Allegations of running pump and dump schemes surface against former head of OpenSea Ventures Allegations of running pump and dump schemes surface against former head of OpenSea Ventures

Allegations of running pump and dump schemes surface against former head of OpenSea Ventures

According to NFT Ethics, Kevin Pawlak, the former head of OpenSea Ventures, is allegedly connected to 2021 $60 million AnubisDAO rug pull under the pseudonym 'Sisyphus.'

Allegations of running pump and dump schemes surface against former head of OpenSea Ventures

Cover art/illustration via CryptoSlate. Image includes combined content which may include AI-generated content.

Grave allegations of involvement in pump and dump schemes are gathering steam against the former head of OpenSea Ventures, Kevin Pawlak.

According to NFT Ethics, a non-fungible token (NFT) related investigative news account on X, Pawlak has masterminded or been involved in “various very dubious business dealings” as well as pump and dump schemes. NFT Ethics claims that Pawlak allegedly perpetrated the fraudulent activities through his pseudonymous identity “@0xSisyphus and “0xMagellan.”

The evidence against Pawlak unearthed last month

NFT Ethics first made the allegations against Pawlak last month. At the time, it concluded after an investigation that Pawlak was the owner of the X account @0xSisyphus. The X-based news channel concluded after comparing the transactions and corresponding time stamps of pawlak.eth and sisyphus.eth addresses. 

Blockchain data indicates that an Ethereum address starting with “0xBB5B” registered domains like kevinpawlak.eth, pavvlak.eth, pawlak.eth, and kevinpawlak.eth on October 4, 2021.

The NFT Ethics investigation revealed that both addresses—pawlak.eth and sisyphus.eth—minted Zorbs tokens within a minute of each other, and sismo.eth DAO tokens within 10 minutes of each other.

With screenshots comparing the activities of the two addresses in question, NFT Ethics wrote:

“…the following timestamps perfectly match up, and given the very limited activity of pawlak.eth, we have now accounted for most of their actions that are perfectly in line with sisyphus.eth.”

NFT Ethics later added that several anonymous sources have confirmed that Pawlak is indeed the individual behind the account Sisyphus. The news channel also claimed that Pawlak had a “dubious role” in the $60 million AnubisDAO rugpull in October 2021 and had a hand in a “Rollbit shill.”

An alternative theory to Anubis Rugpull

In a post 10 days after the initial allegations, NFT Ethics posted a thread alleging that the Anubis incident was a “premeditated rug” by Sisyphus and that the stolen funds were being laundered through PEPE tokens.

According to NFT Ethics, Pawlak, under his pseudonym, allegedly “hyped” the Anubis project on Discord a day before the rugpull, which was recorded by a user.  Pawlak claimed to have invested $420,000 in the project and vowed to invest more the next day. At the time, the funds of the Anubis project rested in the hands of Ethan Cheung, a 19-year-old.

When the project was rugged the next day, Cheung claimed to have received an email from Sisyphus containing a malicious PDF file that compromised his device and wallet. According to NFT Ethics, Cheung’s version of the story has been corroborated by several individuals. Sisyphus, however, released a blog post allegedly “framing” Cheung for the rug pull.

NFT Ethics concluded that Sisyphus likely orchestrated the Anubis rug pull with a co-conspirator and added:

“The role of Pawlak, Zim & Co. in the $60m Anubis rug & other PnD schemes is deserving of far more scrutiny. They have the intellectual/technical ability to orchestrate such “hacks” and we hope for a deep investigation into the origins of all their crypto/FIAT funds/purchases.”

More evidence revealed

In a follow-up post on Oct. 5, NFT Ethics shared screenshots of chat logs from the Anubis team dated 27-29 October 2021. From the chats, NFT Ethics concluded that Sisyphus was the “brain” behind the Anubis project, who was in charge of approving everything from the wording of X posts to all technical and financial decisions.

NFT Ethics added:

“He conveniently falsified his role in his timeline as “Sisyphus to handle public face and helping pull DAO members together”, but he is the one in charge & calling the shots.”

NFT Ethics added further screenshots to allege that Sisyphus masterminded the Anubis rug pull and framed Cheung to take the fall.

In their latest post, which was reposted by blockchain analytics platform Lookonchain, NFT Ethics noted:

“We refrained from posting these earlier, but the amount of silence on this subject is deafening. Because he is well-connected, not many people dare to speak out about this fraudulent network of people.”

Lookonchain has also independently verified that the transaction time stamps on the two addresses, pawlak.eth and sisyphus.eth, sync together. The platform added:

“The #OpenSea executive is one of the largest PnD (Pump and Dump) in the field and is involved in market manipulation and scams. If this were true, that would be terrible.”

The allegations against Pawlak have been confirmed by a journalist at The Block, Tim Copeland, who said he confirmed Sisyphus’ identity via undisclosed sources.

It is worth noting that former OpenSea product manager Nate Chastain was convicted of fraud and money laundering in an insider trading case in May 2023. Chastain was sentenced to three months in prison in August.

CryptoSlate reached out to OpenSea for comment and a spokeperson from OpenSea provided the following statement:

“Kevin is a former employee who left the company in June of 2023. He had a limited scope while at OpenSea- where he worked in a non-management position. We have no awareness of his involvement with the projects in question. Furthermore, we have no connection to, or information about, the projects in question, as they took place before his time at OpenSea.”

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