On Jan. 29, the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) of the Atlantic Council think tank published a report that suggests that the notorious crypto-themed Ponzi scheme ‘’OneCoin’’ used fake reviews on TrustPilot and Quora to lure investors.
The report claims that OneCoin garnered an abnormal amount of 5-star reviews on TrustPilot after the U.S media exposed the coin as a scam in October of last year.
Out of about 579 TrustPilot reviews of OneCoin, 90 percent were positive, and roughly 400 of the five-star ratings were published in a single month.
An analysis of reviewers on Quora found profiles posting glowing reviews about OneCoin showed signs of inauthentic behavior with most lacking profile pictures and bios.
Moreover, most dubious profiles displayed erratic posting times and an obsessive interest in OneCoin-related dialogs. A big number of profiles also claimed to be experts on crypto, but restricted answers to the feasibility and value of OneCoin.
DFRLab was, however, unable to confirm the identities of the individuals behind the suspicious social media profiles.
How the OneCoin Saga Started
In 2014, Ruja Ignatova launched a crypto venture dubbed Onecoin and purportedly earned $4 billion from investors illegally.
Onecoin was sold to potential customers as a legitimate digital currency, and the project scaled to great heights riding on the crypto hype until mid-2019. Around this time, numerous news reports started exposing that there was no blockchain behind the token, and the project was just a multi-level marketing Ponzi scheme.
Shortly after, federal prosecutors in the U.S started pressing charges against members of the project, claiming that they had generated upwards of $3.7 billion in profits.
The U.S prosecutors were able to show that the money flowed through an elaborate network of fraudulent private equity investment funds and between international tax havens, from the British Virgin Islands to Ireland, to the Cayman Islands, that obscured the source of the funds.
After the scam was uncovered, Ruja Ignatova fled the U.S, following a lawsuit against her and other associates of the scheme in 2019.
Mark Scott, the lawyer behind the scheme, was convicted of washing a sizable portion of that haul and was found guilty of laundering $400 million in October 2019.
OneCoin Affected Investors Worldwide
OneCoin is one of the most notorious crypto scams in recent times. Since it was uncovered by the media and pursued by law enforcement, side projects of OneCoin have been imploding at a fast rate, revealing just how huge the illegal operation had grown over the years.
Investigators have since informed the public that OneCoin is an elaborate scam, with warnings coming out of various parts of the world, including Africa and Europe.
The official OneCoin website has since halted operations since December of last year.