The widely circulated news that Dubai had launched its own cryptocurrency, dubbed DubaiCoin, is a scam, the Dubai government has said.
DubaiCoin was "never approved by any official authority," the government of Dubai tweeted on Friday, adding that the website promoting the coin "is an elaborate phishing campaign that is designed to steal personal information from its visitors."
How it all started
On May 24, a fake press release was published on PR Newswire in the name of Arabian Chain Technology, which appears to be a legitimate blockchain firm based in Dubai and has its own coin named DubaiCoin (DBIX).
The fake press release, now unpublished, said Dubai is "making its own digital currency," and its circulation "will be controlled by both the city itself and authorized brokers," a record available on the Internet Archive shows.
The release went on to claim that DubaiCoin would become the city's "De-Facto Digital Currency" and that the "up-and-coming" coin is available to buy at a starting price of $0.17 per coin, via a website called "dub-pay.com."
The website is also now inaccessible, but a record on the Internet Archive shows that people could invest in the coin in three steps: First, they were required to fill a form with details such as name, email address, and phone number. Then an agent would call them and change their local money to DubaiCoin (DBIX).
The news quickly spread across media, and the price of ArabianChain Technology's real DubaiCoin (DBIX), which is only listed on the HitBTC crypto exchange, shot up more than 1,000% to nearly $1.50 in 24 hours. The price has since declined sharply, and the coin is currently trading at $0.32, according to TradingView.
ArabianChain Technology also tweeted on May 26, two days after the fake press release was published, that the company hadn't made any such announcement and the website dub-pay.com "is fake and [a] scam."
It is not clear how many people ended up investing in the fake DubaiCoin, but the trading volume of the real DubaiCoin (although not government-backed) was around $592,000 in the last 24 hours, according to data from Crypto.com.
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