As reported by Quartz, someone has created a sham company with the name of the Telegram ICO, Telegram Open Network Limited. The UK company, registered with Companies House on Feb 28, lists Pavel Durov as CEO, but was confirmed as a fake by Telegram over Twitter.
Keen observers may, however, have spotted the clues suggesting that the company may not be all that it seems.
For starters, the listing claims that Pavel (stated as sole director, shareholder and company secretary) is a British citizen. In fact, Durov is a citizen of St Kitts and Nevis. He left his native Russia after he was ousted from the VK social network which he founded.
The claim of £800 million in paid-up capital is also suspicious. This amount pumped into a British company would attract a rather steep tax bill.
This entry is fake (https://t.co/vs6ZKJyiCG). Most likely a prank or scam, no such company was registered by Pavel.
— Telegram Messenger (@telegram) April 6, 2018
Keeping Good Company
It is actually very easy and inexpensive to set up a company in the UK. Many third parties will offer to deal with all of the paperwork for around £100. But anyone with an internet connection can file the required forms online for just £12.
Companies House rely on self-certification by the applicant, although they do claim to carry out checks. 528 fraudulent filings were reported by Companies House in 2012 when figures were last published, although this one seems to have slipped through the net.
Of course, we can’t be certain that the incorporation of this company was intended to defraud or defile anyone or anything. It may simply have been a joke filing, although I’m not sure that I’d spend even £12 on a joke that lame.
It’s entirely possible that this is a completely different Pavel Durov, who is indeed a UK citizen. Perhaps he runs a network who open telegrams on behalf of the intended recipient… but I suppose that’s pretty unlikely.
Luckily, the only notable victim of this scam was Calvert Journal. The online magazine published a piece on Durov’s new UK citizenship, before correcting the article following Telegram’s Twitter denial.
Do you think the new company is a scam? Is this last of the Telegram ICO scams that we’ll see? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock