Someone appears to trade on insider knowledge of Coinbase listings

In early February, Coinbase listed the Aventus token ($AVT) on its exchange and added support for Pawtocol ($UPI). Shortly before these announcements, someone created a new crypto wallet and spent more than $350,000 buying AVT. The listing news didn't result in much of a price bump for AVT, so the trader tried again—cashing out the AVT and putting it into UPI in advance of that announcement. They found success with this trade, ultimately making a profit of around $734,000. The timing of the trades, combined with the relatively unknown nature of $AVT prior to the announcement, strongly suggests someone had insider knowledge of the upcoming announcement.

$36 million taken from retirement accounts of IRA Financial customers investing in crypto

IRA Financial, a platform for managing retirement investments, boasts of being "the first self-directed IRA company to allow their clients to invest in cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, directly via a cryptocurrency exchange". Unfortunately, they were probably also the first to have that feature exploited, when an administrator account was apparently compromised and users' funds were transferred out of their connected Gemini accounts. Two days later, IRA Financial publicly acknowledged "suspicious activity that has affected a limited subset of our customers with accounts on the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange". The stolen funds, taken in a mix of Ethereum and Bitcoin, amounted to around $36 million.

Exploit of Superfluid vesting contract nets attacker $8.7 million

A vulnerability in the Superfluid crypto streaming protocol allowed an attacker to drain $8.7 million, affecting projects including Mai Finance, Stacker Ventures, Stake DAO, and the Museum of Crypto Art.

Longstanding British photography institution baits-and-switches investors with NFTs

Twitter account for Art3.io. Description reads, "We are ART3. A better way to discover, collect, buy and sell NFT photographic art."ART3.io Twitter account, formerly the account for the BJP (attribution)
The British Journal of Photography is a magazine and institution within the fine art and documentary photography world dating to 1854. In June 2021, they asked for investments, but were optimistic about the organization's performance, saying that they projected 6x returns over the next four years. They were successful in raising £1.8 million (about $2.4M) in shareholder investment. In November, the organization emailed investors announcing the launch of ART3.io, "our foray into the fast-growing NFT space", but still seemed optimistic about the "game changing opportunity for the business" that it would present.

On February 2, some Twitter users were confused to find themselves suddenly following the Twitter account of an NFT operation, as BJP had taken its existing 250,000-follower Twitter account and rebranded it to "ART3.io" and begun promoting various NFTs with posts of "gm". The primary BJP organization started a new Twitter account, @bjp1854, which had a total of around 1,500 followers. On February 8, investors received an email from BJP announcing the company had been sold, and that they would be paying back shareholders £50,000 of the £1.8 million, a 92% loss.

U.S. Department of Justice arrests duo for trying to launder billions stolen from Bitfinex in 2016

A woman in round sunglasses wearing a shiny gold jacket and a baseball cap that says "#0FCKS" sings with her hands in the airHeather Morgan, aka "Razzlekhan" (attribution)
The U.S. Department of Justice announced that they had arrested a New York couple and seized more than $3.6 billion in Bitcoin that they were allegedly trying to launder. The fortune was a portion of what was stolen in the 2016 Bitfinex breach, which saw the exchange lose around 120,000 BTC—then valued at around $71 million but worth around $4.5 billion at today's BTC prices. The husband and wife pair, Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan, both describe themselves as tech entrepreneurs; Morgan also describes herself as a "surrealist rapper", and her work sure is surreal.

News of the arrest came only a week after 20,000 BTC from the Bitfinex hack was observed being moved. Although the DOJ didn't explicitly say that this movement led to the arrest, it seems like a safe bet.

LooksRare team cashes out $30 million in wETH, panicking their community

The team behind LooksRare, an NFT platform known for its enormous proportion of wash trading, cashed out around 10,500 wETH worth around $30 million. They had earned the wETH by staking $LOOKS tokens, the platform's native token. A LooksRare team member explained that "The fact that the team earns WETH has never been a secret", though it certainly seemed to come as a surprise to many in the community.

The discovery of the withdrawal caused panic, with some community members believing it was a sign that the team was rug pulling. Some also questioned the team members' choice to send the funds to a cryptocurrency tumbler, believing this meant they were trying to hide the cash-out from community members. One might understand why they would try to hide it: after the withdrawals became public, the value of the native $LOOKS token crashed around 15%.

