Illustration for article titled The SEC Built a Fake Website to Troll Cryptocurrency Scammersem/emem/em
Screenshot: SEC

Scammers have been dining out on the excitement around cryptocurrency and its vey large, very uninformed pool of main street investors. And no matter how many fraud charges get handed out to the people running these schemes, regular folks keep falling for sketchy initial coin offerings. So the SEC made its own.


HoweyCoins is a fake ICO which poses as a vague intersection of blockchain technology and travel—“the two most growth-oriented segments of the digital economy.” Its executive board is wholly invented. Its tech is non-existent. There are obvious references to pump-and-dump tactics, celebrity promotions, falsified endorsements, and you’d better act fast if you want to get in on the ground floor.

Does HoweyCoins have a whitepaper? You bet it does. All eight pages are loaded with unrealistic claims and useless filler in equal measure, mimicking the worst sins of hard-sell ICO bullshit. (Does seigniorage have anything at all to do with hotel discounts? We may never know.)


It’s all spot-on except for one key point: Instead of ripping you off, attempting to buy a HowieCoin directs potential suckers to an informational SEC page on how to not give your money away so easily.

One amusing website vs. the human capacity for greed and ignorance is not a fight with great odds, but it looks like the SEC had a good time.

Senior reporter. Tech + labor /// Keybase: Securedrop: http://gmg7jl25ony5g7ws.onion/

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