The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

has outlined what it believes to be the consistent threads running through fraudulent initial coin offering (ICO) schemes. The Bureau’s perspective was shared in an interview with Netherlands-based financial news site the Paypers on Feb. 19. According to the FBI, the key strategies of scam offerings include misrepresentations of their directors’ professional experience, an engineered false impression of how much traction the ICO has garnered in the industry, and unrealistic promises of prospective

returns on tokens:

“Like any investment product, rates of return can never be guaranteed and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

The FBI warned investors to conduct due diligence on any scheme and the individuals behind it, and to be on the lookout for entities that appear to be exclusively internet-based, where a physical address or contact is hard or impossible to come by. The Bureau also suggested investors should be aware of which jurisdiction the offering is registered in — if at all — and to which laws and regulations it therefore falls subject to.   

The public can avail itself of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck system to verify the identities and registration status of entities, the FBI advised. Given that even well-known cryptocurrencies and products may carry heightened risks of volatility due to the nascent stature of the industry, the FBI advised prospective investors to only invest what they can afford to lose.

In regard to legitimate business operators of platforms such as virtual currency exchanges or cryptocurrency ATMs, the FBI noted that both the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and multiple Federal District Courts have deemed such entities as subject to registration requirements. Failure to duly register is thus reportedly deemed to be in violation of federal money transmitting laws.

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