Research by the Atlantic Forensic Digital Forensic Science Laboratory (DFRLab) of the Atlantic Council Analytical Center shows that the infamous Ponzi cryptocurrency scheme OneCoin used fake reviews on TrustPilot and Quora to attract investors.
According to a report released on January 29, OneCoin received an unusual number of five-star reviews on TrustPilot after media began to cover OneCoin negatively in October 2019.
According to the report, out of 579 TrustPilot OneCoin reviews, 90% were positive, and about 400 of the five-star ratings were published within one month. DFRLab claims that OneCoin also received some one-star ratings, but positive reviews far exceeded them.
Researchers could not guarantee whether the accounts behind the reviews were inaccurate or automated due to the design of TrustPilot, but said their activities were suspicious:
“However, the surge in five-star ratings in October 2019 indicates an abnormal influx of positive reviews at a time when OneCoin’s public relations and legal problems are growing. There is still the possibility that the influx of both ratings and reviews was organic, although the timing and extreme bias were very suspicious.”
DFRLab also found profiles praising OneCoin on the Quora Q & A platform, which showed "unreliable behavior such as lack of profile photos, lack of biographical information, inconsistent publishing time and exceptional interest in OneCoin related discussions."
Researchers show one profile in which the owner called himself an “expert and investor in cryptocurrency,” but answered only questions about OneCoin. The account was active from January to March 2018, and its peak activity was when OneCoin was most active. The report says :
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"As OneCoin's legal problems arose, the company's marketing pyramid scheme attracted considerable attention. However, its digital marketing tactics received much less attention."
OneCoin is one of the most well-known cryptocurrency scammers, and the official OneCoin website only stopped operating in early December 2019. In the same month, a court in the Southern District of New York granted a lawsuit against David Pike, the chief financial officer of a private equity fund, in connection with his alleged link to fraud.