Fraud Risk Assessment: Cryptof

Cryptof Limited
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  • Cryptof Limited
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  • Last modified: November 10, 2015
  • Legitimacy
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Cryptof Limited (cryptof.com) was launched in July 2015 providing cloud mining/investment services from the United Kingdom. The company’s legitimacy has been evaluated based on the items listed below. Every individual item has been checked for the presence of obvious red flags or warning signals. If these are present, an explanation detailing what triggered them has been included. A detailed description of the reasons to evaluate each of the included items can be found below the table.

Persuasion
Total Flags: 15 (3 Warnings = 1 Flag)
Phantom Richesflag-iconIt is advertised that Cryptof is "the best place to earn money by investing on cryptocurrency cloud mining and trading" and allows you to "double your money in just 2 months".
Scarcitythumb-up-iconN/A
Source Credibilitythumb-up-iconN/A
Social Proofflag-iconCryptof features multiple testimonials of which at least the main two are evidently fake. Doing a reverse image search reveals the guy named "Franco Causio" to be someone named "Alper", while "Liudmila Belyakova" could in reality be someone named Raphaela or Anna. The company also has a 5 percent commission referral program, intended to get users to convince friends and relatives to invest as well.
Reciprocityexclamation_warningOn sign-up users will receive "$120 FREE".
Products
Guaranteed Returnflag-iconThe company explicitly offers "guaranteed passive earning".
High Return / Low Riskflag-iconCryptof offers multiple investment plans with a return percentage of 2.7% or more. This translates to an already unrealistic and unsustainable rate of almost 1000% per annum. It should, however, be considered that payouts can be reinvested resulting in returns being paid on reinvested returns. Doing so reveals an annual return percentage of well beyond 1,000,000%, meaning that every invested $1 could, at least in theory, turn into $10,000 in one years' time.
Overly Consistent, Positive Returnsflag-iconThe investment plans return a perfectly steady income percentage regardless of any external variable such as mining difficulty, network hashrate and price.
External Risk Insurancethumb-up-iconN/A
Hardware Equipment
Public Mining Addressflag-iconNo
Pictures of Mining Equipmentflag-iconNone
Secretive or Complex Equipmentflag-iconBesides mentioning cloud mining only once there is no mention of the company's activities on this area. Cryptof also fails to provide any information on its investment strategy.
Service
Website Availablethumb-up-iconYes
Website Registration Detailsexclamation_warningRegistered July 10 2015, and will expire in 2017.
Website Designflag-iconThe website is a collection of stolen content. The terms for the affiliate program are, for example, copied from Poker Automatics and the privacy policy originates from Ad Click Xpress, while also several images were randomly picked at an external source (see Social Proof).
Grammar on Websiteexclamation_warningDespite minimal original content (see Website Design), the remaining content is still full of errors (e.g. "we are working on to add [adding] more payment options.").
Payments Optionsexclamation_warningMultiple, but all of them (e.g. Bitcoin, Payeer, OKPAY) leave the recipient with some anonymity.
Service Disruptions & Unbusinesslike Conductflag-iconThe lack of specific terms and conditions results in limited legal basis for doing business.
Contact Informationthumb-up-iconThe company has listed its address.
Business
Verified Addressflag-iconThe official address is at:

1 Northumberland Avenue
Trafalgar Square
Strand
London
WC2N 5BW

Looking up this company is the business directory reveals that the phone number used for registration is: 161 768 0321

This phone number originates from Manchester rather than London, and has already been used for several other (and also similar) scams like Bitminerals Limited, Givmi Trading Corp Ltd and Lucrative Venture Limited.

The location itself is a business center, and based on the previous likely used as a cover.
Verified Ownerflag-iconLooking for the registered owner "Joseph Rubinstein" returns no relevant results.
Business Registrationflag-iconCryptof Limited is registered with company number 09705048, but false information has most likely been used for this registration (see Verified Address). This is possible because the Companies House (UK business register) does not check application details.
Financial Regulator Registrationflag-iconNot registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
Independent Auditsexclamation_warningNone

Note that items with a warning instead of a flag indicate that these could occur at a legitimate company. For example, legitimate companies will normally try to persuade you into buying their products. Multiple warnings will, however, still trigger a flag. A description for the listed items is provided below. This list is meant to assist with identifying obvious scams, and therefore does not provide any guarantees that a company is truly legitimate.

