Gumi Cryptos Capital partner, Miko Matsumura, recently spoke with a scam artist pretending to be Justin Sun. The imposter was attempting to sell a supposed privacy-focused crypto asset pegged to the value of real Tron TRX coins.
Upon initial inspection of the project and its token sale, Matsumura jumped on Skype for a call with someone who claimed to be Justin Sun. "The impostor was very realistic as you can see," Matsumura told Cointelegraph referring to a video he provided of his chat.
The video looked highly suspicious
The video of the web chat showed a person resembling Justin Sun talking to Matsumura. Using a faulty internet connection as an excuse, the imposter appears to have taken old, low frame rate footage of Sun and imposed his own voice over top. It is also possible that this person was a look-a-like.
"Only after the adversary made a mistake and used CC: firstname.lastname@example.org did the TRON network see this scam and warn me," Matsumura said. "Their warning was my first indication that this was false," he explained. "I was not intending to invest regardless, but was curious to learn more because it seemed strange."
The imposter slipped up, cc'ing the real Justin Sun into an email with Matsumura. After seeing the email, Sun's personal assistant responded to Matsumura, confirming that the project and token offering were a scam, according to email's forwarded to Cointelegraph.
The project came complete with a white paper
Matsumura also provided Cointelegraph with a copy of the fake project's white paper. The fraudulent token positioned itself as a privacy solution.
Called TRZ, the asset claimed a price pegged to the TRX coin. It used similar technology to other known privacy assets. TRZ also claimed a total token supply of 99 billion — just 281,283,754 less than the total TRX supply listed on CoinMarketCap. The white paper showed a "seed sale date" of "May - June."
"TRZ is the first privacy token on tron and it realizes the complete privacy protection of the tron network through non-interactive zero-knowledge proof," the scam white paper said.
"Compared to the existing blockchain privacy protection technologies, TRZ can help realize the privacy protection of account and transaction information," the white paper added, proving a point of irony — an asset touting security actually looked to harm participants in reality, as part of a fake offering.
Matsumura noted the sale as a purported Binance initial exchange offering, or IEO. Matsumura said that the scam was persuasive:
"Overall I thought it was a fairly convincing fake. I have met the real Justin Sun in person so this is a fairly high standard imo."
Since its inception more than 10 years ago, the crypto industry has yielded no shortage of scams, hacks, and foul play. Internet crime in general, however, has risen since COVID-19 took center stage in March 2020.
Jeffrey Albus contributed reporting to this aritcle.