Six months ago, YouTuber Logan Paul faced significant controversy for allegedly scamming his audience with an NFT game project called CryptoZoo, which was announced in 2021. Paul and his team sold NFTs and released a ZOO token—but the game never materialized.
After facing criticism from YouTube investigators like Stephen “Coffeezilla” Findeisen, Paul released a video on January 13 detailing his “three-step plan” to make things right. One month later, the influencer was slapped with a class-action lawsuit alleging that Paul and his team misled and “rug pulled” CryptoZoo buyers.
But what exactly did Paul promise back in January—and has any of it been delivered?
$1.8M in refunds “for those who do not want to wait”.
Good marketing Logan. 👍 pic.twitter.com/BqhOY4tlYC
— Coffeezilla (@coffeebreak_YT) June 29, 2023
If you ask Coffeezilla, the answer is a resounding “No.”
“I’ve spoken to the victims and have been watching their public Discord chat all year. The last time Logan communicated with them was in January. I’ve also reached out to Logan several times asking about this,” Coffeezilla told Decrypt in a direct message.
“According to the victims, there [have] been zero payments. There’s no excuse for this. Logan made a public statement about this, took credit for it, and has ghosted the victims,” Coffeezilla added.
Were ZOO tokens burned?
In Paul’s “three-step” video, which has over 330,000 views, the entrepreneur said that he and his manager Jeffrey Levin would “burn our $ZOO,” meaning the pair would send all of their ZOO tokens to a burn wallet so that the tokens would be effectively destroyed. Neither could then profit from their ZOO tokens.
However, upon examining the official ZOO contract detailed in the token’s whitepaper, it’s not evident that Paul or Levin have burned any of their ZOO. A website detailing the project’s tokenomics identified a wallet ending in 0x6D as one of the game’s burn wallets used to burn 1.5 billion ZOO after the first NFT release, but the wallet has been inactive since March 2022.
According to BSC Scan data, there have been no significant burns of the ZOO token from one or two wallet addresses since January 2023, when Paul made this first promise.
There has, however, been continued ZOO burns from various wallets. Since the token’s inception, a cumulative total of roughly 3.7 billion ZOO has been sent to a commonly used burn wallet out of the total supply of 2 trillion ZOO. Of those burn transactions, the most recent was in February for roughly 2.1 million ZOO (roughly $1.50).
The wallet making up the majority of ZOO’s recent burn history is the wallet 0x8d. It has been consistently burning ZOO in varying amounts since March 2022. Out of the burn transactions, though, there were no burns for more than 5 million ZOO (worth just $3.58) since January. The 0x8d wallet, however, has continued to burn ZOO at random intervals throughout 2022 and so far in 2023.
Considering its history, it’s unclear to whom the 0x8d wallet belongs—and it doesn’t appear that Paul and Levin have made their big promised token burns just yet.
Largest ZOO holders
Where is most of the ZOO token now? Currently, what appears to be a CryptoZoo game wallet holds 70% of the total token supply. Decentralized exchange PancakeSwap is listed as holding 3% of the supply for its various users.
Out of the other wallets remaining in the top 10 by total percentage of supply, none have sent their tokens to burn wallets—and two received their tokens within the last two weeks.
Wallet 0x87 received 21.5 billion ZOO (about $15,000) in the past 10 days, and wallet 0xf1 likewise received 21.5 billion ZOO less than two weeks ago. It’s currently unclear to whom these wallets belong, but their holdings aren’t worth nearly as much as they would’ve been when ZOO was at its peak. Given that ZOO’s price is down 82% in the past year, per CoinGecko data, those wallets’ collective holdings only add up to about $30,800.
It’s also worth noting that ZOO’s tokenomics document allows for wallets associated with “development, marketing, and founders” to be able to unlock 10% of their token allocation every month for 10 months—though that doesn’t necessarily explain the recent 43 billion ZOO drop to two wallets.
The second-largest ZOO wallet, 0x23, could also belong to someone on the CryptoZoo team. It holds just over 4.8% of the total ZOO supply and its only transactions consist of two incoming receipts of 96 billion and 94 million ZOO in September 2021 and December 2022, respectively.
