Scammers are cashing in on Telegram’s upcoming ICO

Desperate for an opportunity to jump aboard in the next big thing, cryptocurrency owners are losing money by investing blindly in fake Telegram ICO websites.

Chat app Telegram’s upcoming ICO promises to break records with a target raise of $1.2 billion, which may be extended to $2 billion according to new reports. The public sale component isn’t scheduled to launch until March, as noted by multiple media including TechCrunch, but that hasn’t stopped unscrupulous individuals seizing the opportunity.

News of Telegram Open Network (TON), the Telegram ICO project, first broke in the final weeks of December before TechCrunch reported exclusively on the full details.

Expectation was palpable. “Telegram is already the de facto communication channel for the global cryptocurrency community, making a natural home to its own coin and Blockchain,” TechCrunch’s Josh Constine and Mike Butcher wrote. At the same time, English and Russian versions of its whitepaper and investor prospectuses, including precise information around the ICO, were widely leaked across the internet.

That gave would-be scammers the two conditions they needed — hype and legitimate information — and numerous websites sprang up offering apparent immediate investment opportunities.

Gramtoken.io was the most prominent fake. The website, which is now offline, used details extracted from the whitepapers including project roadmap, team members and more. It even posted a copy of the whitepaper — which, again, had been leaked already — to give a sense of authenticity. The site’s tracker purported to have ‘raised’ more than $5 million before it went dark last Wednesday.

A number of those who invested in the scam took to Twitter in frustration after it was exposed. TechCrunch hasn’t been able to verify how much Gramtoken.io raised.

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