Over 1,000 investors funding an initial coin offering (ICO) for a company called Giza found themselves bilked out of $2 million after the company they put money into simply vanished with all their funds, according to CNBC. The startup was supposedly developing a tool that would allow people to securely store cryptocurrencies, and first launched its ICO in January.
As the weeks went on, however, it became increasingly apparent that the whole thing was a scam. The third-party developer who had the contract to design and build the device cut ties with the company after it failed to answer several questions about the product’s technical specifications. On top of this, prior to severing ties, Giza also balked when the developer gave the project a $1.5 million price tag and suggested it be paid in installments. Further, it began occurring to investors that no one had actually met Marco Fike, the company’s chief operating officer and their main liaison for the deal, or even heard his voice. Later digging by investors found that his LinkedIn profile was filled with false information, like saying he used to work for Microsoft and a company in Dubai called the United Arab Emirates Agency (the former says he never worked there and the latter had a main phone number that went to someone who said he’d never even heard of the company).
When investors began asking Giza questions on a group chat, the company responded by banning the users. The person who did the banning, someone named “Karina,” posted that she was being paid by Giza, but the company stopped paying her once the bans were done. Karina is apparently not the only employee who was also duped. Three software engineers were recruited and interviewed for the company and then promised a job, though Giza never followed up. Cal Evans, the company’s legal adviser, believes that Giza probably started as a legitimate project, but then was abandoned in favor of just taking the money. He is currently helping the investors track down the stolen funds.