Web3 is a rapidly developing landscape that is full of innovative ideas and projects that aim to revolutionize the way individuals interact with technology. However, within the depths of this space, there exists a murky underbelly, where scammers run rampant and use devious tactics to earn a quick buck. One such project that has recently gained attention in this regard is Pixel Penguins, which hoodwinked a number of NFT influencers with a fake cancer story in order to promote their NFT collection.
The Pixel Penguins project was launched in February 2023, with 10k NFTs available for purchase. However, the project failed to gain any traction initially, and its founder, going by the names hopeexists1 and Sarah, hatched a more nefarious plan to get things up and running. Working through the facet known as the ‘NFT influencer,’ Sarah began to weave a tale involving cancer, expensive treatment, and the removal of an eye.
Back in April, Sarah pitched her story to an Azuki collector named Levi, who was initially taken in by the tale and picked up a few of the Pixel Penguins. However, it wasn’t until Andrew Wang, an ‘influencer’ with over 100k Twitter followers, got involved that things really began to take off. On May 31, Andrew posted a thread outlining Sarah’s plight, indicating that he knew the artist personally and had interacted within her sphere of influence.
Following the Tweet, the Pixel Penguins project suddenly sold out and began trending on OpenSea. As news of the Pixel Penguins’ sudden rise began to circulate, less gullible members of the NFT community began to investigate. What they eventually unearthed was a trail of stolen art, fake cancer claims, and shady interactions.
According to legendary crypto sleuth, ZachXBT, the project made off with 61.686 ETH ($117k), which has since been transferred to two fresh addresses. Trading of Pixel Penguins has now been disabled, and all websites and social media related to the collection have mysteriously vanished.
This situation stands as a warning to all individuals operating in the Web3 space. Scammers exist in every corner of the internet, and the decentralized nature of this new technology can sometimes make it easier for them to perpetrate their schemes. It’s essential to stay vigilant and do extensive research before investing in any project, especially those with grandiose claims and promises of high returns.
Moreover, this incident has brought the role of NFT influencers and their associations with projects into question. While most influencers in the space are genuine and have a strong moral compass, some are willing to put their followers at risk by promoting scams. It’s crucial for individuals to think critically and do their diligence when selecting which influencers to follow and take advice from.
The Pixel Penguins project is a cautionary tale of how easily individuals can be duped, even within the relatively tight-knit and informed NFT community. It’s essential to remember that while this technology is undoubtedly exciting and full of opportunities, there are always bad actors who seek to take advantage of others.
Moving forward, the NFT community needs to work together to identify bad actors, promote due diligence, and call out scams when they are uncovered. It’s only by working together that we can continue to build a safe and trustworthy ecosystem for all individuals who seek to embrace this revolutionary technology.
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