These scams that plague the world of crypto-assets

For American justice, the case is heard. The virtual images of the “Mutant Ape Planet” series plagiarizing one of the most famous collections of NFTs, these non-fungible tokens that allow you to claim ownership of a computer file, look like yet another scam to the output. This led to the arrest in New York of Aurélien Michel, this Breton suspected of being the main administrator of the project.

Two million investors victims

This type of scam has become one of the scourges of the crypto-asset community. During a “rug-pull” in the jargon of the community, “pulling the carpet” in French, it is a question of launching a crypto asset to resell its shares at the highest level before its value collapses. According to the company Solidus Labsa company in the tracing of flows on blockchains

, the number of victims is impressive. In two years, two million investors have lost funds in nearly 200,000 suspicious projects.

“The authors of these scams make their project shine, suggesting that there will be significant returns on investment, summarizes Éric Ruffié, a specialist in web investigations. They take advantage of the credulity of their victims and take the cash as soon as they can”. Example with the Squid Game crypto scam, which usurped the name of the famous Netflix series.

Fake supports

The offer was attractive on paper. Holders of the token had to, through games, earn other cryptocurrencies. But there was eel under rock. The creators of the crypto-asset were not who they claimed to be, claiming in particular false support from well-known figures.

In the fall of 2021, the price of this crypto-asset soars to new heights. The developers then sell their shares, an estimated hoard of around three million dollars. Once gone, the soufflé deflates and the crypto price crashes, causing investors to lose their stake.

Legal proceedings

If these scams are flourishing, the victims are not completely helpless. Because some cases do lead to prosecution. “The authorities are now sanctioning situations that have not been prosecuted so far,” notes specialist lawyer Romain Chilly.

A judicial response favored by a better knowledge by the investigation services of the universe of crypto-assets. But also thanks to the “crypto winter”, this sudden drop in a market which had been structurally on the rise until now, scams included, revealing the most bogus projects in passing.

“Crypto has been widely criticized for being a tool that facilitates money laundering or illicit transactions, adds Romain Chilly. But we see at the same time that it is a formidable tool for identifying the perpetrators of offences. It is thanks to the analyzes of transactions on the blockchain that we manage to identify suspects ”.

Surveys just a click away

Because the blockchain is anything but synonymous with anonymity. Holders of a crypto wallet are identified by a pseudonym. And it is possible to track their transactions in a sort of public ledger. This allows even simple anonymous people, like the crypto star investigator ZachXBT, to contribute.

The research of this Internet user followed by more than 346,000 people on Twitter, confirmed by the French police, thus resulted in the indictment of five suspects this fall in Paris. Not a scam case this time, but a simple theft of NFTs from the “Bored Ape” collection. Estimated anyway, at the time, at around 2.5 million dollars…

* Large register shared between all users, theoretically indelible and tamper-proof.

The Aurélien Michel case in


How to avoid scams

Are you a fan or curious about NFT and looking to invest while avoiding scams? “Look at the crypto portfolio of the project leader: if the outgoing flows are greater than the incoming flows, this can be a warning signal”, notes for example Éric Ruffié. And follow some common sense advice. Beware of over-the-top plans and unrealistic promises, and check to see if the image linked to the NFT didn’t already exist before the token was created. And ask yourself questions if investor relations is housed, for example, in a chat room on the Discord messaging app: that’s really not serious.

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These scams that plague the world of crypto-assets

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