Faking ICO reviews was an easy way to make quite a bit of money for those who knew how to do it properly. The concept itself is easy enough — startups would go to supposedly impartial ICO review websites, where they would be offered excellent reviews, if they were ready to pay.
Back in 2017, a few positive reviews like that could have attracted quite a group of investors. This is why the price of such reviews used to be $800, sometimes even more. One of the experts, Jeremy Khoo, even reveals that he was once offered a bribe of 5 ETH. At the time, this was $2,500. Of course, this was around a year ago, in June 2018.
Things changed later on, especially after the bear market pushed crypto prices deeper down in November 2018. This, accompanied by the government's ICO crackdown, changed things for the reviewers, however. Shady startups were investigated by the ICOs, Ethereum lost over 50% of its value, and investors were too suspicious of ICOs. This was not a particularly profitable time for anyone.
After IEOs emerged and became a hit, investors got the security they needed in the form of trusted exchanges. Token sales continued, but 'expert reviewers' found themselves out of a job. These days, 3rd party reviewers are barely making a fraction of what they used to earn two years ago, or even one year ago.
These days, reviewers are contacting ICOs and offering five-star ratings on websites like ICObench. Thanks to its rating system, a five-star rating could significantly impact the ICOs score. People who know the website's 'experts' are going around and claiming that they can easily arrange it. And then, there is the price. These days, it is barely 0.65 ETH. At this point, that is around $119, and they even provide projects with the ability to pay after the rating is done.
And that is the price on ICObench, which was one of the first places where investors would go if they wanted to explore ICOs. ICObench supposedly offers hundreds of experts, as well as over 620,000 views per month. It seemed trustworthy and honest, but now, it turns out that its experts can be bought for a little over $100.
It seems that reviewers became desperate after the prices crashed for the second time in 2018, in November. Back then, one expert, known as Douglas Lyons, accepted to secure a review for only 1 ETH. He originally wanted 3 ETH, but was rejected, and he had to go for a much lower price.
Other sources also confirmed that the prices have gone down by quite a bit. The business is still not dead, of course, and with the return of ICOs, it might be possible that reviewers could find themselves in need of work. Khoo, however, doesn't believe it will come to that. He said that the market had dried up, and that there are no more offers since ICOs for retail buyers went on the decline.
Of course, Khoo said that he never accepts such offers. He even pointed out that he was recently contacted by two Russians who wanted their ratings artificially boosted, and he refused. However, it might just be that they did not provide a decent offer. As for ICObench itself, the website remains quiet in regards to these practices, and has failed to comment as of yet.
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