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Ethereum NFT Fraud Fame Lady Squad: ‘Sorry for the Lie’

The popular project’s creators lied about their gender. Following a backlash from collectors, they’ve now relinquished control.

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The crypto industry’s pseudonymous structure can make it impossible to know where projects come from properly—and to trust who’s behind them—as the market for NFT digital artifacts grows. For example, many NFT collectors learned the hard way this week when the developers of a well-known women-centric project acknowledged lying about their gender.

According to its Twitter page, Fame Lady Squad (FLS) is an Ethereum-based NFT collection that began in July and claims to be the “first female avatar project of all time.”

The Fame Lady Squad NFTs, allegedly made by a trio of women named Cindy, Kelda, and Andrea, were swiftly minted and picked up by collectors. A passionate fan base grew up around the project, and secondary market prices began to rise.

Even investor and social media influencer Gary Vaynerchuk—an NFT inventor and new owner of a $3.7 million CryptoPunk NFT—spoke out in support of Fame Lady Squad on Twitter. In addition, the idea was featured in a recent article in The New Yorker. So fame Lady Squad appeared to be prepared to continue gaining popularity, despite a recent increase in NFT market trade activity.

However, in recent days, doubts about the Fame Lady Squad project’s origins have grown louder. Twitter sleuths like @FedorLinnik, @dearesthaley, and @NFT Marty provided extensive Twitter threads connecting the dots between several recent NFT collectibles projects, like Cyber City Girls Club and Unicorn GG Club, that appeared to come from the same source or share creators.

Pranksy, a well-known NFT collector, said on Tuesday that after purchasing a Cyber City NFT, they “failed to perform my own research adequately” and that it was “created by a dev team that seems to be churning out a new project daily.”

“The questions here are what actually makes a [profile picture] project valuable?” Pranksy asked, adding that the crew had been “so brash” about promoting its next project, Unicorn GG Club. Are the development team, the community, and the time it took to create it worth it?”

While they are valid considerations for NFT collectors to consider, the Twitter allegations progressively pointed to project creators providing incorrect information. For example, FedorLinnik, a developer behind several crypto ventures, claimed the evidence led to a gang of Russian guys who were “mining new NFT projects like a conveyor” this spring. Instead, they seemed to be behind Fame Lady Squad as well as the other new enterprises.

Coming Clean

Although the developers of Fame Lady Squad first resisted, citing “false accusations” and claiming rivalry from competitor NFT designers, they later dropped the ruse under mounting criticism from the collector community.

Max Rand, a developer, tweeted on Tuesday that he was one of the persons behind the Fame Lady Squad and other initiatives, along with a couple of collaborators: D Mefi, who had his Twitter account briefly removed, and another unknown associate. Rand tweeted, “Sorry for the lie.  I was hesitant to say this because of [a] lot of threats on my side, my stupidity, and my lack of grasp of US market culture rules,” says the author.

The official Twitter account of the Fame Lady Squad went even further with its explanation. “Let’s be clear: Fame Lady Squad was built by a male crew, and we apologize for not disclosing this earlier. But that doesn’t mean it’s a ruse or a fraud,” the team wrote on Twitter. “We saw that there are very few female-led projects in the space. And, because we are fascinated by women’s strength, we were able to complete this successful project.”

Meanwhile, in a tweet thread, the Cyber City Girls Club NFT project—which was previously credited to a pair of Asian-American women developers—explained its own fraud.

The tweet thread began, “Sorry to everyone who had invested into our idea because it was made only by two Asian women. CCGC was founded by a group of six people, only two of whom were female. But, we’ll extend the plan and provide holders greater value. Good night!” says the narrator.

Even though the Unicorn GG Club NFT project didn’t have the same kind of significant false representation issue at its heart, the development team—including Rand and D Mefi—decided to halt sales of NFTs in the wake of the larger scandal. “I’m not trying to get away; I’m simply clearing my mind,” co-creator “Trible Penguin” tweeted from the official account. “We don’t do [expletive] rug pulls Memecoin, but I’m terrified of the bullying. So I apologize for the delay.”

The Queenship NFT project, which displays images of Black women and was reportedly made by Black women, has yet to be authenticated by the same developers. The Legendary Lady Squad Rand denied his role after Twitter rejected the connection earlier this week. The Queenship website is no longer accessible, and the project’s most recent tweets from Monday raged against rumors about its origins.

Following a recent giveaway promotion, the team behind NFT Project Bulls On the Block—which some Twitter sleuths suspected was also affiliated with the same developers—denied any relationship with the FLS founders.

A Change of Plans

To put it mildly, it’s a disaster. Collectors who bought NFTs from the Fame Lady Squad, in particular, believe they were tricked into thinking they were investing in a project made by and for an under-represented group in the crypto industry. As a result, collectors sought to panic-sell their FLS NFTs on the secondary market OpenSea yesterday, fearing waning demand amidst what appears to be an impossible road forward for the project.

The creators of Fame Lady Squad, on their part, are attempting to make amends in the form of money. Rand said that he and his partners will create a $100,000 grant fund to assist new NFT projects and artists and that it will start “soon” in “a few days,” according to Decrypt. Unicorn GG also stated that it had donated 5 ETH (about $15,700) to the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, using an Etherscan link as proof.

Disturbed by yesterday’s disclosures and the circulating charges in the days before, several prominent members of the Fame Lady Squad community began advocating for a different kind of settlement to give the project a future. In response to Rand’s confession tweet on Tuesday, noted NFT collector Artchick outlined a possible path forward.

“This is over for you,” Artchick told Rand. “If you want to do the right thing, I can broker a deal where you hand over control of your smart contract, and holders of FLS NFTs have a chance to recoup their losses and potentially thrive. After that, put the contract in the hands of the community.”

That is precisely what occurred. After submitting the matter to a Twitter vote, the Fame Lady Squad developers gave her control of the NFT project’s smart contract. Artchick then passed the contract on to “Bored Becky,” a notable FLS community member who will oversee the project with the help of other FLS members.

The developers will no longer profit from secondary sales, according to Artchick’s tweets.

When asked why his team relinquished ownership of Fame Lady Squad, Rand stated, “Because the community wanted it,” smiling. D Mefi, a co-creator, responded to a tweet defending his team’s conduct today, saying, “We didn’t screw anyone. Instead, we built a project that helped many people while also introducing many new people to the place. I understand your dissatisfaction; we apologized for our error and made good decisions to allow FLS to grow once more.”

Collectors applauded the action, and community members immediately began discussing the new road forward after secondary market prices for the NFTs soared back above levels observed before the team’s confession. However, no equivalent intentions for transferring control of the connected NFT initiatives have been revealed.

After such upsetting revelations, the Fame Lady Squad community appears to have found a happy resolution. However, it’s uncertain whether the recently established Cyber City Girls Club project can recover following this week’s news: NFTs are trading for about 0.01 ETH (about $32) on OpenSea, compared to a floor of 0.13 (roughly $420) for FLS collectibles.

Pranksy’s aforementioned tweet explored what made NFT avatar collections valuable, and as this case indicates, the claimed genesis narrative and the perceived value of artwork can be linked. Of course, it’s a subjective thing, but when that worth is built on fabrications—which isn’t helped by the anonymity of crypto—investors might be tricked and end up with NFTs that have lost a lot of their predicted value.

Not every story like this will have a happy ending.

Projects

Sorare, a Fantasy Soccer NFT Platform, has Raised $680 Million in a Round Led by SoftBank

The $4.3 billion financing values the Paris-based NFT firm.
It follows a period of fast expansion for Sorare, which now has 600,000 active users.

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SoftBank led a $680 million Series B funding for Sorare, a soccer-focused NFT trading platform.

Since May of this year, there have been rumors about the investment. The transaction, which is now complete, values Sorare at $4.3 billion.

SoftBank, Atomico, Bessemer Ventures, D1 Capital, Eurazeo, IVP, and Liontree are making their first investments in the firm, with existing investors Benchmark, Accel, and Headline also participating.

Sorare is an Ethereum-based platform that allows fans to exchange NFT trading cards of great players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann. The Paris-based business, founded in 2018, has sold $150 million in cards so far this year.

Between the second quarter of 2020 and the second quarter of this year, the platform’s monthly active paying users increased 34 times, while quarterly sales increased 51 times. It already has 600,000 registered users and has licensed players from more than 180 soccer clubs, including Real Madrid, Liverpool, and Juventus.

The money will be used to help the platform expand into other fantasy sports, hire more employees, run marketing campaigns with partners and athletes, and create its first office in the United States.

Another fintech startup is backed by SoftBank

SoftBank has financed several fintech companies this year, mainly through its Vision Fund 2.

Revolut, a $33 billion neobank; DriveWealth, an infrastructure firm that supports fractionalized investing in U.S. stocks; OPay, a Nigerian payments firm; and Mercado Bitcoin, a Brazilian crypto exchange, through its Latin America Fund.

“Sorare sits at the confluence of two incredibly fascinating markets in digital collectibles and fantasy sports,” according to Marcelo Claure, CEO of SoftBank Group International and COO of SoftBank Group.

“It’s clear from Sorare’s phenomenal growth this year that football fans all around the world have been eagerly anticipating the ‘game within the game’ that Sorare provides,” he continued.

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Biggest NFT Marketplaces

We take a look at the marketplaces where you can buy and trade these unique digital art tokens as their popularity and price is exploding.

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NFTs had been around for a while, but in the year 2021, they became widely known.

The cryptographically unique tokens indicate a title of ownership over digital property such as art, music, or videos—but it was the digital art scene that sparked the NFT market, with record-breaking sales like Beeple’s $69 million Christie’s auction drawing headlines around the world.

Since then, fans have jumped on every new NFT craze, spending hundreds (and in some cases millions) of money on games like CryptoPunks, Bored Apes, and Loot.

But, you might wonder, where are these NFTs being purchased. NFT marketplaces have become like a vibrant virtual high street, selling digital art and collectibles at every price point imaginable. Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular platform.

1.OpenSea

OpenSea was the first and by far the largest peer-to-peer NFT marketplace. According to analytics platform DappRadar, it has a total trade volume of over $6.5 billion at the time of writing, allowing NFTs of anything from in-game items and collectibles to artwork, music, GIFs, and more.

Connecting your MetaMask wallet is the simplest way to sign up; however other wallets like Coinbase Wallet, Bitski, Formatic, and others are also supported.

After you’ve connected, purchasing an NFT is a straightforward process; you only need to browse through the various collections or search for something that catches your eye, then submit an offer and wait to see whether it’s approved.

It’s also simple to upload your NFT work. Go to the “Create” tab, connect your wallet as a creator, upload your NFT, complete the description, and wait for the millions to pour in.

2. Axie Marketplace

The second-largest NFT marketplace is hosted by the NFT-powered video game Axie Infinity, with a total trade volume of more than $2.1 billion on Dappradar. However, it only deals in Axies, adorable Pokémon-style digital pets that gamers can buy and sell on the Axie Marketplace.

You can also use the game’s built-in breeding mechanics to make new Axies, which you can then sell on the Marketplace. Unlike art NFTs, which are collected for the sake of collecting, Axie Infinity’s NFTs have a purpose: they may be used in-game to fight monsters and other players, earning tokens that can be used to create new species. Axie Infinity’s NFTs have proven so profitable that some players in the Philippines and Indonesia make a living breeding and trading them.

However, Axie Infinity is one of the most difficult NFT services to use for new users, and you’ll have to jump through a few hoops before you can even start playing the game.

You’ll need to set up a Ronin wallet, transfer ETH into Ronin, and acquire a minimum of three Axies from the Axie market in addition to an Ethereum wallet like MetaMask (which will set you back several hundred dollars). This isn’t ideal for casual passers-by, but it’s not beyond a seasoned crypto user’s capabilities.

3.CryptoPunks/Larva Labs

CryptoPunks is a series of 10,000 randomly generated characters with pixel art aesthetics and distinct traits that were one of the first demonstrations of NFTs on the Ethereum network. Unfortunately, while they were once available for free, the only way to obtain one today is to purchase one.

That involves going to the marketplace run by CryptoPunks founder Larva Labs, where most sales are made. And buying one is expensive: the cheapest Punk now costs 94.99 ETH (about $285,000), while the most valued one sold on the marketplace (number 3100) sold for an incredible $7.58 million. That explains Larva Labs’ $1.3 billion in all-time trading volume.

First, connect your MetaMask wallet, browse the available Punks (those with red backgrounds are for sale), and place your bid.

The most challenging aspect of the procedure is persuading yourself to spend such a large sum of money, but hey, that’s on you. After all, the worth of art is in the eyes of the viewer.

4.NBA Top Shot Marketplace

NBA Top Shot is a set of digital trading cards using NBA video highlight clips, and it was one of the first NFT series to find momentum with the general public. Clips are stored in your safe, encrypted blockchain-verified wallet when you purchase a pack, where you can view them or resell them on the NBA Top Shot Marketplace.

The popularity of NBA Top Shot can be attributed to the fact that its makers, Dapper Labs, have made it simple for the average user to get started. Linking your Google account to Dapper is the simplest method to sign up for NBA Top Shot, after which you’ll be asked to input your phone number for SMS authentication.

After that, you must complete a few account creation processes, including picking your favorite team. After that, you can join a drop on fresh packs, which will put you in a virtual queue before grabbing a bag. Then, following another SMS verification, you can pay using an existing crypto wallet, a Flow wallet, your Dapper money, or, more conveniently, a credit card.

5.Rarible

Rarible is a community-owned platform that offers a wide range of digital art and collectibles. It is one of the significant NFT marketplaces on Ethereum. Dappradar presently has the fifth-highest all-time trading volume, with $210 million changing hands.

You can buy and sell all kinds of material, just like on OpenSea. Sellers can also make many NFTs for a single image to sell it multiple times.

Users who have dabbled in comparable NFT marketplaces like OpenSea will feel right at home with Rarible’s user interface, which is easy enough for relative crypto newbies to utilize.

You can log in using MetaMask, Coinbase Wallet, MyEtherWallet, or any mobile wallet that supports WalletConnect. You can use funds in your wallet to buy, or you can top up your wallet with fiat cash by bank transfer or debit card once you’ve signed up.

6.SuperRare

Where Rarible’s design overwhelms you with a dizzying selection of flickering GIFs and live auctions, SuperRare’s UI is far more pared-back and straightforward.

It’s also a lot more curated, as it bills itself as a social network that promotes the development and collection of crypto art. In addition, it collaborates closely with artists, requiring work to be submitted and vetted before it can be listed; in other words, quality above quantity.

A compatible wallet, such as MetaMask or Formatic, is required to sign up for SuperRare. An additional step requires you to create a username and password linked to your wallet address, but it just takes a few seconds, so you’ll be browsing the platform’s exclusive NFTs in no time.

7.KnownOrigin

KnownOrigin, like SuperRare, promises to deliver a more curated, gallery-like experience for the discerning NFT enthusiast. Its all-time trade volume is under $6.9 million. All of its artwork files are stored on IPFS, which gives the underlying assets some protection. With a heavy focus on digital art, this marketplace avoids the wackier features of the NFT universe; therefore, no wacky avatars or charming monsters will be found here.

KnownOrigin is straightforward to use, at the risk of sounding like a broken record. Simply link your wallet, such as MetaMask or Formatic, and you’ll be bidding on your own desired NFT assets in no time.

8.Foundation

Foundation, which bills itself as a “creative playground” for artists, currently has a total trading volume of slightly over $79 million. The NFT of popular Internet meme Nyan Cat, Edward Snowden’s debut NFT, and an audiovisual digital collectible made by producer Richard D. James, better known as Aphex Twin, have occurred there.

Foundation’s marketplace is straightforward to use once you’ve connected your MetaMask or other software wallet with WalletConnect. You can put bids on timed auctions just like you would on a standard auction site.

9.MakersPlace

MakersPlace is another niche NFT marketplace that prides itself on having several exclusive digital fine art collections. Although its total volume is minimal ($23.5 million at the time of writing), it contains many one-of-a-kind items that add to its exclusivity.

MakersPlace is another niche NFT marketplace that prides itself on having several exclusive digital fine art collections. Although its total volume is minimal ($23.5 million at the time of writing), it contains many one-of-a-kind items that add to its exclusivity.

It’s simple to become a buyer on MakersPlace, and you can even save time by logging in with your Google or Facebook accounts.

As part of the registration procedure, you’ll have to choose five artists to follow, and you’ll be able to buy their creations with either your MetaMask ETH balance or (more conveniently) your credit card. Then, if you’re a creator, you’ll need to fill out an online form to request an invitation to join the platform, which the curators will review.

10.Nifty Gateway

One of the first waves of large NFT marketplaces, Nifty Gateway, has a significant supporter of cryptocurrency exchange Gemini, which purchased the site in 2019. Nifty Gateway made waves during the NFT boom by brokering the sale of Beeple’s CROSSROAD for $6.6 million in February 2021, which was one of the first multimillion-dollar NFT deals. By May, the platform’s gross sales value had surpassed $300 million.

The portal hosts artists such as The Weeknd, Grimes, and Eminem and delivers a tightly curated selection of NFT drops on a tri-weekly schedule. It also features a marketplace where you may look through curated collections, verified artists, and a more extensive selection of work from unconfirmed artists.

Because of Nifty Gateway’s close connection with Gemini, getting started is a reasonably straightforward process. To begin, you’ll need to create an account on the site (and use Stripe to authenticate your identity if you wish to sell NFTs). Next, you’ll need to fund your account, either with a credit card or by sending ETH to a deposit address. After that, you’re ready to purchase NFTs from the marketplace.

You can also link your Gemini exchange account to your Nifty Gateway account, allowing you to make purchases and withdrawals using your Gemini exchange account balance (your Gemini account can be topped up using bank transfer, wire transfer, crypto deposits, and trades).

11.BakerySwap

BakerySwap is a more miniature NFT marketplace than OpenSea, but that’s not surprising given that most NFT markets are built on Ethereum, while BakerySwap was one of the first to start on Binance Smart Chain (BSC). One site element is the NFT marketplace, which allows users to trade and swap liquidity assets directly.

The NFT marketplace is simple enough to use, requiring only a MetaMask connection. However, because this platform is based on the Binance Smart Chain, NFT assets can only be acquired with BNB rather than the more commonly used ETH.

12.Binance NFT Marketplace

Binance NFT marketplace is, as you might expect, an NFT platform provided by Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange. The company intends to create an NFT marketplace with exclusive offerings and collaborations to entice the exchange’s large user base to its platform.

If you already have a Binance account, you’ll be happy to know that it will operate with Binance NFT instantly. It’s as simple as bidding on any items that grab your eye after you’ve gotten in. Depending on what the producers have specified, you can use ETH, BNB, or BUSD.

13.Solanart

The most recent NFT mini-boom occurred on Solana, a blockchain that competes with Ethereum. On marketplaces like Solanart, collections like Degenerate Ape Academy, Aurory, and SolPunks have witnessed trading volumes of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Solanart, unlike OpenSea, is a selected collection of NFT collections, with a small selection of NFTs available for purchase.

To begin purchasing Solana NFTs on Solanart, you must first download a Solana wallet, such as Phantom or Solflare, and load it with Solana from your preferred exchange. Phantom has direct integration with the crypto exchange FTX, making depositing funds from that exchange a breeze.

It’s only a question of going to your preferred NFT, connecting your Solana wallet to the marketplace, and placing your bid from there.

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Rarestone Capital Makes a Strategic Investment in Rainicorn to Strengthen the Play-to-Earn NFT Farming Industry

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Rainicorn, a multifunctional platform that has established itself as a hub for innovation in the crossover between NFTs and DeFi, focusing on gamification, has received a direct strategic investment from Rarestone Capital, an active investment startup capital fund and accelerator.

The investment, which includes a direct purchase of Rainicorn’s native token (RAINI), is motivated by a shared desire to expand and enhance Rainicorn’s play-to-earn ecosystem in a community-centric manner. The contract includes hands-on marketing support under Rarestone Labs, the fund’s incubation arm, including community, social media, and viral marketing.

The popular play-to-earn trading card game The Lords of Light, which is presently completing its first public card pack drop thanks to significant community presales, is part of the Rainicorn ecosystem, termed the Rainiverse. Players can gather playable NFT cards and use them to build decks capable of decimating their opponents in turn-based combat in this competitive trading card game. The game also allows players to level up their cards and contains DeFi aspects such as the opportunity to stake high-level cards for passive income. Finally, players can acquire Photon, the game’s principal currency, by engaging in a range of strategic and competitive behaviors in-game.

“We are tremendously thrilled to develop a long-term partnership with Rainicorn. Even though the sector is still in its early stages, the top twelve play-to-earn games are currently processing approximately $1 billion in transactions. This cooperation is tremendously exciting for us, given the demand for Raini’s early releases and their team’s vision and execution ability.”- Charles Read, Rarestone Capital Co-Founder

“We envision our cooperation with Rarestone Capital as the game-changer that will push Raini to the next level,” says Rainicorn Co-Founder @Mindspheres. “The degree of assistance and contacts that Rarestone brings to the table are extremely beneficial to the Raini project and our goals.”

Rainicorn also has a cross-chain NFT platform, a launchpad, and a marketplace where participants may buy and sell NFTs. Raini’s mission is to build a broad and diverse interconnected ecosystem with a comprehensive roadmap of unique features and novel concepts to help drive the sector ahead, with staff across the globe, including Australian co-founders.

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