When investors click on “Buy coins now” they are taken to an SEC site explaining they were about to be duped.
“We embrace new technologies, but we also want investors to see what fraud looks like, so we built this educational site with many of the classic warning signs of fraud,” said SEC Chairman Jay Clayton in a public statement.
The SEC has brought a number of fraud cases against operators of initial coin offerings. In total, the agency alleges $600 million has been raised in fraudulent schemes.
“Remember, too, fraud is underreported,” said Lori Schock, director of the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy. “State securities regulators also bring cases, and international regulators get involved when it involves [an entity] based overseas.”
The best-known digital coin, bitcoin, has enjoyed a meteoric rise in value since its introduction in 2009. After hitting a high of $19,343 in December, the price for one bitcoin has zigzagged its way downward to about $8,300 as of Wednesday.
It’s also a volatile investment. Over the last week alone, the price has ranged from a high of $9,371 to a low of $8,128.
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