Although Parler's press release contains a lot of their usual chest-thumping about "freedom from Big Tech", the DeepRedSky NFTs can only be minted with credit cards, with payments being processed through Stripe. The good news: if you aren't getting enough of a rush out of the risks involved with crypto in general, you can get a new thrill from giving your personal information to a platform that's been hacked multiple times.
GenomesDAO wants you to give them your genetic data, which they acknowledge is "data that can be exploited in ways we cannot even imagine yet"
Randi Zuckerberg tests your secondhand embarrassment tolerance with her second crypto-themed parody song
Partway through the song, Zuckerberg sings "carpe the crypto diem". This raises the question of whether she intentionally included a dig at her brother Mark's failed Diem cryptocurrency project (formerly Libra), or if the project was such a flop even his own sister didn't know about it. I truly can't decide which scenario would be funnier.
NFT collector files $6 million lawsuit against OpenSea, LooksRare, and the company behind Bored Apes for not doing more to discourage thefts
On February 1, he was the victim of a phishing attack in which he lost the three pricey NFTs. He had agreed to trade one of his Mutant Apes for another NFT he was interested in, but he and the prospective buyer had to perform the transaction through a platform other than OpenSea or LooksRare because it was a swap rather than a purchase for ETH. Armijo turned down several suggestions of platforms by the other party, saying he was unfamiliar with them, and instead suggested one of his own choosing. However, the other party was still able to send him a trading link that appeared to be from the site he had suggested, and Armijo approved what turned out to be an illegitimate transaction that allowed the other party to take all three of his NFTs for nothing in return. Armijo alleges that although he quickly realized he'd been phished, he was not able to get OpenSea or LooksRare to freeze sales of the stolen NFTs, and they were flipped for resale within days.
Armijo alleges that OpenSea and LooksRare have "utterly failed to protect consumers or do anything to disincentivize or stop the thefts" because they profit from each trade on their platform. He has also named the company behind the Apes NFTs, Yuga Labs, in his lawsuit, stating that they have not done enough to disincentivize theft by failing to "monitor its proprietary and exclusive ape community by denying entry to individuals whose access is predicated on a stolen BAYC NFT". Once again, my heart goes out to the judge hearing this case.
In terms of damages, Armijo states he has been "deprived not only of the significant monetary value of the NFTs he owned, but also [has been] strip[ped] of his membership in the BAYC community and the commercialization rights he possessed in his underlying Bored Ape and Mutant Ape images", and as such is seeking damages "in no event less than $6 million". Interestingly, the name Robert Armijo also appears as a defendant in SEC charges from June 2021, where the individual is alleged to have unlawfully sold securities managed by an organization also alleged by the SEC to be a Ponzi scheme. It's not immediately clear if this is the same person, or someone who shares a name.
- Armijo v. Ozone Networks, Inc. d/b/a Opensea, CourtListener
- "SEC Charges Additional Unregistered Brokers Who Sold EquiAlt Securities to Retail Investors", U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
- "SEC sues La Mesa financial adviser over selling investments linked to a Ponzi scheme", The San Diego Union-Tribune
Elexir draws in more than $1.3 million, then announces an end to the project a week later and "reimburses" investors with $300,000
After their announcement went over about as poorly as you might expect, Elexir offered their community a choice: take the $300,000 they planned to airdrop, and either continue with that plan or re-add it to the liquidity pool. Community members by and large seemed to support an unlisted third mention, which was to refund the entire treasury to people who bought in, but the project developers seem intent on keeping that amount.
The project development team had had their identities verified by the organization StaySAFU, who subsequently tweeted that "We are currently communicating with both the team behind Elexir and the legal authorities", and that they had identity documents for the team members as well as video confirming they were responsible for rug pulls.
Cryptocurrency exchanges refuse requests by Ukrainian Vice President to freeze Russian and Belarusian addresses
Although perhaps unsurprising that these exchanges refused a request like Fedorov's, it will be interesting to see if and how sanctions may affect various cryptocurrency exchanges' actions. Binance, the largest crypto exchange, has already indicated it will comply with sanctions. Kraken, whose executives have tended towards more ideological stances, has also indicated that it will comply with legal requirements to freeze accounts.
Some with a more optimistic view of Wood's tweet suggested that perhaps his request was motivated by a desire to avoid capital gains taxes that could be incurred by converting his DOT to ETH before donating it, but another commenter pointed out that 1) Wood almost certainly holds more than $5M in ETH already as a co-founder of the project, and 2) Wood lives in Switzerland, where private individuals are generally exempt from capital gains taxes.
Co-founder and primary artist for Starcatchers NFT project uses insider knowledge to buy the project's rare NFTs to flip after reveal
It turned out that "Beutrec", a co-founder and the primary artist behind the collection, had used his access to the project metadata to identify and buy the rarest NFTs in the collection. Although he attempted to use distinct wallets to perform the transactions, they were trivially linked back to him. He made around 50 ETH (~$140,000) in profit from flipping the NFTs he bought with insider knowledge. After his actions were revealed in April 2022, Beutrec's new NFT project, Boki, announced that Beutrec would no longer be a part of their team.
