Messenger service Telegram has warned its users not to be scammed by offers to buy the Gram token, a planned cryptocurrency on the high anticipated Telegram Open Network (TON) blockchain platform that the company is currently building.
The Russian-owned company raised $1.7 billion 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 cryptocurrency is known as the Gram and various websites have popped up offering Grams as part of a “presales” process – a common practice 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 Monday. “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 U.S. 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 afoul of the SEC last year, which temporarily blocked the issue of Grams with a court restraint order. TON had an obligation to investors to launch an operational network by October 31, 2019, or return the $1.7 billion to investors.