The US financial regulator sends numerous subpoenas to organizers and advisors to projects that attracted financing via Initial Coin Offerings. Experts believe that this is only the beginning of an active effort to establish state control over the ICO market.

The Securities and Exchange Commission of the United States (SEC) has begun a large-scale investigation against companies related to ICOs. The regulator wrote dozens of subpoenas and sent them to technology companies and their advisors asking them to provide information about the structure of sales and pre-sales of tokens within ICOs, the Wall Street Journal reports citing anonymous sources.

According to information provided by sources, the SEC primarily pays attention to simple agreements for future tokens (SAFT), popular among companies that attract financing through cryptocurrencies and ICOs.

Such agreements allow you to purchase tokens within a preliminary crowdsale, or pre-ICO. The rights to these tokens can be bought, sold or exchanged before the start of the main crowdsale. SEC suspects that such agreements are used as securities, but do not comply with the rules and requirements for such tools. For example, earlier this year the operator of a popular messenger Telegram attracted $850 million from 81 investors within the pre-sale. Information on whether Telegram received from the regulator a judicial request is not disclosed, notes WSJ.

So far, the SEC identified only a few cases of fraud. In January, the regulator issued cease and desist order to the start-up AriseBank, accusing the company's management of misleading investors by offering to buy a stake in the bank with. By then, AriseBank managed to attract $600 million through ICO.

Head of the SEC’s cyber-enforcement unit Robert Cohen said last week that at least a dozen companies have delayed their ICOs since the agency has raised questions concerning their practices.

“We’re seeing the tip of the iceberg … there is going to be a ton of enforcement activity,” said Dan Gallager, former SEC commissioner who now sits on the board of a blockchain technology company Symbiont. Gallager compared the world of unregulated ICOs with “the freaking Wild West—it is ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ on steroids.”

According to Token Report statistics, about $1.66 billion has already been collected via ICOs this year. At the same time, according to a popular ICO-tracker Tokendata, almost half of projects that raised financing via ICOs in 2017 failed or show no signs of development.