A North Dakota security watchdog is keeping tight reins on initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the U.S. state. Last Thursday, the commissioner of the North Dakota Securities Department (NDSD), Karen Tyler, issued a cease and desist order against three firms that were discovered to be involved in promoting fraudulent securities and illegal business practices related to ICOs in the state. The North Dakota financial regulator carried out an investigation, Operation Cryptosweep, to identify ICOs and cryptocurrency-related investments that pose a risk to North Dakota investors.
The investigation revealed that the companies involved—Crystal Token, Advertiza Holdings (Pty) Ltd., and Life Cross Coin aka LifecrosscoinGmbH—were selling securities without obtaining a license. Also, the companies were accused of using fraudulent statements on their websites whereby they all claimed to give high returns without any proof of how they would achieve them. Crystal Token was not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and so the firm could not offer securities in the state, according to the NDSD. Equally, Advertiza claimed to offer securities which promised high returns through its virtual currency called “Tizacoin” (TIZA), while Cross Coin was found to have used a Berlin IP address that was already linked to ransomware and trojans. Generally, the investigation found out that the firms could be harmful to investors, according to the state regulator.
This was not the first time the department took action against ICOs in the state. Last month, the NDSD issued cease-and-desist orders against three other companies: BitConnect, Magma Foundation and the Pension Rewards Platform. Tyler said about the orders, “The continued exploitation of the cryptocurrency ecosystem by financial criminals is a significant threat to Main Street investors.”
The commissioner noted, “In formulaic fashion, financial criminals are cashing in on the hype and excitement around blockchain, crypto assets, and ICOs – investors should be exceedingly cautious when considering a related investment.”
Regulators are putting up more frameworks to protect investors. The SEC has announced that it will sue crypto companies offering pump-and-dump schemes, as well as ICO projects who have false SEC approvals.
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