Raising Red Flags – the blockchain.io ICO
Blockchain works hard behind the scenes to protect crypto users from scams, frauds and false advertising. Indeed, every year there are hundreds that target just our users alone. Our teams work closely with search engines, social media platforms, and law enforcement to call them out and shut them down.
Today we filed a complaint in U.S. federal court against a company calling themselves blockchain.io. As we allege in that complaint, blockchain.io is run by a defunct Bitcoin company called “Paymium”.
The old guard of crypto will remember Paymium best as “Instawallet”, which in 2013 lost its users’ funds in a widely-publicized hack. Soon after the hack, the company officially closed its claims process, leaving many of its users with substantial financial losses. Their behavior also fueled concerns that the company had run away with people’s money. In an attempt to hide this from its users, Paymium just rebranded to “blockchain.io.” with Pierre Noizat, the Founder & CEO of Paymium, back in charge.
Paymium is about to launch an ICO using the Blockchain.io name and we have strong concerns about how they are representing their offer.
They claim to raise money to offer some technologies that don’t actually exist. They also claim the ICO is registered with the SEC but there’s no registration statement in place for the offering. This means users won’t be able to trade the token publicly as Paymium led them to believe. The SEC just announced last week an enforcement action against an ICO project that made this same misrepresentation. Similarly, blockchain.io claim that their ICO is registered with the French regulator the ACPR, but we can find no evidence of this.
What’s more, we are particularly concerned that they are confusing consumers into thinking they are Blockchain. Their name and branding reflect a worrying number of similarities including:
- similar domain name to our website (blockchain.io)
- similar colors to our website (shades of dark blue)
- similar logo (a cube instead of a square) made up of similar geometric shapes (circles instead of rounded boxes).
- Repurposed our tagline “connecting the world to crypto” through a thesaurus to come up with “your gateway to the internet of value.”
We’ve received questions from people who have come across blockchain.io and asked whether we were doing an ICO. Blockchain is not doing an ICO. When we inspected blockchain.io’s social media and Telegram channels, we discovered that many more people had assumed that blockchain.io was Blockchain.
To protect our users and maintain the trust we’ve worked so hard to build, we’ve had to take action. Today we filed a complaint in US federal court. We’ll file more complaints in other courts if we need to and we will continue to fight false and misleading statements that endanger the crypto community.