Someone blows up a Lamborghini to "criticize greed", then makes NFTs out of the pieces

A still frame of a Lamborghini mid-explosionStill frame from SHL0MS' video (attribution)
The person known on Twitter by the name SHL0MS bought a used Lamborghini Huracan, drove it to the desert, and recorded the enormous fireball as they blew up the car. The explosion, they said, was meant to be a "criticism of greed and short-termism in crypto".

SHL0MS then gathered 888 pieces of the wrecked car, took rotating videos of each one, and created NFTs from them. The NFTs were to be released on February 25 in an auction starting at 0.01 ETH (about $26), but the auction was delayed due to the news of Russia's military invasion of Ukraine.

It's likely SHL0MS will profit handsomely off the Lamborghini NFT. Their previous NFT collection, FNTN, involved similar rotating videos, in that case of an exploded toilet. The NFTs in that 185-piece collection have recently been trading at 1–2 ETH (several thousand dollars).

Andrew Yang announces plans to fight poverty with a lobbying group that distributes voting power in proportion to how much you pay

Perennial political candidate Andrew Yang, perhaps in a desperate bid to stay relevant, announced his plans to create "Lobby3". Lobby3 is a DAO which he says will push for crypto-friendly regulation and "eradicate poverty". Like many DAOs, the voting power is allocated based on how many tokens a member owns, meaning that those who pay more have more votes. A single token, representing one vote, costs 0.07 ETH (about $200). The "Founder" tier of participation in the DAO, which appears to offer access to Yang more than anything particularly lobbying-related, costs 40 ETH (about $125,000).

Interestingly, one of the people credited as a "contributing artist" to Lobby3 is "Robness", who had the previous day minted an NFT of a photo of a journalist as a child in an attempt to harass her.

Class action lawsuit names SafeMoon, its executives, Jake Paul, Nick Carter, and others in alleged pump-and-dump scheme

A class action suit was filed against SafeMoon, various executives, and a handful of influencers and celebrities who promoted the token. The plaintiffs allege that promotions included false or misleading statements, and that the defendants misrepresented their control over SafeMoon and its tokens in what is commonly called a "pump and dump". In addition to SafeMoon and its executives, the lawsuit named various celebrities and influencers who had promoted the token to their followers: Jake Paul, Nick Carter, Soulja Boy, Ben Phillips, and Lil Yachty. Promotions by the influencers occurred primarily between March and May 2021, and helped the coin spike to its all-time-highs of about $0.000008. However, the coin has spent most of its history worth less than half or, more lately, a quarter of that amount. The token underwent a migration in early 2022, which increased the price per token, but the value has continued to decrease.

These influencers join a growing list of celebrities who have been named in class action suits over alleged pump-and-dumps. The list includes names like Kim Kardashian, who was named among others in a January class action suit pertaining to a coin called EthereumMAX.

Binance halts activities and marketing in Israel over "licensing issues"—namely, the lack of one

Binance announced they had stopped "marketing to Israelis and all activities focused on Israel until we examine the issue of licensing." The "issue" in question seems to be that they don't have a license at all: according to the Israeli Capital Market, Insurance and Savings Authority, they never received an application that would license Binance to do business in Israel.

MetaDeckz ends trading card NFT project after facing legal action from streamers whose likenesses were used without consent

Side-by-side images showing an illustrated trading card of streamer Pokimane eating a lollipop, next to a photo of her from which the illustration was derivedComparison of the Pokimane MetaDeckz card and an existing photo (attribution)
An artist creating and selling trading cards of various streamers without asking their permission claims he was "just trying to do something cool for the community". He originally claimed that he had emailed each streamer about the project and never got a response, but the enormously popular streamer Ludwig released a statement in a tweet reading summarized with "TLDR: I am not making a fucking NFT and I'll let my lawyers take it from here". The longer text said that the MetaDeckz creator hadn't emailed Ludwig at all, and only sent him a Twitter DM "less than 24 hours ago". "You didn't even follow me on Twitter until [a popular Twitter personality called out your project]. It feels like you just reached out to cover your ass rather than get permission.... This is nothing more than a low effort scam."

Following Ludwig's scathing statement and legal threat, MetaDeckz explained he was just "an artist who saw an oppertunity [sic]" and that he would disband the project. He later released a video explaining that he would stop the project, though his continued references to the cards as "the product" and his statements that he intended to continue working on the cards led some to question if he was just planning to try to monetize them in some other way. If that's the case, he may run into further issues given that the card illustrations all appear to be derived directly from photos of the streamers that don't belong to MetaDeckz.

