But please don't expect the SEC to fly you anywhere exotic-because the offer isn't real.
Okay, that's not actually true, but the agency has constructed a clever campaign meant to teach investors how to identify ICO scams - and troll the fraudsters who continue to operate them. The Office of Investor Education and Advocacy at the US Securities and Exchange Commission has launched a fake ICO site, according to a press release on May 16. In the ongoing process of regulating cryptocurrency, the SEC has been recommending that exchanges use this test as a guide for whether a coin falls under the existing securities regulations or not. There's a massive countdown timer to the pre-ICO, for example.
The HoweyCoins site even comes sprinkled with a group of employees and celebrity promoters. One of these, @boxingchamp1934, appears to be poking fun at Floyd Mayweather, who endorsed a fraudulent ICO that exit scammed after raising $32mln. We've recently seen fraudsters pretending to be involved in blockchain technology, initial coin offerings, and crypto-currencies - when really they are simply operating scams created to take investors' hard-earned money.
The site goes on to make various grandiose claims about how they're targeting the travel industry, how they're registered with the USA government, and how the coins will be traded on an SEC-compliant exchange. "But fraudulent sites also often have red flags that can be dead giveaways if you know what to look for".
At the very least, the campaign is a novel attempt to educate investors of the widespread risks of investing in an unregulated market. "We embrace new technologies, but we also want investors to see what fraud looks like" said Clayton, quoted in the SEC announcement. HoweyCoin is presented as a way to invest in the luxury travel market and the ICO promises a 25% discount to gold level investors through the site as reported in the The Wall Street Journal. "I encourage investors to do their diligence and ask questions".