Was a Serial Rugging Gang Just Caught in The Act?

Was a Serial Rugging Gang Just Caught in The Act?

Delisted on OpenSea and mired in controversy, Squiggles is accused of being the latest in a long line of similar scams executed by the same team.

An explosive dossier

To casual onlookers, Squiggles had all the hallmarks of a successful collection backed by a thriving community and committed dev team. Now the project lies in tatters, delisted from OpenSea, discredited across social media and with its team accused of masterminding a string of lucrative rugs worth over $10 million. Squiggles is at the heart of a storm that lays bare the often fraught nature of investing in new NFT projects.

10th February should have been a triumphant day for Squiggles: it was the day of the mint. Instead, a 57 page document emerged flagging the project as a rug. The document makes a string of accusations against the team. Not only does it suggest that the current project is a scam, but that the same people were also behind a long list of other frauds: League of Sacred Devils, League of Divine Beings, Vault of Gems, Lucky Buddhas, Dirty Dogs, Sinful Souls and Faceless (the final two of which have vanished altogether).

Worse still, separate evidence appears to show that Squiggles used shadow wallets to pump its sales. That would mean that only a fraction of sales are genuine and the price vastly overinflated. Various analysts also highlighted the dubiously high mint price and odd behaviour of Squiggles. The dutch auction opened high at 1 eth and then dropped by 0.05 every 10 minutes until the NFTs were sold. All things considered, the picture couldn’t be much bleaker. Even Squiggles’ entry on NFT Culture has been slapped with a “high rug potential” warning.

There are also claims that Squiggles manipulated verified Twitter accounts to their advantage, getting the users behind the document banned. If it’s true, then it’s done absolutely nothing to stop the spread of information. The floor (on LooksRare) currently sits at a measly 0.369 eth and, despite Squiggles’ promises that the price will soon “return to where it belongs” it doesn’t show many signs of life.

Doxxing the main players

The truly explosive details concern the developers themselves, though. The document systematically doxxed the individuals involved and highlighted their close links to previous fraudulent projects. Those behind Squiggles are claimed to be: Gabriel Hay and Gavin Mayo (who live together) and Ali Saghi. The group maintains numerous well followed accounts across social media, including Mayo’s 121k strong Instagram, which is currently set to private.

Mayo is a UNC swimmer from Salunga-Landisville in Pennsylvania. Saghi is a senior from Virginia who still shares a home with his parents (their address was revealed in the document). Hay was implicated in the Vault of Gems rug and subsequently deleted his social media. Nonetheless, he left a big cyber footprint including photographs with his crew and information from his pre-rugging business days.

The dossier doxxes each member in turn and details how they’re all connected. Corroborating evidence includes images of them together at parties during Squiggles’ launch week, Discord interactions and addresses. It’s packed with details (it even mentions that Saghi drives a Mercedes) and lays out how the group were allegedly involved with multiple rugged collections. Discord messages appear to show them talking about walking away from projects, making up roles and discussing paid doxxes. Etherscan transactions are also cited as proof that funds from the rugged Lucky Buddha Club were moved to Vault of Gems wallets. 

Amongst the painstaking detail, the document is a reminder that no matter how hard a person might try, true digital anonymity is difficult to achieve. Things could get extremely serious for the individuals involved because the report will be forwarded to the Securities and Exchange Commission. In the meantime, there’s a 10-30% cash reward for anyone with information that leads to sanctions, so the plot could yet thicken even more.

A defiant (but vague) stance from Squiggles

So far, Squiggles remains big on denials but scant on vindicating evidence. Shortly after the document emerged, they tweeted thanks to their community. This tweet was hastily removed when OpenSea delisted the collection. It was replaced with a new message admitting that the collection had been delisted but assuring followers that the team were investigating. In the meantime, collectors are directed to LooksRare, where Squiggles remains live (albeit well below mint price).

Although Squiggles has doubled down, it hasn’t offered much by way of explanation. Instead, it’s made vague statements about negativity, empty words and FUD, all the while promising to fulfil its roadmap and asking for “good vibes” only. Co-founder Arsalan (accused in the document of being a paid dox) attributes the talk of a rug to “empty words” and “tons of FUD.”

It’s worth noting at this point that nothing has been definitively proved and Squiggles might yet turn out to be 100% legitimate. Despite the apparent weight of evidence, opinion remains sharply divided amongst the community. Some Twitter users report being kicked from the Squiggles Discord for expressing their concerns, while others came out fighting and vocally backed the project. Even so, it’s hard to imagine that there aren’t a few nerves amongst even the most ardent Squiggles devotees. Squiggles’ last comment on the matter was simply #freesquiggles, a tag that some members took up.

Whatever happens next (and whatever the truth about Squiggles) the only positive of this story is that suspected rugs are now coming to light much earlier. If the worst does turn out to be true, then the document and those behind it have potentially saved investors a lot of money. They might even have prevented future rug projects. This is a story with many more twists to come, but it’s proof of how resourceful the NFT community is, with astute investigators always keeping a keen eye out for potential scams. 

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