Regulators Crack Down on Crypto Scams via ‘Operation Crypto-Sweep’

May 21, 2018, 4:28 PM UTC

Securities regulators across the United States and Canada are getting serious about cracking down on cryptocurrency scams.

During an event hosted by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), regulators announced dozens of investigations into potentially fraudulent cryptocurrency investment products. According to The Washington Post, this is the largest coordinated cryptocurrency crackdown to date by state and provincial officials of its kind.

Dubbed “Operation Crypto-Sweep,” the probe consists of “nearly 70 inquiries and investigations and 35 pending or completed enforcement actions since the beginning of the month.” The task force will be headed by the NASAA along with state and provincial regulators. The state agencies are targeting unregistered securities offerings that promise lucrative returns without adequately informing investors of the risks, as well as suspicious cases of initial coin offerings, or ICOs.

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The move comes on the heels of a Wall Street Journal analysis of 1,450 cryptocurrency offerings that revealed rampant scams. There were at least 271 initial coin offerings with red flags that include plagiarized investor documents, promises of guaranteed returns, and missing or fake executive teams.

Last week, the Securities & Exchange Commission launched a fake ICO website to increase awareness of the typical warning signs of scam ICOs. The mock website represents a classic example of a fraud ICO site that touts an “all too good to be true investment opportunity.”