SEC files fraud complaint against NASGO organizers

The SEC charged four individuals with fraud violations in relation to their actions with NASGO, a company that created various tokens that the SEC has since described as unregistered securities. The defendants allegedly made claims that one of the tokens would increase in value by 10¢ every week, plus another 10¢ each time a new business joined their platform. The defendants also engaged in various other shady business, including hiring traders to trade the tokens amongst themselves to give the appearance of investor demand. This worked only until investors actually decided they wanted to cash out, causing the whole thing to fall apart because the market demand was faked. According to the SEC, NASGO misappropriated almost $4 million in investor funds.

Deus Finance exploited for $13.4 million in the second hack in two months

The defi project Deus Finance was hit with a flash loan attack that netted the hacker $13.4 million. The loss to the protocol was likely larger than what the hacker was able to withdraw, though Deus announced that no users had been liquidated and that "the loss is on the protocol".

Deus had suffered a similar attack in March, with an attacker using a flash loan attack to steal more than $3.1 million. Deus reimbursed users who were liquidated in the incident.

According to Deus' CEO, the exploit in this incident was not the same one used in the previous attack. He wrote on Twitter that the exploit was "the first of its kind, a zero-day exploit on Solidly [decentralized crypto exchange] swaps".

Central African Republic adopts Bitcoin as legal tender

The Central African Republic became the second country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender, after El Salvador did the same in September 2021. It's a strange move, in a country where only 4% of people have Internet access, whose currency (the Central African CFA franc) is fairly stable, and which already has access to digital currencies via services like Orange Money.

The Bank of Central African States (BEAC) has expressed surprise at the CAR's choice, saying that they only learned about it along with the rest of the public. Two former prime ministers of the CAR co-authored a letter stating that adopting Bitcoin as legal tender without guidance from the BEAC was a "serious offence".

Scammers create fake Louis Vuitton NFT project

OpenSea page of a Louis Vuitton branded collection, showing a profile photo with a blue checkmark on the image itselfLouis Vuitton scam page (attribution)
Scammers created a project on OpenSea with Louis Vuitton branding, which invited individuals to visit an external site to mint exclusive NFTs. They placed a blue checkmark on the project profile image to try to trick people into believing the project was verified, and they were able to manipulate the floor price to make it appear at a glance as though the NFTs could be traded for tens of thousands of dollars more than they cost to mint.

The project airdropped these NFTs to NFT whales, causing some trackers used by people who follow and imitate whales' behavior to believe the whales themselves had minted the NFTs. The site then used a random counter to make it appear that the NFTs were quickly selling out, causing people to quickly mint their NFTs in fear of missing out. One NFT collector recounted her experience falling for the scam, buying five of the NFTs for a total of 0.6 ETH (~$1700) in hopes of striking it rich on a newly-launched project before it became widely known.

An examination of the website source code shows that the project is reusing code from a different scam based around World Cup themed NFTs.

Representative Madison Cawthorn faces accusations of insider trading and disclosure violations related to Let's Go Brandon coin

Instagram post of Madison Cawthorne posing with several others. Caption by jameskoutoulas reads "Never get sick of a @madisoncawthorn bro out". A comment by madisoncawthorn reads, "Tomorrow we go to the moon!"Cawthorn, pictured in an Instagram post by LGBCoin project leader James Koutoulas (attribution)
North Carolina Representative Madison Cawthorn was one of several influential people who helped to promote the "Let's Go Brandon" memecoin, which has since become the subject of a class-action lawsuit due to a reported pump-and-dump scheme. Cawthorn is not named in the lawsuit, but he may face his own troubles: although he has claimed to own the currency, he has never publicly disclosed any stake in the coin as is likely required by ethics legislation. Cawthorn also commented "Tomorrow we go to the moon!" on a post about the coin from his official Instagram account, the day before the team of NASCAR driver Brandon Brown announced the cryptocurrency would be the primary partner for the 2022 season. "This looks really, really bad," said governmental watchdog group member Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette. "This does look like a classic case of you got some insider information and acting on that information. And that's illegal."

Fidelity plans to allow people to put retirement savings into Bitcoin

Financial services company Fidelity announced its intentions to allow people to put some of their retirement savings into Bitcoin in the near future, despite the Department of Labor's urgings otherwise. It is concerning to see a large financial helping to normalize the idea that cryptocurrencies are an "investment".

