A recent Wall Street Journal research, published on December 27, revealed that hundreds of cryptocurrency offers showed signs of fraudulent activity, improbable returns, and plagiarism.
In the course of his research, the WSJ downloaded "white papers" of 3291 cryptocurrency projects that announced an initial coin offering (ICO) from three websites: ICOBench.com, Tokendata.io and ICORating.com.
A white paper is an informational document issued by a company that describes the position of the company, the team's biography and the technical specifications of a project and is designed to be used as a marketing tool for potential investors.
Journalists also conducted an analysis of documents, excluding duplicate documents and non-English documents:
"To identify the duplicate language, the Journal compared the sentences with at least 10 unique words with each other sentence in other white papers.The journalists then read and revised almost 10,000 sentences that appear more than once among the 3,291 documents analyzed and removed the technical and legal language of sound.Thus, the Journal compared the offered offer dates to determine which document first published a given sentence and excluded those projects from this database. "
The analysis reportedly indicated that 16 percent – or 513 – of the aforementioned white books showed signs of plagiarism, identity theft and promises of implausible returns. The white papers of over 2,000 of 3,291 projects contained phrases with tantalizing terms such as "nothing to lose, guaranteed return, return on investment, higher yield, high return, profits, no risk and little risk".
The state and federal regulators in the United States have previously repressed various offers with a similar language, issuing cessation and desist orders and sometimes filing charges against alleged offenders.
In addition, the WSJ sought to identify fake team members by inverse image search of people associated with 343 cryptographic projects, which did not report key data about team members. Some documents did not list team members at all, so the Journal looked for names that appear on a list of over a million managed by the U.S. Census Bureau.
In August, the WSJ argued in a study that the manipulation of cryptocurrency prices was largely conducted by organized "business groups" that used services such as Telegram. The WSJ has suggested that the coordinated "pump and dump" schemes have seen traders inflate and bring down the prices of various cryptocurrencies this year.