If you act now, you could be joining one of the hottest crypto deals of the year.
Wait for it.
This investment opportunity – an initial coin offering – plus a travel network won’t last for long. Act now.
The only problem: HoweyCoins doesn’t exist. It’s a scam website set up by none other than…the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to teach investors about the dangers of cryptocurrency investment scams.
Here’s what you need to know and how to protect yourself from the trickery of cryptocurrency initial coin offerings.
HoweyCoins: The Greatest (Non-) Investment Ever
It looks like a real website. There’s an initial coin offering. There’s a white paper. Full mention of the team. Even celebrity endorsements.
But, it’s all fake. The website features several characteristics that are common to fraudulent offerings, including a white paper with a complex yet vague explanation of the investment opportunity, promises of guaranteed returns, and a countdown clock that shows time is running out on the deal of a lifetime.
Initial coin offerings, like other investment opportunities, certainly can be legitimate. However, some are not.
Here are five red flags to watch for so you don’t get tricked by crypto scam artists.
5 Common Red Flags In Cryptocurrency Scams
1. Claims of High, Guaranteed Returns
Every investment carries some degree of risk, which is reflected in the rate of return you can expect to receive. High returns often require high risks, including possibly losing your entire investment.
Most fraudsters spend a lot of time trying to convince investors that high returns are “guaranteed” or “can’t miss.”
No investment has high, guaranteed returns with no downside.
2. Celebrity Endorsements
We have all seen celebrities pitch products before, but today, you may see a celebrity pitch a cryptocurrency investment offering. If you see a celebrity endorse a crypto investment, it doesn’t mean that the investment is legitimate, legal or appropriate for your risk tolerance.
This should go without saying, but never invest because someone famous says it’s a good idea. You have to do your homework and reach your own, independent conclusion.
3. Claims of “SEC-Compliant”
The SEC has concerns that many online trading platforms appear to investors as SEC-registered and regulated marketplaces when they are not.
Many platforms refer to themselves as “exchanges,” which can give the false impression to investors that they are regulated or meet the regulatory standards of a national securities exchange.
4. Investing With A Credit Card
When is the last time you made an investment with a credit card?
Most licensed and registered investment firms do not allow their customers to use credit cards to buy investments or to fund an investment account.
The SEC recommends that investors work with a licensed or registered investment professional or firm when funding investments.
5. Pump and Dump Scams
It’s a classic investment scam.
In a pump and dump scam, according to the SEC, scammers typically spread false or misleading information to create a buying frenzy that will “pump” up the price of a stock and then “dump” shares of the stock by selling their own shares at the inflated price.
Once the scammers sell their shares and stop hyping the stock, the stock price typically falls and investors lose money.
For more information on how to protect yourself from investment scams, check our investor.gov. Now, you know.