NFT insider trading is out of control

NFT Insider trading is a bigger issue than most people realize, and chances are that it’ll only get worse.

This weekend a group of traders swept the Cryptopunk floor hours before Yuga Labs made an announcement about the future of Punks. This wasn’t the first time we’ve seen people making NFT trades based on insider info, and in fact it wasn’t even the first time we’ve seen it happen with a Yuga Labs collection.

In this video I talk about the growing issues around insider trading, the difficulty in proving these cases and whether or not it’s illegal in the first place.

0:00 sweeping the Punks floor (coincidence?)
2:23 insider trading is EVERYWHERE
3:56 proving the crime
4:50 is it even illegal?
6:06 good luck trying to catch this
7:12 the court of public opinion

So something very strange happened on June 18th okay on one hand it was one of The worst days for crypto markets all Year ethereum and bitcoin were both down Double digit percentage points and at One point bitcoin dropped to a price of Seventeen thousand seven hundred dollars Its lowest level in two years crypto Twitter was just peak fud okay just Straight up fear uncertainty and doubt People were running around questioning Their core beliefs the mcdonald’s memes Were flying it was horrible but on the Other hand there was one corner of the Market that was doing well Surprisingly well some might even say Suspiciously well in the middle of all The fear 27 crypto punk nfts were Purchased within an hour despite the Market declines people just suddenly Felt the need to spend 50 to 100 grand On punks and in one case a punk was Actually purchased for four hundred Thousand dollars a few hours later and The activity kept rolling with another 20 punks being sold in the span of an Hour by the end it turned into the best Day of sales for crypto punks all year Even higher than when yuga announced They were acquiring the punk’s ip from Larval apps even though this week’s Spike seemingly came out of nowhere Without an obvious reason at this point It started to become obvious that

Something was up right this volume just Doesn’t make sense without some kind of Catalyst that just wasn’t known to the Public yet it honestly felt like the Kind of insider trading that people in The nft space by now have just come to Expect and sure enough the very next day We got a nice little tweet by none other Than gargamel one of the co-founders of Yugo labs the team behind bordeaux yacht Club and now also the owners of crypto Punks and in this thread gargamel Revealed that they were hiring noah Davis a known figure in the crypto art World and that he was going to become The brand lead for crypto punks and Importantly that his vision of the Future of punks doesn’t include rush Brand deals shitty tv shows or licensed Lunchboxes now to anyone who doesn’t Follow the nft space closely this Doesn’t seem like a big deal right if Anything it’s more like an Anti-announcement because they’re Basically saying that they’re not gonna Do much with the punks brand at least in The short term but actually for some Collectors the announcement was a big Deal because it represents the first Action that hugo labs has taken for the Crypto punks since the acquisition but Context aside the bottom line is that This was a material piece of inside Information and it’s clear that at least

Some of the volume that came right Before the announcement was motivated by That knowledge now to be clear this is Not the first time that we’ve seen Insider trading in nfts and in fact it’s Not even the first time that it’s been Associated with yoga labs just recently In march you had 14 addresses buying 159 Me bits just days before yuga labs Announced the acquisition of the meebit Collection from larval apps this Included none other than the head of Digital assets as united talent the Agency representing larval labs and Someone who would very likely have known About the acquisition before the public Another example came back in december of Last year when some people were accused Of insider trading just before the Announcement that nike was acquiring the Clonex collection including this person Sarah one of one who before the Announcement tweeted that they were Putting all their net worth into clone x Then when questioned about that Investment sarah replied just wait till Tomorrow i would buy now if you can And then more recently and perhaps the Most famous example was the case of nate Chastain an employee at openc who was Caught using confidential information About which nfts were going to end up on The openc front page and then was using That information to front run purchases

