The ratings of some of the most popular ICO rating websites have been disputed throughout the cryptocurrency communities for some time now but without evidence. Markus Hartmann's recent article on medium sheds some light on the controversy. They did manage to buy ratings for their ICO.
Is ICObench as honest as they say they are?
The website at question was ICObench. ICObench is one of the most popular ICO rating websites currently. They advertise that on their site that they offer: “ICO ratings from top investors and experts”. How does ICObench work? ICObench offers ICOs the opportunity to greater exposure if they select one of their packages. Their packages entail things like appear in their competitor's profiles, being featured in the newsletter and a top ranking in their ICO overview. 2 BTC is their most basic package, 4.5 BTC their mid-range package and 6.75 BTC for the full service.
From the get-go, it is easy to see that if you have money to spend, you can get a better visibility on the platform, which is unrelated to expert's opinions. For the non-experienced users, it is easy to lure them into these ICOs that are enjoying more visibility because they have a bigger marketing budget. Unfortunately, the matter gets worse.
In the article, Markus goes ahead and registers his ICO in order to uncover how the system really works. Shorty after the ICO got listed, Markus started getting messages on Telegram from non-associated users telling him that they could help him receive some expert ratings. Markus goes ahead and bargains with them enough to get two expert ratings. The cost of these two ratings was $800. After this purchase, another expert rating was purchased from the same person for $300. Sure enough, their listing had received three five star ratings!
If you register on ICObench, expect to be approached and offered expert ratings
These three ratings were from one person. There were more people messaging Markus also. Another person called John Smith also offered an expert rating. In this case, Markus was aiming to give this person who was providing the expert rating, an exact text for him to post. In this text, which consisted of four paragraphs, Markus put the first letter of each paragraph to spell out SCAM. Sure enough, a person called Stephanos Constantinou, dropped his expert rating on them, with the exact text that was provided for him.
Obviously, ICObench itself, because it is not directly implicated in these sort of reviews it claims innocence. It is more profitable for them to turn the blind eye rather than overhaul the whole system in order to be most honest. With their current model, honesty may not be the most profitable way forward for them.
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