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Major Crypto Scams Explained: ‘Pump and Dump’ vs ‘Rug Pull’

If there’s anything we’ve learned from the DOJ, most recently with its Frosties NFT bust, it’s that the Justice Department isn’t messing around. Back in February, the Justice Department announced it had appointed its first-ever crypto enforcement team director, Eun Young Choi, to head the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team . This should include consistent updates sharing the project’s progress in a transparent manner. This website is using a security service to protect itself from online attacks.

  • Non-Fungible Tokens , which offer digital ownership rights of art and other creative works, have also been heavily involved in rug pulls.
  • If there’s anything we’ve learned from the DOJ, most recently with its Frosties NFT bust, it’s that the Justice Department isn’t messing around.
  • These are usually listed on “decentralized exchanges,” which don’t rely on any centralized authority that would prevent unproven projects from joining.
  • The definition of a rug pull is a malicious maneuver in the cryptocurrency industry where crypto developers abandon a project and run away with investors’ funds.

The liquidity pool is held in a smart contract, and a malicious developer can program a “back door” into a smart contract to extract investors’ funds. When enough users have bought into the scam token, the scammer then sells off their token holdings in exchange for the now-larger sum of legitimate tokens in the liquidity pool. The Squid Game rug pull is one of the most devastating limiting sell rug pulls. Following the success of Netflix’s “Squid Game,” an anonymous group launched a cryptocurrency called SQUID. Supposedly, this token was to be used in a play-to-earn game based on the Netflix series.

How to stay safe from rug pulls

If a developer drains the liquidity, a program may not be able to function, and investors could be unable to retrieve their funds. While many crypto projects have safeguards in place to prevent liquidity stealing, it’s possible that unscrupulous developers will build vulnerability into their code. Liquidity stealing is considered a “hard pull,” meaning developers intended to commit fraud from the beginning. Rug pulls accounted for almost 35% of the cryptocurrency scam revenue in 2021. Luckily, there are multiple red flags you can watch out for to identify potential rug pulls. Furthermore, you can use the tips discussed in this article to stay safe online and avoid rug pulls.

rug pull

This scheme is intended to generate FOMO among investors and encourage them to invest even more money into the project. Oftentimes, the stolen funds get laundered through cryptocurrency tumbler platforms that help to obfuscate transaction traceability. The money is then either kept in various wallets or sent to exchanges to be cashed out. Since ‘the code is the law’ for any web3, DeFi project, it is essential to look out for security checks and detect any possible rug pull. QuillCheck uses 21 code checks to ensure that the project’s code does not lie and that you do not lose your funds.

IRS Wants a ‘Symbiotic Relationship’ With Crypto Companies to Fight Financial Crime

The pair appeared to be planning to launch another NFT project called “Embers” prior to their arrest. In total, users lost over $2 billion worth of cryptocurrency, according to Chainalysis. A lower low is when the price of a cryptocurrency closes lower than the previous day, which itself closed a… Delayed Proof of Work what is eztoken is a second-layer consensus security mechanism, designed to protect blockchain… The ability to sell or buy any given asset without causing significant fluctuations in the market price for… As we have seen, the hackers could walk away at this time and there would be little anyone could do to get the funds back.

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Usually, malicious developers may offer high rates via DeFi services as a means to lure their rug pull victims in. Most victims of this rug pull believe it was the developers who drained the funds and not hackers. In other words, investors can’t cash in when the price of this new token pumps. Sometimes the head of a crypto exchange claims an exchange has been hacked before making off with the assets stored on the exchange wallets. Solidus reported that there have been 188,525 smart contract scams detected over 12 blockchains as of October 10, 2022. Its Threat Intelligence tool claims that 15 scams are deployed across various networks every hour.

NFT Rug Pull List

Another reason rug pulls are more common in DeFi is the autonomous nature of smart contracts. Skilled developers can write malicious code into smart contracts on deceitful dApps . In many cases, rug pulls are literally programmed into a project’s code. It is not clear whether the team carried out a rug pull or the smart contract contained a vulnerability that was exploited, but the project did exhibit all the telltale signs of a classic crypto rug pull. It is often the case to witness a cryptocurrency token scam, but with the rising popularity of non-fungible tokens in the recent past, there have been a few incidents of NFT rug pulls as well. It is, therefore, important to understand both kinds to be better prepared as an investor within the cryptocurrency industry.

rug pull

To understand the legal significance of this event, we need to dive a little deeper into the nature of this specific kind of crypto and NFT scam. Make sure that what the company sets out to achieve is feasible and try to invest in startups that provide utility tokens for an instant return on investment. Before handing over any money, it’s important to vet the team behind a project in order to evaluate that they are even qualified to fulfill the company’s vision. Whether scammers choose to cap sale amounts or rewrite code that wholly reconfigures a native token’s viability, the end goal will always be to run with the highest amount possible. Like pumps and dumps, you should be cautious with tokens whose prices rise sharply within a few hours or days.

A crypto rug pull is a sudden and deliberate maneuver executed by a crypto development team designed to disadvantage an investor. Typically, it happens when a team behind a crypto project suddenly withdraws its support and funds, leaving the users with worthless tokens. A common practice for most upcoming crypto projects are to lock the tokens allocated to the team to prevent dumping or even theft from the team members or hackers. If a project’s smart contract has been launched to the public without the provision of a locking mechanism for the tokens, that is a red flag. There is little stopping the developers from taking their tokens and dumping them in the market as soon as they are able to.

Much like other artists, Banksy has a website where he showcases his portfolio and this is where the scam occurred. For those who don’t know, Banksy is a pseudonymous street artist based in the UK whose artwork has previously been sold for tens of millions of dollars. But as our cryptocurrency and NFT heist trackers have found, crypto is a lucrative business for hackers. The crypto world is reported to be worth over $3 trillion with over 300 million people worldwide owning some form of crypto. Bitcoin is in rally mode, posting its largest daily gain in six weeks as shorts covered positions over the weekend….

The biggest crypto rug pulls and scams of all time

However, the red flag is in the number of tokens they allocate to themselves. This section offers some of the most prevalent signs that a project could be a crypto or an nft rug pull in the making. The promoters ended up with a horde of about $3.38 million and deleted their online presence, including all their social media pages and website. Following their exit, the token’s price plummeted by 99.99% before being delisted from the popular crypto analytics website CoinMarketCap. OneCoin represents one of the largest cryptocurrency-related Ponzi schemes in the history of the nascent industry.

Not all developers in the space have to have credentials as robust as those of Wood and Cronje, but if a developer doesn’t have much history in the space, you’re right to be wary of their intentions. In April 2021, the CEO of Turkish crypto exchange Thodex, Faruk Fatih ​​Özer, declared that users’ funds were safe after the exchange experienced a cyber attack. Back in the day, cashiers often asked customers which payment method they’d be using.

When the SQUID token launched in late 2021, it rose to nearly $3,000 per token before falling to zero. “Pump and dump” schemers can create an altcoin, but most will target a small-cap token already in circulation. Once the scammers have large amounts of their chosen crypto, they can start hyping this cryptocurrency all over social media. Since the market cap for these cryptos is so tiny, it doesn’t take many buyers to increase the price substantially.

This list of red flags begins with unknown or anonymous project leaders, a barren, low-quality website and a guarantee of high returns. Lofty goals to be completed in an unreasonably short timeframe may decorate a startup’s homepage, accompanied by suspicious social media activity, littered with buzzwords and a desperate sense of urgency. OneCoin was fundamentally a massive Ponzi scheme, which now stands out as the biggest cryptocurrency scam – almost $25 billion in investor funds were lost.

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