Useful tip for ICOs: how to avoid scammers
Running an ICO is like a making a startup, but even harder. Take all hassle with incorporation, prototype development and investors seeking, then add an intensive marketing campaign, huge responsibility to our token holders, extremely tight schedule… and… hordes of scammers hunting for your budget. Here’s some tips for fellow startupers which are based on our recent experience.
There will be no names. We don’t want this article to become our personal vendetta but rather wish to help our colleagues.
So, what can you do before sending money to someone who claims to be an advisor, blockchain expert, experienced marketer, roadshow organizer or blogger?
Check social profiles
Good if your future partner has a Linkedin profile with a transparent employment history. That doesn’t guarantee anything but it’s a good sign. A couple of times, when I tried to find social profiles of the guys that PM’ed me on Telegram, I found out that their avatars were stolen from photo stocks or just some random media. The funniest case was when a guy’s avatar was actually a picture of Chinese murderer sentenced to death. The photo was stolen from an online newspaper.
Study the offer carefully and ask questions
Offers often contain some vague stuff like “giving your project major publicity” or “performing SEO for your project”. Always ask the contractor, what exactly does that mean, what actions will be taken and what result is expected. If you talk to a scammer, he or she would avoid discussing a clear roadmap and KPI.
Ask previous clients
That’s the most effective way to determine a scammer, but also the most time-taking. Ask for a list of previous clients or find them on the contractor’s website (if available). If the partner refuses to give you contacts, just stop the conversation, there’s no use of it. Once you’ve got a list, contact the clients via email or Linkedin. The latter is usually more effective, but not always. Doing that you can discover amazing facts. For example, a “client” may not know whom are you talking about or admit that the cooperation was a total fail. Sometimes they avoid talking about their experience not to make fools of themselves. But if you ask at least 15–20 clients, there
Use freelance platforms
Yes, we mean it! Upwork and Freelancer.com may take high commissions but the system where contractor’s reputation determines how much he or she will earn and depends on his or her work quality is a perfect invention! A dozen of freelancers hired on such platforms and zero problems. That’s exactly how WONO will work, but with significantly lower commissions and smart contracts.
Things that don’t necessary identify your contractor as a scammer or not:
Of course, most successful and trustful companies and entrepreneurs offering services for ICOs have plenty of clients and don’t need to PM you in Telegram offering something. But we’ve had a couple of cases when guys who found us on their own initiative as a result did good jobs. And also a couple of cases when we found contractors ourselves and they turned to be scammers.
High price doesn’t guarantee a quality service. I know a Youtube blogger who asked for 19 ETH per a review. Most of his videos had 5–7k views. On the other hand, sometimes normal contractors ask for modest sums just because they want to attract more customers.
Similarweb is a great instrument and of course, you need to check every website you wish to place ads on there. But that’s not a panacea. Once we were offered to buy articles on a doorway network — all sites had decent Similarweb statistics but all traffic was generated by bots.
To sum up…
Nobody is fully protected against the scam and poor service. Unfortunately, even if you check your contractor properly, there’s still a chance that he or she will fail or disappear. But using our simple tips will help you to make this chance really tiny.
PS: if you know some other anti-scam techniques, don’t hesitate to mention them in comments!
Andrey Chepelev, COO at WONO