It all seems so innocent at first glance. To celebrate its hundredth token, Bancor Network is offering to give away 100 Bancor Network tokens (BNT).
"As integration with Bancor becomes more automated and the benefits of continuous, adjustable and algorithmic liquidity more apparent, we believe activating on the Bancor Network will become as standard as auditing a token's smart contracts," Bancor wrote in its blog announcement of the promotion.
"Big thanks to the incredible Bancor community for helping us reach this milestone and the dedicated Bancor team for relentlessly building at the frontiers of blockchain."
The problem lies in how the crypto company chose to go about this promotion. Bancor is asking users to vote on which of the network's token projects they are "most excited about" by tweeting with the #100Tokens hashtag and the @Bancor tag. Forty users who vote for the winning token will get a swag pack while one randomly-selected user will receive the 100 BNT.
This, to some, seems uncomfortably similar to Twitter scam bots that have been stealing user information as of late.
"Why let a few bad actors ruin gifting for an entire industry?" Bancor replied to the backlash, insisting its intentions are sincere. "Also, unlike the scammers, Bancor will NEVER ask users to send funds or private keys – as we have warned repeatedly."
The outrage stems from the fact that nearly half of the current leaders of the cryptocurrency movement have had their names used by fake accounts. The list of targets ranges from the founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin, to tech celebrities like Elon Musk. These fake accounts tweet to the unassuming, promising a large sum of cryptocurrency for a small deposit. The prominence of this trend has led many of those impersonated to change their Twitter names and handles.
Scammers also targeted the exchange Binance in February:
Additionally, Fake Twitter accounts are being used in "pump-and-dump" schemes, in which prices of underperforming coins are bolstered by disingenuous endorsements. By the time investors realize what has happened, the scammers have sold off their stake in the coin, leaving the victims stuck with a now-devalued coin.
John McAfee's Twitter account was hacked last year and the perpetrator(s) promoted a plethora of coins from the hijacked profile. At the time, he told ETHNews, "Hackers and their techniques evolve faster than the cybersecurity community can respond."
In the era of runaway return-on-investment claims, many are desperate to strike it rich. This leads to the creation of a "sucker class" of would-be investors who throw caution to the wind in order to be on the ground floor for the next big thing.
"A lot of this falls on the fact that people need to be more sober-minded in the space," Laz Alberto, cryptocurrency investor and editor of the newsletter the Blockchain Report, said to Buzzfeed.
"A lot of conversations that I have start with 'my friend says' or 'I saw this on Twitter' or 'I saw this in a Telegram group.' Before listening to anyone in crypto, you have to learn firsthand."
Bancor's tone-deafness creates the impression that the group is okay with the association or is ignorant of the concerns of the cryptocurrency community. Either way, this situation has the ecosystem looking critically at Bancor.
Bancor is a token exchange network that allows for token trades without exchange intervention. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.