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Steven Seagal and Bitcoiin Founders 'Exit' As ICO Ends

Actor Steven Seagal made headlines in February when he endorsed the “Bitcoiin” cryptocurrency, but his role as brand ambassador has apparently come to an end.

In a March 26 statement, the group behind the Bitcoiin cryptocurrency said that both Seagal and the “founders” of the project are exiting in light of the token sale’s completion.

The post stated:

“As Bitcoiin goes through the conversion phase from token to mineable coin we wish to advise that Bitcoiin will join the likes of the original Bitcoin and become a truly open source. Therefore a big thank you to the Founders and to our Brand Ambassador whom we wish all the best in their future endeavors. However, from this point on Bitcoiin will function within its ecosystem and become a genuinely anonymous cryptocurrency with no individual or individuals having control over the entity!”

As previously reported, outside of Seagal, it hasn’t been clear who is exactly behind the project, though BehindMLM, a blog that covers multi-level marketing schemes, has profiled some of the efforts to promote the token sale following a cease-and-desist order from regulators in New Jersey. A now-deleted webinar, originally posted to YouTube, had previously claimed that the team behind Bitcoiin wished to remain anonymous.

The exits also come days after regulators in the state of Tennessee issued a warning to investors about Bitcoiin, citing the action in New Jersey.

Seagal has made no public comment regarding his exit via Twitter, where he has posted a number of promotional messages during the Bitcoiin token sale. The last one teased news about a forthcoming exchange listing, though it’s not clear which market he was referring to.

No staking here, says Bitcoiin

The statement issued Monday highlighted the push toward open-source development, though efforts to do this publicly seem to have only begun earlier this year. A GitHub page associated with Bitcoiin features a fork of the Go-Ethereum (geth) client, listing changes that appear to be largely cosmetic.

For example, a commit from nine days ago features changes like adjusting the email address for ethereum founder Jeffrey Wilcke from “jeffrey@ethereum.org” to “jeffrey@bitcoiin2g.org.”

The press release also emphasized that, following the token sale, “neither STAKING nor REFERRALS will exist in the blockchain or the Bitcoiin ecosystem.” The group blames “the media which believe in sensationalism instead of reality” for spreading this idea, though Bitcoiin’s own statement from February 5 outlined how “Bitcoiin Staking” would let “anyone holding Bitcoiin in their wallet…receive interest on their balance in return for helping maintain the security of the network.”

“The 1% reward is generated through our mining eco-system and hence we are able to provide the guaranteed monthly return,” the statement explained at the time.

It’s not clear how much money has been raised during the ICO, though the group claimed earlier this month that its $75 million “soft cap” had been reached.

Image Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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New Jersey Issues Cease-and-Desist to ICO Endorsed by Steven Seagal

The U.S. state of New Jersey has issued a cease-and-desist order to an initial coin offering (ICO) endorsed by film actor Steven Seagal.

In an order entered on March 7, the New Jersey Bureau of Securities alleged that Bitcoiin is selling unregistered securities to New Jersey residents. The document highlights the lack of concrete information about those behind the project, stating that “Bitcoiin’s developers, officers, managers, employees, controllers, and/or directors are anonymous,” though it highlights the endorsement by Seagal.

“Bitcoiin has never been registered to sell securities in the State of New Jersey,” officials wrote.

The project made headlines last month after Seagal, best known for his action film roles in the 1990s, publicly endorsed the cryptocurrency offering through his official Twitter account – a notable development given the string of endorsements seen last year and the subsequent warning by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding celebrity involvement in token sales.

The Bitcoiin ICO had sparked accusations that it was a pyramid scheme seeking to mislead investors through the close name association with bitcoin – allegations that Bitcoiin later rebuked in a public statement.

Notably, New Jersey’s cease-and-desist order highlight’s Seagal’s role as a brand ambassador, noting a disclaimer on its website that states the actor holds no ownership stake in the project. That said, officials drew issue with the lack of information regarding the compensation he may have received.

