US, Canadian Regulators Launch Dozens of Crypto Scam Probes

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An "international crackdown" on cryptocurrency scams was launched Monday by a group of securities regulators in Canada and the United States.

Dubbed "Operation Cryptosweep," the effort was unveiled during a Monday event hosted by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA). Its existence was first reported by the Washington Post and later detailed in releases from the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) as well as the Texas State Securities Board (TSSB).

Cryptosweep, according to statements, constitutes "nearly 70 inquiries and investigations and 35 pending or completed enforcement actions since the beginning of the month." More investigations are said to be underway, though it's unclear when any related enforcement actions will be unveiled.

The effort gathered steam in April when a task force comprised of NASAA members was convened "to begin a coordinated series of investigations into ICOs and cryptocurrency-related investment products," the TDCI said. Initial coin offerings (ICOs) or token sales were a major focus and officials reportedly identified hundreds for further inquiry.

A representative for the NASAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but others involved in the operation painted a picture of a wide-ranging effort to stamp out fraud. Recent examples of state-based regulatory actions include one that touted false endorsements from celebrities like actress Jennifer Aniston.

"The actions announced today are just the tip of the iceberg," TDCI Assistant Commissioner Frank Borger-Gilligan said in a statement.

Joseph Rotunda, the TSSB's Enforcement Division director, echoed that sentiment, stating:

"The market for cryptocurrency investments is saturated with widespread fraud, and our work is only revealing the tip of the iceberg."

Image via Shutterstock

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May 21, 2018 at 11:15AM

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