Deep in the murky underbelly of Web3, where undesirables resort to devious tactics to earn a quick buck, one project has set a new low. A scammer peddling “Pixel Penguins” hoodwinked a number of NFT influencers with a fake cancer story in order to promote their NFT collection.
Launched in February 2023, the Pixel Penguins project initially failed to gain any traction with its 10k NFTs. However, its founder, going by the names hopeexists1 and Sarah, had already hatched a more nefarious plan to get things up and running.
Working through the facet know as the ‘NFT influencer,’ Sarah began to weave a tale involving cancer, costly treatment, and the removal of an eye. Back in April, Sarah scored her first break when an Azuki collector named Levi picked up her story, scoring her modest gains.
However, it wasn’t until Andrew Wang, an ‘influencer’ with over 100k Twitter followers, go involved that things really began to take off. On May 31, Andrew posted a thread outlining Sarah’s plight, indicating that he personally knew the artist and had interacted within her sphere of influence.
Following the Tweet, the Pixel Penguins project quickly sold out and began trending on OpenSea.
I woke up today to see one of my friends trending on twitter, @Hopeexist1. she made a collection to help herself battle cancer and some awesome web3 people spotlighted her today, so i'd like to add to it pic.twitter.com/Fr5Mcu26eR
— andrew wang (@andr3w) May 30, 2023
Pixel Penguins Draws Too Much Attention and Begins to Unravel
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 2 fresh addresses. Trading of Pixel Penguins has now been disabled, and all websites and social media related to the collection have mysteriously vanished.
“I’ll put my rep on the line to say this is for real amidst all the scams in our space”
It turns out she stole the art and deactivated her account. pic.twitter.com/q4HivGBLMY
— ZachXBT (@zachxbt) May 31, 2023
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