Russian messenger service Telegram has warned consumers not to be scammed by offers to buy the Gram token that will function on the high anticipated Telegram Open Network (TON) blockchain platform that the company is in the middle of building.
Telegram raised $1.7bn in the biggest ever ICO (Initial Coin Offering) in 2018 to develop the TON platform that Telegram owner and founder Pavel Durov promises will be a revolutionary advance in the use of blockchain. The TON crypto currency is known as the Gram and various websites have popped up offering Grams as part of a “presales” process – a common practise with ICOs.
"It has come to our attention that certain websites appear to be offering Grams to the public. These websites sometimes refer to the offers as "token presales", and some pretend to be affiliated with Telegram. As we've warned you on numerous occasions, these are not official Telegram websites, they have no affiliation with Telegram, and no Grams have been issued yet to anyone," Telegram said on January 6 as cited by Tass. "Neither Telegram nor any of its affiliates are involved in any public sales or presales of Grams.”
The TON platform is still at the beta-testing stage, Telegram said. "Grams don't exist yet, nobody can buy or sell them before we announce the launch of TON Blockchain. Don't get scammed," the company warned.
TON is intended to create a universal blockchain infrastructure based on its speedy operation and its inclusion of “smart contracts” – pieces of code that can be tasked to carry out functions such as make payments or send reports that are attached to the blockchain records. Investors are excited as Durov is claiming the new blockchain will offer vastly improved speed of execution that can compete with credit card settlements and so could challenge traditional money operations.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed actions against two websites that were spuriously offering Grams for sale last October, the Telegram Group Inc. and Ton Issuer Inc., which have nothing to do with the Dubai-based Telegram messaging company.
Telegram itself ran foul of the SEC last year, which temporarily blocked the issue of Grams with a court restraint order, the SEC said on October 11.
TON had an obligation to investors to launch an operational network by October 31, 2019 or return the $1.7bn to investors.
Telegram was founded in Russia, but left the country after the Federal Security Service (FSB) demanded the encryption key to the service at the start of 2019 – a request that Durov denied. The authorities then tried to close the Telegram service down in what turned into a fiasco and ultimately only increased the popularity of the service.