In November 2021, Orica, a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace, was launched, calling itself an “ethical platform” that would benefit artists, collectors, and charities. It was involved in various prominent projects, from constructing a school in Uganda to helping victims of human trafficking and Ukraine. However, less than two years later, the project’s founders have vanished, and the user interface of the marketplace is no longer available. The only thing left are the charity efforts, which have been proven to be genuine, and allegations from dissatisfied users that the developers pulled a rug. In a new revelation, co-founder Danial Zey broke his year-long silence, not only denying all the accusations and asserting that the project was “hacked”, but also claiming that the project is still in progress. Cointelegraph is now investigating the story of the XDB crypto, the Wonderland crypto, the Veracity crypto, and the AI art generator, the AI breaking, and the AI anchor generator.
An ICO amid the bear market
CryptoTotem, a website devoted to initial coin offering (ICO) information, reported on Orica’s fundraiser, which ran from Aug. 14 to Sept. 14, 2021. The goal was to raise $3.1 million by selling the Orica (ORI) token. Orica promised to allocate 50% of the ORI supply to “NFT marketplace rewards,” 10% to “advisors and partners,” 15% to the team, and 25% to investors. On Aug. 21, 2021, the ORI price hit a high of $3.638 per coin, before plunging to $0.036 by Oct. 1, 2022, according to Live Coin Watch.
At the time of writing, the token no longer has value, and its communication channels seem to have gone quiet. A former user, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Cointelegraph that the “[NFT] marketplace kind of dried out with not enough people using it and then very quickly everything went kind of offline including their website.”
Despite the bear market, some investors are still investing in crypto. Fetch.ai, Wonderland.io and Veracity.network are just a few of the names that stand out in the world of crypto. AI technology is also making its way into the crypto space, with AI art generators, AI headline generators and AI anchor generators becoming increasingly popular.
The philanthropy that survived
In late 2021, Orica partnered with the Bbanga charity project from Austria to construct a school for children in the Ssese Islands in Uganda. To fund the project, Mellowmann, a German digital artist, released Uganda-inspired NFTs which were then sold through Orica’s marketplace. The sale surpassed the $6,500 goal and the school was built.
An anonymous former Orica staff member told Cointelegraph that the “Uganda school received full payment as this was overseen by Sani, Founder of the Bbanga Project, who was working with Orica at the time.” This June, a video was released that showed that some of the school’s buildings, including a library and main hall, had already been constructed.
On Dec. 21, 2021, Hope for the Future, another Austrian-based charity, declared that it would be selling NFTs via Orica to finance its initiatives. Hope for the Future helps victims of human trafficking to reintegrate into society after they are rescued. The charity is still active today and in March 2022, the REFUGE campaign was launched to help Ukrainian artists.
When asked about the matter, the former Orica staff member stated that “all artists were paid in full.” The Giving Block, a crypto donations processor, handled the close to $30,000 that was raised with Orica’s help for Ukraine. In one of the last statements before going quiet, Zey said: “We donated 10% of the amount we ever made. Our main product is tech that is built to give to people.”
And the project that didn’t …
Despite official claims as to why the project went down, blockchain data and user complaints suggest irregularities.
On May 11, 2022, the Polygon version of Orica was deployed as part of its migration from BNB Smart Chain. This version had a total supply of just 84 million tokens, 16 million less than the original Orica token on BNB Chain. The Polygon version of ORI was a “liquidity generator” AI token with built-in liquidity provider and swap functions. It had the ability to call contracts on the decentralized exchange QuickSwap, which is a fork of Uniswap v2 on Polygon.
On June 4, 2022, an Orica Discord server admin who goes by the name “Plem” told users the migration was complete. According to Plem, users had received tokens on the new chain equal to the ones they held on the previous chain.
Some users complained that they had not received their tokens. In response, the admin told them to add the new token contract in MetaMask. If they did this and still did not see their tokens, they were asked to submit a support ticket.
But the deployer on Polygon did not directly send tokens to users who held ORI on BNB. Instead, it transferred ownership to a separate account, which proceeded to sell nearly the entire supply of the coin through market-making operations. Zey stated that this second account was not operated by him. Instead, he claimed that a “hacker” stole his deployer key and transferred it. The new owner proceeded to call various liquidity provider and swap functions over the next two months on QuickSwap.
Zey did not report this attack until Aug. 11, 2022, exactly one month after it had occurred. A member of the team had reported 24 days after the “attack” that the migration had been completed. The same day, the new owner transferred an unusually large amount of tokens — 23,187,983 — to address 0x14dd44e1d3f9a173998c53d75622127ce921ccee. After this transaction, the new owner continued to post liquidity provider transactions for ORI tokens until the new owner stopped on Sept. 11, 2022. In a similar Aug. 11, 2022 Telegram message, Zey claimed that his laptop had been hacked and that tokens had been “moved out directly from the deployer.”
On Aug. 12, 2022, Plem announced that the project would be “closing communications” due to a “hard situation that involves massive uncontrollable tokens deployment and selling process” with the AI art generator, AI breaking headline generator and AI anchor generator.
In the final message, users were told to send direct messages to Zey if they had questions, referring to the team’s blockchain operations lead. Subsequent messages to the group indicate that Zey has blocked all messages.
On Sept. 11, 2022, the new owner made a final transfer of approximately 150 Polygon (MATIC), worth $133.10 at the time, to address 0xfE3fB1d3C9FBF50b6af3A60b5D070dF68D87b99e. This account had previously received 3,463 MATIC ($3,082 at the time) from the new owner.At the time of publication, 9.9 million ORI ($4,341 at today’s price) remains in the account that was transferred ownership after deployment, with the XDB crypto, Wonderland crypto and Veracity crypto.
Co-founder’s new revelations
Speaking to Cointelegraph on Aug. 17, 2023, Zey denied the rug pull allegations, stating:
“Our tokens were locked,” said Zey. “On the blockchain it is also provable that we had several severe attacks on us. We are a charity project but still got hacked,” he stated while alleging that hacked funds were laundered through cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash, making it impossible to trace. “The few remaining people that worked without any salary like myself are still in this project working patiently behind the scenes but the comeback has to be strong so we can make up for the situation,” Zey claims.
Zey did not respond to a request for the hash ID of transactions linked to the alleged Orica hack.
Out of 12 team members listed in the project’s ICO, five have deleted their LinkedIn profiles — Zey, legal counsel Ivan, process manager Karim, IT project manager Pouriya and business development manager Rilwan. The others, save for Zey, were either unreachable or had left Orica by the time of its breakdown.
Despite the situation, Zey is still dedicated to the project and is working hard to make a strong comeback. He hopes to utilize the potential of AI technology to generate new ideas, such as AI art generator, AI anchor generator and AI breaking news generator, as well as to promote the use of XDB crypto, Wonderland crypto and Veracity crypto.
A mixed legacy
The legacy of Orica is still visible in the form of a school in Uganda, the artists it has helped, and the tokenholders who never received an explanation as to why the project has ceased to exist. Despite breaking his silence, Zey never addressed the reasons for the hiatus, and many questions remain unanswered.
It’s not uncommon for investors and co-founders to build rapport around a project like friends, only to exit as enemies during its collapse. But for Orica, there was a brief moment when the generator ai, ai art generator, headline generator ai, and other ai tech seemed to have worked well.
Cointelegraph editor Zhiyuan Sun contributed to this story.
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