Between late 2021 and 2022, a potentially promising NFT project circulated, called Cryptodragons. The project in question, consisted of selling dragon eggs, which once hatched, would give birth to one’s own dragon in the form of NFT, which one could use to fight in a sort of arena against other dragons to win rewards in ETH. Cryptodragons’ NFT project was sponsored by Paul Pogba, a well-known soccer player, who was at Manchester United at the time of the project and now plays for Juventus.
Currently, two years later, the cryptodragons.com site appears in this state. By putting the site in question under Whois.com analysis, it can be seen that the domain was registered to ALIBABA.COM SINGAPORE E-COMMERCE PRIVATE LIMITED on April 15, 2020. Of the person who registered the site unfortunately, very little is known from the data provided by Whois.com. The person who registered the site would have done so from Canada, more specifically Ontario. The site also was updated very recently, on June 27, 2023, probably to further cover any suspicious traces left on the site. The site was already appearing this way several months ago, before we started investigating. Scanning with VirusTotal shows no security issues on the site.
Cryptodragons Business Model
From Cryptodragons’ Twitter post dated 21 November 2021, we can see how dragon egg prices were divided based on rarity and purchase phase. The price of a random egg of rarity started at 0.55 ETH (approximately 926 euros currently). Every time 500 eggs were sold, the price increased by 0.05 ETH up to 0.75 ETH (approximately 1263 euros currently). The public sale price of these eggs, on the other hand, was double: 1.50 ETH (approximately 2526 euros). The price of an Epic rarity egg started from the pre-sale price of 11 ETH (over 18,000 euros), up to the public sale price of 30 ETH (over 50,000 euros).
Finally, the price of a Legendary rarity egg started from the pre-sale price of 55 ETH (over 90,000 euros), up to the public sale price of a whopping 150 ETH (over 250,000 euros). The opening of the eggs and the start of the “battles” between dragons in the Cryptodragons metaverse was scheduled for December 25, 2021. However, on that date, the site began to experience “technical issues.”
According to Cryptodragons, their dragons could also breed and participate in battles with other dragons, earning rewards for the winners. Of course, the higher the rarity of the dragon, the more it earned. In the days following the opening of the eggs, they had also shared an article explaining how the promised earning method from Cryptodragons worked. In the article, they also mentioned the closure of the arena, practically immediately after the opening of the metaverse, which already limited the earnings of Cryptodragons NFT owners to some extent.
Cryptodragons NFTs’ promised gains
However, Cryptodragons’ Twitter page continued to share updates on their users’ supposed earnings. They even claimed that legendary dragon owners could earn 1 ETH per day. In the following months, Cryptodragons opened up a breeding feature, allowing holders to create more dragon eggs, and opened a marketplace for buying and selling their dragons or eggs. They also allowed for special mutations to be made to their dragons. Overall, aside from the warning about the non-functioning arena they spoke so highly of, everything seemed to be going well. The second warning bell began to ring when they announced the transfer of all NFTs from the Ethereum blockchain to the Polygon blockchain.
Cryptodragons’ move to Polygon.
As seen in the photo, the announcement of the intention to move to Polygon dates back to February 8, 2022. On May 12, 2022, the transfer was still in progress, promising that it would officially take place by the end of the month. At least on Twitter, the Cryptodragons team has not been heard from for two months (but wasn’t the transfer supposed to be official by the end of May?). In mid-July, the Cryptodragons team announced on Twitter the start of an airdrop of a certain CDC (CryptoDragonsCoin).
However, the migration to the Polygon blockchain was completed on July 11, 2022, and was announced on Cryptodragons’ official Discord channel, which has over 125,000 members, further proof of how this scam managed to attract so many people. On July 20, 2022, also on the Discord channel, the announcement of the opening of the arena to let players battle their dragons arrived. Contrary to what was promised at the beginning, winners will not receive ETH as a reward for their battles, but CDC, the token that Cryptodragons was trying to launch in the following days. Another serious red flag. They did not want to give ETH to winners but promised to give their token (not even officially launched) as a reward?
