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Investors Spent Millions on 'Evolved Apes' NFTs. Then They Got Scammed

Screengrab: OpenSea/Evolved Ape Inc

Cryptocurrencies are riddled with a dazzling array of scams. Rug pulls, a term for when developers take the money and run, are common. And NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, aren’t immune to that old trick, as thousands of investors of a project called Evolved Apes found out on Friday.Evolved Apes is described on NFT marketplace OpenSea as “a collection of 10,000 unique NFTs trapped inside a lawless land.” They are “fighting for survival, only the strongest ape will prevail,” it says, referring to the project’s much-hyped fighting game, which has not materialized. A week after the project launch, the anonymous developer known as Evil Ape who promised that game vanished along with the project’s official Twitter account and website. But they left traces behind on the blockchain that shows they siphoned 798 ether ($2.7 million) out of the project’s funds in multiple transfers. The funds, derived from the initial public sale of NFTs and commissions on the secondary market, were meant for project-related expenses like marketing.Evolved Ape investors noticed several red flags leading up to Evil Ape’s rug pull. After the public sale on September 24, the announcements seemed suspiciously unprofessional and several of the leaders were not around anymore, one investor who requested anonymity due to the ongoing fallout from the scam told Motherboard. But they chalked it down to lack of experience at the time. “I don't think this giant storm was ever what was expected,” the investor said.According to Mike_Cryptobull, who did not share their real name due to their standing in the community, the Evolved Apes community discovered that the social-media competition winners (a marketing activity to create buzz) hadn’t received their NFT prizes from the project, and the artist hadn’t been paid either. To figure out what was going on, investors active on the project’s Discord server jumped on a voice chat last week. In that call, they appointed ...
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