Lies, plagiarism and other red flags found in over 15% of ICO whitepapers

27 Dec, 2018 | Updated: 27 Dec, 2018
by David Robb
Lies, plagiarism and other red flags found in over 15% of ICO whitepapers

The Wall Street Journal recently carried out an study of 3,300 whitepapers for ICOs and crypto projects. It found that more than 15 percent of them contained things that should represent major red flags for investors.

The information was gathered from,, and Reporters carried out analysis on the text of whitepapers, as well as promotional images used. 

According to the results of the study, 513 ICO whitepapers are guilty of plagiarizing others. Of these projects, over half of their websites are unavailable, and more than 30 are currently being investigated by regulators.

Directly copying information provided for a different ICO scheme should definitely be a signal to potential investors that a project is lacking in legitimacy, although it's not a practice that is limited to fake or fraudulent cryptos. Justin Sun and the team behind the 10th-largest crypto Tron (TRX) have previously been accused of plagiarizing the work of others.

Read more: Tron accused of plagiarising code from other crypto projects

Another common red flag spotted was missing or faked team listings and sponsor details. Many of these cases were identified using a reverse image search, showing that information about who is working on a project was not to be trusted. There were also frequent promises of "high returns" in the text body, which were manually studied by reporters to determine the plausibility of the claims.

Read more: Most white papers are just marketing tools

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