The news sparked rumors about Coinbase, including that they might be facing a liquidity crisis or insolvency. Others dismissed those rumors as unfounded, and normal behavior for a company facing a market downturn. Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong tweeted that Coinbase was "well capitalized".
zachxbt traced the funds to various centralized crypto exchanges, and also found that some of the money had been used to purchase other pricey NFTs including Bored Apes, CryptoPunks, and others. He also identified two individuals he suspected were behind the pseudonymous creators of the project, who had mysteriously begun posting luxury trips, designer purchases, and an expensive Mercedes after the project mint.
After zachxbt's thread, the project tweeted for the first time in a very long time, writing "for the 2736463266474th time, itz not rug 😪, just a very deliberately slow creative process, lots of pivots..." However, the project never followed through on their promised new deadline. The social media account showing evidence of the alleged creator's lavish spending was also deleted.
Reception on Twitter was brutal, with one person commenting, "And that's another one for Beloved Icons Ruined By Pyramid Scheme Bingo". Another described the decision to launch an NFT project as "jumping on the bandwagon while it's actively collapsing". The reception on Discord was also tepid, with only 130 people joining the server in the two days following the announcement.
McAfee died by suicide in June 2021 in a Spanish prison, shortly before he was due to be extradited to the United States on tax evasion charges. His death kicked off a tornado of conspiracy theories by QAnon followers.
Now, the SEC has wrapped up the investigation, finding his partner in crime responsible for the undisclosed promotion and pump and dump scheme. In addition to a $376,000 fine, Watson is prohibited from any professional cryptocurrency trading.
- "Crypto Lender Celsius Files for Bankruptcy After Cash Crunch", Bloomberg
- "Troubled Crypto Lender Celsius Hires New Restructuring Lawyers", The Wall Street Journal
As with many of these attacks, it's not immediately clear if there was truly an outside party who gained unauthorized access, or if the "attack" was actually a rug pull or an inside job. The project tweeted on July 16 that they were "continu[ing] to investigate" and had hired outside security firms to try to help them identify the hacker and recoup lost funds.
One single wallet targeted by the phishing attack lost more than $6.5 million worth of Ether and Bitcoin, and another targeted by attackers lost around $1.68 million worth of those currencies.
Rival firm Nexo has said it is considering acquiring Vauld, though some have expressed skepticism that Nexo is in a position to afford such an acquisition.
The usage of the exchange by residents of sanctioned countries could draw the attention of US regulators. It's also the latest in several investigative reports by Reuters into Binance, in addition to a June report that the exchange facilitated $2.35 billion in illicit transfers from 2017–2021, and an April report that Binance supplied the Putin regime with information about crypto donors to opposition leader Alexei Navalny.