“The Bitcoiin Websites do not disclose what expertise, if any, Steven Seagal has to ensure that the Bitcoiin investments are appropriate and in compliance with federal and state securities laws,” the order explains. “Additionally, there are no disclosures as to the nature, scope, and amount of compensation paid by Bitcoiin in exchange for Steven Seagal’s promotion of the Bitcoiin investments.”

A day before New Jersey’s cease-and-desist order was published, Seagal posted a tweet claiming that Bitcoiin was on the cusp of being “listed on some of the biggest exchanges globally,” with his message bearing an “#Ad” hashtag. He added that additional details are “coming very shortly.”

Officials framed Wednesday’s cease-and-desist action as an effort to protect investors in the state from potential fraud.

“The Bureau’s actions today are a reminder to investors that while celebrity endorsements can add to the excitement and hype of cryptocurrency-related investments, they do not guarantee that an investment is sound or even legal,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement.

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Actor Steven Seagal Endorses Questionable 'Bitcoiin' ICO

Action film star Steven Seagal has become the brand ambassador for a controversial cryptocurrency ahead of an initial coin offering (ICO).

A statement posted to Seagal’s Twitter account confirmed the news, the announcement for which was posted to the official website of “Bitcoiin.” Seagal’s endorsement – one of a number of celebrity endorsements in the cryptocurrency space in the past year – comes over a month before the “second generation Bitcoiin” is set to be sold.

An accompanying press release notably highlights Seagal’s film and martial-arts career, stating: “Hollywood actor Steven Seagal has become a believer of Bitcoiin2Gen, the Hollywood action star will be representing the leading cryptocurrency organization, Bitcoiin2Gen, as brand ambassador.”

The cryptocurrency in question is said to be based on ethereum’s blockchain, and also boasts a mining component through a partnership with a company called Dragon Mining. The website also advertises “considerable profit from holding Bitcoiin (B2G)” via a staking/depository process.

The project notably boasts affiliate rewards for those who drive investor interest ahead of the sale, calling to mind investment schemes such as OneCoin and BitConnect – both of which have been accused of constituting pyramid schemes – that also featured affiliate programs.

As a press release from Feb. 8 explains:

“To promote Bitcoiin B2G, a depositor who chooses to participate in one of our accredited Mining Programs, will earn commissions off their recruits’ earnings. Bitcoiin B2G is offering a 4-level commission structure, available to whoever joins the program and/or purchases Bitcoiin B2G during the ICO period.”

Additional information about Bitcoiin’s official backers isn’t available on the website. Data from ICANN reveals that the site was initially created in 2015, is registered out of Panama, and that the ownership of it changed hands around Jan. 8.

Celebrity endorsement aside, Bitcoiin has attracted some criticism for sharing elements of pyramid schemes, or investment structures by which early investors make money largely by bringing in new buyers.

The name itself – which simply adds an additional “i” to “bitcoin” – has raised concerns that it will lead to confusion among unsophisticated cryptocurrency buyers. Indeed, frequent multi-level marketing critic BehindMLM.com wrote earlier this month that “Bitcoiin hope[s] to peddle their B2G altcoin using bitcoin’s established brand awareness.”

Seagal’s endorsement is also a notable one given that the pace of celebrity endorsements around cryptocurrency – including those from boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and actor Jamie Foxx, among others – has largely dried up. In the case of Mayweather, a planned cryptocurrency promotion venture was quietly scuttled, and much of the activity seen in the fall months died away following a public warning from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Celebrities and others are using social media networks to encourage the public to purchase stocks and other investments,” the agency said in November. “These endorsements may be unlawful if they do not disclose the nature, source, and amount of any compensation paid, directly or indirectly, by the company in exchange for the endorsement.”

Image Credit: Ondrej Deml / Shutterstock.com

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at news@coindesk.com.

Disclaimer: This article should not be taken as, and is not intended to provide, investment advice. Please conduct your own thorough research before investing in any cryptocurrency.