NFT artist "Robness" mints an NFT of a journalist's childhood photo to harass her

"Robness", an NFT artist who is somewhat known for selling a photograph of a trashcan for more than $250,000, apparently took issue with BuzzFeed News journalist Katie Notopoulos, who published an article in early February revealing the identities of two of the pseudonymous Bored Ape Yacht Club team. Robness was not the only one unhappy with her reporting—many people claimed that she "doxxed" the founders, despite the fact that she only published names that were on public business records and which the Bored Apes company confirmed to her. Some went so far as to send threats to her about her parents, claiming to know where they lived.

Robness decided the best way to make his displeasure known would be to find a photo of Notopoulos as a young child and turn it into an NFT titled "VOTED MOST LIKELY TO BE A FAILED JOURNALIST: KATIE NOTOPOULOS". The NFT description read, "Failed journalism is a true art to master. With Buzzfeed's new article about the Bored Ape Yacht Club, Katie Notopoulos went where no journalist usually goes. She ousted [sic] both of the Bored Ape Yacht Club founders while providing baseless claims of racist tropes about their artwork to further stir up contention. We thank Katie for her continued pursuit in tainting the once respected practice of real journalism. Here we have what is known as doxx art. Enjoy."

The NFT platform where Robness originally listed the NFT, Known Origin, eventually took down the listing. However, due to the nature of blockchains, the NFT itself still exists and can continue to be accessed and traded despite one platform's intervention.

Even Gary Vee gets upset with the shady business in NFTs sometimes

Still image from Gary Vee's video. He's wearing a blue sweatshirt and black baseball cap.Gary Vee (attribution)
Gary Vaynerchuk, an entrepreneur and now crypto/NFT personality, took to Twitter to express his frustration with some projects that airdrop their NFTs to big-name collectors and then market their projects by suggesting the person bought in of their own volition. There is no way for a person to prevent NFTs from being airdropped to their wallets, and if a person wants to get rid of them by burning or transferring them, they have to pay gas fees (averaging around $50 today on the Ethereum blockchain). In an exasperated Twitter video, Gary Vee said, "Hey NFT News and all the other accounts that take money from these projects that airdrop these products into my account and others accounts, and then say shit like 'Gary Vee owns this' or 'this person owns that' or 'this that'. Can you just stop doing that? It makes you look insane. This project is completely full of shit and is trying to trick people, and that sucks."

Tabletop roleplaying game publisher Chaosium suspends their NFT project after backlash

An NFT of a 3D model of Cthulu rendered as though it is made from jadeCthulhu fhtagn! (attribution)
Chaosium, a maker of tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs; think games like Dungeons & Dragons) including the popular Call of Cthulu game, launched an NFT project in July 2021. Their initial NFT offering was based around their Call of Cthulu game, but "didn’t receive much attention from the gaming press or TTRPG community". However, their more recent discussion of plans to release more NFTs received major pushback from their community, leading the company to release a statement that "we have heard your concerns" and "we are suspending production". In a longer-form statement they wrote that, "In recent months, the debate has become prominent and contentious. Bad actors in this sphere have received widespread coverage. Many people are justifiably baffled, incredulous, and deeply skeptical."

BNB42 rug pulls for over $2.7 million

BNB42 was a "100% decentralized investment platform" that promised investors a 20% daily return on their investments. Unsurprisingly, that turned out to be too good to be true when the project owners deployed unaudited contracts that prevented anyone but themselves from withdrawing, and drained 6,445 BNB ($2.78 million) that quickly went to cryptocurrency tumblers. Around 6,000 investors lost money, presumably after being drawn by the unbelievable promises, like "earn 200% and double your investment in just 10 days". As is tradition, the project's Twitter account and website were wiped shortly after the investors cut and run.

"NFT influencer" Morgan (@helloimmorgan) repeatedly fails to disclose being compensated for NFT promotions

More shadiness emerges around the Jacked Ape Club as it's discovered that the popular NFT influencer account Morgan (aka @helloimmorgan and morgan.eth) failed to disclose being paid to promote the project, even directly denying it at one point. After the JAC deal was uncovered, someone asked her how many other projects had paid her that she hadn't disclosed, and she replied "I haven't been paid for anything except this one". However, it appears she has been compensated for multiple other giveaways for NFT projects including WomenOfCrypto and Squiggles.

