YouTube star, boxer and wrestler Logan Paul is no stranger to controversy.
He’s promoted alleged UFO videos and the questionable energy drink Prime — which NY Sen. Chuck Schumer is now calling on the FDA to investigate. He once posted video showing a dead body in Japan’s Aokigahara “suicide forest” and drew the ire of PETA after videos showed him tasering two dead rats and performing “CPR” on a koi fish.
But some have also called the 28-year-old — who boasts 23.6 million YouTube subscribers, 25.9 million followers on Instagram and 17.7 million followers on TikTok — a crypto scam artist.
In the fall of 2021, Paul announced CryptoZoo, an animated NFT project reportedly inspired by Pokémon and marketed as “a really fun game that makes you money.” For just over $1,100, users would be able to “hatch” and “breed, collect and trade exotic animal hybrids on the blockchain,” according to Coinbase. The rarer the animal, the higher the daily yield of in-game currency — Zoo tokens — earned.
The initial 10,000 NFTs immediately sold out, but the game never materialized. To this day, no game actually exists.
Investors were, and still are, furious.
In January, Paul — who is worth a reported $245 million — unveiled a $1.5 million recovery plan to compensate displeased investors, saying he wanted “to offer a rewards program for players who are disappointed in the status of the game,” as well as promising to finish the game.
One month later, a number of investors filed a class-action lawsuit against both CryptoZoo and Paul, alleging that Paul and members of the CryptoZoo team stole millions of dollars from investors via a “fraudulent venture.” Named plaintiffs in the lawsuit declined to speak to The Post, citing fear of retaliation.
“[Paul and others behind with CryptoZoo] made the business decision to forego an expensive and time-consuming process to create a functional CryptoZoo game or support it, and instead deliberately undertook a scheme to defraud Plaintiff and other consumers,” claimed the ongoing lawsuit.
The suit might have never materialized without the work of Stephen “Coffeezilla” Findeisen, a man who investigates online scams for a living.
For well over a year, Findeisen, a self-styled internet detective, has been looking into the CryptoZoo venture. In December of 2022, he published a three-part series on YouTube, alleging the many ways in which the NFT project had failed its investors and interviewing dozens of individuals who claimed to have lost money.
One of the worst affected individuals was an Australian, who lost close to $335,000 (USD). He asked that his name not be used out of fear of retaliation.
Findeisen’s videos went viral. In March, he appeared on the “Joe Rogan Experience,” one of the biggest podcasts in the world, to discuss his findings.
To date, Findeisen told The Post, not one investor has been compensated. (Paul stated in his January video that he had apologized to Findeisen, after accusing the investigative reporter of using his name for “views and money” and publishing “a defamatory hit piece,” in response to Findeisen’s YouTube series. Paul also said that suing Findeisen “would not help CryptoZoo holders.”)
He estimates that “tens of thousands” of victims exist. According to Findeisen, who has close to 3 million subscribers on YouTube, Paul owes more than $3.6 million to investors.
Meanwhile, Zach Kelling, Crypto Zoo’s chief engineer, told The Post that Paul owes him “at least $1 million” for his work.
“Logan doxxed me in January in a very public attack video on YouTube, blaming me for his project failing after he refused to pay my team and black-listing all of our tokens,” Kelling said. “This lead to death threats and put my family’s life in jeopardy …
“Although [Paul] has since taken down the attack video, my unfortunate relationship to the project as a developer has caused massive issues for me in my life and career,” added Kelling, a Kansas City native. “I deeply regret ever trying to help him or his team.”
Findeisen invited The Post into a Discord group consisting solely of CryptoZoo victims — all of whom asked that their names not be published out of fear of retaliation.
One member, who goes by the username “cptdandan,” claimed that he lost $110,000. Another victim said that “a refund is not enough. But if that’s the most that will happen. then it is at least something. My wish for Logan Paul would be for some jail time but that will never happen.”
At the very least, he concluded, “some sort of government action is needed.” (To date, no government regulators have accused Paul of any criminal conduct in connection with CryptoZoo.)
A third disgruntled commenter called Paul’s behavior “deplorable,” adding: The fact he just tries to hide and hope it goes away is the worst. He made a mistake — he needs to own it and do the right thing.”
Another investor, who claims to have lost $15,000, “would like Paul to take a good hard look at himself” and ask “if he truly thinks his family would be proud of a serial scammer who can’t man up enough to do the right thing.”
Paul did not reply to requests for comment.
Findeisen also has a message for Paul: “If you make big promises, you have to deliver. Scamming your fans is not acceptable.
“My personal opinion is that CryptoZoo was a fraud, but I will leave it to law enforcement to decide if there should be further steps taken,” the 37-year-old said. “As it is, Logan Paul is being sued by his own former fans, and I think that speaks volumes about the damage he’s done to others and to his own reputation.”
Findeisen promises that he “won’t stop trying to help the victims get their money back. Logan Paul promised he’d refund them, it’s time to pay up.”
Source by [New York Post]