Another day, another scam. A cryptocurrency startup called Prodeum – which promised to “revolutionize the fruit and vegetable industry” by putting it on the Ethereum blockchain – has seemingly pulled a good ol’ exit scam, leaving its duped ICO investors with one word only: “penis.” Things first started going awry over the weekend on January 28, when the company’s website suddenly went down. In place of the old layout, the page was showing only one thing: the word “penis” on a white background. — The website continues to be unavailable at the time of writing.
The startup, which claimed to be based in Lithuania, set out to build a new price look-up (PLU) code system so consumers can track where their fruit and veggies came from. This honorable cause struck a cord with numerous environmental activists and green-aware people. Unfortunately, though, it seems it has parted with their funds. As some users have since pointed out on Twitter, it appears Prodeum might have been paying Fiverr users to write their brand on their bodies and post the images on social media.
In addition to its website, Prodeum has since also purged its Twitter account. Similarly, TokenDesk – a website that promotes various initial coin offerings – has also removed Prodeum’s page from its platform. Instead, it now reads “404 Page Not Found.”
According to its white paper [PDF], Prodeum was founded by four individuals going by the names of Petar Jandric, Darius Rugevicius, Vytaustas Kaseta, and Rokas Vedluga. IBT has since unearthed a deleted LinkedIn profile which allegedly belonged to the Prodeum founder, Jandric.
Rugevicius has since responded with the following statement:
Yesterday I became a victim of an identity theft. My name was used as a tool to attract investments into a project that I have neither no relation with nor ever heard of it before, I want to send my condolences to every Investor that has participated in the project named Prodeum. I will do my best to find and bring the people behind this violent act to justice. This event one more time proves how fragile our industry is and how important it is to conduct a thorough due diligence process before making an investment decision.
He also posted the same message on his LinkedIn.
It remains unclear precisely how much cash the startup has lifted from its investors, but its entry on ICO Watchlist indicates Prodeum completed 18 percent from its funding goal. For context, its white paper lists the soft and hard caps for the ICO at 2,100 and 5,400 ETH, respectively. The current price of Ethereum is $1,194, according to CoinMarketCap.