No more Dune or DAO for the Dune DAO

Photograph of the Dune storyboard bookDune script bible (attribution)
"DAO delusion was at its peak when the community went into this journey together", wrote SpiceDAO founder Soban "Soby" Saqib. SpiceDAO (named for the Dune drug) won an auction to buy a copy of the Dune script bible in January—at $3 million, far above its usual selling price, likely because it was public knowledge how much the DAO had raised. DAO members celebrated afterwards, excitedly anticipating an animated television series based on the book, apparently not realizing that buying a book (even for a very high price) does not confer rights to publish derivative works.

The DAO has stumbled along somewhat since its January victory, encountering issues with making the bible viewable to DAO members without breaking copyright laws, a diminishing treasury due to declining crypto prices, and controversy after Soby was linked to the Remilia Collective.

After all that, the project leader suddenly and apparently unilaterally announced a plan where members could redeem their SPICE for ETH, and stated that they would be removing project leaders, converting the DAO to a private company, and selling the Dune bible (likely at a major loss). It was nice knowing you, SpiceDAO.

KuCoin announces "Anti-FUD Fund" to track down and sue critics

Those in the crypto ecosystem have long claimed to embrace the principles of censorship resistance and freedom of speech, but apparently some of them draw the line at speech that's critical of them. Johnny Lyu, CEO of the KuCoin crypto exchange, announced on Twitter that the company would be creating an "Anti-FUD Fund" to combat "FUD"—an acronym for "fear, uncertainty, and doubt" that has come to be used to describe any criticism or tough questions directed at crypto projects.

In his Twitter thread, Lyu outlines how the fund will "implement Anti-FUD education", "motivate and acclaim industry leaders and influencers who are always responsible, delivering trusted information", and "effectively trace FUDers who intentionally spread FUD and take legal actions against them if needed".

Something tells me his list of "industry leaders and influencers" to "acclaim" won't include those who are rightfully skeptical of crypto.

OFAC has been investigating Kraken over suspected sanctions violations

The New York Times reported on July 26 that the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has been investigating major US-based crypto exchange Kraken for suspected sanctions violations. They reportedly believe that Kraken has been providing services to people in Iran and other sanctioned countries. The Times' sources have said that OFAC is likely to impose a fine on the company, which would make Kraken the largest crypto company to face enforcement from OFAC relating to the Iranian sanctions.

CEO of Titanium Blockchain Infrastructure Services pleads guilty to securities fraud

CEO Michael Stollery of Titanium Blockchain Infrastructure Services (TBIS) pled guilty to securities fraud in connection to a $21 million cryptocurrency scam. The company promoted its BAR token during 2017–2018, and did not register with the SEC for its ICO. TBIS made false claims including that they had ties to companies including Apple, Boeing, and IBM, and offered various services that did not actually exist. At least 75 people participated in the ICO, giving TBIS a combined $21 million, some of which went directly to Stollery's bank account and personal expenses like a condo in Hawaii.

Brazilian authorities challenge NFT company Nemus after it claims ownership to land in the Amazon, allegedly pressures Indigenous people to sign documents they could not read

Aman in a polo shirt stands in the rainforest with a sign reading "NFT"Image from Nemus's "Non-Fungible Territory" press release (attribution)
Nemus is an NFT project already described in W3IGG for its plans to become "Guardians" of the Amazon rainforest and saviors of its Indigenous populations by selling Ethereum NFTs and reopening a Brazil nut plantation.

On July 20, they issued a press release claiming that "the World’s First Non-Fungible Territory has been officially renamed by indigenous people in Brazil in coalition with Nemus". The company claims to own 41,000 hectares (~100,000 acres) of land in the Amazon.

On July 25, Brazil's Federal Prosecution Office (MPF) issued a statement that they had demanded Nemus provide proof of ownership of the areas they claim, clarification on the projects they've been promising online they would undertake, and proof that they've received authorization by the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) or any other public body that would allow them to operate in the area and engage with various Indigenous groups.

According to the MPF, members of Indigenous groups in the area reported the company had violated their rights. They also explained that Nemus had expressed to them their plans to use heavy machinery to open an airstrip and build a road in order to access Brazil nut groves in the area. Apurinã leaders alleged that company representatives had pressured Indigenous people who do not read well to sign documents, and did not provide them with copies.

After five years in prison for a Ponzi scheme and a lifetime ban from the pharmaceutical industry, Martin Shkreli announces his new venture: a web3 drug discovery platform

Martin Shkreli sits at a table, arms crossed and smirkingMartin Shkreli (attribution)
Martin Shkreli, sometimes known as "Pharma Bro", earned notoriety after obtaining the patent for an anti-parasitic drug and hiking the price from $13.50 a pill to $750. An FTC lawsuit ordered Shkreli in January 2022 to return almost $65 million in wrongfully obtained profits, and banned him for life from the pharmaceutical industry.

