The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced in an order Wednesday, August 14, that it has barred and fined the creator of Tomahawkcoin over a fraudulent Initial Coin Offering (ICO).
Tomahawkcoin, which David T. Laurance ran as a token through his corresponding company Tomahawk Exploration LLC, failed to raise funds via an ICO in 2017.
Having issued tokens via a “Bounty Program in exchange for promotional services,” Laurance, who has a previous record for securities fraud, again “violated the registration and antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws.”
“Investors should be alert to the risk of old-school frauds, like oil and gas schemes, masquerading as innovative blockchain-based ICOs,” Robert A. Cohen, chief of the regulator’s Cyber Unit commented on the case.
Tomahawk presented investors with specious plans to drill for oil in California, erroneously claiming it had the right to do so.
“The SEC’s order finds that the defendants’ promotional materials used inflated projections of oil production that were contradicted by the company’s own internal analysis and misleadingly suggested that Tomahawk possessed leases for drilling sites when it did not,” the order continues.
“…The order also finds that Tomahawk claimed that token owners would be able to convert the Tomahawkcoins into equity and potentially profit from the anticipated oil production and secondary trading of the tokens.”
Laurance consented to a permanent officer-and-director bar and a penny stock bar from the SEC, along with a $30,000 fine.
The episode comes as U.S. regulators continue a wide-ranging sweep of ICO offerings to ensure their compliance with regulatory statutes. In May, the SEC launched a mock ICO to increase awareness of the most common warning signs of ICO scams.
Last month, a study prepared by ICO advisory firm Statis Group found that more than 80 percent of ICOs in 2017 were scams. According to the research, “over 70 percent of ICO funding (by $ volume) to-date went to higher quality projects, although over 80 percent of projects (by # share) were identified as scams.”