On Dec 1, 2018, Ethereum Nowa (ETN) appeared on Twitter. ETN describes itself as a forthcoming hard fork of Ethereum (ETH) announced for Jan 12. However, there are many red flags that make Nowa look more like a phishing scam than a legitimate hard fork.
Stock Photos for Team MembersSeveral news outlets, YouTube personalities, and other sources have isolated the first red flag: the images originally used for each of the members are stock photos taken from Shutterstock. In other words, the people who are supposed to be responsible for the development and release of ETN do not appear to be real people at all. Since the announcement of the stock photos, no information about the team or its advisers can be found on the ETN website.
Do Not Give Away Private Keys!The stock photos may be one of the most reported red flags, but it is not the most alarming. What is truly worrisome is that ETN is asking prospective buyers to export their private keys from well-established wallets like My Ethereum Wallet (MEW), Meta Mask, and others into a wallet that ETN has developed. When transferring cryptocurrency, only the public address should be shared. Exporting the private keys into the ETN Wallet is dangerous. It allows ETN access to all cryptocurrencies using that private key. https://twitter.com/EthereumNowa/status/1077980150455767040 By giving ETN the private keys from another wallet, ETN can steal all the ETH and other cryptos within that wallet. Exporting private keys to a new wallet that has not established itself as trustworthy is dangerous. It is also a major red flag that a phishing scam is underway.
Plagiarized Purpose Statement?Furthermore, the entire project is shrouded in other layers of vagueness. The original description of ETN is included in its first tweet on Dec 1. https://twitter.com/EthereumNowa/status/1068837912672907265 There is nothing unique about this description. In fact, it appears to be little more than a paraphrased version of ETH’s purpose statement. On it’s landing page, ETH describes itself as smart contract based platform that can be used to create decentralized applications. ETN says almost the exact same thing about itself without providing any more information. It appears it is just plagiarizing ETH to try to sell its scam. In another tweet from Dec 1, ETN offers some supposed differences between itself, ETH, and EOS. It specifies that it will use Proof of Stake (POS) instead of Proof of Work (POW) or Distributed Prove of Stake (DPOS). It also states that it will possess the ability for great scalability when compared to ETH or EOS. The problem is that ETH announced long ago its intention to eventually move to POS system which will increase its scalability. Nothing ETN is proposing is new. In fact, ETN appears to just be saying things that will get people interested without offering any real information or facts of substance.
The Wallet is DangerousOn Dec 26, ETN also posted a link on Twitter to its supposed wallet. If a user clicks on the link, he or she receives this warning: This should be worrisome, especially in light of the other red flags, as Twitter tells its users the page in which the ETN wallet is supposed to be found is “potentially harmful.” Even Twitter seems to be aware that something untoward is occurring.
Bad WebsiteETN does include a link to its website in its Twitter bio, but nothing that appears there is unique. Everything on the website is also found within the series of tweets made by ETN between Dec 1 and 26, 2018. Its website also lacks access to a white paper of any sort. Furthermore, while it is trying to sell ETN to users, it also reports on its website that all ETH uses will receive ETN at a 1:1 ratio. This is typical of all hard forks and raises the questions about why ETN would need be purchased at all.
Vague Roadmap with No Announced White PaperThe final red flag concerns the roadmap. Just like the information found on Twitter and the website, the roadmap is vague. It appears to have taken the most general parts of any other crypto roadmap and just thrown them together. In the first quarter of 2019, it is stated that they will test and audit ETN for security while deploying a stable version of ETN. No further details are given as to how this will be done. With a vague website and no whitepaper, there is no way to investigate this further. The second quarter of 2019 is supposed to feature the release of desktop and mobile wallets, yet ETN announced its wallet release at the end of the fourth quarter of 2018. Further, as shown above, the link to the wallet leads to a possibly dangerous site. The final two quarters of 2019 are supposed to feature the release of a blockchain messenger and launch of a decentralized exchange. While there are a lot of good “buzz words,” the information provided about these releases remains even vaguer than the information discussed for the first two quarters. Lastly, nowhere in the roadmap is a white paper mentioned. If ETN plans to publish one, they have not announced when they will do so. Once again, discovering any real information remains impossible. ETN has provided only general statements full of buzzwords likely used to garner interest and traffic.
ConclusionETN raises a lot of red flags as a likely phishing scam including:
- The use of stock photos for supposed team members
- An apparently plagiarized purpose statement taken almost directly from Ethereum
- The release of a wallet long before it is announced for release in the roadmap
- Requested exportation of private keys into the unsafe wallet
- Warnings by Twitter that the site for the wallet is “potentially harmful”
- Poorly constructed website with vague information that can be found verbatim on ETN’s Twitter account
- No published white paper
- Request for individuals to purchase ETN while also stating that ETN will be distributed free to owners of ETH at the time of the fork
- A vague roadmap that seems to be filled with nothing but buzzwords
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