exchange did not even exist. More so, people were trading with the company itself, which is a clear red flag. The members also only profited from inviting new users.
When the police found out, Ruja had already disappeared. Next, a two-year investigation led to several arrests. Among them were Ruja, her brother, and the lawyer behind the company.
Bitconnect – $3.45 billion
One of the most infamous crypto scams, Bitconnect, appeared in 2017. It claimed users could exchange Bitcoin for the Bitconnect Coin (BCC) on their Bitconnect platform. The developers also ensured that significant returns of 40% would trickle into their accounts over time.
Bitconnect also ran a lending program that allowed users to lend out BCC to other users on the platform. By doing this, they would get interested in the amount they lent out. Again, it should have been a red flag for a typical Ponzi referral scheme.
Shortly after, the platform became a scam, and their investors lost most of their funds. Some have since filed a lawsuit against Bitconnect to recover their lost assets.
Pincoin- $870 million
In Vietnam, Modern Tech launched Pincoin and iFan, with its offices in Ho Cho Minh City. Pincoin captured 32,000 people who, instead of receiving cash as payment, got a new token called iFan. In addition, top celebrities advertised iFan on social media. Therefore, the project did not look suspicious at all.
A few months down the line, their offices shut down. Nevertheless, the project creators managed to get away with about $660 million. Protestors met outside their vacant offices on April 8, 2018, but did not process cash withdrawals.
Centra Tech – $32 million
Centra tech appeared on the market with heavy expectations. Many thought it would bring a Visa and Mastercard debit card service to help users convert cryptocurrencies to fiat. Also, to add to the spotlight it was already gaining, Dj Khaled and top boxer Floyd Mayweather advertised it. Just like that, the coin gained fame, and only its ICO raised $32 million.
The founders, Sohrab Sharma and Robert Farkas did not manage to get away. Police arrested them on fraud charges. They had created fictional executives with great biographies, paid celebrities to promote them, and posted misleading marketing materials on their website.
The U.S. regulator enforced that they both pay back what they stole and at interest. Also, the regulator banned them from ever serving as company officials and participating in any security offerings of sorts.
Plexin- $20 million
Plexin was one of those deals that seemed too good to be true. The company offered a 1354% return for investments per month. Surely this should have been suspicious enough to investors, but the founders took about $20 million of their money. Nevertheless, the coin’s ICO was successful and raised over $15 million alone.
However, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission(SEC) caught on to this after investigating and ordered that all the money they took be repaid. As a result, SEC froze their funds, and the founder, Dominic Lacroix, was arrested and later jailed.
The event marked the first that the SEC stepped in and charged an ICO through its Cyber Crime Unit.
Learning from the Crypto Scams
Crypto-related scammers will go to any extent to convince people that their offer is legit. Considering this, investors need to wise up and do their research properly before investing in any cryptocurrency.
Generally, the crypto community must provide financial education and ethical investment practices to everyone. However, governments must also be vigilant and regulate cryptocurrencies to remove the bad actors from the market.
Scams have an effect on cryptocurrencies in general. Most people have become skeptical about investing in cryptocurrencies because they either have heard about crypto scams or have gone through one themselves. They then tend to classify all cryptos under these scams, whereas genuine ICOs and cryptocurrencies exist.
In turn, this is limiting growth and innovation in the crypto space. The most effective way that investors will be protected is only by education. They need to know more about evaluating investments, spotting scams, and managing risks. Authorities must also realize that not all cryptocurrencies are scams, and some are here to stay. By taking their time to understand cryptocurrencies and the blockchain in general, they can offer knowledgeable regulations that will promote innovation.