Last year Morgan was caught up in scandal after it appeared she had bought a $24,000 Mutant Ape NFT while simultaneously running a GoFundMe trying to raise $20,000 for medical bills for her grandmother; she claims that the GoFundMe predated the MAYC purchase (though that seems to be in some doubt as well) and that all GFM funds went to her grandmother. Separately from that incident, she also created an NFT project called "Grumpkins" that was supposed to give 20% of profits towards children with cleft palates and also her grandmother's fund; after launching the project she quietly changed the donation amount to 10%.

Lonely Ape Dating Club launches to help Bored Ape NFT collectors find love, or maybe pay for it

A dating app screen shows a Bored Ape NFT with pink fur and a ponytail, with a profile named "misty.eth"Lonely Ape Dating Club prototype (attribution)
Left in place for posterity's sake, but the inimitible Katie Notopoulos has determined that this "app" was all a well-executed prank in the post-ironic world that is web3.

The Lonely Ape Dating Club project announced their plans to build a dating app specifically for owners of Bored Ape NFTs—NFTs featuring illustrations of apes that trade for an average of around 90 ETH ($225,000). The app is not currently accepting signups from people who don't own a BAYC NFT, which raises more than a few questions about how successful a dating app will be when its pool of users seems to be overwhelmingly male, though perhaps I'm making too many assumptions about their sexualities. The app does promise plans to release a "Coin Digger" feature, which would "allow non-BAYC owners to connect with higher net worth individuals for mutual benefit", so perhaps that is their plan to solve that problem.

Sadly, the project was cancelled in May 2022 due to "unforeseen circumstances" which I have to imagine were pretty foreseeable.

Leaders of the Canadian truck protest come up with hilariously complex plan to distribute the Bitcoins they've collected

18-wheeler trucks plastered in signage, with a man walking in front waving a Canadian flag. There are several plastic fuel canisters on the ground in the foreground.Canadian truck protest (attribution)
The leaders of the Canadian anti-vaccine trucker protest communicated their plan to distribute the 21 Bitcoin (worth almost $1 million) to the truckers blockading the border. Instead of giving the truckers the money in a cash format they can actually use, the "professional orange-piller" in charge of the Bitcoin distribution has explained a multi-step plan to give truckers pieces of paper with seed phrases printed on them. The seed phrases will be placed into sealed envelopes along with instructions on how to create a Bitcoin wallet, which are then "numbered and squiggly random lines should be drawn on the envelope to help with later identification". The volunteers then plan to physically destroy the printer with shears and screwdrivers, to try to prevent attackers from pulling the seed phrases out of the device memory. Of course once the trucker has their seed phrase, they have to go through the multi-step process of gaining access to the Bitcoin wallet on their smartphone, and then figure out how on earth to actually use their newfound Bitcoins to, say, pay for fuel. Anyway, I think this all goes to show that the future of money truly is upon us.

BuildFinance DAO project treasury drained after "hostile takeover"

A person managed to submit a proposal to the DAO that governs BuildFinance, a "decentralized venture builder", that would allow them to take over the project contract. The attacker succeeded in obtaining enough votes for the proposal to pass, primarily because they held an outsized number of governance tokens, and because they were able to disable community Discord features that would have alerted more of the community to the proposal. After the proposal passed and they were granted control over the project, they began minting and selling the project's native $BUILD token, draining the project treasury of about $470,000. According to BuildFinance, "As things stand, the attacker has full control of the governance contract, minting keys and treasury. The DAO no longer has control over any part of the key infrastructure." Some have questioned whether the incident can properly be described as an "attack" or "hostile takeover": everything worked exactly as it was supposed to in a "code is law" sort of way, even though it was against the intentions of the project founders and presumably most of its community.