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 requires plan fiduciaries to act solely in the financial interest of plan participants, and the U.S. Department of Labor issued guidance in March reminding plan fiduciaries of this duty, urging them to "exercise extreme care before including direct investment options in cryptocurrency". In a blog post shortly after, the DoL wrote that they had "serious concerns" about plans that would expose participants in cryptocurrencies and related products, outlining risks including valuation concerns, obstacles to making informed decisions, price volatility, and a still-developing regulatory landscape.

A Fidelity executive said that the company "believe[s] they should withdraw that guidance".

MetaDocs NFT project wants TikTok-famous doctors to diagnose you, but they don't have a license

TikTok screenshot of a doctor wearing black scrubs, mid-sentence. There is overlaid text that says "Ear Candling" and a MetaDocs logo.MetaDocs TikTok video (attribution)
Buy the $570 NFT and you'll get access to "celebrity doctors" who have amassed followings on apps like TikTok. Promising to "provide access quality doctors without all the usual red tape", the project has lofty dreams including one day providing metaverse diagnoses with remote examinations delivered using haptic suits... somehow.

Whether they actually get close to that dream very much remains to be seen. The project has faced several setbacks, including complaints from doctors whose likenesses were used without permission, and lack of any telemedicine license that would allow doctors to actually provide remote medical services. The project has also faced criticism for hosting "Ask a Doc" chats where physicians answered various questions without clarifying they weren't providing medical advice, for listing "physicians" in their whitepaper who were still completing residency, and for pledging to donate its first $1 million in revenue to an autism-related charity which has promoted the false claim that vaccines cause autism and has described autism as a disorder that needs to be "cured".

Reggie Fowler pleads guilty to fraud in Crypto Capital case

Fowler pictured from the shoulders up, wearing a suitReggie Fowler (attribution)
Reggie Fowler, a businessman and former pro football player who worked for the Panama-based Crypto Capital Corp., pled guilty to various charges involving bank fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy. Crypto Capital Corp. was a shadow bank that allegedly enabled crypto exchanges and criminal enterprises to access the traditional banking system. At the time, crypto exchanges were largely excluded from traditional finance due to the potential exposure to money laundering. CCC is perhaps best known for its ties to Bitfinex, and for losing funds in an incident that Bitfinex was fined for attempting to cover up.

After initially rejecting a plea offer that would have allowed him to plead guilty to one felony if he forfeited up to $371 million, Fowler ultimately decided to enter an open plea to the charges against him and skip a trial. He pled guilty to five charges: bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, operating a money transmitter business, conspiracy to operate a money transmitter business, and wire fraud. Fowler faces a maximum sentence of 90 years in prison.

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried tries to explain yield farming and it's just a ponzi

Sam Bankman-Fried pictured from the shoulders upSam Bankman-Fried (attribution)
Sam Bankman-Fried, one of the most well-known crypto execs and the founder of the popular FTX crypto exchange, appeared for an interview on Bloomberg's Odd Lots podcast alongside finance journalist Matt Levine. When asked by Levine to explain yield farming, Bankman-Fried launched into an explanation in which he compared it to a box that "they probably dress up to look like [it's] life-changing" but it "does literally nothing". He explained how people put money into the box "because of, you know, the bullishness of people’s usage of the box". "So they go and pour another $300 million in the box and you get a psych and then it goes to infinity. And then everyone makes money."

Levine responded, "I think of myself as like a fairly cynical person. And that was so much more cynical than how I would’ve described farming. You’re just like, well, I’m in the Ponzi business and it’s pretty good."

133 NFTs valued at $2.4 million stolen when hacked Bored Apes Instagram advertises fake land airdrop

An illustrated ape with green fur covered in sores, wearing an orange beanie and 3D glassesBAYC #7203 (attribution)
The Bored Ape Yacht Club's Instagram account was compromised and used to advertised a fake airdrop for metaverse land. This was particularly believable, as the much-anticipated project announced it would be launching this week.

The post invited people to visit a website that prompted users to connect their wallets in order to receive the airdrop. Users who did so found their NFTs transferred out of their wallet to the scammer. So far, 44 people have fallen for the scam site, transferring a total of 133 NFTs with an estimated value of around $2.4 million. The stolen NFTs included items from pricey collections including Bored Apes, Mutant Apes, Bored Ape Kennel Club, and CloneX. Several of the NFTs had previously been sold for over $100,000 each.

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