Why is this scam
The blockchain project Benebit on the end of January this year pulled a midnight run and with it has taken at least $2.7 million or even as much as $4 million dollars with it. This makes it one of the most effective and lucrative thefts of ICO funds in blockchain history. Before the news of the scam surfaced, the Benebit ICO was all over the news – it was one the top-rated ICOs by multiple ICO review websites.
The operation was going very well until someone spotted that photographs of the Benebit team were stolen from a British boys’ school website.
In one of reviews we found: ”A global decentralized ecosystem that enables interaction without borders between brands, companies and consumers and is built on Blockchain technology. Benebit is a disruptive network for the cashback and loyalty market based on blockchain technology. The unbeatable social component of Benebit’s model is professionally designed to meet the highest standards of business/consumer interaction for securely storing and exchanging all kinds of user and brand data for the promotion of discounts, special deals, cashback and loyalty programs.” SIC!
The signs of confirmation
Following the discovery that the site used stolen pictures for their team page, the website quickly went down, and all attached social media pages and accounts went off-line.
The idea behind Benebit was interesting. It was assumed that Benebit will develop a platform to increase customer loyalty. The startup secured broad public support, collecting 9,000 subscribers in Telegram and receiving positive ratings on the ICO review sites. But, based on all the updates, it seems that the scam was well orchestrated from the beginning. The team was active on social media over the year and had an excellent PR team as well. Allegedly, Benebit had spent almost $500,000 on market promotion. The Benebit official website was shut down, along with its other social media accounts. However the Telegram channel is still active. The affected investors are now taking their grievances to this sole channel. One investor is claiming that he had invested as much as 14 BTC and another 300 ETH. But all of it is now gone. Apart from the complaints, the channel is flooded with memes. People are also sharing suicide helpline numbers as a joke on the channel.
Let’s see the other signs.
The pre-sale event was promoted by the ICO Syndicate, a well-known name in the ICO market, and now the victims are venting their anger at that entity. As a part of the verification process, all third-party promoters took the passport details of the founders of Benebit. But, they all turned out to be fake. This scam highlights some clear defects in the unregulated ICO market. This also raises questions about the recommendations and ratings provided by some big names; Benebit was highly-regarded by almost all of them. ICO Bench also included Benebit in its listing, and users gave it a rating of 4.1 out of 5. Multiple market regulators, including the SEC, have issued warnings about the risks involved in ICOs. And though the returns are alluring, investors need to thoroughly check the background of a business and the team behind it before investing
Recommendation – ICOs are high risk ventures and it is imperative that investors do their own due diligence before making commitments.