Business

Erik Gibbs

Maryland joins a national effort to crack down on crypto fraud

Maryland is joining an effort to clean up the cryptocurrency space in North America. Operation Cryptosweep has been underway for over a year and has seen participation by a number of states determined to prevent fraudulent activity through crypto. Alabama, Colorado, North Dakota and others have been involved since last year, going after a number of entities that offer scam ICOs (initial coin offering) and Ponzi schemes and Maryland is joining the action to ensure that its residents are better protected.

Operation Cryptosweep was started by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) and, since 2019 began, 35 enforcement actions have taken place across the U.S. and Canada. Maryland’s attorney general, Brian E. Frosh, announced (in pdf) the state’s entry into the group this past Wednesday, adding that the Maryland Securities Division (MSD) has already launched an enforcement action against a crypto trading platform in the state.

Frosh states in the announcement, “Cryptocurrency investments are risky. Investors should be extra cautious when dealing with promoters who claim their offering does not have to be registered with securities regulators. Quick returns of 150% are as rare as Bigfoot. Make sure to do independent research on the product before you invest. Be aware of the risks, and contact the Maryland Securities Division with any concerns before parting with your hard-earned money.”

The reference to “returns of 150%” was a jab at the crypto exchange being investigated by the MSD. The company behind the project has been advertising up to 150% in returns through passive investments, a far-fetched amount by any standards. This has resulted in the MSD coming down on the platform, as well as a Maryland resident who offered investments through it.

The MSD is also proactively helping to clean up the crypto investment space by launching a new video available on the NASAA website. The video is designed to help investors understand how to identify fraudulent investment schemes and how to avoid becoming a victim.

Last year, ICOs were a great way for scammers to take advantage of the crypto hype to score some quick cash. While some projects were valid, these were overshadowed by scammers and fraudsters who were only interested in lining their own pockets. Fortunately, many of these have been rounded up and are now right where they belong – behind bars.

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