Almost every fifth project that raised funding through initial coin offerings demonstrated hallmarks of fraud and were aimed at stealing investors' funds, the study says.

The Wall Street Journal analyzed 1450 cryptocurrency projects that conducted ICO, and found that 271 of them (18.6%) had signs of fraud and scam. Their White Papers found pieces of text copied from descriptions of other projects. They provided false information about the management of the companies and developers team, and promised of disproportionate profits to future investors.

Of the 1,450 White Paper analyzed in the study, 111 documents literally repeated whole sections of White Papers of other projects. These were sections about marketing plans, security issues and even various technical characteristics of the projected platforms.

One of such ICO scams was Denaro, which attracted about $8.3 million through its ICO in March. One of the founders of Denaro, Jeremy Boker, boasted his consulting experience, and claimed to attract the strongest developers team to the project. In fact, Boker's photograph was taken from a photostock. It depicts the banker from Poland Jenish Mirani. He accidentally found out that his image is used to promote the cryptocurrency project.

"There is no evidence he exists and the rest of his team appears to be fictional, except for two freelancers who said they were paid by people unknown to them to market the project," the WSJ investigation reads.

271 ICO projects, showing signs of fraud, managed to attract $1 billion from investors.

Earlier, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) warned investors that many tokens in a fast developing cryptocurrency market could violate securities laws, and on Wednesday the regulator launched a website advertising a non-existent coin as an example of how a typical cryptocurrency scam looks like.