Howlerz NFT drop goes incredibly badly, with heavy botting, a poorly-implemented contract, and buyers falling for a scam contract
Part of this collection's draw has been the promise that "you own the art". However, the artwork is released under the CC0 license, which dedicates the work to the public domain—that is, any ownership of the work in a copyright sense no longer exists.
Ukraine-themed NFT projects have also sprung up all over the place, promising to donate portions of proceeds, with very few avenues to distinguish the legitimate from the scams. Some existing NFT projects have created Ukraine-themed items to add to their collections. Other NFT projects that have nothing to do with Ukraine have tried to tempt buyers by claiming they will donate a portion of proceeds (5%, in one case) to Ukrainian war relief funds. Individual sellers have also tried to use the crisis to increase the sales of NFTs they own, promising to donate their profits.
Needless to say, my advice if you're hoping to donate to relief would be to skip the cryptocurrency and NFTs altogether and pick any of the many verified relief funds out there.
Although the project lead wrote on the Discord that they had "made a horrible mistake" but that they would "completely revamp and redesign" the NFTs, the project appeared to be a cash grab. On the night of the reveal, 1,000 ETH ($2.8 million) had already been transferred out of the project and split among various addresses. One of the recipients who received 400 ETH ($1.1 million) immediately went on a shopping spree, buying various big-ticket NFTs with their windfall.
- "BitConnect Founder Indicted in Global $2.4 Billion Cryptocurrency Scheme", United States Department of Justice
The Associated Press continues to mishandle its NFT fiasco with mass Discord bans and scrubbing of messages
However, on February 24 they announced that their newest NFT would show a short, top-down video of around fifty migrants crammed into a small inflatable boat, adrift at sea in the Mediterranean. Any goodwill the AP might have had for their NFT project was likely shattered by their choice to monetize a video of human suffering. The already horrific NFT announcement was particularly ill-timed, given its juxtaposition on many Twitter feeds amongst news of Russian military action against Ukraine. The Associated Press deleted the announcement tweet four hours later.
Founders of BitMEX crypto exchange take guilty plea, pay $10M fine for failing to implement an anti-money laundering program
In March, the third co-founder, Sam Reed, also pled guilty and agreed to pay a $10 million fine. In August, top BitMex employee Gregory Dwyer entered a guilty plea and agreed to pay a $150,000 fine.
BitMEX had attempted to evade sanctions by claiming they didn't serve customers in the United States, though in reality they served thousands of U.S. customers and marketed in the U.S. At one point, when an early investor inquired as to why an investment in the company hadn't triggered a report to regulatory authorities, Delo responded with a meme of a man smiling, superimposed with the text "Incorporated in Seychelles, come at me bro". Hayes and Delo face a maximum sentence of five years in prison as a result of this plea. The exchange had in August paid $100 million to settle a separate lawsuit from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, in an agreement which had also required them to implement proper blocks to prevent U.S. customers from using the service.
- "Founders Of Cryptocurrency Exchange Plead Guilty To Bank Secrecy Act Violations", The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York
- "BitMEX to Pay $100 Million to Resolve Regulator’s Lawsuit Over Crypto Derivatives Trading", The Wall Street Journal
- "Third BitMEX Founder Pleads Guilty to Anti-Money-Laundering Violation", The Wall Street Journal
- "Top BitMEX Employee Pleads Guilty to U.S. Charge", The Wall Street Journal
Suddenly, on February 23, the project deleted its social media accounts and most of its Discord. Fox wrote in the remaining Discord announcements channel that "The time and attention that y’all deserve and that I wanted to give you all/what this project requires, was not known to me and I overstepped and stretched myself too thin, trying to do this project in the middle of an NBA season." He promised to send anyone who bought more than five NFTs (which would have cost ~0.4 ETH, around $1,300, if bought at mint price) a signed jersey (available for purchase online for around $100).
The following day, after some attention was drawn to the rug pull, Fox released a Twitter statement that said basically nothing at all, and made no mention of reimbursing holders. Meanwhile, the floor price of the NFTs dropped to around 0.003 ETH ($8).
Seller withdraws Sotheby's CryptoPunks auction minutes before it's due to go live, likely due to "tepid" reception
However, 0x650d withdrew the sale only minutes before the auction was due to start, tweeting only "nvm, decided to hodl". CoinDesk reported that, "Perhaps contributing to 0x650d’s reversal were rumors of a tepid reception for the CryptoPunks mega-lot. Three sources, including one bidder on-site at Sotheby’s, told CoinDesk that the highest pre-bid offer was $14 million, which was also the reserve price."
Journalist says she's been able to use chain analysis tools to discover the person behind the 2016 hack of The DAO
Journalist and researcher Laura Shin reported on February 22 that she had successfully used a forensics tool from Chainalysis to discover the identity of the hacker: Toby Hoenisch, a co-founder of the TenX "crypto debit card" project. Hoenisch refused to speak with Shin, and has denied the allegation.