Cryptodragons’ ICO for token and scam explodes
However, on July 30, Cryptodragons announced their ICO, which stands for Initial Coin Offering. This is a fundraising method used by cryptocurrency startups, where they issue and sell new cryptocurrencies or tokens to finance their project. Unfortunately, in recent years, this method has been mostly used by scammers to collect funds and run away with the money. This announcement should have sounded yet another alarm bell for the dragon owners, but it was probably too late to turn back.
After these tweets, the epilogue of this scam arrives. The team disappears into thin air with the funds. The last announcement from the Cryptodragons team dates back to September 2, 2022, on Discord, where they say that the website has technical problems but that they will solve them soon. Since then, nothing.
Did no one put their face on it? The only person on the team who put her face on it, although very, very rarely, was Narine Poghosyan. One of our readers who was scammed by them provided us with her resume and a photo of her, also pointing out the only tweet from Cryptodragons in which she appears.
According to her resume, Narine is Armenian and currently works for Kindda, an international IT company. Kindda was apparently a photo and video sharing app. However, according to the company’s LinkedIn profile, they are not doing very well either. There is only one post from nine months ago on their LinkedIn profile. In this post, they talk about how some former employees of “Kindda” are trying to spread false information on LinkedIn, saying that the company has laid off its employees “illegally”. Their website, indicated on the LinkedIn profile, is also not active.
Other members of the Cryptodragons team
The only other two known members of the team that have been reported to us are Oleksandr Skoblia and Debdoot Ray. According to our reader, Oleksandr was the Managing Director of Cryptodragons. Although he has removed the experience from his LinkedIn profile, his presence, like Narine’s, stands out in the Kindda team, the company in crisis. Did they work on the project together while working there? Perhaps other people at Kindda, who were then laid off, were involved? Debdoot Ray, on the other hand, has left his experience on his LinkedIn profile as a Discord Server Moderator for Cryptodragons, albeit brief.
Unfortunately, many people trusted this project even though the team was practically invisible. Not only for the promises of very interesting earnings but also for the presence of a sponsor whom people trusted a lot, as he is still a very popular and well-known person both inside and outside social media. The footballer Paul Pogba.
Cryptodragons’ only sponsor: Paul Pogba
Yes, you read and saw correctly. The main sponsor of this scam was Paul Pogba, a well-known footballer who currently plays for Juventus but was playing for Manchester United at the time of the scam. The Cryptodragons team called Paul Pogba the “Father of Dragons” and he sponsored this NFT project several times on his social media, putting his face to it and encouraging his fans to buy dragon eggs. He even made a video to demonstrate his great involvement in this project.
In the video, which was also shared on Twitter, Pogba says he is very excited to be a partner of the “phenomenon” Cryptodragons, which sold an NFT for 35 ETH in 10 seconds. He also says he is very excited to have taken his first dragon egg, becoming the Father of Dragons, as they call him. Have you ever bought something that your favorite player sponsors or uses and openly talks about? Several scammed people have told us that they were convinced to buy the Cryptodragons NFT because Paul Pogba was sponsoring it to “guarantee” the project’s goodness.
The Cryptodragons NFT promoted by Paul Pogba
According to Opensea, the volume generated from NFT sales on their platform is 210 ETH (about €353,000). The total number of NFTs in the collection was 6,502. Of these, 5,016 are held by 1,364 different holders. We arrived at this number by subtracting from the 6,502 NFTs indicated those currently held by Cryptodragons’ five smart contracts (source: Etherscan). Today, they sell for €10 if anyone is willing to buy them.
The reaction of the Cryptodragons community
The comments of people scammed by Cryptodragons under their Twitter posts speak for themselves. Some scream scam, while others ask why the promised rewards have not been paid. Others wonder why Paul Pogba decided to “shill” (a term used to say that a person promotes something in an exaggerated and often incomplete way to convince people to buy) the Cryptodragons NFT.