More broadly, the fear around the team cashing out illustrates a common belief among some crypto project communities: that if you cash out even some of your holdings, you're not a true believer. A LooksRare team member explained that the team behind the project had "been grinding night and day for 6+ months" without payment and had collectively fronted "more than 7 figures in costs" before the platform launch (reassuring!), and the withdrawal was simply 10+ team members finally receiving payment. Apparently unsatisfied with this explanation, the community tried to demand the team use their wETH to repurchase $LOOKS, though it doesn't appear this has happened.

SuperRare parts ways with its community manager over racist tweets, she hosts a disastrous "apology" Twitter Space

The same week as bigoted tweets from an ENS director Brantly Millegan surfaced, so too did racist tweets by Ashni Christenson, then-community manager for the NFT platform SuperRare. Christenson, who is white, had presented herself as an ally to people of color and other members of marginalized communities in her work with SuperRare. The first tweets to appear were from 2011, where in several instances Christenson used the n-word when quoting rap lyrics. SuperRare quickly announced that they had "parted ways" with her, and Christenson tweeted that she had "stepped down". Unlike Millegan, who doubled down on his statements after they resurfaced, Christenson appeared apologetic for what she had written in the past. She expressed on Twitter: "wish I got the chance to take accountability & talk about this". She apparently decided to try to do so by hosting a Twitter Space, oddly called "a warning to all web3". The Space went well for her in the beginning, with several people speaking up in support of Christenson and condemning SuperRare for the firing, and with Christenson championing a project she led at SuperRare to highlight Black creators and expressing how upset she was over "the situation". Several commenters expressed that they thought this was "cancel culture" at work, and that web3 was supposed to be resistent to "censorship" and "canceling".

However, as the Space continued and amassed several thousand listeners, several Black women stepped up to express that her apologies didn't seem genuine or self-reflective, and that the Space appeared to be little more than an opportunity for other white people in the web3 community to "forgive" her and pat her on the back, as she gained followers throughout. The women who spoke up immediately began to receive extraordinarily racist and threatening mentions and direct messages on Twitter from various people in the Space.

As the Space was ongoing, more of Christenson's past tweets surfaced, several considerably more recent than 2011, and none involving song lyrics: several that were racist towards Mexicans and one that appeared to be questioning the experiences of rape survivors. When one speaker asked how old Christenson had been when she made the 2016 tweets about Mexicans, Christenson initially dodged. When another listener repeated the question she answered that she had been 26, but that research shows that your frontal lobe isn't fully developed until you're 25... or something. As the Space continued, Black web3 community member mec. kindly suggested that Christenson end the Space and take some time to genuinely reflect. As more Black speakers expressed that they felt hurt by Christenson's actions, the Space abruptly ended. Although the Space was being recorded, Christenson took down the recording shortly after.

Another project tries to sell music NFTs without permission from artists

Tweet by NFT Music Stream: "Should you wish for your music to be removed we will honor your wishes and remove it for you, simply email verification@nftmusic.stream We are on YOUR SIDE and are going to flip the industry on it's head by cutting out the middle man & giving control back to you profit wise. (4)"Tweet by NFT Music Stream (attribution)
Following close on the heels of the disaster of an idea that was HitPiece, a new project called "NFT Music Stream" cropped up. Like HitPiece, the project appeared to be scraping Spotify to list music by an enormous number of artists, all apparently without the consent of the musicians. Crypto critics and musicians who questioned the project quickly found themselves blocked.

Also like HitPiece, NFT Music Stream claimed to be doing artists a favor, tweeting, "We are on YOUR SIDE and are going to flip the industry on it's[sic] head by cutting out the middle man & giving control back to you profit wise." They also wrote, "I think a lot of people are missing the point of the project", apparently not understanding why musicians might be less than thrilled to see their work resold without permission.

EarnHub claims they've been hacked for around $284,000

EarnHub, a DeFi platform with its own rap song, suddenly saw 660 wBNB (around $284,000) disappear from their project. EarnHub wrote on Twitter that "A hacker was able to exploit our contracts and steal most of the tokens in certain pools, then sell them, draining our LP." However, blockchain security firm CertiK found in their analysis that the "hack" was likely to be a rug pull.

NFT marketplace Cent shuts down over "rampant" fakes and plagiarism, founder says "I think this is a pretty fundamental problem with Web3"

Cent, the NFT marketplace which sold Jack Dorsey's NFT of his first tweet for $2.9 million, stopped transactions on February 6. The founder explained that people selling NFTs of content they didn't own, copies of other NFT projects, and NFTs resembling securities were "rampant" problems on the platform. "We would ban offending accounts but it was like we're playing a game of whack-a-mole... Every time we would ban one, another one would come up, or three more would come up."

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