Miami mayor Francis Suarez's MiamiCoin gambit lands the city $5.2 million, investors not so lucky

Miami mayor Francis Suarez eagerly hyped "MiamiCoin" ($MIA), a cryptocurrency created by a private company and not actually controlled by Miami. Suarez appeared on CoinDesk TV to say that MiamiCoin has "been mainstreaming significantly faster than bitcoin", despite trading for pennies, and not being listed on any exchange aside from the Singaporean OKCoin.

On February 2, Suarez excitedly announced that they had received their "first-ever disbursement... totaling $5.25M". He didn't mention that the coin is trading at 90% below its all-time-high and 35% less than its initial price of $0.01. Both the OKCoin exchange and the coin creator previously advertised that buyers could earn "430% APY" by participating in some sort of staking program with the coin. All current holders of the coin, such as the Miamians Suarez encouraged to invest, have lost money even when factoring in staking rewards, says Protos.

Wormhole, a cross-blockchain bridge, is hacked for more than $320 million in one of the largest hacks to date

The Wormhole Network is a blockchain bridge between Solana and various other blockchains, allowing assets to be traded across the different and not otherwise interoperable chains. After an attacker was able to spoof a guardian account, Wormhole was exploited on February 2 for 120,000 wETH, or about $326 million. The network was taken down for maintenance, and Wormhole promised that "ETH will be added over the next hours to ensure wETH is backed 1:1". The parent company of Wormhole, Jump Trading, replaced the funds that had been drained; meanwhile, Wormhole offered a $10 million bounty to try to tempt the attacker into returning the funds. The hack was the fourth-largest cryptocurrency theft of all time, trailing behind the $480 million Mt. Gox theft in 2014, the $547 million Coincheck theft in 2018, and the $611 million Poly Network theft (that was later returned) in 2021.

Game studio behind Worms games series does a quick U-turn on their NFT project after massive backlash

A glittery rainbow worms character, holding some sort of spherical object, on a base that says 'Colonel'MetaWorms NFT (attribution)
Team17, the studio behind the many Worms games, announced their plans for "MetaWorms": NFTs based on the characters from the games. The announcement on January 31 apparently blindsided development teams who've published with Team17—shortly after the announcement, three teams published statements condemning NFTs. One team, Aggro Crab, also announced they wouldn't be working with Team17 going forward. The three statements also all urged fans not to harass Team17 staff and community managers, with one announcement by Playtonic saying they were "unwittingly affected by NFT announcements". Backlash from fans had been swift and fierce, and in some cases extreme. The following day, Team17 wrote that they were ending the project and "step[ping] back from the NFT space".

HitPiece catches heat for selling song and album NFTs without seeking consent from the artists

Two listings for sale on the HitPiece website: "Tokyo DisneySea Theme Song" and a German-language Star Wars song, "Die Belagerung von Lothal - Teil 2 - Kapitel 6"You have to admit they have guts for so prominently listing stolen IP from the notoriously-litigious Disney (attribution)
The industrial band Choke Chain tweeted, "Yo a bunch of industrial scene acts (including me) have NFTs for sale on the site hitpiece.com I did not put it online and I assume you probably didn't either, fucked up". A look through the site shows that it is chock full of almost certainly unauthorized NFTs of music not just from industrial bands, but from contemporary pop music artists, k-pop groups, Disney, and many others. The group appears to be simply scraping Spotify and publishing everything as NFT auctions.

The project's website writes, "Each time an artist's NFT is purchased or sold, a royalty from each transaction is accounted to the rights holders account." They do not write about how this is supposed to work when the artists have had zero involvement in the NFT being created to begin with, or have no cryptocurrency wallets at all. The FAQ also includes a hilariously handwavy answer to the question most people learning about NFTs have: "What utility does owning an NFT give me?" HitPiece writes, "Artists provide NFT owners access and experiences."

Someone sends COVID-19 NFTs to all ~100,000 active users of the HEN NFT marketplace, whether they want them or not

Screenshot of the SARS-CoV-2 NFT, showing a microscope image of the virus. The description text reads, "SARS-COV-2Ω
Your wallet has been infected by SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19.

All tezos wallets holding at least 1 non-fungible token from Hic et Nunc have been air-dropped SARS-CoV-2, in an act symbolic of the invasive and ubiquitous nature of the virus and its psychological effects. A total of 96,186 viral copies have been sent to as many wallets.

Whether you believe horse paste is the cure or gas masks are the new normal, everyone has been affected by COVID-19. Now, even the blockchain itself is infected. It is still early in the disease process. Will you cure yourself of SARS-CoV-2 by burning this viral token in an act of communal catharsis? Will you choose to infect others? Or, will you risk the consequences of superinfection with an increasing viral load?

Life is a terminal condition. Act appropriately."SARS-CoV-2 NFT (attribution)
Artist bayneko created and airdropped NFTs of microscope pictures of SARS-COV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) to all 96,186 users of Hic et Nunc (HEN) who hold at least one NFT. HEN is an NFT marketplace built atop the Tezos blockchain. The NFT description read, "Your wallet has been infected by SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19... in an act symbolic of the invasive and ubiquitous nature of the virus and its psychological effects." It cost the creator 1,623 ꜩ (about $5,900) to accomplish—a chunk of change, though considerably less than it would cost on higher-fee blockchains like Ethereum. Users reacting to the airdrop expressed a mixture of interest, confusion, annoyance, fear—some were scared to burn or transfer the NFT because of past NFTs that executed malicious contracts upon being destroyed. Others were unhappy with receiving an unsolicited NFT, which they felt was spammy. Others spoke about how, although this particular project appeared to be a good-faith art project, it illustrated the susceptibility of these systems to spam and abuse, especially on blockhains with lower transaction fees.

