HitPiece catches heat for selling song and album NFTs without seeking consent from the artists

Two listings for sale on the HitPiece website: "Tokyo DisneySea Theme Song" and a German-language Star Wars song, "Die Belagerung von Lothal - Teil 2 - Kapitel 6"You have to admit they have guts for so prominently listing stolen IP from the notoriously-litigious Disney (attribution)
The industrial band Choke Chain tweeted, "Yo a bunch of industrial scene acts (including me) have NFTs for sale on the site hitpiece.com I did not put it online and I assume you probably didn't either, fucked up". A look through the site shows that it is chock full of almost certainly unauthorized NFTs of music not just from industrial bands, but from contemporary pop music artists, k-pop groups, Disney, and many others. The group appears to be simply scraping Spotify and publishing everything as NFT auctions.

The project's website writes, "Each time an artist's NFT is purchased or sold, a royalty from each transaction is accounted to the rights holders account." They do not write about how this is supposed to work when the artists have had zero involvement in the NFT being created to begin with, or have no cryptocurrency wallets at all. The FAQ also includes a hilariously handwavy answer to the question most people learning about NFTs have: "What utility does owning an NFT give me?" HitPiece writes, "Artists provide NFT owners access and experiences."

Someone sends COVID-19 NFTs to all ~100,000 active users of the HEN NFT marketplace, whether they want them or not

Screenshot of the SARS-CoV-2 NFT, showing a microscope image of the virus. The description text reads, "SARS-COV-2Ω
Your wallet has been infected by SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19.

All tezos wallets holding at least 1 non-fungible token from Hic et Nunc have been air-dropped SARS-CoV-2, in an act symbolic of the invasive and ubiquitous nature of the virus and its psychological effects. A total of 96,186 viral copies have been sent to as many wallets.

Whether you believe horse paste is the cure or gas masks are the new normal, everyone has been affected by COVID-19. Now, even the blockchain itself is infected. It is still early in the disease process. Will you cure yourself of SARS-CoV-2 by burning this viral token in an act of communal catharsis? Will you choose to infect others? Or, will you risk the consequences of superinfection with an increasing viral load?

Life is a terminal condition. Act appropriately."SARS-CoV-2 NFT (attribution)
Artist bayneko created and airdropped NFTs of microscope pictures of SARS-COV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) to all 96,186 users of Hic et Nunc (HEN) who hold at least one NFT. HEN is an NFT marketplace built atop the Tezos blockchain. The NFT description read, "Your wallet has been infected by SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19... in an act symbolic of the invasive and ubiquitous nature of the virus and its psychological effects." It cost the creator 1,623 ꜩ (about $5,900) to accomplish — a chunk of change, though considerably less than it would cost on higher-fee blockchains like Ethereum. Users reacting to the airdrop expressed a mixture of interest, confusion, annoyance, fear — some were scared to burn or transfer the NFT because of past NFTs that executed malicious contracts upon being destroyed. Others were unhappy with receiving an unsolicited NFT, which they felt was spammy. Others spoke about how, although this particular project appeared to be a good-faith art project, it illustrated the susceptibility of these systems to spam and abuse, especially on blockhains with lower transaction fees.

About 30 posts in a subreddit about gambling addiction mention crypto in the month of January

Reddit post titled "Crypto casinos have destroyed me": "I’ve struggled with gambling problems for most of my 20s , lost countless pay cheques, got in all kinds of debt, lies etc

I’m in the UK and something called Gamstop was introduced a few years ago which was great, all you had to do was sign up and you would instantly be banned from making an account with any UK governed gambling company. It helped for a long time

THEN I found crypto casinos where there is just no real way of self excluding because of how anonymous it is, and I’m back to square one today after losing all my saving 5k in the space of a few hours

Devastated"Reddit post about crypto casinos (attribution)
Crypto trading and crypto casinos have presented a new challenge to those battling gambling addiction. There are options for problem gamblers who are struggling to stop gambling in the traditional format: many states and countries require traditional casinos to allow individuals to "self-exclude" — that is, ban themselves from gambling at an establishment. Online gambling is more challenging, but there is software like Gamban and GAMSTOP that attempts to restrict access. However, posters in r/problemgambling have discussed the relative ease of finding online and crypto casinos not restricted by the software — particularly easy with cryptocurrency-based platforms because of the anonymity afforded by crypto.

