The latest Pokémon-themed rug pull nets $708,000

It's not much compared to at least three separate crypto Pokémon ripoffs since February that have each taken millions, but apparently the love of Pokémon still drew people in to the tune of $708,000.

One might think the blatant rip-off of the Pokémon IP (which belongs to a notoriously litigious company) might have been a red flag, but nevertheless, people bought in to PokémonFi—a play-to-earn game that seems like a much worse version of the original thing.

The project and tokens first launched in April. After apparently running off with the money, the project deleted its Twitter account, though its website remained live.

Animoon rug pulls for $6.3 million

A Bulbasaur character from Pokemon, recolored to be silver, with orange bows on its earsAnimoon #6891 (attribution)
Animoon is yet another Pokémon rip-off NFT project, with artwork that was ripped directly from Pokémon artwork and recolored. They claim to have a "signed NDA" with Pokémon (whatever that means), though it seems extremely unlikely that there's any real agreement granting them rights to use Pokémon IP.

Not only did their roadmap include play-to-earn game (of course), collaborations with a Swiss shoe and apparel store that would send them actual gear, and real-life trips, but they promised that 15 "legendary" cards would "automatically generate" their owners $2,500 each month, for life. The project was promoted by Jake Paul, an influencer whose crypto promotions don't have a great track record to say the least.

The project team began to grow more distant after launch, posting less frequently. Promised apparel shipments never arrived. The team changed the legendary rewards from $2,500 a month to "a percentage of incomes from the game", which they said "could be a lot more than $2500 monthly" despite no game actually existing. The project team eventually disappeared, took down the Twitter account and website, and disabled the general chat in their Discord project.

PokeMoney blockchain game rug pulls for $3.5 million

The token associated with yet another crypto Pokémon rip-off, PokeMoney, suddenly crashed in price when around 11,800 BNB ($3.5 million) worth of it was pulled out of the project. The incident appeared to be a rug pull.

The project creators claimed it was a hack, and stuck around to try to keep the hope alive. They claimed on Telegram that for some reason they couldn't access the project Twitter account, and so couldn't inform their community of the hack. They also began rallying their community around hopes for a project relaunch. Meanwhile, they announced a "CHAT MUTE UNTIL TOMORROW TO AVOID FUD"—as any reputable, not-rug-pulled project would do, I'm sure.

Pixelmon raises $70 million only to reveal hilariously bad NFTs

A poorly 3D-rendered approximation of a Squirtle, with both eyes pointing in different directionsSquirtle is looking rough these days (attribution)
The Pixelmon project promised an ambitious roadmap including a Pokémon-like game where the pixelized Pokémon could be caught and traded, a land project, and rewards to buyers of their "Generation 1" Pixelmon. The 3D pixelized Pokémon on their flashy website and on social media certainly looked promising to the buyers who sunk a total of $70 million into the project. Those buyers, who spent 3ETH per mint (~$9,300), were excited to unveil their "fully modeled 3D character[s] that you can interact with". However, when they "hatched" their Pixelmon, buyers were greeted with some truly terrible models, if they were lucky enough to have a model at all—some unveiled just an empty patch of grass, and others found their models appearing partway in the ground.

Although the project lead wrote on the Discord that they had "made a horrible mistake" but that they would "completely revamp and redesign" the NFTs, the project appeared to be a cash grab. On the night of the reveal, 1,000 ETH ($2.8 million) had already been transferred out of the project and split among various addresses. One of the recipients who received 400 ETH ($1.1 million) immediately went on a shopping spree, buying various big-ticket NFTs with their windfall.

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