It seems the Securities and Exchanges Commission has taken the age-old mantra of "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" to heart.
As reported by The Verge, the Commission today launched a fake initial coin offering (ICO) website promoting what they call "HoweyCoins" - a clear reference to the Howey Test, which is a system the Commission uses to determine whether or not an investment falls under their legal jurisdiction.
The website in question is certainly elaborate. The SEC created an official HoweyCoins logo, a Meet the Team page, fake user testimonials, and even a large "15% bonus" countdown timer.
On the HoweyCoins website, the SEC claims the fake currency is "officially registered" with the US government and will trade on an "SEC-compliant exchange" where users can buy and sell the pseudo-cryptocurrency for profit.
The website also claims the coins can be redeemed for merchandise, exchanged for other cryptocurrencies or cash and spent at "participating" airlines and hotels.
Naturally, the SEC's goal with this website goes beyond simply pranking the public. In the wake of numerous cryptocurrency scams that have allowed creators of fraudulent cryptocurrencies to run off with millions of investor dollars, the SEC is clearly attempting to educate the public on avoiding these scams entirely.
Indeed, if you click any of the "Buy Coins Now!" buttons on the HoweyCoins website, you'll be taken to an official informational SEC page where the Commission explains the fake website and gives visitors tips to dodge real scams in the future.