For a technology that makes lofty promises of anonymity and privacy, increasingly-powerful technology is being released that at least claims to be able to unwind crypto mixing and make other connections between wallets and transactions that were previously extremely difficult, if not next to impossible. I imagine there may be a few people behind various crypto crimes sweating a bit as these technologies progress and threaten to unmask those behind other hacks and scams.
After Bleckmann-Dreher's attempts to contact the project were published on Web3 Is Going Great on February 26, Ocean Protocol's founder Bruce Pon commented to say they were "on it", and that he had alerted Data Whale about what appeared to be an issue in the ALGA project. Several hours later, Data Whale announced they would be taking the app offline due to concerns that there was a vulnerability, and that they had contacted the researchers. ALGA was later brought back online after they confirmed the vulnerability was not an issue with their project, but rather with Ocean Protocol itself. Pon acknowledged on February 27 that "there was a configuration issue on Ocean compute-to-data which is being fixed now", and later that day Ocean Protocol cut a new release of their operator engine which appeared to be a patch.
Coinbase CEO tries to weave a compelling story about how their own team came up with a Super Bowl ad that "broke the rules on marketing", is quickly revealed to just be taking credit for the work of an outside ad agency
Unfortunately for him, CEO of The Martin Agency Kristen Cavallo showed up with receipts: "It was actually inspired by presentations our agency showed your team on 8/18 (pages 19-24) and 10/7 (pages 11-18) with ad concepts for the Super Bowl with floating QR codes on a blank screen."
I guess if there is a lesson here it is that if you're going to take credit for someone else's idea to try to make your team sound good, maybe you shouldn't also use it as an opportunity to dunk on the people who actually came up with the idea.
On February 20, 0xbrainjar confirmed that he was indeed Zaki. He wrote, "I did this so that my efforts to build up a suite of products would not be shadowed by a mistake that I made in my past.... 0xbrainjar was a place for me to not be defined by this serious misstep (which has been settled and was amplified by the media)". He also wrote on Twitter that "I do not want a mistake in my youth to cloud all of the team's efforts", though the SEC charge was filed less than three years ago, when Zaki was 21.
Some users directed their anger at Assure DeFi, a project that claims to "privately verify the identity" of various projects. The group had reportedly verified the identities of those behind Atom Protocol, lending the project credibility to some who bought in. Assure later tweeted that "many people are still misunderstanding the role of KYC/verification. KYC is a deterrent and not a scam prevention and if anyone says otherwise they are misleading you."
Seventeen OpenSea users have their NFTs stolen and flipped for a total of $2.9 million by a phishing scammer
An hour and a half after users began to report missing NFTs, OpenSea finally acknowledged the issue. They tweeted that they were "actively investigating rumors of an exploit associated with OpenSea related smart contracts", and wrote that they believed it was a phishing attack coming from outside of OpenSea, rather than an issue with their contract. It was later determined that an attacker had successfully phished 17 OpenSea users into signing a malicious contract, which allowed the attacker to take the NFTs and then flip them. Bizarrely, the hacker returned some of the NFTs to their original owners, and one victim inexplicably received 50 ETH ($130,000) from the attacker as well as some of his stolen NFTs back. The attacker later transferred 1,115 ETH obtained from the attack to a cryptocurrency tumbler, worth around $2.9 million.
The following day, Crypto.Chicks announced that they would be replacing Polly as a team member, and pausing their planned release of another NFT collection that also appeared to contain stolen artwork.
- "Detuvieron al contador de Generación Zoe", Página 12 (in Spanish)
- "Pierri será el abogado de Leonardo Cositorto, CEO de Generación Zoe", Infobae (in Spanish)
- "Estafas: qué es Generación Zoe y quién es Leonardo Cositorto", Clarín (in Spanish)
- "A bitcoiner against a powerful cryptocurrency pyramid from Argentina", Money Training Club
Kickstarter says they "won't make changes to Kickstarter without you" after blockchain backlash... but they will continue with blockchain plans
Kickstarter's COO, Sean Leow, did an interview with The Beat to discuss the announcement. He seemed to be a little bit confused on the whole concept throughout, and seemed to believe that "open source" is some sort of competing idea to blockchains. At one point he stated, "We believe that that data can be structured in a way through a blockchain where it ... can move in a much more efficient and effective way between services ... in a way that open source doesn't allow". Later in the interview he spoke about governance, saying, "our understanding is that [governance] is done more effectively with blockchain then with open-source."
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
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
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.
- "Jake Paul, Nick Carter, Soulja Boy, Lil Yachty Facing ‘Pump and Dump’ Class Action Over SafeMoon Tokens", ClassAction.org
- "I UNCOVERED A BILLION DOLLAR FRAUD", CoffeeZilla's YouTube channel
MetaDeckz ends trading card NFT project after facing legal action from streamers whose likenesses were used without consent
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.
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.
"NFT influencer" Morgan (@helloimmorgan) repeatedly fails to disclose being compensated for NFT promotions
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%.
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
The Belvedere Museum dreams big (or, rather, small) by splitting one single painting into 10,000 Valentine's Day NFTs
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.
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.