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10 Worthless ICOs That Turned Out to Be Scams

Over recent years, there have been a plethora of ICOs that took investor money and ran. These are some of the worst ICOs that turned out to be scams.

By Ossiana TepfenhartPublished 6 years ago 4 min read

How far would you go for money? Would you work day and night for it? Would you take a job you don’t like for it? Would you marry for it? Or, would you go so far as to scam others out of it to better your life?

For some scammers, the Bitcoin boom quickly became a window of opportunity to defraud people of their money. Plenty of people were talking about which would be the next cryptocurrency to boom. So, why not create an Initial Coin Offering, get investor money, and bail?

ICO scams are not easy to police, which means that people who invest in them tend to never see that money again. As years progressed, the sheer number of ICOs that turned out to be scams multiplied. Here are some of the most notorious ICOs that were infamous scams, capable of bilking good people out of money.

When it comes to ICOs that turned out to be scams, few were as transparent as this one. Even the name seems a bit “off,” doesn’t it? Well, it should. This ICO promised to bring “blockchain and travel” together in order to offer up huge discounts on travel.

The problem is that it didn’t exist. The SEC made a mockup of an ICO scam complete with the classic warning signs of a fake ICO. Then, they revealed the truth to people who approached the site looking to invest. It was created as a way to illustrate the dangers of investing without due diligence.


Pincoin may be one of the largest ICO exit scams in history. Run by the company known as Modern Technology, this ICO raised upwards of $660 million based from a total of 32,000 people. The company then launched a second token, iFan, which was designed for social media celebrities.

The token sale promised returns of at least 48 percent, and actively encouraged people to bring others in on it. Modern Technology used the cash to pay off the first round of Pincoin investors, then started paying investors in iFan tokens.

Then, the entire company vanished. 7 Vietnamese nationals were pinched.

This one is just painful to read, because one company created three ICOs that turned out to be scams. The Shenzhen Puyin Blockchain company created three different ICOs geared towards newbie investors—Biolifechain, Puyin, and Acchain.

All three promised great returns and amazing advances dealing with blockchain technology. None of the promises materialized. Shenzhen police ended up capturing six people who were charged with the crime of stealing a total of $60 million from investors.


Cryptokami was an ICO that positioned itself to be "The New Third Generation Blockchain Infrastructure for Global Financial Services." It would do this by...well, actually, their white papers were very vague about what that meant.

Either way, it was meant to be a blockchain product for the financial world. After raising $12 million, Cryptokami's site went dark with no indication that it would ever come back.

Pu’er Tea Tokens

Most Initial Coin Offering scams will have a cute concept with nothing to really back it up—or just offer up an amazing tech-related perk or discount. The Chinese scam ICO known as Pu’er was a bit different than most out there.

This ICO claimed to give ownership in Pu’er tea sales in exchange for tokens bought up, and quickly became a hot topic among China's leading investors. The tokens were bought up in spades, but as it ends up, the books were cooked.

Over 3,000 investors were defrauded of a total of $47 million.


One of the newest ICOs that turned out to be scams is NVO. Literally only months ago, NVO claimed to be creating a large "Cross-platform Modular Decentralized Exchange." Investors were thrilled to contribute to the token.

After raising a whopping $8 million, NVO exit scammed and vanished from the face of the Earth. Investors saw their money go with it, unable to do anything about it.

Turbulent is one of the world's most popular micro-hydropower plant developer, and has been helping the world get closer to renewable energy for years. So, when Turbulent fans found out that the company was creating its own token, the crowds rejoiced.

Turbulent's CEO wasn't very happy. How could he be? He had no idea that this was happening, and it was clear that some scammer was taking Turbulent's name and using it for his own scamming purposes!

The scammer, a lone Russian woman, copied Turbulent's Facebook and Twitter pages, and even went so far as to make dopplegangers of Turbulent's founders' pages. She raised $1,000 for the fraudulent token before it was outed.


The investment platform known as LoopX was one of the more disappointing ICOs that turned out to be scams. This was meant to be a promising investment platform that would allow backers to earn money by using a trading algorithm.

After around $4,500,000, the LoopX site, social media, and papers all disappeared. Investors soon realized they fell for an investment exit scam.

Block Broker

Irony, thy name is Block Broker. This was an ICO that was supposed to be dedicated to eliminating ICO fraud on the net. ICO watchdog groups fell for it hook, line, and sinker. People raised around $3 million for the token.

The Block Broker scam fell through, though, after it was revealed that the CEO was actually a fake person with a stock photo. Of all the things to reveal a scam, it had to be stock photography, right?


Centratech wasn't like other ICOs that turned out to be scams. This wasn't just a random tech company. Major celebrities got in on the investment, including Floyd Mayweather and DJ Khaled.

The concept behind Centratech was really awesome. This was meant to be a service that could convert cryptocurrency into fiat money which could then be accessed anywhere using a debit card.

It shuttered unexpectedly, taking $32 million with it. Two of the founders have been arrested thanks to fraud charges, and the SEC now uses it as an example of why you should do due diligence on investing in crypto.


About the Creator

Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer based out of New Jersey. This is her work account. She loves gifts and tips, so if you like something, tip her!

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