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Explained: Hacks

Explained: The Evolved Apes Rug Pull (September 2021)


Rob Behnke

October 6th, 2021

Evolved Apes is a popular NFT project whose first drop of NFTs sold out within ten minutes.  In September 2021, a week after the official launch of the NFTs, “Evil Ape”, the project developer, rug pulled 798 ETH (worth about $2.7 million) from the project.

Inside the Rug Pull

Evolved Apes is a collection of 10,000 NFTs hosted on Open Sea.  Some of the NFTs were sold in the initial drop, and the developer promised a blockchain fighting game using them that has not materialized.

In October 2021, a week after the initial drop, Evil Ape rug pulled the project. (For more info on what a rug pull in crypto is, check out our recent blog).  In a series of transactions, they withdrew 798 ETH that was ear-marked for project-related expenses, such as paying the artist, marketing, developing the promised fighting game, etc.

As part of the rug pull, Evil Ape also took down the project’s official website and Twitter account.  However, the NFTs are still listed on OpenSea with Evil Ape receiving a 4% commission on each new sale of the tokens.

The Response to the Rug Pull

In response to the rug pull, some investors have expressed a plan to start a project called Fight Back Apes that intends to make good on the promises of Evolved Apes.  The new project plans to drop new NFTs to owners of existing Evolved Apes NFTs and develop the promised blockchain fighting game.

One important difference between Fight Back Apes and Evolved Apes is that the new project plans to use a multi-sig wallet for storing the project’s tokens.  By requiring the consent of multiple parties to perform transactions, this is intended to make it more difficult to perform a rug pull like Evil Ape.

Lessons Learned From the Hack

Rug pulls are nothing new, and, in hindsight, some Evolved Apes investors pointed out red flags that they noticed but ignored before the attack.  Pre-hack, several of the Evolved Apes’ project leaders disappeared and the project’s announcements became much less professional.

The Evolved Apes rug pull underscores the importance of doing your own research in crypto and NFTs.  If a project doesn’t look legitimate, there is a good chance that it isn’t.