Published on July 4, 2018 by Erica Stanford
After the 2017 ICO bubble, hundreds of ICOs are still after your money. Most will probably lose your investment. Here are 10 quick checks you NEED to know and do if you are thinking of investing in an ICO.
1. Google the name of the ICO and ‘scam’ – if there are any doubts about the ICO, they will usually show up by people posting about it on Reddit, Bitcointalk, Steem, or elsewhere, and these posts will be picked up by Google. Some ICOs are literally just set up as scams intended to raise the money in the ICO and then close down. Several scam ICOs have at least 1 member of the team who already has an association with a scam crypto project. If anyone from the team has any such negative association, then avoid that ICO. Search ‘name of person + fraud’ and ‘name of person + scam’ in Google and anything bad will usually show up.
2. Check the Bitcointalk forum and see what experienced ‘hero members’ are saying- they tend to have been around crypto since early days and know what to look for. In general, if there is any question of an ICO being a scam, the issue will be raised on the ICO discussion page on this forum. You should be able to find the link by googling ‘ICO name’ + ‘Bitcointalk’.
3. Look at the photos of the team and advisors. If they look like they’re from stock photos that means they probably are. Some ICOs have literally made up names and used stock photos to make up their team. One recently even used a photo of actor Ryan Gosling as one of their team… The Google Chrome browser allows you to right click to google search for any image.
4. Are the team or founder anonymous? If they are not willing to share their true, public, identity, then the project is most likely a scam. Satoshi Nakamoto managed to create Bitcoin whilst ingeniously hiding his identity. That is not the case for most ICOs today, where the reason for wanting to remain anonymous is more likely because they plan to pull an exit scam.
5. Are the backgrounds and identities of the team or advisors made up? Research every member of their team. Do they have Linkedin profiles that mention the ICO? Is there any other information on the internet confirming that they are real people? Is there any way of knowing that their names aren’t completely made up? Several ICOs have claimed jobs, experiences and partnerships that had no truth to them, or have just hidden behind completely fake names.
6. Are the advisors actually working with the project? Or have they just been paid to put their name or face to the ICO, but not to contribute their time or knowledge. Or are the ICO just using their names and photos without their knowledge or consent. This happens surprisingly frequently.
7. Are the partnerships or customers advertised by the ICO real? More than one ICO have claimed partnerships with Visa cards or other well known companies, when these claims are total fabrications.
8. Read the white paper and see if it’s legitimate – most are vague or unsubstantiated, and some are downright plagiarised. Are there a lot of buzzwords such as ‘AI’ or ‘blockchain’ or ‘VR’ thrown in to make the project sound more advanced than it is? Is the whitepaper unique, does the project add any value, or is the whitepaper just a collection of meaningless words? If a whitepaper sounds like it has been written by a freelancer on Fiverr, it probably has. It is easy for anyone to buy a whitepaper.
9. Check the Github for the ICO. Even if you can’t read code, if the github repository for that project will give you a good indication if there is even some attempt at code there. You will be able to see if there are regular updates, or some more googling will show you other peoples’ comments about the code. If there is no code, or it isn’t being regularly updated, or added to, or there are negative comments, exercise caution.
10. Not an ICO scam, but a warning: Check the bounties on ICOS – a lot of YouTube’s / bloggers on social media paid / given free coins for every tweet – so lots of social media may not be legit – check with the ICO and on their bounties page – this can be found by googling ‘ICO name + bounties’ if it isn’t evident on their website – if the ICO are incentivising people to tweet/ blog/ post videos etc. – then you can go on the assumption that they are being paid to promote the ICO and isn’t a reflection on the quality of the ICO.