Thursday, 21 September 2023

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Tragedy or rug-pull? Inside the collapse of a ‘charitable’ NFT project

Tragedy or rug-pull? Inside the collapse of a ‘charitable’ NFT project

Launched in November 2021, non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace Orica (ORI) held itself as an “ethical platform” benefitting artists, collectors, and charities alike. At the time, the organization was involved in prominent projects such as building a school in Uganda to aiding victims of human trafficking, to helping Ukraine

But less than two years later, the project’s founders have disappeared, and the marketplace’s user interface has gone offline. All that remains are the project’s charity efforts, which proved to be genuine, in tandem with allegations from disgruntled users that the developers orchestrated a rug-pull. In a new revelation, co-founder Danial Zey breaks his year-long silence, not only denying all allegations and insisting the project was ‘hacked,’ but also claims that the project is still ongoing. Cointelegraph investigates. 

An ICO amidst the bear market

According to initial coin offering (ICO) information site Cointotem, Orica ran a fundraiser from August 14 to September 14, 2021. It aimed to raise $3.1 million from the sale of its token, ORI. In its ICO, Orica promised to earmark 50% of the total supply of Ori for “NFT marketplace rewards.” 10% was supposed to be supplied to “advisors and partners,” 15% given to the team, and 25% sold to investors. At launch, the price of ORI rose to a peak of $3.638 per coin on August 21, 2021, then fell to $0.036 by October 1, 2022, based on data from Livecoinwatch. 

The token no longer has tangible value at the time of publication, and its communication channels appear to have gone cold. A former user, who wished to remain anonymous, told Cointelegraph that “[NFT] marketplace kind of dried out with not enough people using it and then very quickly everything went kind of offline including their website.”

Ori price chart. Source: Livecoinwatch.

The philanthropy that survived 

In late 2021, the firm partnered with Austrian charity project Bbanga to help build a school for children in Ssese Islands, Uganda. Bbanga commissioned German digital artist Mellowman to release Uganda-inspired digital art pieces as NFTs, which were then to be sold via Orica’s marketplace. The sale surpassed the $6,500 goal needed to construct the school.

Mellowmann <> Bbanga NFT sold at the Orica auction | Source: Orica

A former Orica staff member, who wished to remain anonymous, told Cointelegraph that “the Uganda school received full payment as this was overseen by Sani, Founder of the Bbanga Project, who was…

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