The biggest ICO ever becomes a great bait: scammers managed to make millions of dollars with the help of fake websites.
Telegram, a popular encrypted messaging service, has already attracted lots of attention when its ICO plans came out. The company is aimed at winning big: the latest reports announced the target raise of $2 billion – which is to become the biggest ICO ever. The public sale is scheduled to launch in March. Nevertheless, some sites offer a splendid opportunity to invest in Telegram’s new project right now. But in reality the people would invest only in the welfare of scammers.
The messaging service has been working on the Telegram Open Network (TON) since the second quarter of 2017. This blockchain-based payment system is expected to offer users more features than any existing solutions. The fast, flexible and simple platform can compete with the most influential global payments technology companies like Visa Inc. or Mastercard Inc. Gram, the Telegram coins, are supposed to become the main currency to be used in TON. All of these facts became known due to the lack of Telegram ICO whitepaper.
All in all, the situation created the ideal opportunity for scammers to make money on this ICO. The demand for Gram tokens is already incredible. Now Telegram is in the process of private sale. The minimum investment volume varies between $10 million and $20 million according to different sources. The private sale allows investors to get the tokens with more than a 50% discount of the public sale price. These investors are demanded to keep their tokens for at least 18 month – however, secondary market has already formed.
The leak of the TON Whitepaper, broad discussion in media and social networks – and scammers got everything for a prosperous start. Gramtoken.io was one of the most successful sites of the kind. It is offline at the moment, the hosting company gave no comments on this fact. However, at 06:58 UTC on January 16, 2018 the site’s tracker stated that 6,756,562 Gram tokens had been sold. The scammers set the following price: 0.00005599 BTC or 0.00061538 ETH or $0.8 for 1 Gram. Simple calculations allow to estimate the income of scammers: over $5.4 million.
Telegram CEO Pavel Durov stated that gramtoken.io is scam in response to the @kavinchng’s tweet. Later he tweeted: “Attention: Telegram publishes its official announcements only at https://telegram.org. Everything else is most likely scam.”
Gramtoken.io was designed like any other ICO website and could hardly arouse suspicion. It had usual content: information on the token, features, team, roadmap and the leaked Whitepaper. Other works of scammers were less detailed. Most of them went offline, but some are still available, for example, grampreico.com and tgram.cc. The creators of the last one did not even try to read the Whitepaper: it introduces the author of idea named Oliver Stan and his non-exiting team.
ICOs have always been risky. Lots of people are jealous of the Bitcoin millionaires and are ready to invest their money in widely discussed initiatives. Hype and weak expertise in the topic make it possible for scammers to upraise millions of dollars.