BitForex shuts off website after $57 million withdrawal

The Hong Kong-based BitForex cryptocurrency exchange has shut down access to its platform after a suspicious outflow of around $57 million on several blockchains. Users who have tried to log in see a CloudFlare page explaining that they are blocked from accessing the website by CloudFlare's DDoS protection service.

The withdrawals were first noticed by blockchain detective zachxbt, who also noted that the exchange has stopped processing withdrawals and has not been replying to customer support inquiries.

It seems likely that the outflows were an exit scam rather than an outside attack, particularly given the lack of communication and somewhat shady status of the exchange. The firm faced regulatory scrutiny in Japan in mid-2023 for operating without a license, and has been accused of inflating its trading volume. Its CEO resigned in January, but promised a new team would be taking over.

RiskOnBlast gambling platform rug pulls for $1.3 million

RiskOnBlast, a gambling and trading platform on the new ethereum layer-2 Blast blockchain, appears to have performed the blockchain's first major rug pull — before the blockchain has even officially launched. Blast was created by the developers of the Blur NFT platform, and received funding from the Paradigm crypto VC.

The team behind Blast had even helped to promote the RiskOnBlast platform, tweeting from its official account that Blast was "a new challenger" in the ecosystem with "undeniable" potential.

On February 25, the platform drained more than 420 ETH (~$1.3 million) from more than 750 user wallets on their platform. The project's anonymous team then laundered the funds through various services and exchanges. All social media accounts for the project were taken offline.

Creator of "Robotos" NFT project, once collaborating on a TV series with TIME studios, accused of rug pull

A doodle of a robot with a gold crown, a blue suit jacket over a white shirt and black tie, and pink eyesRoboto #2767 (attribution)
Pablo Stanley, an artist who created the "Robotos" generative NFT collection, posted two final messages from the Robotos Twitter account. First, "it was a good run! thank u, all!", then an image of the Twitter log-out button with "forever and ever".

Rewind to November 2021, when it was announced that TIME Magazine's film and production studio would be collaborating with Stanley to develop a children's animated TV show based on the Robotos NFTs. The announcement helped to drive interest in the NFT collection, which reached a peak floor price of around 1.5 ETH (~$5,000 at the time).

Since then, no show has materialized, and the collection's floor price has dwindled. NFTs from the collection have recently sold for around 0.015 ETH (~$42). In the project Discord, Stanley claimed that TIME had lost interest in the project after the writer's strike. He also wrote that he had lost faith in web3: "Glad you still believe. It's hard for me to believe in it anymore." He explained that he had viewed Robotos as a "personal side project", and that he was "sorry if that's not enough for most people, but that's all I have the appetite for, and that's all I can offer."

"Undead Apes Society" creator charged over rug pull

A grey ape skull on a blue background with clouds. The skull has a pink and green mohawk, a laser module for eyes, and teeth resembling piano keys. It's wearing a shredded white dress shirt with a tie.Undead Ape #1 (attribution)
The creator of a Solana-based NFT project called Undead Apes Society has been charged with money laundering conspiracy and making false statements to investigators after rug-pulling fans of his NFT project. Devin Rhoden, an active duty Senior Airman in the US Air Force, had created the project and minted two collections: UndeadApes and Undead Lady Apes. They promised to then mint a third collection, "Undead Tombstones", which was highly anticipated. However, the project turned out to be a rug pull, and the prices of the two previous collections also plummeted as a result of their connection to a scam project. The Undead Tombstones project raised 1,250 SOL in April 2022, which was at the time priced at around $128,000.

When investigators subpoenaed Discord for Rhoden's chat logs, they found messages celebrating the rug pull. "good shit on us making a fuck ton of money," he wrote to his co-conspirator.

MangoFarmSOL rug pulls for $2 million

A Solana yield farming project called MangoFarmSOL encouraged people to deposit Solana tokens into the protocol to earn airdrops by January 10. However, on January 6, the project appeared to make off with all the tokens — around $2 million worth. They subsequently deleted their website and Twitter account, and closed their Telegram channel to new members.

MangoFarmSOL is unrelated to the other Solana-based mango-themed project, Mango Markets, which was exploited in October 2022 for more than $100 million.

Narwhal likely exit scams for $1.5 million

A cryptocurrency project called Narwhal appears to have rug-pulled, claiming that they were hacked. In a post on their Twitter account, they claimed that a "hacker attack" caused "significant losses to [their] community members", but urged followers to "maintain trust in the platform".

However, investigation by the CertiK blockchain security firm suggests that the "hack" may have been an inside job, with much of the $1.5 million that was "stolen" going to wallets with links to the Narwhal team.

The Narwhal project had launched in mid-December.

xKingdom rug pulls for $1.25 million

The xKingdom project promised users a way to "build your kingdom" on Twitter, earning tokens by interacting with tweets and doing "quests". Users had to borrow XKING tokens in order to participate.

On January 6, the project's creators drained the tokens that had been put into the project, then deleted their website and social media accounts. Altogether, they withdrew 558.3 ETH (~$1.25 million).

Megabot exit scams for almost $750,000

The Megabot project rug pulled, stealing $742,000 from those who bought in to the project's presale. The majority of the money — around $692,000 — was stolen on the Solana network.

Megabot had advertised itself as an AI trading bot that would earn users "up to 30% monthly". The team had promised that the bot would perform trades while "sidestepping potential risks such as honeypots, rugs, and slow rugs".

"No one will be able to rug you anymore", their website boasted. Ah, well.

Fintoch scammers strike again with $1.6 million FinSoul scam

A metaverse gaming project called FinSoul promised users “sandbox worlds, multiplayer sports, leisure experiences, player socializing, MMORPG,” and other features. However, on October 10, the project team made off with $1.6 million, which they then tumbled through Tornado Cash.

The team behind the FinSoul project was reportedly the same as the group who pulled off the much larger $31 million Fintoch exit scam in May. They used similar strategies, including using paid actors to pose as their executive team, to push the FinSoul scam.

FSL token rug pulls for $1.68 million within 24 hours of launch

The BNB Chain-based FSL token rug pulled within 24 hours of launching, with developers draining $1.68 million of liquidity they had amassed.

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