In 2018, he was sentenced to federal prison for unrelated securities fraud; a U.S. Attorney stated he "essentially ran his company like a Ponzi scheme". He spent five years in prison, and was released in May 2022.

Shkreli is also banned from the securities industry, and from serving as an officer or director of any publicly traded company.

If this was anyone other than Martin Shkreli, I might have been surprised to hear that, only a little over two months out of prison and while still staying in a halfway house, Shkreli is launching a "web3 drug discovery software platform".

$4.5 million taken from Teddy Doge project in apparent rug pull

The Teddy Doge defi project saw its token price plummet over 99% as 30 billion TEDDY were transferred from the project's deployer and distributed to various wallets, which then converted the TEDDY to over 10,000 BNB ($2.56 million) and 2 million BUSD, a dollar-pegged stablecoin.

Although the project admins blamed the theft on an outside attacker, writing on Telegram that they were "not certain whether it is a bug in our cross-chain bridge or a leaked developer wallet", that is a common refrain by developers who rug pull their own projects.

Attacker makes off with $1.1 million after successful governance attack on the Audius web3 music platform

An attacker was able to create and pass a governance proposal to transfer out 18.5 million AUDIO tokens from the community treasury. They then successfully swapped these for 705 ETH (~$1.1 million).

Audius halted the token and smart contracts while they patched the bug, and brought the network back online shortly afterward. The attacker had found and exploited a vulnerability in the way the contracts were written which allowed them to rewrite the governance voting rules and delegate 10 trillion AUDIO tokens to themselves for voting purposes. They then used those tokens to pass the malicious proposal. The contracts had been audited by OpenZeppelin and Kudelski, but neither group caught the vulnerability. Audius stated that a plan for dealing with the loss of community funds was still under discussion.

GameStop's new NFT platform features an NFT mimicking a victim of 9/11

A rendering resembling the famous "The Falling Man" photo. A man in an astronaut suit falls headfirst, with a striped background resembling a tall office tower.Falling Man NFT (attribution)
GameStop's brand new NFT platform, which launched on July 12, is off to a less than promising start. Unlike some other NFT platforms like OpenSea, Gamestop does not allow just anyone to create and list NFTs—creators have to apply and be approved individually.

One of their artists, "Jules", created an NFT clearly modeled after The Falling Man, a well-known photograph of a man falling from the upper floors of the World Trade Center during the September 11 attacks in New York City. The NFT is also titled Falling Man, and pictures a model in the same position, but wearing an astronaut suit.

Not only is GameStop selling an NFT of the victim of a tragedy, it's a featured image when Googling "GameStop".

Celsius customers send letters to the judge in the bankruptcy case

Correspondences of my email sent to support on 15 Jun 2022:  To: support@celsius.network Cc: ceo@celsius.network  Dear Alex and Celcius support, I am writing this email to ask for your special consideration to allow me to make a small withdrawal on my BTC held in Celcius. I understand that Celsius made the decision to pause withdrawals in a volatile market condition, but do hope that you review my case and give me special permission.  I am 5.5 months pregnant with my third child. I am expecting to give birth in early October and I do need the fund to pay for the hospital, doctor and baby items such as cot, clothes, nappies etc. I also need the fund to pay for school fees for my two other schools aged children.  I have attached a recent scan of my baby and a letter from my obstetrician confirming my pregnancy and planning for admission into the hospital.  Scan of my baby that am carrying: [ultrasound photo of a fetus]Email to Alex Mashinsky and Celsius support (attribution)
Celsius customers have begun to send letters to the judge presiding over Celsius Network's bankruptcy case in the Southern District of New York. More than fifty letters have been entered into the docket since July 15, and new letters are continually being added.

Many customers write of being convinced by Alex Mashinsky personally, particularly in his weekly "AMA"s where he regularly claimed that Celsius was a safe platform with substantial reserves that could cover any potential losses. Mashinsky often denigrated traditional banks, referring to Celsius as a better and safer option.

Some of the letters are particularly heartbreaking, with customers referring to suicidal ideation or saying that they've been too ashamed to share the news of their financial losses with their family. One woman included a copy of an email she sent to Mashinsky and Celsius support, pleading for them to allow her access to her crypto, and including an ultrasound photo of a baby. "I do need the fund to pay for the hospital, doctor and baby items such as cot, clothes, nappies etc. I also need the fund to pay for school fees for my two other school aged children," she wrote.

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