If you have been trading in the cryptocurrency arena for the last few years, no doubt you have come across ICOs. For those of you who aren’t in the know, an ICO is initial coin offering made by new cryptocurrency projects. Typically, these offerings are made by way of crowdfunding as a means to draw investment to kickstart the currency effectively and provide traders and investors with the opportunity to pick up potentially valuable tokens at a discounted rate.
The tokens are sold on the premise of a successful launch with investors being able to cash in if the project is successful by selling their tokens in the future. So far so good, ICOs are providing a solid base for investment with the opportunity to make generous returns when the platform is live.
The problem is that ICOs are often scams. In fact, it was estimated by ICO advisory group Statis that 80% of all ICOs that went to market was in fact scams set up by fraudulent individuals looking to make a lot of money and disappear as quickly as they had emerged.
That does mean, though, that 20% of all ICOs are legitimate and profitable, but with 4 out of 5 being outright scams, how can you tell the good from the bad? And how can you make sure your investment is with an ICO that could yield lucratively in the future?
5 Ways to Identify an ICO Scam
To start, it is important to highlight that there is no fool-proof way in determining whether an ICO is a scam or not. In an ideal world, scammers would be easily identifiable, but the problems arise due to the sophistication employed by scammers to get investment. There are, however, 5 good indicators showing whether or not an ICO is a scam, and if these raise alarm bells, it is probably best to find one that doesn’t.
Tip #1 – Understanding the Development Team
This is critical and should be your first concern when considering whether an ICO is a scam. Development teams for these projects often have good track records that are independently verified through third-party sources. This is primarily because it is very rare that a grass-roots ICO project with no development history or credentials would be legitimate.
Familiarize yourself with the team behind the ICO, “google” their head office, check their educational and business history on LinkedIn. If a development team or individuals behind the project have already contributed productively to the crypto world then it might be a key indication that they are legitimate.
Tip #2 – Get to Grips with the Whitepaper
An ICO whitepaper is very much like a business plan. It should identify the key areas that the ICO is looking to address, how it intends to achieve its goals, and more importantly, it should outline any concerns that the developers have. This last point is something that scammers often overlook as they don’t wish to perpetuate any negative connotations attached to their offering. This is because they want as many people on board as possible.
A legitimate whitepaper will highlight areas that the developers are wary of as well as ways in which they intend to combat them. It will show careful planning and contingencies being put in place from the outset.
If the whitepaper seems too good to be true, it likely is!
Tip #3 – Examine the Token
The offering for an ICO will be made through either a token or some tangible currency system. If an ICO has been set up honestly, it will be relatively straightforward for investors to view the system and token performance. This information should be accessible so that you can discern how a token has performed over time as well as view current performance.
Marry this information up to the claims and projections in the whitepaper, is it feasible that the token can achieve results in the way that the developers are claiming it can?
If you can’t track token’s performance at all, it is a clear indicator that something is not right about the ICO and you should move on to the next one.
Tip #4 – Take Everything with a Pinch of Salt
Tying back in with the feasibility mentioned in the previous point, always err on the side of caution when evaluating the company’s claims. If an ICO looks very attractive, but after evaluation of its performance you have been discouraged by borderline or poor performance, it is best to steer clear rather than expect a turnaround.
Cryptocurrency, in general, is rife with exaggerated claims and hype, only legitimate platforms retain value regardless of this. So it is very important you trust your gut instincts when deciding if a particular project is for you. If something doesn’t look right or doesn’t ring true, don’t make excuses for why that might be and move on instead.
Tip #5 – Spread Your Risk
Even the most seasoned investors have fallen for ICO scams. This is because they often appear very real. It is worth mentioning that you should never put all of your capital into one ICO but rather look at other offerings and balance out investments to find a dynamic that not only works for you but protects you if one is a scam.
If you have been caught out by a scam, think carefully about the process you employed when selecting that ICO, establish where you went wrong or what can be done differently. If you can’t do that, it is perhaps best to steer clear of the ICO market and look to other fantastic opportunities in the crypto world.
Some ICOs have had incredible success, but the ICO market is currently littered with poor ICO options that are purely there to rob you. Always be inquisitive, ask questions and make sure you feel comfortable before investing.