A $9B Crypto Mystery Solved? This Week’s Top Cryptocurrency News

Here’s what happened this week in the crypto world.


Welcome to Nonfungible Tidbits, a weekly roundup of the biggest news in crypto, NFTs and their related realms.

Our lead story this week is a new book that claims to solve one of the biggest mysteries in the crypto industry: Who hacked The DAO in 2016? 

We’ll also go over crypto scammers on dating apps and big brands buying into “the Metaverse,” an evolving term for a… digital world of some kind? It still isn’t entirely clear. Lastly, we’ll cover the Sotheby NFT auction that was called off at the last minute,

Stay tuned for more next week.

A $9B crypto mystery solved? 


Graphic by Pixabay/Illustration by CNET

A decentralized autonomous organization simply called The DAO was launched on the Ethereum blockchain in 2016. These organizations are online groups that issue digital tokens for members to buy. The tokens impart voting rights to guide the organization’s direction. The DAO raised $150 million in ether in this way, but due to the underlying code’s vulnerabilities, The DAO was hacked and 3.6 million ether (currently worth over $9 billion) was stolen. 

The hack led to a “hard fork” in the ethereum blockchain, which created a new blockchain, essentially erasing the hack. But not all of The DAO’s members agreed on this decision. That’s why two ethereum blockchains exist today: ethereum and ethereum classic. 

Ethereum is now one of the most prominent blockchains, and the hacking incident has remained unsolved for years. Earlier this week, however, journalist Laura Shin, in preparation for the release of her book The Cryptopians, said she uncovered the identity of The DAO hacker. Shin traced the hacker — an Australian programmer who had been active in the early crypto industry — using tracking tools from Chainalysis, a blockchain tracing firm.

When Shin contacted the programmer, he denied her claim, stating “Your statement and conclusion is factually inaccurate.” The accused programmer said he’d follow up with proof, then proceeded to cut off all ties with Shin.

So, is the jury still out on the hacker’s identity? Analysis from The Block dives into whether or not Chainalysis could really trace all crypto transactions.

If Shin discovered The DAO hacker’s identity, she’s solved the second biggest mystery in the world of crypto. The biggest mystery — the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator/s of bitcoin — is still unresolved. Last year, Craig Wright claimed to be Nakamoto, but was unable to prove he is the owner of the massive amount of bitcoin that allegedly belongs to Nakamoto.

Move over, Tinder Swindler: Crypto scammers are looking to cash in on love

Studio shot of smart phones with broken heart on screen

Jamie Grill / Getty

If you’re talking to someone on a dating app, and they ask you if you’re interested in crypto, it could be a scam. A recent New York Times report details how scammers are targeting people on dating apps for scams using cryptocurrency, which features transactions that are generally irreversible. The report notes that romance scams, a term used for taking advantage of a person’s romantic interest online to steal from them, have increased over the pandemic, as have the prices of cryptocurrency. 

Into the Paneraverse


Getty Images

While the details of what “the metaverse” actually is remain murky, it hasn’t stopped big brands like Walmart from shouldering into…whatever the metaverse is. To this end, McDonald’s and Panera Bread are filing trademarks to create their own virtual spaces. McDonald’s plans to “operate a virtual restaurant featuring actual and virtual goods, operating a virtual restaurant online featuring home delivery.” 

Meanwhile, Panera Bread filed a trademark for the term “Paneraverse,” which has me thinking there will probably be a Paneraverse at some point. I’ll be waiting.

Sotheby’s cryptopunk auction yanked last minute



Less than 30 minutes before Sotheby’s was scheduled to begin an auction on a single lot of 104 cryptopunk NFTs, one of the earlier and most well-known NFT collections, the anonymous owner of the NFT withdrew the lot from the auction. The owner tweeted: “nvm, decided to hodl.” Hodl is a crypto term for holding digital assets instead of selling them. The auction was expected to bring in $30 million. So why did the owner call off the auction? An art advisor who has worked for Sotheby’s told the New York Times that “auction withdrawals typically happen when there are legal concerns or a fear that a lot’s reserve price will not be achieved.”

Thanks for reading. We’ll be back with plenty more next week. In the meantime, check out this story from CNET’s Scott Stein on Second Life’s founder evolving the venerable online world for a new era. 

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