The as yet unregulated world of ICOs is particularly vulnerable to opportunists, exaggeration and outright scams. Ideas can be poorly thought through, potential markets are overestimated and claims are inflated. Startups might even lie about who is on their team. ICO “Othor” made the particularly audacious claim that Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin was involved in their project, only to be found out on social network Reddit.
The company, which describes itself as “The Crypto Bank”, had listed Buterin as “Code Programmer of Othor and Ethereum”. Although he is well known for his work with Ethereum he has never had anything to do with Othor.
The alleged deception was discovered by Reddit user “madpen” who had come across Othor on social media and whose attention was grabbed by the apparent involvement of Buterin. Remembering that, “Vitalik [had stated] he was distancing himself from any new projects going forward” he was sceptical.
Then, after watching their promotional video, he was convinced that Othor was not a legitimate investment. He described the video in his Reddit post, saying,
you will see that whenever the company name is mentioned the audio cuts out. Not sure which project the vid is from but its not this one!!!”
Vitalik Buterin took to Twitter yesterday to applaud madpen’s response. Posting a screenshot of the Reddit post he wrote,
This is exactly the correct way to react to an ICO claiming my involvement.”
On investigation many of Othor’s other claims do not add up. Members of the team include the improbably named “Domhnall Barden” and “Bill Wolfhard”. Indeed, Google shows no trace of these two, apparently the company’s lawyer and CFO respectively.
Though the company’s website has been taken down at time of writing, there is still a report on the blogging platform Medium. Othor claims to provide, “services in social network payments, investment, IPO, stock market, rewards, e-commerce, products, financial services.” As yet none of the Othor team have commented on these developments.