Logan Paul is one of the world’s most popular and high-profile influencers and has now apologized to an intrepid reporter and to the fans who “invested” in one of his projects: a crypto-based video game called CryptoZoo. Paul claimed to have spent “about a million” dollars of his own money developing CryptoZoo, describing it as “a really fun money-making game”, but after the website’s launch in 2021, the promised game never materialized. arrived, and the items sold for it are worthless.
Of course, this is web3, so the fact that the game CryptoZoo would never come out didn’t stop Paul and the developers from selling NFTs of cartoon eggs and in-game cryptocurrency (dubbed $ZOO) to his fan base. Eggs could be bought with $ZOO or Ethereum and the promise was that when the game came out, each of these eggs would hatch into a random animal with (Paul’s term) “handmade” art.
These animals, the field goes, would passively earn $ZOO for the player and could be combined to create new hybrid animals. Animals can also be ‘burnt’ (charming) which would return $ZOO to the player.
In the first 24 hours of these eggs being on sale, people spent $2.85 million on them. The ‘hatching day’ was announced as November 3, 2021. And on that day the eggs started to hatch, but instead of the in-game animal NFT models people expected, the animals were more… stock photos. The hybrid animals were merged stock photos.
More importantly, as any kind of gaming ecosystem, CryptoZoo didn’t exist: there were no games to play, and these animal images couldn’t be used in any way. At least there’s the passive income, right?
“There was no way to claim your proceeds,” said Rob, a victim of the scam who lost more than $7,000. “There never was.”
The project caught the attention of Coffeezilla, a YouTuber who conducted a lengthy investigation into Paul and CryptoZoo, uncovering a slew of shady characters and attracting some vague legal threats from Paul’s manager for his troubles. The first part of his research is embedded below, and here it is part two (opens in new tab) and part three (opens in new tab): It is exemplary work to disassemble something like that.
Paul first spoke about the project on August 18, 2021, during an episode of his podcast ImPaulsive, and many of the victims interviewed in Coffeezilla’s videos say they first heard of CryptoZoo on this show
“We’ve got a huge team behind us and probably have a million dollars in our pockets,” Paul said in 2021, “just because we believe it’s going to work.”
Paul would repeat this claim several times, but when the project started to turn sour, he would later say that the project’s lead developer absconded with the game’s code and demanded $1 million for its return. In Coffeezilla’s video, he tracks down this person named Z, who says he did withhold code, but for a completely different reason.
“He literally never paid me anything, never,” said Z. “I never [got] paid. And you know, I got to a point where I was working on it and I realized that they’re just going to try and steal all my work without paying me.
“So I took all the source code private, and I just spent a month trying to negotiate and figure something out where I’d end up getting paid. Because I have a team of 30 engineers on my end, I’m burning $50,000 a week at the building this thing, and all they brought to the table was a bunch of photoshopped jpegs.
Z says they eventually settled, while other developers who worked on the project also claim they didn’t pay what was promised. However, this is at least partly their fault, as it turns out that much of the work was done on verbal agreements that were never formalized.
Most importantly, though, those who invested in CryptoZoo bought a pup. The promised product doesn’t exist, and given that the NFT animals are currently modified photos, it’s hard to see how they will ever exist in a gaming environment. No one is going to make money off this except the people who sold the $ZOO and NFT eggs.
Coffeezilla’s investigation leaves little doubt that something extremely dodgy was going on here, and the inclusion of the words “scam” and “fraud” in the three video titles (which have combined more than 13 million views) seemed Paul finally come out of his shell. peace.
In a rebuttal video posted last Thursday, an angry Paul tries to refute Coffeezilla’s video’s version of events, claiming that the project fell apart because he hired “con artists” and “thugs.” But, says Paul, it wasn’t his fault. He then says that Coffeezilla is “a crooked journalist with an agenda”, got the facts wrong, and threatens to sue the reporter: always look closely. This video also contains a claim that somehow the CryptoZoo project was still alive.
This video was removed over the weekend (though Paul’s tweet remains live (opens in new tab)), and Paul made a complete U-turn.
Logan called me. He said he is removing the two comments and dropping the threats of a lawsuit. I believe he gives a third response, which I will postpone to record my video. Hopefully this time he will take responsibility and pay back CryptoZoo’s victims. That is what counts. https://t.co/ElKX2d9mY0January 7, 2023
Paul called the reporter to apologize and withdraw his legal threats. On the CryptoZoo Discord, he posted this:
“I’ve removed my first comment on Coffee’s series,” said Paul. “It was rash and inconsistent with the real issue, so I called him today and apologised… I’m thankful he brought this to light. I will take responsibility, apologize and come up with a plan in the near future.”
This is far from the first brush with controversy for Paul. The influencer faced huge setbacks after he posted a video in 2017 showing the body of someone who had apparently committed suicide in Japan’s Aokigahara forest, for which Paul later apologized. He was also involved in promoting a cryptocurrency called Dink Doink before CryptoZoo, which can now reasonably be described as a shitcoin.
Nevertheless, Paul’s career is going from strength to strength. He’s been the face and moneymaker for a slew of projects, from the Prime drinks to high-profile boxing matches against the likes of Floyd Mayweather, and recently signed a contract with World Wrestling Entertainment.
Paul also continues to exhibit some truly deplorable behavior, the most recent example being a mini-pig he had bought under the mistaken belief that it would stay the same size. It’s unknown what the chain of ownership was, but what was once his pig was abandoned and was rescued from squalid conditions by an animal shelter called The Gentle Barn.
Here’s a video of Logan Paul’s pig Pearl being rescued pic.twitter.com/FxSB6B8uFWJanuary 9, 2023
The animal is apparently doing well now, but it’s clear the former owner couldn’t run a crypto zoo or a real one.
During Coffeezilla’s investigation, he speaks with many of CryptoZoo’s victims, who have lost sums ranging from several thousand dollars to, in the case of one unlucky individual, more than half a million. As always with crypto, the victims are normal people who believed the wrong person. And it might be easy to laugh at someone who would buy the Logan Paul brand, but don’t kid yourself: if people think of this guy as bankable, they’re not wrong. He’s box office and as long as we’ve had celebrities, we’ve had celebrity endorsements.
At least in this case, it looks like the broader ecosystem and the work of a hard-hitting reporter will keep Paul’s feet up to the fire. The influencer’s Twitter feed is now back to cashing out his hugely popular Prime drinks, so normal service has resumed there, but whether Paul (estimated net worth: $35-50 million) will indeed “make up for it” for the victims of CryptoZoo remains to be seen.