The Belvedere Museum dreams big (or, rather, small) by splitting one single painting into 10,000 Valentine's Day NFTs

A small section of canvas with brown paintHappy Valentine's Day, honey! (attribution)
In a Valentine's Day-themed stunt, the otherwise reputable Belvedere Museum in Austria decided to sell Gustav Klimt's The Kiss as NFTs. But making one NFT was apparently not enough for the museum, which decided to section the digital copy of the artwork into 10,000 individual tiles. Although The Kiss is a very large piece of artwork, at nearly 6 feet on each side (180cm × 180cm), this means each NFT buyer gets an NFT representing a scrap of the painting measuring 0.7 inches to a side (18mm × 18mm), about the size of a U.S. penny. The Belvedere Museum has, somehow, estimated that each NFT will sell for €1,850 (about $2,100). If their dreams come true, selling all 10,000 NFTs would net them €18.5 million ($21 million).

The website for the NFT sale explains a six-step process to obtain one of these NFTs, including the standard steps of connecting a wallet and joining the allowlist, but ending with "Dedicate your NFT to a beloved one", which involves sending... their loved one a form email, apparently. My heart goes out to anyone receiving an NFT for Valentine's Day, much less a $2,000 one representing a portion of a painting smaller than a postage stamp. To anyone who thinks this is a good idea: I am begging you, please just buy your partner some flowers.

One Monero mining pool creeps closer to that crucial 51% of the network hashrate

Much of the mining of the Monero privacycoin is done by a single mining pool named MineXMR. The total computing power being used to mine and process Monero transactions (also called the hashrate) controlled by the one mining pool has been gradually increasing. On February 13, someone posted in the Monero subreddit urging people to "boycott" MineXMR, because the pool's hashrate was as high as 47.7% of the total network hashrate. If the one group's hashrate breaks the 50% mark, it opens the network up to a potential 51% attack, where the mining pool could be used for malicious actions, including blocking new transactions from being confirmed, reordering transactions, or double spending.

Jacked Ape Club NFT project team erupts in chaos

An illustration of a muscular ape with leopard spots wearing a cowboy hatJacked Ape #463 (attribution)
The team behind Jacked Ape Club, another NFT project featuring computer-generated apes, briefly erupted in chaos, shaking the confidence of many in the project. Several days prior, the project's initial sale finished with a bit more of a whimper than a bang. Team members Orange, Mitchell, and Jango were suddenly kicked out of the project and blocked by the remaining team. The founding members of the team said they simply removed the trio because their work was done, and because they said they weren't going to continue doing work for the project without further payments (how unreasonable!). However, it appeared that the remaining team members subsequently withdrew 178 ETH (a little more than $500,000)—39% of the money in the project—leading some to believe they were rug pulling.

The following day, the project announced that control was back in the hands of Orange, Mitchell, Jango, and one other team member, and that the founders would be departing the project. The remaining team also announced that 105 ETH would be returned back to the project; they didn't address the 73 remaining ETH (around $220,000) that was reportedly taken by the founders.

Coinbase experiences an outage during the Super Bowl

Screenshot of error message screen reading "Planned maintenance in progress. Our systems are undergoing maintenance. Please try again later. Your funds are safe."Coinbase outage message (attribution)
People were apparently tempted by Coinbase's Super Bowl ad—which was just a QR code bouncing around the screen like the DVD screensaver—so much so that it took the Coinbase website down. Super Bowl levels of traffic are difficult to handle, granted, but you'd think a company with billions in revenue still might be able to figure it out. Travis Kimmel noted on Twitter that Coinbase's error message read, "Planned maintenance in progress": "Loving how 'planned maintenance' is just like their default 404 page. 'Don't worry everything is under control — we intentionally took the site offline while running an ad during the most expensive airtime ever.' " Coinbase subsequently tried to sweeten the pot by announcing that anyone who downloaded their app would receive $15 in Bitcoin.

This Super Bowl was the first to feature crypto advertisements. In addition to Coinbase's spot, Bud Light announced a beer-related NFT collection, Larry David appeared in an ad for the FTX exchange, and Crypto.com of course had a spot. What better time to make well-researched financial decisions than from your phone after a bunch of Super Bowl beers?

British tax collectors perform their first ever NFT seizure in tax evasion investigation

British tax authorities seized three NFTs in what they said was an attempt to dodge £1.4 million ($1.9M) in taxes. Officials stated that the seizure was a "warning to anyone who thinks they can use crypto assets to hide money", which may come as a surprise to some of the masterminds in the crypto subreddits.

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.

Hackers take more than $10 million from defi project Dego Finance

Hackers drained more than $10 million from the project Dego Finance. This also plunged the value of the project's $DEGO token by about 78%. Dego claims that the hackers compromised the keys to the address providing liquidity on UniSwap and PancakeSwap. Dego, which is a decentralized finance project, asked the various major exchanges to step in and prevent trading of the token, a type of intervention by centralized exchanges that is precisely what defi is supposed to prevent from happening.

