At the Coalface of Fraud — Exclusive Interview With Jonas Sevel Karlberg From AmaZix
AmaZix works with ICOs to manage their communication channels and help prevent bad actors from targeting their investors. As a community management and engagement firm in the crypto industry, they sit very much at the coalface of fraud.
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AmaZix — On the Front Lines
One of AmaZix’s clients, BABB, told Bitsonline that:
“AmaZix advised us in our preparations for the launch of the sale. We implemented several measures in our Telegram group to prevent fraud, protect our community from scammers and minimise contributions lost to BABB imposters. We received feedback from token buyers that our token sale and Telegram community were among the best managed they had ever come across in the space, and as far as we know there were only a handful of successful attempts at defrauding our contributors.”
So what is it like on the front lines of ICO fraud? And given the volume of fraudulent ICOs in the space, how can AmaZix be sure they’re representing the good guys? We sat down with CEO Jonas Sevel Karlberg to find out.
Our Interview With Jonas Sevel Karlberg
Paul de Havilland: Where are you based and when did your company launch?
Jonas Sevel Karlberg: AmaZix is based in Hong Kong. We launched in 2017, so are still quite young, but we have achieved a huge amount since then.
As the AmaZix brand has grown and we’ve refined our services to the high standards they’re known for today, we’ve risen to become the world’s leading engagement company for blockchain and cryptocurrency businesses.
PdH: How many ICOs have you run communication channels for and which were your highest profile campaigns?
JSK: We have completed ICOs for 50 clients and we are about to celebrate working with our 100th client already. We currently manage 139 Reddit, Telegram, and Bitcoin Talk channels, across which there are over 470,000 users. Through our community management, we have helped our clients raise over $1.2 billion USD.
We are proud of the work we do with all of our clients, but some of our most well-known campaigns include token conversion network Bancor, tokenization and asset exchange company Bankex, and Hdac, who are advancing the development of Internet of Things (IoT) devices through blockchain technology.
We’re thrilled to have worked with so many influential clients over the past year. The trust they have invested in us, which we have fed back into their communities, demonstrates a real commitment to making crypto a stronger, more secure space.
PdH: How much work is involved in representing an ICO from launch to conclusion? (human hours, how many channels, etc.)
JSK: A huge amount of work goes into delivering the service that our clients need. We’re lucky to have a great team at AmaZix, including 85 moderators split into nine teams, managed by a smaller group of executive moderators headed by Dejan Horvat, our Chief Communications Officer.
We work with our moderators to make sure that they’re happy with their work schedule and can therefore do the best job possible. They all put in 40 hours a week, providing 24/7 channel coverage. Out moderators are never alone, with two to a shift so that they can stay on top of the channels which they look after and back each other up.
We currently manage over 130 different channels, with over 470,000 members spread across them, so it’s vital that we have a sizable group of well-trained staff. Our whole team is knowledgeable about blockchain and crypto and are all very excited to be a part of AmaZix and the clients we represent.
PdH: What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
JSK: One of the most challenging parts of my job at AmaZix is dealing with people who seek to take advantage of the great communities that we run. With the crypto space having so much money injected into it and being coordinated across so many different communities, some of them very small, it is an extremely attractive target for scammers.
We’re lucky enough to have some extremely innovative and promising startups using our services, and we do everything we can to protect them from the negative attention they attract. For one of our clients, SpringRole, we had to turn away over 65,000 fraudulent Telegram accounts that attempted to join their Telegram channel.
Our business relies on investors having faith in cryptocurrency, so it’s difficult to see it constantly under threat. We do everything we can to keep out clients safe, and we’re pretty good at it. I like to think that we’ve positively contributed to the overall health of crypto and the crypto community.
PdH: You say you fight scammers that target ICO investors. How?
JSK: We have a number of systems in place for combatting fraudsters, both human and machine-led. One of our most exciting recent ventures involves partnering with BrandShield, the AI-backed brand protection company.
We use their blockchain-based anti-scam platform MyShield in conjunction with our moderators to ensure that we are providing the strongest security available to our customers. MyShield can detect and protect against fraudulent accounts and malicious links, so it felt like a natural fit for securing our social channels. This is vital work, as ten percent of all ICO funds have been lost to scammers, primarily through phishing and fake account scams.
PdH: OK, so you help ICOs deal with scammers targeting their investors, but as we all know, ICOs hardly have a reputation for being hapless victims of fraud. To many people, ICOs are virtually synonymous with fraud. How do you verify the organizations you represent aren’t themselves endeavoring to commit fraud?
JSK: We put every one of our clients through a rigorous assessment process. This is a paid service, allowing us to go into a great amount of detail, as well as demonstrating the client’s commitment to progress. The client is given a “deep dive” by our team of researchers to ensure that establishing a relationship would definitely be the right choice for both parties.
We split the deep dive into four steps:
Concept, in which we look at a host of factors, including the company’s business and vision, product, whitepaper, token economics, and token growth potential;
Team, for which we examine the strength of the team behind the ICO, looking for gaps in the team’s strengths and considering how this may affect the business in the long term;
Competitive Environment, the phase during which we chart the landscape of the market external to the company, extending to the entire industry they are part of and identifying competitors;
Presence, which includes monitoring the perception of the company in the community they wish to penetrate, as well as amongst the wider public.
PdH: Have you ever got it wrong?
JSK: An important thing to keep in mind about the crypto community is just how varied and fast moving it is. It is filled with different communities and personalities, all of which have different expectations, tolerances, and sometimes even definitions for what crosses the line of acceptability. Taming the Wild West of crypto is no easy task. It is estimated that 78 percent of ICOs launched in 2017 have turned out to be scams.
In this environment, we have of coursed faced challenges that could have been overcome in a better, more efficient way, or with greater delicacy. But we have learned from every one of those instances, and dedicated ourselves to correcting errors swiftly whenever they do occur.
PdH: What single piece of advice would you give to an organization seeking to conduct an ICO?
JSK: I would recommend that organizations do their due diligence. If you want your ICO to be successful and not just survive, reassuring investors that you are a legitimate company is as important as protecting your business against criminals.
Enlisting the services of an engagement firm is one of the best ways to lend credence to your ICO. If you can pass a professional vetting process, investors are more likely to feel safe becoming part of your community. Once you’ve done that, the firm can take care of your community for you, providing a consistent service that will help to perpetuate your ICO’s identity.
PdH: What about potential investors. What advice would you give them?
JSK: The advice I would give to investors is not all that different from what I’d say to businesses looking to do ICOs. Investors need to take precautions, do their research, and remain sceptical at all times. If something sounds too good to be true, it is. If you can, get involved with a reputable group that you know is under expert protection. Finally, be careful about giving away your crypto wallet address. Scammers are experts at getting people to put confidence in them and exploiting it fully.
Have your say. Have you ever been the victim of a scam when interested in an ICO?
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