Scams are nothing new in the world of initial coin offerings (ICO) but recently in Vietnam, the largest alleged scam connected to an ICO has been pulled off by two blockchain firms – Ifan and Pincoin.
The two firms together have allegedly duped 32,000 investors for around VND 15 trillion ($660 million), according to reports by local media outlet Tuoi Tre News.
Ifan is registered in Singapore while Pincoin is registered in Dubai, however, both firms had approached the same company in Vietnam – Modern Tech – to advertise their projects to potential local investors.
The issue with these firms hit the limelight, as on Sunday a huge mass of investors gathered in front of Modern Tech’s Ho Chi Minh City headquarter. Modern Tech presented it as the firms’ representative in Vietnam, however, media reports later surfaced that its seven executives were on the front line of spreading the word about both ICOs in Vietnam and had conducted many conferences even in remote areas to lure in investors.
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According to reports, the company has vacated its office premise in Ho Chi Minh City a month ago.
Shady business model
Ifan was advertised as “the most advanced social network” targeted towards celebrities and artists, to help them connect in a better way with their fans. Its native tokens were supposed to be used for downloading music and buying exclusive merchandise.
Pincoin, on the other hand, is clearly a shady scheme. It promised its investors a 40 percent monthly returns on their investment. The company claimed to be overseen by PIN Foundation, and to lure in more investors, Modern Tech promised an 8 percent reward to every investor for bringing in another investor, making it a classic multi-level-marketing scheme.
Suspicions first arose among investors when the company stopped rewarding in fiat, instead handing out its native tokens. With this, though investors were seeing the growth of their digital assets every day, they could not withdraw a dime in fiat.
Due to its multi-level structure, the crypto community has been suspecting Pincoin to be a scam for months. In February, financial scam directory Behindmlm claimed in a report that due to its buy-in method and opaque nature, the project is an “ROI Ponzi”.