29 March 2018 | Susan Toby | Dynamic Mix

Do I really know what I am doing in this wild west of Crypto where hackers and scam artists prevail by the thousand and at any given opportunity use devious means to catch the unaware buyers of ICO’s or crypto?

Having been scammed by a previous partner for hundreds of thousands of dollars I would say that I have a red flag that flies when certain things are heard.

I do believe myself to be more cautious now.

When getting involved in ICO’s, or putting my wallet address anywhere, I check and double check that the wallet address is correct and secure. I have read of people sending money into the crypto abyss to be lost forever because of a few wrong digits.

Despite the associated risk I believe in crypto and its future as well as some of the Blockchain companies that have a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). When determining where to invest I take the following steps:

  • Conduct research

I have discarded a lot of companies because they just didn’t stack up.

This process brought me to an innovative project called Votem (VAST) which aims to enable citizens around the world to easily vote online and from their mobile devices, I was very optimistic. The US has not mandated voting in contrast to Australia where it is compulsory. I do believe in this company and the opportunities it brings to make changes to democracy and the right of all individuals to vote. I believe that digitized voting is the way to go as mobile phone usage in 2018 accounted for 4.93 billion users (Source: and this means that everyone can be reached, whether they are disabled, young, elderly, married or single. The company has a strong team and are making some interesting business connections.

I began following them on Telegram and noticed on their website they were having an pre-ICO sale. As an Australian I was really excited that I didn’t have to go through the horrendous process of becoming an accredited investor. I did note, however, that the minimum investment was 10,000 USD which was was more than I wanted to spend, therefore I did not continue to pursue. I decided I would wait for the crowdsale when prices were more in keeping with what I could afford.

Time passed and I recieved an e-mail messages in reference to the remaining time left for the sale. I had completely forgotten if I had put my name down for the whitelist and KYC so I decided to ask the question on Telegram.

Previous messages had gone out through Telegram advising community members to be careful about impersonators of admins, so when a Jeffrey Stern responded to my request, the first thing I did was check him out. I clicked on his profile picture, looked at his bio, glanced at his username and compared everything to the list of admins posted to see if he was in fact one of them. I was convinced he was one of the admins so we started to correspond. He was helpful and answered questions with authority so I never doubted he was the real deal.

On the 8th of March, I received a post saying that a special sale was open, a lower amount of 0.5–30 ETH or BTC was being offered to investors. I looked at the website again and saw that there were only 9 days left for the presale. The terminology pre-sale usually means that the ICO is available for investing but I had forgotten the amount required. With the message received via Telegram, and thinking I only had a few days left to invest, I rushed headfirst into the readily awaiting spider’s web.

Using Metamask, I purchased a small number of tokens and confirmed a successful transaction. I was delighted to have participated for reasons stipulated above. When I went to collect my VAST tokens I was surprised to discover a zero balance. Needless to say, the first person I contacted was Jeffrey, (what a fool) who put me in touch with a Srini Kandikattu. Srini kindly advised me that the transaction had gone through, but the problem was that the platform on the other side had not accepted the transaction.

Foolishly, not yet realizing I had been scammed, I started to ask him to do something about the situation. His response was,

‘send me an additional 0.5 ETH and you will get your transaction costs back plus the additional ETH you send’.

When I started to question him about this, his response was

‘ok send me 0.3 then 0.2’.

RED FLAG in full flutter!

I subsequently started to contact Peter Martin, CEO of Votem, on Twitter and other mediums, as well as posting again in the Telegram group, at this point Jeffrey was no longer responding.

Finally, Eric from Token Market communicated with me. The minute I sent him details of the transaction and communication with Jeffrey, the words that I didn’t want to believe were said, ‘you’ve been scammed’. I argued, stating my point of view but with no positive result.

What is the duty of care that an organization has on Telegram?

According to Eric, messages were sent out with warnings to create awareness. As I pointed out, I did my due diligence and the group showed his photo with the word admin. I had engaged in previous conversations with other ICO admins and never had an issue. So the question remained, was I too trusting in believing that the special opportunity Jeffrey provided was real?

According to Sam Town- Crypto News, when discussing Telegram he makes the point,

‘that the platform serves its purpose’ and adds that ‘Telegram Channels are a target rich environment for scammers who impersonate team members and promote pump and dump groups making moderation 24/7’ and that ‘we’ve seen death threats, racism, sexism, extortion, impersonation, scamming — and a level of vulgarity that would be unacceptable in any context.’ (Source-Crypto News).

To date, I have not heard from the CEO? Will there be any compensation? I hope so but time will tell. I will keep you informed.