About 30 posts in a subreddit about gambling addiction mention crypto in the month of January

Reddit post titled "Crypto casinos have destroyed me": "I’ve struggled with gambling problems for most of my 20s , lost countless pay cheques, got in all kinds of debt, lies etc

I’m in the UK and something called Gamstop was introduced a few years ago which was great, all you had to do was sign up and you would instantly be banned from making an account with any UK governed gambling company. It helped for a long time

THEN I found crypto casinos where there is just no real way of self excluding because of how anonymous it is, and I’m back to square one today after losing all my saving 5k in the space of a few hours

Devastated"Reddit post about crypto casinos (attribution)
Crypto trading and crypto casinos have presented a new challenge to those battling gambling addiction. There are options for problem gamblers who are struggling to stop gambling in the traditional format: many states and countries require traditional casinos to allow individuals to "self-exclude"—that is, ban themselves from gambling at an establishment. Online gambling is more challenging, but there is software like Gamban and GAMSTOP that attempts to restrict access. However, posters in r/problemgambling have discussed the relative ease of finding online and crypto casinos not restricted by the software—particularly easy with cryptocurrency-based platforms because of the anonymity afforded by crypto.

Regardless of whether they are trying to use blocking software or not, some people in the subreddit appear to be struggling with the challenges presented to them by cryptocurrencies. Some speak about gambling in cryptocurrency casinos, while others have realized that the behaviors that many people involved with cryptocurrencies simply refer to as "investing" are actually manifestations of their gambling addiction. One poster wrote, "Realised yesterday whilst out walking my dog that i'd used crypto as a way to satisfy my gambling urges. I've self excluded from gambling sites for a few years now and managed to taper off. Crypto pulled me back in with trading. I was lying to myself that I was 'investing' so its fine which eventually turned into 24/7 chart watching and leverage trades."

The World Wildlife Fund announces their upcoming NFT project... for nature!

The UK branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) announced their upcoming "Tokens For Nature" NFT project, which is meant to support endangered species. The WWF was quick to tout that its project would be eco-friendly because it uses the Polygon blockchain, though commenters were skeptical. One commenter wrote, "This is like if David Attenborough did a piece to camera about his environmental activism while politely snapping swans' necks throughout." Other commenters expressed that it was irresponsible of the WWF to engage with NFTs at all, given the overall environmental damage of the concept, and because it brings more people into a space full of predatory projects. The WWF ended up shuttering the project on February 4, after all the negative feedback.

This was not the WWF's first foray into NFTs—the German arm of the WWF released a "Non-Fungible Animals" NFT project in November 2021, which has enjoyed less than $10,000 in trading volume. It also did't appear to be the only project the WWF UK had planned—their NFT website advertised upcoming collaborations with CyberKongz (built on the Ethereum blockchain) and World of Women (also built on the Ethereum blockchain).

Realux, a project promising to "democratize" and "resolve the wealth gap" in real estate, rug pulls $23,000 only hours after launch

Value of RLX token over time, showing a steady climb and then a sudden crash as liquidity was removed$RLX value over time (attribution)
On January 31, a cryptocurrency project called Realux launched after fanfare from viral tweets and influencer YouTube videos. The project promised to make "real estate open to everyone, at a very low cost in a very easy way" and "resolve, once and for all, the wealth gap by removing all barriers, costs, middlemen, social background, and other limitations". The token enjoyed a fairly steady climb in value over the four or so hours it was active, increasing in value 400% from about $0.00065 to a peak of around $0.0027. The price suddenly crashed to around $0.0003 when the developer sold off 70 million of the RLX tokens, earning a profit of around $23,000. The project also deleted their website, Twitter account, and Telegram channel.

After backlash, Troy Baker announces he will no longer be partnering with the "voice NFT" project Voiceverse

Voice actor Troy Baker faced some backlash in mid-January when he announced that he would be partnering with "voice NFT" project Voiceverse. His antagonistic tweet, that "You can hate. Or you can create." didn't go over so well at the time, and things worsened when it was discovered that Voiceverse had stolen work from another project and used it without credit. On January 31 he apologized again for the antagonistic tweet, and wrote that "After careful consideration, I've decided to not continue the partnership with VoiceVerseNFT". Voiceverse wrote in their own statement that the company had "mutually decided to end [their] partnership with Troy Baker".

All "iloveponzi"'s apes gone! Veteran hacker makes $700,000 stealing and flipping big name NFTs

A brown ape with Xs over its eyes and rainbow-colored teeth, wearing an orange slouchy beanie and a purple and orange fur coat.Bored Ape #7985 (attribution)
NFT collecter "iloveponzi", aka Larry Lawliet, apparently authorized what he thought was a legitimate application to access his NFT wallet. Unfortunately for him, he had actually authorized another person to transfer all his NFTs: one Bored Ape, five Mutant Apes, and one Doodle. The hack, which affected iloveponzi and several others, was made possible after the Discord for the "Moshi Mochi" NFT project was compromised, and the attacker sent out an "official announcement" for a final round of NFT minting that actually enabled them to steal NFTs. The attacker then flipped the NFTs for a total profit of a little less than $700,000. Iloveponzi said they believed that the attacker could've sold the NFTs for millions (though they admittedly have a vested interest in the NFTs sounding valuable). Iloveponzi also said they believe the hacker just sold quickly and cheaply to try to beat OpenSea freezing the NFTs, which OpenSea did later do. The hacker appears to be an old hand at shady NFT dealings—although they netted "only" $700,000 from this scam, the wallet used has moved around 600 ETH in total (worth around $1.5 million) through the cryptocurrency tumbler Tornado Cash. Slightly over a month earlier, iloveponzi reported that another of their Bored Apes had been stolen, "because of some coincidences and my carelessness".

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