The second promise
Paul’s second promise was to effectively refund holders for the price they paid on their Base Egg or Base Animal NFTs at 0.1 ETH apiece, which is about $193 today.
“I have committed more than $1.8M for those who do not want to wait for CryptoZoo to be completed,” Paul wrote back in January. At time of writing, that sum could reimburse holders for over 9,300 NFTs. Logan Paul’s last message in the CryptoZoo Discord’s “announcements” channel. Image: Decrypt.
In April, Paul denied any wrongdoing in correspondence with Rolling Stone and said that “all deserving parties will be reimbursed.”
But in messages viewed by Decrypt, more than six individuals in CryptoZoo’s Discord server reported not receiving any refund that had been promised—six months after the promise was made.
A CryptoZoo buyer who goes by the alias Just Pixel told Decrypt in a message that they had also not received any refund, or any updates on when such a reimbursement would be coming.
“I have invested a total [of] ~$15K. I was able to get just under $2K out before the price dropped completely to the floor,” Just Pixel said. “I did not get a refund. I also bought three of these egg NFTs at launch. I haven’t gotten a refund for those yet either.”
In a Discord server called “CryptoZoo Victims,” three more individuals confirmed to Decrypt that no refunds have yet been issued.
But CryptoZoo’s buyers aren’t the only ones who claim they haven’t been paid by Paul. Zach Kelling, CryptoZoo engineer and first CTO, told Decrypt in January that he is still owed over $1 million in fees for his work, which he said he completed with a team of 45 engineers.
Kelling previously told Decrypt that Paul’s YouTube videos about him even led to “life and death risks” and physical safety threats for himself and his family.
Kelling’s fiancée Antje Worring started her own spinoff philanthropy project, Zoo Labs, after they figured that Paul wasn’t going to pay Kelling for the work he did for CryptoZoo.
Logan Paul really is the type of dude to thank you when you expose his scam, then block you when you remind him to pay up. pic.twitter.com/wI1o3ilD5S
— Coffeezilla (@coffeebreak_YT) June 30, 2023
“There were so many lies,” Worring told Decrypt.
She alleged that CryptoZoo developer Eddie Ibanez allowed her and Kelling to live in a Manhattan apartment that Ibanez claimed he owned, but actually didn’t, adding that Ibanez once screamed at her because she hadn’t done his laundry for him. Worring further claimed that Ibanez paid Kelling only about $2,000 in total for his work on CryptoZoo.
Decrypt reached out to Ibanez for comment, but he did not immediately respond.
Worring said Paul’s interaction with the CryptoZoo developers was minimal, even when the project was in full swing.
“He’s just the face of the project,” Worring said of Paul. “We literally never heard from him.”
The third promise
But what about the CryptoZoo game itself—is it still in development? The game’s official website still shows the same “builders build” screen from 2022. CryptoZoo hasn’t posted via its Discord, Twitter, or Instagram since the January assertion that game development would continue—and its blog has been radio silent for over a year.
“Absolutely nothing has happened since Logan Paul promised a refund,” CryptoZoo Victims Discord member Richie650 told Decrypt. “No token burn, no refund, and no game development.”
While Paul may be unresponsive to his community, he has responded to the ongoing CryptoZoo lawsuit against him.
The lawsuit filed against Paul and other members of the CryptoZoo team back in February is ongoing. According to court documents, Texas-based CryptoZoo buyer Don Holland and his counsel allege that Paul and the CryptoZoo team committed fraud via a “rug pull” and defrauded “thousands of other consumers” by failing to deliver the game.
Paul responded in May and June with the argument that because he does not live in Texas, there is a lack of “personal jurisdiction” and the case should be dismissed. However, plaintiffs have since argued that two of CryptoZoo’s former employees were located in Texas, and that Ibanez also conducted some CryptoZoo work in Texas.
Paul, Levin, and their representatives did not respond to Decrypt’s multiple requests for comment on the ZOO token burn, the promised reimbursements, or the future of CryptoZoo.
Does Paul’s six-month silence betray a lack of interest in the embroiled project? Or has he merely pressed pause on CryptoZoo due to the ongoing lawsuit?
For now, CryptoZoo holders will have to wait—and hope for a refund that remains in limbo. decrypt.co
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