Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Ladies and no-coiners, this story was simply too perfect to make up. No satire today, this really happened.
ParagonCoin has held a controversial reputation throughout the crypto community since its rocky ICO took place during the height of the 2017 bull-run.
Like most ICO shitcoins at the time, not much was really needed to collect millions of dollars. Paragon was no exception, raking in US$12 million to build a “seed-to-sale” supply chain protocol on Ethereum for medical marijuana enthusiasts.
Paragon was headed by Instagram model-turned weed-entrepreneur Jessica Versteeg and her husband Egor Lavrov. Like many coin offerings at the time, ParagonCoin promised dank returns for investors. Unfortunately for the folks building out weed chain, they made the mistake of promising these returns, very publicly, in the good ol’ land of the free.
Everyone knows that the SEC is not foolish to let the average Joe benefit from security sales. Only accredited investors (which literally just translates to having a lot of money) are allowed to be venture capitalists, for the good of the people. And thus, ParagonCoin was on the hook to return all the investments dollars they receive in the biggest example of BDE by the SEC yet.
But here’s the thing. Paragon doesn’t have $12 million (obviously). Their ICO Ether lost value alongside the rest of the market. Despite the ongoing lawsuit and depreciating company assets, they got themselves into a bigger pickle by purchasing a building (seriously) while maintaining an aggressive “marketing” strategy of lots of traveling and conferences.
Paragon was ordered to begin investor refunds on July 27th. How could they? Their US$1,200 ICO Ether is only worth $200, and the building can’t exactly be split between a thousand investors, either. Don’t worry, our heroes of innovation had something else in mind, alphabet soup agencies can’t stop an entrepreneur!
Leading up to the 27th, the founders simply played along like everything is going according to plan. “Yeah, we’ll process refunds starting end of the month. Wait until then.” Well, end of month comes around and instead the two go dark. All social media deleted. Every. Single. Account. Gone.
After a very public outing at Blockchain Week in May, it’s rumored that the duo went off to Ibiza. Whether they are hiding out somewhere elegant or blending into the general Russian population (Lavrov is a well-known Russian tech entrepreneur) is unknown.
Before we cast these pair as an evil duo we must ask ourselves, who is the real victim here? Just kidding, it’s obviously the investors (though whether they deserve to lose their money for making such a poor investment is a viable perspective). However, the two didn’t exactly “make out”, either. If they are sitting on a lot of cash, it’s likely not what they’ve retained from the ICO. And to be a social media celeb that goes offline… that’s an entire career thrown down the drain. Even if the influencer bubble is bursting, 500k followers can be leveraged for a lot of sponsor dollars.
Maybe it’ll all play out like a movie and they’ll lead new lives selling those doll toys where you open it up and there is a smaller one inside. That would be a decent ending to this plot.