Creator of Skycoin files lawsuit claiming he was extorted and kidnapped

Brandon Smietana, the creator of the Skycoin cryptocurrency, filed a civil racketeering lawsuit on February 9 against a slew of people. He claims that the people hired to market the coin and redo its website ended up damaging the website to demand ransom payments, and ultimately kidnapped Smietana and his girlfriend, then beat and tortured them for hours until Smietana handed over $360,000 in Bitcoin and Skycoin.

One defendant in the lawsuit has described the suit as "absurd" and "pretty weird", and said that Smietana has "a history of blaming other people for the failure of Skycoin".

Canadian antivaxxers try shilling crypto after failing to fund their trucker protest

A group of protesters gathering outdoors. One is holding a Bitcoin flag, several others hold Canadian flags.Canadian protesters with Bitcoin flag (attribution)
A protest in Canada against COVID-19 vaccine requirements for truckers re-entering the country, known as the "Freedom Convoy" has tried to crowdfund in several ways. A GoFundMe campaign that raised over CA$10 million was taken down after terms of service violations. A campaign on the right-wing favorite GiveSendGo raised over CA$8.2 million, but funds were frozen after an injuction by the Ontario Attorney General. The GiveSendGo platform also catastrophically failed to secure sensitive user data, and suffered a huge leak of donor data including scans of passports and drivers licenses, which is being made available to journalists and researchers by the inimitable DDoSecrets.

The protesters eventually turned to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for crowdfunding, even appointing a "Bitcoin team lead" who rambled on in a livestream about not "being shackled by the censorship put in place by our legacy financial system", much to the confusion and annoyance of some viewers. One commenter asked, "Are we at a press conference for Freedom Convoy 2022 or having some guy shove Bitcoin down our throats?" As of February 9, the group claims to have raised $300,000 in Bitcoin, and $500,000 in other cryptocurrencies.

Baby Musk Coin rug pulls after a $2 million January ICO

Illustration of a baby that looks like Elon Musk on a yellow coinBaby Musk Coin illustration (attribution)
The Baby Musk Coin memecoin launched in January, promising to "revolutionize the meme industry". The coin enjoyed a $2 million ICO the previous month, despite warnings from observers who noticed the coin couldn't be sold, and who described it as a honeypot. Sure enough, on February 9, the project developers suddenly transferred 1571 BNB out of the project and quickly mixed it using Tornado Cash, earning a tidy profit of around $653,300. The sudden sell-off crashed the coin value to 0, leaving remaining holders with a worthless coin they were unable to sell. Developers took down the project website, Twitter account, and even their "Baby Musk dance video".

Samsung launches environmental sustainability-themed metaverse scavenger hunt where people plant virtual trees and earn NFTs

A 3D man stands in a virtual forest"Sustainability Forest" in the metaverse (attribution)
Samsung launches a "sustainability-themed quest" on their "Samsung 837X" Decentraland metaverse project, where they invite characters to hunt for "recyclable product boxes", plant trees in the (virtual) forest, and earn NFT badges.

The press release doesn't happen to mention that the Decentraland project is built on Ethereum, a proof-of-work blockchain that currently uses over 100 TWh of electricity per year—around the same amount as countries like the Netherlands or Finland.

The BBC publishes (and then deletes) a puff piece on a "self-made crypto-millionaire giving back" without mentioning his scam coin

Photograph of a man holding a laptop while standing in front of a MercedesHanad Hassan (attribution)
The BBC featured an article on their homepage about Hanad Hassan, "a 20-year-old who made millions trading cryptocurrency [who] is set to open a food bank to give back to his community." They mentioned that "he and his friend ... set up a special cryptocurrency together, donating all the profits to charity." What the BBC failed to note was that the project, Orfano, was apparently a scam—after the project launched and received investments, the duo shut it down and took the money. The BBC took their article down without explanation shortly after publishing, though it is still accessible via the Internet Archive. The BBC had also originally announced that there would be a 30-minute feature on the man on their BBC One channel running later that day, but replaced it with a different segment.

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."

