Squid Game turned out to be a scam, after all. I am not talking about the blockbuster Netflix show that had the world hooked to it for weeks. I am referring to the eponymous cryptocurrency inspired by the series. The Squid cryptocurrency collapsed on Monday, but the hucksters who leveraged the popularity of the show managed to make off an estimated $3.38 million (roughly Rs 25.3 crore). After reaching a peak value of $2,861, according to CoinMarketCap, the currency tanked to just $0, and the investors lost all their money.
Launched last week amid huge suspicion, the Squid Game cryptocurrency was only a front for a very common theft practice in the crypto world. It is called a “rug pull”. It is when the creators of cryptocurrency cash out the coins for real money, possibly when the prices have hit an all-time high – which was more than 310,000 per cent in the case of the Squid cryptocurrency – leaving almost no liquidity in the exchange for any further trade. The investors, hence, do not get to sell their coins.
Squid Game cryptocurrency was made available for purchase on October 20, letting investors buy a pay-to-play token for an online game, which was inspired by the Korean show. The inspiration behind the cryptocurrency was very straightforward. Much like how several indebted people play do-or-die versions of children’s games to win money in the Netflix series, investors believed similarly-planned crypto would win them more Squid tokens.
The most conspicuous way to know that the Squid Game cryptocurrency was a scam was its website – SquidGame.cash. The three-week-old website, which is now defunct, had grammatical mistakes and several weird spellings. Those two should have been the red flags for investors who are now left high and dry after the swoop. The crypto’s social media accounts have also disappeared at once. There was also a Telegram channel for the people engaging in the Squid trade but it did not allow comments from anyone but creators – another red flag.
But the biggest red flag was when investors began facing trouble selling their Squid tokens on the platform. With the spike in the cryptocurrency’s value last week – which can be mostly attributed to the bumper coverage in mainstream media, the doubts that the token could be a part of a scam began to deepen. But before they could do something, creators took the currency off the market, draining all its liquidity. CoinMarketCap even warned investors against putting their money into the currency, telling them to “please do your own due diligence and exercise caution while trading”.
Just because crypto is the fad right now does not mean you recklessly – and almost mindlessly – invest in a scam that is simply trying to leverage a pop culture item to get attention. Before Squid Game, hucksters tried to siphon off people’s money from crypto named Mando, which was inspired by the Disney+ show Mandalorian. Disney was quick to spot it and warn people against it. It is difficult to tell a legitimate cryptocurrency and a fake one apart, but investors need to tread more carefully.