The Texas State Securities Board has shut down an initial coin offering (ICO) that it claims used fake endorsements from Jennifer Aniston and other celebrities to fraudulently promote its token sale.
Filed on Wednesday, the emergency cease-and-desist order alleges that -- in addition to illegally peddling unregistered securities -- Wind Wide Coin used photographs of Aniston, Prince Charles, and former Finnish prime minister Matti Vanhanen to deceive investors.
Here’s a testimonial from “Kate Jennifer,” who bears more than a passing resemblance to Jennifer Aniston.
“I invested 4 BTC at Thursday and I received 8 BTC Friday. It’s great to have extra money for weekend shopping -- like they say, easy come, easy go. Thank you WindWideCoin.”
Joe Rotunda, director of enforcement at the Texas State Securities Board, told CCN in an emailed statement that the scheme was “strikingly familiar” to others that the state has shut down in recent months.
“Today’s action is a reminder that, step by step and case by case, we’ve been uncovering a virtual playbook of tactics employed by promoters of illegal and fraudulent cryptocurrency investment programs. Although their names may change and their products may vary, these promoters are employing surprisingly similar schemes. They are often promising lucrative returns from sophisticated investments tied to cryptocurrencies, and then manipulating photographs, media, testimonials and other online information to deceive the public into believing their claims.”
Indeed, falsely claiming a celebrity is associated with a project is a common tactic that fraudsters use to promote their schemes. Curiously, though, this is not the first time that a project has used celebrity likenesses -- but not their names -- to promote fraudulent ICOs.
As CCN reported, one token sale conducted an exit scam after people realized that it had listed A-list actor Ryan Gosling as its graphic designer, tipping them off to the fact that the remaining team members were fabricated, too.
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