Regulators in the United States and Canada announced as many as 70 investigations into cryptocurrency investment products at an event hosted by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) earlier this week.
The Washington Post reported that this is the largest coordinated effort to target the cryptosphere in history–35 of the investigations are either pending or already completed, and more investigations are likely to launch in the coming weeks.
The effort, which has been dubbed ‘Operation Crypto Sweep’, is being led by the NASAA in tandem with American state and Canadian provincial regulators. The more-than-40 regulatory bodies involved are seeking to rid the blockchain industry of fake ICOs and other crypto scams, searching for offerings of unregistered securities that promise sky-high returns and other suspicious-seeming ICOs.
Operation Cryptosweep has targeted nearly 70 fraudulent ICOs and crypto-related investments products since May 1.https://t.co/HaX0gppjyB
— Ethereum Network (@EthereumNetw) May 22, 2018
“We’re putting ourselves in the shoes of investors. We’re seeing what’s being promoted to investors. And then we’re taking the next step and then we’re finding out whether they’re complying with securities laws,” NASAA President Joseph Borg told the Washington Post.
So far, the investigation has led to the discovery of approximately 30,000 crypto-related domain names; the origins of most of these domains could be traced back to late 2017, when the crypto markets were booming bigger than ever before. The websites promised eye-popping returns on investments, and (falsely) boasted advisory board members like Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Jennifer Aniston, and Prince Charles.
Clayton’s Statement: “I Applaud Our Fellow Regulators”
Head of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Jay Clayton, published a statement on May 22nd to explain the effort further.
Clayton opened the statement with praise for lawmakers and law enforcers who have been actively working towards developing crypto-related policies: “I applaud our fellow regulators in the United States and Canada who are coordinating and participating in efforts to police fraud in the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) markets. These state and provincial regulators play a critical role in protecting Main Street investors.”
“The enforcement actions being announced by NASAA should be a strong warning to would-be fraudsters in this space that many sets of eyes are watching,” the statement continued, “and that regulators are coordinating on an international level to take strong actions to deter and stop fraud.”
Clayton went on to mention the sample fraudulent ICO website that was launched last week by the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy. While the website is nothing more than a fake, it does “illustrate the common ‘red flags’ of fraud in the ICO markets and how little work it takes to engage in such a fraud.