Founder of an air taxi DAO writes of narrowly avoiding an elaborate scam attempt

thomasg.eth is the founder of Arrow, a DAO that is working to create "open-source VTOL [vertical take-off and landing] aircraft and air taxi protocol". In a long Twitter thread, he wrote about a pair of scammers, one of whom posed as a 3D artist from Ubisoft and one of whom impersonated a team member of an existing metaverse project called SpaceFalcon. After weeks of interaction, during which the supposed 3D artist supplied thomasg.eth with high-quality renderings and the supposed metaverse project team member invited him to tour the facilities of a different VTOL project, one of them invites him to test their NFT staking app. thomasg.eth was, fortunately, cautious about interacting with unfamiliar NFTs from his main wallets, at which point the scammers began to act a bit cagey. When thomasg.eth inspected the smart contracts, he realized they would enable the scammers to transfer any amount of aWETH (wETH on the Aave protocol) tokens from his wallet.

While many web3 scammers are fairly primitive in their tactics, these appeared to be running a sophisticated and highly-targeted scam. The pair worked to impersonate an existing web3 project, even buying a similar domain. They apparently hired a 3D artist to produce renderings to help ingratiate one of the scammers into the target's web3 project. And when thomasg.eth inspected the scammers' addresses, he found that they were working with at least 100 ETH in funding (currently equivalent to around $300,000). thomasg.eth is currently holding over $100 million in his wallet with the same name, so it's not hard to see why the scammers might have picked him as a target worth some extra effort.

Crowdfunded TitanReach MMO game project crashes and burns after developer spends investor money on a bad crypto gamble and a Tesla

A video game character stands on a beachTitanReach game screenshots (attribution)
The "Runescape-like" MMO game known as TitanReach has had a bumpy history so far, first failing to reach its Kickstarter goal in a crowdfunding project launched in 2020, but building enough community behind it to continue with crowdfunding off of Kickstarter to fund development on a month-to-month basis. The developer earned more than $200,000 via this model, but this only kept the project going until around August 2021, when they ran out of money. However, a month later, the lead developer of the project, "Unravel", reported that an anonymous investor had "fully funded this whole game out of the kindness of his heart. No strings attached. It sounds too good to be true, but it's true." Development resumed.

On February 11, Unravel announced that his studio "would be closing its doors for good. TitanReach will be laid to rest. The reasons for this are private." From there he went into a long message about the previously-unannounced crypto and NFT plans he had for the game, which unsurprisingly enraged the community who had supported the game.

YouTuber KiraTV, who had become close to the project, its developer, and the investor, revealed that the anonymous angel investor had been the cryptocurrency entrepreneur behind Yearn.Finance, though Kira said that he believed the investor had not influenced Unravel to add crypto elements to the game. Kira alleged that Unravel had taken $150,000 of money sent by the investor and put it into $TIME, the token associated with the ill-fated Wonderland project. When he lost the money overnight, the investor cut funding for the project. It later came out that Unravel had allegedly used company money to make risky cryptocurrency investments besides the one incident with $150,000, and had even used the investor's money to purchase himself a new Tesla.

Porn actress Lana Rhoades apparently abandons her NFT project after its launch

An illustrated pin-up style woman wearing green bunny ears, a cropped shirt saying "Lana", fringed gloves, a mini skirt, and thigh highs stands in front of a bed.CryptoSis #2153 (attribution)
Lana Rhoades put her celebrity status behind the "CryptoSis" NFT project, which launched on January 22 and raised about $1.8 million. The project featured a detailed roadmap, explaining plans to develop metaverse wearables and a "hangout spot", send personalized messages from Rhoades to a small group of holders, and send out merchandise. The website also promised "real world utilities" including meet and greets with the "many mainstream notable female figures [who] will continue to join this community".

However, only weeks after launch, Rhoades appeared to have abandoned the project, and most of the funds had been transferred out. Rhoades deleted her TikTok videos in which she had promoted it, and didn't respond to tweets asking about the project. One community member wrote on Discord that they had "spent what [they] can't lose. Spent 4k, on total I had 6k. Man I'm left with 2k only. No job and have a 2 yo son". Hopefully the guy who got the tattoo of the project logo on his shin also isn't too disappointed... The NFTs, which cost 0.1 ETH each to mint (about $250), were selling for around 0.005 ETH (about $15) on February 16, if they were being bought at all.

Jacked Ape Club triumphantly announces that the project sold out, and that the remaining supply has been destroyed... wait, what?

A muscular grey ape wearing a bucket hat, holding a hand weight in its mouth, with bloodshot eyes, wearing a bikini topJacked Ape #942 (attribution)
The Jacked Ape Club launched their public sale on February 10, offering 8,888 NFTs of illustrated apes much like the Bored Apes, but muscular. The following day they tweeted that, "The Jacked Ape collection has sold out! The remainder of the supply has been burnt so we can begin building". This led reasonable people to question how a project can both sell out and have remaining supply. It turned out that the Jacked Apes project had only sold about 3,200 of the NFTs, destroyed the remaining ~5,700, and then proclaimed that the NFTs had "sold out".

MoviePass is back, with a blockchain and eye-tracking to keep you glued to ads

Remember MoviePass, the completely unsustainable and shady business that allowed people to go see unlimited movies in theaters (until it didn't)? Well, it's back. This time they promise you'll be able to earn cryptocurrency by watching ads, which I guess you can then spend to watch more movies. Not only that, they promise to prevent that pesky issue of people putting their phones down while the ads are playing by using eye tracking to make sure you're firmly glued to the screen. I wonder if they screen A Clockwork Orange.

