NFT: A short investigation


Simple as this: Beware of “news” aggregators and fake news campaigns

Driven by advertorials on marketing channels like Yahoo Finance, and CardanoFeed, USD500.000 worth of $VLX tokens have been sold to FOMO investors. It’s an easy to spot scam - not even elaborate.

Verlux is little more than a website that claims to be a Cardano-based project building an inter-chain NFT marketplace. Since late October 2021, a long strain of PR “news” and advertorials on commercial services has tought an increasingly successful sale of Verlux’ tokens, called $VLX, which were minted on Cardano, but have no intrinsic value or use case yet.

News aggregators like NewsNow don’t filter out paid news releases

Since their GitHub repo is still empty as of Dec 1, 2021, there is nothing but a low-info whitepaper and the website. All credibility must therefore come from a strong team, and fortunately, there are names (and images) provided.

All identities provided have Twitter handles, the CTO’s and the Project Advisor’s accounts registered in 2021 (which cost under $10 each on fiverr and comparable services) with no personal information, references nor any individual statement.

The founder “Glen Grayson” is not found easily on the web because the name is common. He gives no details or references, instead a rather zero-info bio is provided in a PR release on CardanoFeed. As a professional in Finance and Blockchain, this lack of references is surprising, to put it mildly. On Cardano’s scam discussion forum, it was pointed out that there is a Nigerian national using the same surname (written GraySon), who claims to be a community manager at Ravendex, another suspicious Cardano-based project which was caught plagiating ErgoDEX’ UI from GitHub.

The other two team members have been “identified” by now.

“Mathias Grunther” (a twice-misspelled version of a common German name), presented as having an impressive career in “blockchain technology …, business development and marketing”, as well as a “lover of art and collector”, is not found in any phone or business directory. However, his accordingly named Facebook profile shows a “Saud Al-Futtaim, cryptocurrency investor” (which is probably also a fake name, given that Al-Futtaim is a Saudi chainstore group).

Saud-Mathias has a certain remembrance of Verlux’ Mathias Grunther, something that can be achieved by standard image editing software. He states to be a kind of Forex trader, but his previous projects, and, have disappeared without much trace and the domains are deleted. He seems to have traveled selling his “Forex”, crypto or other investment services with promised short-term ROI of 100–400%. He is a member of LinkedIn’s Astia group, a community of female founders.

He is also shown writing in Russian.

Hint for foreigners: Russian cursive handwriting is usually limited to Soviet or Russian natives.

“Claudia Fester” is allegedly not only “a mother”, but “… working with exchanges and blockchain tech companies. … [making] use of multiple programming languages”. Again, she has left no trace of hers on the net, in developer forums, repos or even social media.

This is not really surprising, taking into account what Twitter user Senor Crypto found via reverse image search.

Claudia-Pia is a generated pic as well, the original is found here.

Don’t send any ADA to VerluxNFT, it will be lost.

Verlux has just announced to “extend” their sale, which alone is already alarming — how could a seed sale be extraordinary successful, and then extended still, if allocated tokens are used up?

The current balance of the Verlux address on Cardano is ~500.000 USD in ADA, and counting. There are still victims sending money to this fraud.

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Editor Fake

Researcher, Dept. of Health Sciences, UEF. Anonymous but responsible. Public track record of scam busting since 2012: