Vegan-friendly crypto startup scams investors, scribbles ‘Penis’ on website

A little known Ethereum startup has stolen money from its investors, disappearing into the night after an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), but that's only part of the story. The crypto thieves left behind a message for their victims, erasing the homepage and scrawling the word "penis."

Called the Prodeum Project, the startup claimed to be from Lithuania and said it was developing a system to use blockchain for agricultural goods, such as fruits and vegetables. 

"Ever since 1990, fruits and vegetables have been tracked with PLUs which allow retailers to be able to determine the variety and type of produce without needing to do a visual inspection. While PLU codes have helped us keep track of inventory, they don't do much to help the consumer," a cached version of Prodeum's website states.

"With the help of the Ethereum blockchain and the IFPS, we will be able to overhaul the PLU coding process. The PLU process is based on business needs and consumers are normally left out of the process. Prodeum's goal is to bring detailed PLU system information to the consumer so they have a better understanding of where their food comes from," the website continues.

After attempting to sell tokens over the weekend, however, the startup vanished. It's not clear how much the culprits actually made off with. The amount varies wildly—International Business Times says they stole millions of investor dollars, while Motherboard initially reported it was just $11, then later said it found another wallet containing $100.

Obviously, due diligence is an important part of any cryptocurrency investment, and it appears investors weren't sold on this particular scam. While the amount of stolen funds is in question, Prodeum's stated goal was to raise 5,400 ether worth around $6.5 million. Instead, it raised a penis.