"Dutch" man behind ICO disappears with €318K in cryptocurrencies
Joost van Doorn - believed to be a Dutch man behind an Ethereum-based startup called Confido - apparently disappeared with around 318 thousand euros of his investors money. It is not quite clear whether Joost van Doorn actually exists, but it seems increasingly clear that the people who paid for the Confido launch will not see their money again, RTL Nieuws reports.
Confido described itself as a blockchain app for tracking parcels. The company raised money with a so-called initial coin offering (ICO) between November 6th and 8th. An ICO is often described as being in between an IPO and a crowdfunding action. Investors use cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum, or sometimes traditional currency with a credit card, to buy tokens that in some cases are like shares in a company, and in other instances are used like currency to make purchases or support nonprofit organizations.
On Sunday Confido's website, Facebook and Twitter profiles, blogs on Medium and the LinkedIn page of founder Van Doorn all suddenly disappeared from the internet. At one point Van Doorn said he was facing "legal problems", but that post was also removed. Confido's website is registered to an address in Berlin containing apartment complexes, according to the broadcaster. And the startup's telephone number is a Japanese number that does not work.
Duped investors gathered on Reddit to discuss the situation. They want to sue Van Doorn, but aren't even sure whether he is a real person. According to Motherboard, he has no internet presence except for his now removed LinkedIn profile. The digital tokes they bought in the ICO now have virtually no value. The company that handed out the tokens - TokenLot - told Motherboard that the Confido crew were "really good scammers".
A Confido support worker wrote on Reddit that he has "absolutely no idea" what happened. "The removal of all our social media platforms and website has come as a complete surprise to me", he wrote. "I have been in contact with Joost for a number of weeks and this is completely out of character for him. Last I spoke to him he was extremely distressed, and was doing his best to rectify the situation."
The Netherlands authority for financial markets AFM previously warned that these ICOs are the "ideal breeding ground for scammers" as they are unregulated. A representative of the market regulator has also told the NL Times they will take a firm stance against any ICO that appears to be a security if it does not go through the regulatory approval process.