BlockFi set to pay $100 million to settle with SEC and state regulators over sketchy lending services

Bloomberg reported that BlockFi is preparing to pay $100 million to settle allegations from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and state regulators that it provided a service allowing people to loan their cryptocurrencies to others in exchange for high interest rates. BlockFi will also not be allowed to provide new high-yield accounts to most Americans following the settlement. BlockFi is only one of several crypto firms, including Celsius, Gemini, and Voyager Digital Ltd., who are facing scrutiny from regulators over concerns of unregistered securities sales.

Squiggles project revealed to be part of an NFT scam ring just before launch

3D rendering of a monkey with a banana stuck to its forehead, wearing a yellow hoodieSquiggles NFT (attribution)
A project called Squiggles generated an enormous amount of hype before its launch, with hundreds of thousands of members in its Discord and followers on Twitter. Just before the project launched on February 10 with its whopping 1 ETH initial mint price (around $3,100), a 60-page dossier was published that claimed to expose the people behind the project as the same group who had pulled off a long list of other NFT rug pulls: League of Sacred Devils, League of Divine Beings, Vault of Gems, Lucky Buddhas, Dirty Dogs, Sinful Souls and Faceless. The project, which was expected to generate around $20 million in sales, still enjoyed some trading volume, though YouTuber and crypto scam researcher CoffeeZilla has opined that millions of dollars in trading appears to be the project founders trying to generate hype with shadow wallets. CoffeeZilla also reported on the people behind the scam ring allegedly threatening those who exposed them, promising lawsuits, threatening to publish fake news stories accusing their families of crimes, and even saying they had put out hits on people. OpenSea delisted the project shortly after mint, and as of February 17, the NFTs were selling on the OpenSea alternative LooksRare for 0.1–0.2 ETH (between $280 and $575).

mtgDAO gets a legal notice from Wizards of the Coast, writes that they are "unfairly discriminat[ing] against web3 tech and web3 communities"

The fledgling mtgDAO promised to deliver a "crypto NFT card economy" based around the Magic: The Gathering card game published by Wizards of the Coast. Needless to say, WotC sent them an email to inform them that their "intended use of Wizards' intellectual property, including its trademarks and copyrights, would be unlawful". This prompted mtgDAO to publish a 20-tweet-long thread about "why WotC is ngmi", where they accused WotC of "unfairly discriminat[ing] against web3 tech and web3 communities" by protecting their intellectual property. It's unclear where mtgDAO will go from here—they wrote in the thread that they hope to "help [WotC] see something like mtgDAO, and web3 in general, as an opportunity and not a threat", but I suspect they will not have much luck convincing WotC to let them infringe upon their intellectual property out of the goodness of their own hearts. On February 15 the project said what was already pretty clear: "I don't know shit about copyright law" and that "I'll tell you that mtgDAO NFTs being IP infringement is not intuitive to me."

Security firm forced to publicly disclose issues with Atomic Wallet after they go unaddressed for months

Atomic Wallet is a cryptocurrency wallet that claims to have more than 3 million downloads and advertises that "we provide users with the exceptional safety of their funds". However, an April 2021 audit by the Least Authority security firm "found that the design and implementation of the Atomic Wallet system does not sufficiently demonstrate considerations for security and places current users of the wallet at significant risk." When the Atomic Wallet team returned to the auditing firm in November to show them they'd addressed the issues, Least Authority found that "a significant number of issues and suggestions remain unresolved and that the implementation in its current state continues to be a security risk for users". After the Atomic Wallet team continued to ignore issues raised by the Least Authority team, the security researchers took the last-ditch step of publicly disclosing that there are serious issues with the platform, and recommending that the software not be used. The researchers did not disclose the specific issues they had found, in hopes of avoiding malicious actors exploiting the outstanding bugs.

New York power plant starts mining Bitcoin, increases emissions by 6x

An aerial photo of a power plant, with trees and a lake in the backgroundGreenidge Generation, with Seneca Lake in the background (attribution)
A mostly-dormant coal power plant near Seneca Lake in New York was converted to natural gas in 2017 and began devoting much of its power generation to mining Bitcoin in 2019. The plant went from generating a total of 39,406 tons of carbon emissions in 2019 to generating a total of 243,103 tons in 2020, its first full year mining Bitcoin—the equivalent of the emissions that would be produced to provide electricity to around 35,000 households. The plant was operating at only 13% of its capacity in 2020, but has plans to increase its mining operations. Locals who enjoy Seneca Lake for swimming and other leisure activities have said that, due to the plant, Seneca Lake is now "so warm you feel like you're in a hot tub". This is because the plant circulates around 135 million gallons of water a day from the lake to the cool the plant, outputting water directly into the lake at allowed temperatures up to 86–108˚F (though the plant claims its average outflow temperature is 50˚, only 7˚ warmer than the inflow temperature).

Locals of the area have demanded that the Department of Environmental Conservation review the air emissions permit for the plant rather than renew an old one, which the DEC agreed to do, though they have delayed a new decision until March 31. Many pressing for permit review were unhappy with the delay, with the Seneca Lake Guardian reporting, "This delay from the DEC is not benign... Every day that Gov. Hochul and Commissioner Seggos drag their feet on this (permitting) decision is another day for Greenidge to continue expanding operations."

On June 30, regulators denied Greenidge's request to renew their permit.

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