Something called proto-shares / proto-stocks (also known as pre-IPO shares, pre-shares, virgin shares, original shares, etc.) is very common among Asian scams, esp. those aimed at Chinese or Chinese expats in Asian countries (Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Thailand, etc.) The Chinese term is 原始股

This is a sort of super-short briefing on how such a scam would work as a cover for a Ponzi, pyramid, or Ponzi-pyramid hybrid schemes.

NOTE: For simplicity, "shares" and "stock" are used interchangeably here.

Generally speaking, the proto-shares are described as "getting in on the next hotest thing", and a lot of comparisons to Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Alibaba, and so on are mentioned, on how fast they grew, and so on and so forth. It is implied that whoever offering the protoshares will be the next big thing.

The rest doesn't matter, the basic point is you have to do something to get your hands on those shares.

The obvious ones like UToken or MC Angel Fund simply have you "invest", in which case they sell you the protostocks at $1 per share, but often they'll throw in some sort of a bonus. Like buy now and receive bonus 10% more. One even threw in a new wrinkle called "concept shares" 概念股, which are simulated shares. MC Capital apparently created something called which seems to have cloned SecondMarket in the US and pretended to be a stock trading platform but with this "concept shares" that can be traded (supposedly for $$$).

The better disguised ones, such as the Vantone scam in China or Interush in Hong Kong have you buy products or services (at vastly inflated rates), and if you buy a certain amount you are qualified to buy protoshares at a 'special rate'.

There is usually a promise that the IPO will happen in 2-3 years (but it NEVER happens, something always go wrong, conditions was never right, etc. etc.) and vastly inflated gains, and even "guaranteed buyback" is sometimes promised. After IPO and certain unspecified period the protoshares will be converted to real stocks, and suddenly worth a lot more (?!?)

With the various UTokians pushing the pre-IPO shares (thus, admitting they are promoting unregistered securities all over the world) it's time to understand this aspect of the scam.