Business 19 April 2018Gerald Fenech
What’s the truth? German startup claims $50M ICO scam a PR stunt
The world of initial coin offerings (ICOs) continued to take a beating of late, and the emergence of a new scheme involving a missing $50 million planted another nail into the coffin of this highly dubious activity—but was it really a scam?
Yassir Hankir, CEO of German startup Savedroid, caught the attention of the cryptocurrency community as well as his investors with a Twitter post on April 18, where he can be seen posing with a beer at some beach in Egypt with the message, “Over and Out.”
— Yassin Hankir #savedroidico (@YassinHankir) April 18, 2018
Visitors to Savedroid’s ICO website were greeted with a South Park meme, while a video also surfaced on YouTube showing the Savedroid office looking pretty deserted, an indication that everyone involved in the startup had done a runner.
Hankir, however, resurfaced on Thursday in another YouTube video claiming that the exit scam was really a Savedroid PR stunt to push for “high quality ICO standards.” The startup’s ICO site was also back online with an announcement that an ICO advisory is “coming soon.”
“Yes, we are still here, not gone. And we’re never gone, and of course, we’ll be here in the future for the Savedroid community,” Hankir said, noting that the act was not meant to be a prank but a means to convey a “serious message” for the ICO community to establish “high-quality ICO standards.”
The damage, however, has already been done. Financial commentators had indicated warning signs that Savedroid was a scam when the project allegedly accepted no less than 56 different cryptocurrencies in payment. Normal ICOs only accept payments made in SegWit-Con BTC and Ethereum usually, with only a small number of projects acknowledging the existence of other currencies.
As with many scam ICOs, the project description for Savedroid was quite intriguing. It was allegedly supposed to “build a user interface that will make a cryptocurrency investment just as simple as a savings account.” Savedroid stated further that its mission was to eliminate adoption barriers and make cryptocurrencies accessible to everyone. However, it all seems to have gone horribly wrong.
Another recent ICO that has garnered a lot of bad publicity has been Telegram, which has now been taken over by hackers and spoofs. It remains to be seen what will happen with the $1.7 billion collected by the ICO, although there is no real proof that this ever happened. To add to the difficulties for the ICO, Telegram has suffered from sanctions in one of its strongest markets, Russia.
Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.
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