Ubisoft holds internal workshop to address major employee concerns about NFTs, delivers celebratory NFT to employees

Screengrab of an army green baseball capScreengrab of the employee hat NFT (attribution)
Players are not the only ones questioning Ubisoft's decisions to incorporate NFTs into their games (such as their newest Tom Clancy game), though Ubisoft has done little more than brush those aside with statements from executives that players simply "don't get it". Questions and concerns have also been raised by Ubisoft employees, to the point where the company held an internal workshop to address questions like "How can you look at private property, speculation, artificial scarcity, and egoism, then say 'yes this is good, I want that, let's put it in art?'" Bloomberg reported that an internal announcement pertaining to NFTs received hundreds of negative comments from employees.

Meanwhile, Ubisoft announced that they were creating a celebratory virtual hat NFT to gift to their employees in early March, in honor of the opening of the Ubisoft Quartz NFT platform. Maybe just give them a cash bonus next time.

The team behind Doodled Dragons rugpulls again with "Balloonsville", taunts buyers and the NFT platform they used

A blue balloon with a snowman on its head, wearing a grey polo shirt with striped sleevesBalloon #2607 (attribution)
On January 9, the team behind an NFT project called Doodled Dragons made off with $30,000 and wrote that the charity to which they'd promised to donate "will instead now be... my bank account". A month later, the same team rug pulled again with a project called "Balloonsville", this time netting 5,000 SOL (about $590,000). The project had been listed as a "Featured project" on the Magic Eden NFT platform, a popular Solana marketplace. Before deleting their Twitter account, the Balloonsville project posted a series of tweets, including one that read, "all it took was a couple of paid actors, and boom. we did it again. y'all really believe anything nowadays. Magic Eden NFT refund everyone we scammed cause you were too stupid to ask for ID which could've easily shown we were a rug - doodled dragons". The Magic Eden NFT platform did indeed subsequently announce that they would stop allowing anonymous projects to use their platform. The platform also refunded users who sold their Balloon NFTs below the original mint price, though not the users who bought after the mint and later sold at a loss.

UN reports that millions of dollars in stolen crypto have gone towards funding North Korean missile programs

A report by the United Nations identified cyberattacks as an "important revenue source". At least three cryptocurrency exchanges were targeted by North Korean hackers, and a January Chainalysis report suggested that cyberattacks originating from North Korea could have provided the country with as much as $400 million in stolen cryptocurrency.

Contracted developer makes off with all the funds for the Ratz Club NFT project

A pixel art rat wearing a baseball cap and sports jerseyRatz Club NFT (attribution)
Mexican VTuber Zilverk created an NFT project called Ratz Club, built on the Solana blockchain. On February 6, the project announced that a developer they had contracted drained all of the funds from the project wallet. The project lost about 1,300 SOL, or around $140,000. The project announced that Zilverk and another developer would be putting their own money back into the project, and that "you are going to be able to replace your Ratz with a new series of Ratz, all holders will receive the same amount of Ratz they had minted for free. (Since the Ratz you already minted are kinda are useless)."

ENS governance put to the test as a bigoted 2016 tweet from its director of operations resurfaces

Brantly Millegan is the director of operations for the Ethereum Name Service, which is basically a blockchain version of DNS, and is also how some people get their wallet to show up as customname.eth on various web3 projects. His Twitter biography describes him as a "Catholic, husband, father". Someone discovered a 2016 tweet of his, in which he expressed bigoted views about homosexuality and transgender people, and condemned abortion, contraception, masturbation, and pornography. Millegan dismissed the concerns about the tweet, writing, "hey looks like I've got my first mob. nice to see some ppl finally read the first word of my bio." He left the offensive tweet up, and later doubled down in a Twitter Spaces conversation.

On February 6, the ENS community stewards voted to remove Millegan from among them, and the following day the nonprofit behind ENS announced that they had terminated Millegan's contract as director of operations. As of February 7, Millegan still holds the largest share of voting power in the ENS DAO.

Meter Passport, another blockchain bridge, is exploited for $4.3 million

A bug in the Meter Passport smart contract allowed an attacker to pull 1400 ETH (~$4.2 million) and 2 wrapped Bitcoin (~$83,000) from the Meter Passport blockchain bridge. This was the second hack of a blockchain bridge in three days, following the enormous Wormhole Network exploit. Meter urged its users not to trade any meterBNB, which are currently unbacked, and wrote that they were "working on compensating funds to all affected users."