Alleged cryptocurrency exchange Goxtrade bills itself as a “trusted platform for trading bitcoins,” but its staff page is filled with photos of people pulled seemingly at random from the internet.
The alleged exchange, which claimed to debut in 2017 yet its website is only a little more than a week old, used photos taken from social media profiles and other company websites not associated with the company.
Bizarrely, the alleged exchange didn’t bother to change all of the names of the people whose photos it used.
Amber Baldet, co-founder of Clovyr, a prominent figure in the blockchain community, and listed in Fortune’s 40 Under 40, was one of the people whose name and photos appeared on the site.
“Fraud alert: I am not a developer at Goxtrade and probably their entire business is a lie,” she tweeted Friday.
Goxtrade claims to be an exchange that lets users “receive, send and trade cryptocurrency.” After we created an account and signed in, it’s not clear if the site even works. But the online chat room has hundreds of messages of users trying to trade their cryptocurrencies. The site’s name appears to associate closely with Mt. Gox, a failed cryptocurrency exchange that collapsed after it was hacked. At its 2014 peak, the exchange handled more than 70% of all bitcoin transactions. More than $450 million in bitcoins were stolen in the apparent breach.
Baldet isn’t the only person wrongly associated with the suspect site.
TechCrunch has confirmed the other photos on the site belong to other people seemingly chosen at random — including a claims specialist in Illinois, a lawyer in Germany and an operations manager in Melbourne.
Another person whose photo was used without permission is Tom Blomfield, chief executive of digital bank Monzo. In a tweet, Blomfield — who was listed on the alleged exchange as “Arnold Blomfield” — said his legal team has filed complaints with the site’s hosts.
But things get weirder than just stolen staff photos.
Goxtrade lists its registered address as Heron Tower, one of the new skyscrapers in London. We checked the listings and there’s no company listed in the building of the same name. There’s also no mention of Goxtrade in the U.K.’s registry of companies and businesses. When we checked its listed registered number per its terms and conditions page, the listing points to an entirely unrelated clothing company in Birmingham that dissolved two years ago.
Later in the day, networking giant Cloudflare, which provides its service, flagged the site as a phishing site.
We reached out to Goxtrade by email prior to publication but did not hear back. When we checked, Goxtrade’s mail records was pointing to an email address run by Yandex, a Russian internet company.
It’s not the first time a cryptocurrency startup has been called into question for using other people’s photos on their staff pages. After raising more than $830,000, Miroskii was caught listing actor Ryan Gosling as one of its graphic designers. Almost every photo later transpired to have been lifted from another source. The company later claimed it was hacked.
Cryptocurrency-related scams are not rare. Many have taken what they’ve raised and gone dark, never to be seen again. We’ve covered a fair number here on TechCrunch, including a massive $660 million scam from 2018.
A fair warning with Goxtrade: all signs seem to point to yet another scam.