The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) announced today, August 28, that its ongoing initiative “Operation Cryptosweep” has resulted in over 200 investigations of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and crypto-related investment products.
State and provincial securities regulators in the U.S. and Canada launched probes into potentially fraudulent crypto investment programs as part of the NASAA’s “Operation Cryptosweep” in May. The initiative targeting suspicious crypto investment products is reportedly the largest such coordinated investigation by state and provincial officials.
The NASAA President and Alabama Securities Commission Director Joseph P. Borg said that in the course of their investigations, regulators have come upon numerous crypto-related activities that may constitute a violation of state and provincial securities laws. Such violations include failure to properly register a product before offering it to investors. Borg said:
“While not every ICO or cryptocurrency-related investment is a fraud, it is important for individuals and firms selling these products to be mindful that they are not doing so in a vacuum; state and provincial laws or regulations may apply, especially securities laws. Sponsors of these products should seek the advice of knowledgeable legal counsel to ensure they do not run afoul of the law. Furthermore, a strong culture of compliance should be in place before, not after, these products are marketed to investors.”
The announcement states that, in order to provide some measure of protection for investors, any project qualified as a security should be registered with the appropriate regulatory agencies, or apply for an exemption from registration.
The NASAA notes that even registered products can be fraudulent, so investors should perform their own due diligence before investing in ICOs or crypto-related projects.
Since the project’s launch in May, investigators discovered about 30,000 crypto-related domain names, most of which were registered last year when the Bitcoin (BTC) price reached its record high of $20,000.
Alleged scams reportedly used fake addresses, flashy marketing materials, and guarantees of up to a four percent daily interest rate, while failing to report the potential risks of crypto-investments. According to the update on “Operation Cryptosweep,” regulators have issued 46 enforcement actions.