Phantom Riches
The most common tactic used by fraudsters is called “phantom riches”. By dangling the prospect of wealth such as “big payoffs”, the scam artist tries to get you to stop thinking logically.

Scarcity
Using the fear of missing out, fraudsters create a false sense of urgency with statements such as “last chance” or “only so few available”. This causes people to agree hastily, before even having the opportunity to think about what they’re doing.

Source Credibility
Persuasion is more likely when the source presents itself as being credible, expert and trustworthy. Common tactics used by scammers to make themselves look legitimate include using fake websites or hacked emails and pretending to be someone they are not. Alternatively, sources can also be external with claims such as “Warren Buffet has already invested in this”.

Social Proof
Fraudsters take advantage of herd behavior by creating the illusion of consensus or social proof that the investment is legitimate with claims that “everybody is already doing it”, or referral programs in which members encourage their friends and associates to invest as well. This automatically triggers something in the head that says: “if everybody [or someone from the inner circle] wants it, it must be good”.

Reciprocity
A business is likely to receive far more of our trust when it provides a lot of free value, because of the rule of reciprocity which causes us to tend to feel obligated to return favors after people do favors for us

Guaranteed Return
All investments carry some degree of risk, so a guaranteed profit is a clear red flag. A valid question would be why an organization would try to sell such a scheme instead of using it to get rich themselves.

High Return / Low Risk
Like a guaranteed return, a high return / low risk investment opportunity also defies the common risk-return relationship. The best advice is an old one: “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”.

Overly Consistent, Positive Returns
Cryptocurrency markets are among the most volatile markets, hence the performance of any related product or service is also expected to fluctuate.

External Risk Insurance
The fraudster may present some external risk insurance for the investment in order to add to its credibility. In reality, insurance is only seldom acquired and guarantees typically lack substance. Dummy companies are often used to act as the guarantor or insurer.

Public Mining Address
A cloud mining company must have a public cryptocurrency address in order to participate in the mining process. There is no reason for a legitimate company not to disclose this.

Pictures of Mining Equipment
Cloud Mining companies should be able to provide some pictures of the products they are selling besides any textual descriptions.

Secretive or Complex Equipment
Even in the world of cryptocurrencies one should be skeptical about special competitive advantages without any proper disclosure, or when the information is incomprehensible or incomplete. Too often only the positive elements are accentuated.

Website Available
Considering the importance of  domains and websites in the internet age, there is almost no reason for a legit company not to have one.

Website Registration Details
Very few scam websites survive longer than one year, so domains are generally registered for just one year unless otherwise required for the specific domain. For the same reason, websites created less than one year ago should be considered suspicious.

Website Design
Amateurish, cluttered and disorganized websites can point to a scam as many scam sites use text and images from legit websites and other sources which may not work together very well.

Grammar on Website
Many scammers have limited English proficiency.

Payments Options
Even though cryptocurrency payment options are logical for a cryptocurrency company, it is also very convenient for scammers as the recipient essentially remains anonymous. The same goes for services such as Western Union and Moneygram. Hence a lack of alternative payment options should still be considered a warning signal.

Service Disruptions &  Unbusinesslike Conduct
Especially Ponzi scheme promotors will encourage participants to “roll over” their investment. These schemes are not very fond of investors cashing out, which may lead to difficulties receiving payments and a non-responsive or difficult to reach customer service.

Contact Information
Legitimate companies have very little reason not to list their contact information.

Business Verification
First, you should never hand your hard-earned money over without knowing where it is going. Second, you should do a background check to avoid handing it to a known scammer. Be weary of people without an online identity. Scammers will typically try to hide their identity or conceal their true identity to avoid being easily discovered.

Independent Audits
Audits certainly do not root out every instance of fraud, but auditors do have a responsibility to detect errors or fraud in the company’s financial statements.

Comments (4)

  1. Dudu December 18, 2015
    • Digiconomist January 9, 2016
      • Dee June 30, 2016
        • Digiconomist June 30, 2016

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