North Dakota Securities Commissioner Karen Tyler has issued Cease and Desist Orders against 3 companies promoting unregistered and potentially fraudulent securities in North Dakota in the form of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).
The Orders are the result of investigations being conducted by the Department’s ICO Task Force, convened by the Commissioner to identify ICOs and cryptocurrency related investments that pose a risk to North Dakota investors. The effort is also part of Operation Cryptosweep, a coordinated multi-jurisdiction investigation and enforcement effort involving over 40 U.S. and Canadian securities regulators.
The companies that are the subject of the orders are Crystal Token, Advertiza Holdings (Pty) Ltd., and Life Cross Coin a/k/a LifecrosscoinGmbH.
An ICO is a financing method used by start-up companies to raise capital. Most ICOs involve projects that are at the “idea” stage represented in a white paper. Companies create a new virtual coin or token, which is then sold online to investors in the ICO in exchange for cryptocurrency or fiat currency. Companies market their ICOs through their own websites, social media platforms and online marketplaces.
Common red flags of fraudulent ICOs include plagiarized white papers containing spelling and translation errors, fictitious executive teams represented by stock internet photos, fake business addresses and phone numbers, fake celebrity endorsements, the promise of no risk and high returns, false claims about securities law compliance, and the promise of additional ICO tokens for promoting the deal and bringing in other investors. Investors must also be cautious of hackers that “spoof” legitimate ICOs to intercept and steal investor money.