The website - which regular readers of CNR will probably know borrows its name from the long-standing U.S. legal test to determine whether an offering counts as a security, and should thus adhere to the rules laid down by the SEC for the sector - has the look and feel of many ICO sites, indeed its creators have even gone as far as creating fake endorsees and a whitepaper and plenty of faux-technical content that could attract a casual investor.
As interest in cryptocurrencies continues to expand, this has sparked a new industry.
The deceiving website can be concluded to be the USA regulator's latest ploy to try to prove to investors that ICOs - in which firms offer digital tokens that can ultimately be exchanged for goods or services - are highly susceptible to fraud.
Investors need to beware and be informed.
The securities regulator recently launched a highly useful ICO web page to demonstrate potential investment victims what are the obvious signals of frauds and scams in connection with these investments.
SEC is now pursuing a dozen companies for allegedly conducting ICO exit scams.
The regulatory agency has been praised by many crypto enthusiasts on Twitter for its novel idea of educating cryptocurrency investors.
The "massive potential upside benefits" included official registration of the HoweyCoin with the USA government and a trading exchange environment that is SEC-compliant, "where you can buy and sell them for profit" or exchange them "for crypto-currencies and cash".
HoweyCoins says it combines the "blockchain and travel" to offer ICO participants massive discounts on travel expenses.
HoweyCoins will partner with all segments of the travel industry (air, hotel, auto rental, and luxury segments), earning coins you can trade for profit instead of points.
The SEC uses a bait and switch to guide users along to educate themselves about the pitfalls of ICO investing.
The spoof ICO is called HoweyCoins and is artfully presented as a method to invest funds in the luxury travel market. Anxiety-inducing countdown clock? Check. It also provides something even more valuable: advice on how to avoid getting ripped off by fraudulent ICOs.
Anyone that is somehow convinced enough to "buy coins now" on the site "will be led instead to investor education tools and tips from the SEC and other financial regulators".
More often than not, ICOs promise future businesses and return on investment which appears to be too good to be true. Most of these, like pump-and-dumps and guaranteed returns, are already familiar markers in the cryptocurrency.
The SEC's fake Web site, HoweyCoins.com, is a wink to the so-called Howey test that emerged from a 1946 Supreme Court ruling to define securities. The securities regulator also created a dedicated cyber unit whose objective is to combat fintech as well as cyber-related crimes. The site talks about an investment offer to good to refuse before informing readers that "the offer isn't real".