Before the public could react to Whatever was being highlighted nate was Arrested earlier this month in what was Called the first ever digital asset Insider trading scheme and as a result Nate now faces one count of wire fraud And one count of money laundering each Of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison look it’s pretty Clear that insider trading is rampant in Nfts and yes yooka gets all the press Because their brand is just the biggest But there are probably hundreds or Thousands of cases that go undetected Now part of the reason why this behavior Keeps happening is simply because it’s So difficult to prove when insider Information was involved for example Going back to the crypto punks it’s Possible that some of the buyers on Saturday were buying punks for Completely neutral reasons you could Actually make a case that punks are Undervalued right now and they might be One of the safer bets on nfd technology As a whole because it’s really difficult To have a scenario where both nfts Become really important and yet crypto Punks do not so yeah it is possible that Some of these buyers were already Planning on making a purchase and then When the momentum started to pick up on Saturday they jumped in simply because They were afraid of being priced out

These scenarios actually make it harder To find insider trading compared to Stocks right because a single purchase Of a crypto punk has a larger effect on Other traders compared to a single Individual stock purchase right because The punks just simply have a much Smaller supply but the other reason why This kind of thing keeps happening is That even if you could prove that Somebody traded an nft with insider Information it’s not clear that that’s Actually illegal you see the definition Of insider trading is the trading of a Company stock or other securities by Individuals with access to confidential Or non-public information about the Company the key phrase here is company Stock or securities and this is Important because as of right now nfts Are not considered to be securities okay They’re closer to maybe collectibles Like pokemon cards or jordans and if we Go back to that nate chastain case okay Because that’s the closest thing we have To someone getting arrested in nfts for Insider trading the actual allegation Was that he defrauded openc by breaking Their employer agreement not that he Defrauded the actual investors in other Words the ramifications of that case is Not that if you have insider information You can’t trade nfts on that it has more To do with employees breaking

Confidentiality agreements with their Employers so to make things simple if Someone did say have a family member in Yugo labs that told them about this punk Announcement and then they use that Information to buy up all these punks They actually weren’t breaking any laws And frankly maybe that’s how it’s always Going to be because i can imagine a Scenario where nfts are being used by Virtually every kind of business and Your local italian restaurant might for Example use nfts almost like a customer Loyalty card and if you own one of uncle Vinnie’s nfts you can always get a Reservation on a friday night now Imagine that your friend at the new york Times tells you that they’re gonna run a Front page article on uncle vinnie’s Claiming that they have the best Spaghetti bolognese in all of new york Now that kind of information could cause The floor price of the nfts to rise in Value and so based on your friend’s Information you decide to sweep the Floor the day before the article and Then you sell into the pump and live Happily ever after that same type of Thing could be happening all over the Globe on a 24 7 basis if nfts truly Become mainstream and just from a Practical standpoint it seems impossible To trap in fact they’re barely able to Track this stuff when it comes to the

Actual stock market where they estimate That insider trading occurs in one in Five mergers and acquisition events and In 1 in 20 quarterly earnings Announcements and that’s with only 4 000 Public companies whereas in the future We could have 10x or 100x the number of Nfts that would have material Information so i think unfortunately This is the type of thing that can only Really be enforced in the court of Public opinion because even though you Can’t be arrested for it i think we can All agree that it seems unethical right Kind of like cheating in a game of poker And when we see it you know at the very Least a person should be criticized and It should probably be a stain on their Reputation otherwise if we don’t even Have social repercussions then we’re Basically welcoming and encouraging this Kind of activity and in the future we Could see just a bunch of alpha groups Trading in confidential information Maybe even charging others for access And building an entire economy around it There’s just no good answer to this Right digital assets truly are the wild West and it’s impossible to place this Within a legal framework that was Developed in the 1930s when half the Home still didn’t even have electricity In the meantime if you are gonna buy and Sell nfts you should just accept that

This is an unfair advantage that some People are just always going to have you Can call it out when you see it but you Should just assume that it’s happening All the time alright so there you have It guys thanks for watching and i’ll Catch you with the next video

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