In the World of Cryptocurrency, Even Good Projects Can Go Bad


Seif Shieshakly, an adviser to Envion who is based in the United Arab Emirates, said that the I.C.O. structure had “cut out so many middlemen” and created new investment opportunities, but that “the lack of regulations, again because of the infancy of I.C.O.s, carries risks that regulated environments would generally have far less of.”

Regulators around the world have scrambled to stay on top of I.C.O.s. China banned coin offerings last year, and the Securities and Exchange Commission in the United States has done a broad sweep of the industry, sending out dozens of subpoenas.

But so far, the authorities have cracked down on only a few projects, and coin offerings have continued at a blazing pace, raising more money so far in 2018 than they did in all of 2017.

Envion tried to separate itself from the flood of scam offerings that have popped up over the last year.

A spokesman for Envion, Chris Pfaff, sent out emails last year saying it was closing deals with IBM and the ruler of Dubai. But Mr. Pfaff said last week that those deals never panned out.

Envion said it would use the money collected from investors to build mobile rigs, filled with computers designed to “mine” or digitally create new Bitcoin. The rigs could be moved between sources of renewable electricity, which would power the mining computers. Envion said people who bought its new tokens would have a right to a share of the new Bitcoins mined.

The founders of the company, about half a dozen programmers and marketers, set it up in Switzerland, and said they were compliant with all the necessary regulations. In one of its many promotional posts on Medium, the Envion team wrote: “As financial regulators across the globe look to regulate I.C.O.s and protect investors, Envion serves as a model for a compliant crowdsale that operates with the same transparency and integrity of traditional financial markets.”


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