A leaked Telegram discussion by 50 so-called crypto influencers has exposed the extraordinary steps they take in order to profit on the back off unsuspecting defi investors. According to a leaked screenshot of the chat, an elaborate plan to defraud defi investors using the worthless â€œ$Fewâ€ tokens had been hatched. $Few tokens would be airdropped to some of the influencers who in turn promoted these to unsuspecting followers on Twitter.
Once the â€œnew flash mob projectâ€ gained traction, members of this conspiracy planned to sell the â€œairdroppedâ€ tokens to defi investors and thus make a profit in the process. According to aÂ reportÂ by Boxmining, the plotters were attempting to capitalize on the current defi hype after missing out on the MEME airdrop.
However, it appears the plot collapsed after a screenshot of the alleged discussion began circulating on social media. On Twitter, some users reacted angrily to the revelations and accused some of the prominent names in the defi space of being â€œscammers.â€
One of the exposed plotters, Anthony Sassano, cofounder of Ethhub.io and a self-proclaimed defi educator, has since issued an apology for his role in the scheme. In the screenshot, Sassano appears to tell fellow plotters that â€œwe need people to dumb on.â€ Sassano has been roundly condemned for his role in the botched scam as well as for his attempts to cast his comments as a joke.
However, writing on Twitter, Sassano strikes a more conciliatory tone as he apologized:
I know for some, the â€˜I was just jokingâ€™ defence is a weak one and I totally understand why people are sceptical of it. I sometimes forget that text-based humour does not translate at all and can very easily be misinterpreted. I will be more cognizant of this going forward.
Sassano insists that he is not â€œhere to dump on or scam anyone.â€ Instead, he wants â€œto educate and grow the adoption of Ethereum and defiâ€ which will always be his â€œnumber [one] goal.â€
While Sassano says he will try to rebuild his tarnished image, some Twitter users are skeptical. One user, the Crypto Detective is not particularly sanguine about this show of remorse. Reminding Sassano of his past deeds, the Crypto Detective says:
Will be hard to earn respect now mate, shilled Yam at the top, promoted Safe at 4.5k and now â€˜need to dump on someone.â€™ Hope you can change, a PR tweet isnâ€™t gonna help, will see your next actions.
After offering the apology, Sassano reportedly burned the tokens, as did Alex Masmej, another influencer exposed in the leaked screenshot.
Just like Sassano, Masmej tries to trivialize the issue saying â€œno harm was done as the token was never listed.â€ However, the Boxmining report suggests that â€œsome people actually ended up buying $FEW tokens because of the influencersâ€™ promotional posts on Twitter.â€
It adds that others, knowing full well that the token is not listed on any exchange, â€œtried to profit off the hype by listing fake $FEW trading pairs on Uniswap in an effort to get some members to trade.â€
The exposure of the $Few â€œjokeâ€ highlights some of the risks facing defi investors, which also include exit scams. However, the apparent participation of influential individuals in well-orchestrated pump and dump schemes like $Few adds to worries about the defi boom. Regulators eager to curtail the growth of the crypto space will likely point to such scams when justifying any future interventions.