After telling everything about Cryptodragons, it’s time to show what we found by doing our on-chain analysis, starting from the wallet of our source who was scammed. On November 28, 2021, our source (0xbBC4e497bFc2CF8C0D93251F85abC2eC2d048E21) sent 2.75 ETH to the EggMarket smart contract to buy Cryptodragons’ eggs, generating the following transaction hash. On Etherscan, you can see the transaction (0xc8cd94fd4aabc2d1ed584a37520b2ea4127de0edbae340e5492f903dcc1ee7bc). The smart contract in question is 0x25c5515918F4281EF3Efbd91a56E4700AB8cf893 and was created by the deployer, 0xEF9C6fA1B07fA84209b73F095D7ce6477A66b53e, on November 6, 2021.
Unfortunately, the egg sales went well. Between December 24 and 26, 2021, 96 ETH (over €160,000 at current exchange rates) were sent from the EggMarket smart contract to another smart contract with over 30,000 transactions, 0x17483903bDb209A1a8C80de715CeDB69D37Cd90C. In various transactions, 564.6 ETH (over €950,000 at current exchange rates) were also sent to a wallet, 0x7a8E8c2d0d9beb12C41472464aE80FF2d6C64DAA. The transactions took place on December 6, 14, 23, and 24, 2021. Then one for 12 ETH on January 6, 2022. On May 13, 2022, 60 ETH (over €100,000) were sent to another wallet, 0xCdeb4f403eC4b1730099A8a1d3f10498e00f7C93. Which in turn immediately transfers them in a single transaction to a personal Binance account, 0x35EC8A0Cf4c51d6C7C9083EBed14497b54bC97B7.
Where did the earnings from the sale of Cryptodragons eggs go?
So, 60 ETH ended up in a personal Binance account. In addition to the 564.6 ETH we mentioned earlier, another 5 ETH is sent to 0x7a8E8c2d0d9beb12C41472464aE80FF2d6C64DAA from the smart contract with over 30,000 transactions (0x17483903bDb209A1a8C80de715CeDB69D37Cd90C). In total, 754 ETH (over €1.25 million) are sent from 0x7a8E8c2d0d9beb12C41472464aE80FF2d6C64DAA to another personal Binance account (0xBb5Bf0C092A96398664dAe4C87C7462F44a19E15), in a series of transactions between January 8 and 31, 2022. Other funds are sent to other accounts on Bitrex, Huobi, and Whitebit.
To this personal Binance account, between February 22 and March 28, 2022, another 630,000 USDT is sent from a wallet (0x2EC1fA398cBcEa18eDA38e5DFBDfdae6731FF71d) that currently has 2340 ETH (almost €4 million!) still inside. This same wallet has sent a total of 1,241,279 USDT to another personal Binance account, 0x07Ee6866077b1ED3D676E95385AE7E3146645562. All of this on-chain analysis and all the other information we have collected can be viewed on the Miro board we created to follow the Cryptodragons investigation. In total, over 720 ETH (over €1.2 million) were generated from the sale of dragon eggs alone, which, along with other funds, were moved to various personal Binance accounts that are visible on the blockchain and on the Miro board of the investigation.
The project in question was not very clear from the beginning that it was a scam, to be honest. It was programmed quite well. The only red flags were the lack of a well-known team and the early technical problems at the opening of the arena. When they announced the ICO for their token, it was probably too late for everyone to back out and at least recover their investment. Starting from our scammed reader, we followed on-chain where the money of the scammed users ended up. As you have seen, we collected this investigation, information on Pogba, NFT, and the Cryptodragons team on Miro, where everyone can consult what we have collected. We remind you that you can always write to [email protected] or fill out the form if you want to report scams. Finally, here on Telegram, we have opened the Free Discussion Group on Cryptodragons.