Regardless of whether they are trying to use blocking software or not, some people in the subreddit appear to be struggling with the challenges presented to them by cryptocurrencies. Some speak about gambling in cryptocurrency casinos, while others have realized that the behaviors that many people involved with cryptocurrencies simply refer to as "investing" are actually manifestations of their gambling addiction. One poster wrote, "Realised yesterday whilst out walking my dog that i'd used crypto as a way to satisfy my gambling urges. I've self excluded from gambling sites for a few years now and managed to taper off. Crypto pulled me back in with trading. I was lying to myself that I was 'investing' so its fine which eventually turned into 24/7 chart watching and leverage trades."

The World Wildlife Fund announces their upcoming NFT project... for nature!

The UK branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) announced their upcoming "Tokens For Nature" NFT project, which is meant to support endangered species. The WWF was quick to tout that its project would be eco-friendly because it uses the Polygon blockchain, though commenters were skeptical. One commenter wrote, "This is like if David Attenborough did a piece to camera about his environmental activism while politely snapping swans' necks throughout." Other commenters expressed that it was irresponsible of the WWF to engage with NFTs at all, given the overall environmental damage of the concept, and because it brings more people into a space full of predatory projects. The WWF ended up shuttering the project on February 4, after all the negative feedback.

This was not the WWF's first foray into NFTs — the German arm of the WWF released a "Non-Fungible Animals" NFT project in November 2021, which has enjoyed less than $10,000 in trading volume. It also did't appear to be the only project the WWF UK had planned — their NFT website advertised upcoming collaborations with CyberKongz (built on the Ethereum blockchain) and World of Women (also built on the Ethereum blockchain).

Realux, a project promising to "democratize" and "resolve the wealth gap" in real estate, rug pulls $23,000 only hours after launch

Value of RLX token over time, showing a steady climb and then a sudden crash as liquidity was removed$RLX value over time (attribution)
On January 31, a cryptocurrency project called Realux launched after fanfare from viral tweets and influencer YouTube videos. The project promised to make "real estate open to everyone, at a very low cost in a very easy way" and "resolve, once and for all, the wealth gap by removing all barriers, costs, middlemen, social background, and other limitations". The token enjoyed a fairly steady climb in value over the four or so hours it was active, increasing in value 400% from about $0.00065 to a peak of around $0.0027. The price suddenly crashed to around $0.0003 when the developer sold off 70 million of the RLX tokens, earning a profit of around $23,000. The project also deleted their website, Twitter account, and Telegram channel.

After backlash, Troy Baker announces he will no longer be partnering with the "voice NFT" project Voiceverse

Voice actor Troy Baker faced some backlash in mid-January when he announced that he would be partnering with "voice NFT" project Voiceverse. His antagonistic tweet, that "You can hate. Or you can create." didn't go over so well at the time, and things worsened when it was discovered that Voiceverse had stolen work from another project and used it without credit. On January 31 he apologized again for the antagonistic tweet, and wrote that "After careful consideration, I've decided to not continue the partnership with VoiceVerseNFT". Voiceverse wrote in their own statement that the company had "mutually decided to end [their] partnership with Troy Baker".

All "iloveponzi"'s apes gone! Veteran hacker makes $700,000 stealing and flipping big name NFTs

A brown ape with Xs over its eyes and rainbow-colored teeth, wearing an orange slouchy beanie and a purple and orange fur coat.Bored Ape #7985 (attribution)
NFT collecter "iloveponzi", aka Larry Lawliet, apparently authorized what he thought was a legitimate application to access his NFT wallet. Unfortunately for him, he had actually authorized another person to transfer all his NFTs: one Bored Ape, five Mutant Apes, and one Doodle. The hack, which affected iloveponzi and several others, was made possible after the Discord for the "Moshi Mochi" NFT project was compromised, and the attacker sent out an "official announcement" for a final round of NFT minting that actually enabled them to steal NFTs. The attacker then flipped the NFTs for a total profit of a little less than $700,000. Iloveponzi said they believed that the attacker could've sold the NFTs for millions (though they admittedly have a vested interest in the NFTs sounding valuable). Iloveponzi also said they believe the hacker just sold quickly and cheaply to try to beat OpenSea freezing the NFTs, which OpenSea did later do. The hacker appears to be an old hand at shady NFT dealings — although they netted "only" $700,000 from this scam, the wallet used has moved around 600 ETH in total (worth around $1.5 million) through the cryptocurrency tumbler Tornado Cash. Slightly over a month earlier, iloveponzi reported that another of their Bored Apes had been stolen, "because of some coincidences and my carelessness".

Tax season begins to hit crypto Reddit hard

With so many newcomers to cryptocurrencies this year, and the often complex tax situations cryptocurrency trading can create (assuming it's reported at all), some traders are beginning to receive unpleasant surprises in the mail. One Redditor has posted in horror after receiving a letter showing they owe upwards of $100,000 to the IRS.

Questions like "How can crypto be a viable currency if every transaction is taxed?" are beginning to pop up as well, and more than a few commenters have described their plans to not report any of their crypto activity — certainly a wise thing to be discussing on a public Internet forum.

Streamer Ice Poseidon admits to scamming his followers out of $500,000 with his "Cxcoin" made for streamers

Paul Denino, also known as "Ice Poseidon", is a livestreamer, Internet personality, and cryptocurrency enthusiast. In July 2021 he launched Cxcoin, a forked project he said was intended specifically to allow streamers and other content creators to earn money. Denino had said in an earlier video that "the reason why I'm not going to start a cryptocoin is because someone is gonna get fucked, because dude if I see a million dollars, I'm selling, I don't give a fuck. I'm not going to be like 'I'll hold for you guys', bro I see a million dollars in my portfolio, I'm out". He later claimed that he was just joking, though unfortunately this turned out to be exactly what he did (though with somewhat less than a million). Although Denino claimed he was "locked in" for five months, he started draining hundreds of thousands of dollars from the project only two weeks in, which served to tank the token price for remaining holders.

On January 31, 2022, a YouTuber named Coffeezilla released a video in which he confronted Denino about his actions and urged him to return the money to his fans who'd bought in on the project. Denino replied, "I could give the money back, it is within my power, but I am going to look out for myself and not do that." According to Coffeezilla, Denino took a total of $200,000 from the token's presale, $250,000 that was earmarked for marketing, and $300,000 from the liquidity pool. In the end, Denino pocketed around $300,000 and his developers took around $200,000. After realizing that Coffeezilla would be releasing the interview, Denino promised to "use the buyback function to put 155k into the liquidity" — which turned out to mean 155,000 BNB rather than dollars, roughly equivalent to around $40,000.

Someone starts selling colors on the blockchain, because why the hell not I guess

Color swatch of a light cream color, with hex code #F1EECE (spelling "fleece")I wonder if this color is taken (attribution)
As the NFT gold rush continues and people attempt to slap price tags on everything in sight, Omar Farooq detailed his plans to sell colors on the blockchain. He said he will then build a platform where the "owner" of a color gets a cut of platform fees for any NFT using the color (or one close to it). He's offering 10,000 colors for sale at starting prices of $350 a pop, and then building an NFT platform where portions of the platform fees for any NFT sold will go to the "owners" of the closest colors in proportion to how much of the color is used in the image. Why artists would actually choose to buy or sell their artwork on the color-based platform is unclear — novelty value maybe? Its promised platform fee of 2.5% is the same as its popular competitors OpenSea and Rarible.

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