Steven Seagal - actor, Zen master, musician, director, martial arts instructor and now crypto ambassador - has reportedly walked away from the Bitcoiin project, along with its anonymous founders, after closing out an ICO that may or may not have raised its targeted $75 million.
No one knows, really, and that seems to be a recurring problem with ICOs, highlighting the danger of celebrity-sponsored coins that seem exciting but offer no protection from potential fraud.
Seagal may have been the face of the alt coin, but the founders remain masked.
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Rolled out in January this year, Bitcoiin and Bitcoiin2Gen set out to raise $75 million during its initial coin offering (ICO), which was scheduled to wrap up on 30 March until the plug was pulled a week early, with both Seagal and the mysterious founders exiting, according to Cointelegraph.
No one knows how much they raised, but their website suggests they hit their mark. The problem is, there no way to verify that.
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The founders claim that they have withdrawn their association with the company to help establish total decentralization, explaining that Bitcoiin will become an anonymous cryptocurrency controlled by no one, with a new CEO appointed to lead the website.
Before pulling the plug, they thanked all of their supporters.
“As Bitcoiin goes through the conversion phase from token to mineable coin we wish to advise that Bitcoiin will join the likes of the original Bitcoin and become a truly open source. Therefore a big thank you to the Founders and to our Brand Ambassador whom we wish all the best in their future endeavors. However, from this point on Bitcoiin will function within its ecosystem and become a genuinely anonymous cryptocurrency with no individual or individuals having control over the entity!”
And Seagal has remained tight-lipped.
So Seagal ostensibly helped give birth to Bitcoiin, and now it’s time to set it free to grown independently. But many will wonder whether this is practical crypto parenting, or a trip down Ponzi scheme lane.
Following his appointment as the coin’s brand ambassador, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ruled that “Steven Seagal has to ensure that the Bitcoiin investments are appropriate and in compliance with federal and state securities laws.”
The SEC hasn’t been at all keen on celebrity involvement in promoting cryptocurrencies, issuing earlier warnings about ICOs with celebrity ambassadors.
In recent months, celebrities such as actors Jamie Foxx and William Shatner, boxer Floyd Mayweather and hotel heiress Paris Hilton, among others, have publicly endorsed several projects ahead of their respective token sales.
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U.S. regulators targeted Bitcoin and Steven Seagal earlier this month, following a March 7th securities fraud cease and desist order issued by New Jersey. Shortly afterwards, Tennessee followed suit with its own investor warning.
BehindMLM, a blog that tracks marketing schemes, claims that Bitcoiin is essentially a Ponzi scheme that will end in disaster, much like Bitconnect.
“B2G will likely follow the trajectory of other altcoin Ponzi schemes. A flurry of initial trading will see the value briefly pump, before reality sets in and B2G plummets to $0,” BehindMLM wrote.
Bitconnect currently faces a mounting series of lawsuits and regulatory action following its quick rise and fall as one of the most notorious crypto exit scams.
Over the past few months, the SEC has hinted at a crackdown on ICOs. The SEC has recently reiterated its earlier position that many “tokens” sold in ICOs are in fact securities and must be treated as such and register with the regulatory body.
ICO proceeds have surged, from $96.3 million in 2016 to little under $4 billion last year. More than 180 new ICOs are scheduled to launch in 2018 and they’ve already flown past regulatory radar.
The SEC’s crypto statements have become increasingly vehement as the dangers of fraud compound daily. Last month, the agency reportedly sent subpoenas to dozens of tech companies and individuals involved in cryptocurrency.