“I’ll put my rep on the line to say this is for real” – The Pixel Penguins Scam Explained

“I’ll put my rep on the line to say this is for real” – The Pixel Penguins Scam Explained

The Pixel Penguins project provided a low point for Web3 yesterday. Scams are rife in the NFT space, but this one is hitting headlines for all the wrong reasons.


  • NFT influencers tweeted yesterday to ask for donations to help a project founder fight against cancer
  • The NFT community rallied around her, minted out her project, and donated money to her cause
  • It turned out to be a scam
a hamd holding a phone showing a pixel penguin
Pixel Penguins, the social engineering scam

Is Pixel Penguins a Scam?

Yesterday began with notable NFT influencers posting ETH addresses asking for donations. Viral sensation @3orovik tweeted out a donation address asking for funds to buy a new iPhone. After seeing him raise the money, the $PEPE advocate and BAYC condemner @Pauly0x created an ETH address linked to an ENS named YouGetNothing.eth and also asked for donations. As of this morning, he has received over 600 ETH.

NFT and crypto Twitter both criticized the moves. Many community members asked why should we donate money to wealthy influencers when there are more deserving causes. Seeing this, a scammer picked up on the sentiment and immediately took advantage.

Andrew Wang, another NFT influencer who went viral during Cool Cats mania, posted a Twitter thread about his artist friend Sarah struggling with cancer. Wang explained that she was suffering from lacrimal gland cancer and had lost an eye during her treatments. What’s worse, Wang continued, is that her doctors recommended removing her other eye, but Sarah refused because she didn’t want to stop making art.

He guilt-tripped the Web3 space by asking if the same people who donated money to random influencers would also donate money to support a cancer patient. Wang then posted links to her collection, Pixel Penguins. He wrote that proceeds from the project would go towards Sarah’s treatment. The project quickly minted out afterward as many in the NFT ecosystem viewed the situation as a feel-good story to rally around.

Pixel Penguins founder turned out to be an art thief
Web3 tried to do a nice thing yesterday and got scammed in return

Did the Artist Really Have Cancer?

We can’t say for sure whether the story was true or not. However, after the project was minted out, some people pointed out that “Sarah” stole artwork from other artists. So, this finding immediately called the entire story into question. Sarah then deleted her Twitter account and vanished with 61 ETH.

Apparently, the scammer employed similar techniques for a while. In 2021, the same account replied to NBA player Steph Curry with a comment complaining about being in debt due to a family member’s cancer treatments. Additionally, the account seems to have been social engineering Wang for months.

Wang tweeted yesterday, “I’ll put my rep on the line to say this is for real amidst all the scams in our space. I speak with her art teacher often when she’s gone for treatment and he says she’s the best student he’s ever had, that her talent is too precious, that she must survive. He cares like a father. And I can also say with confidence that she doesn’t want a handout or be a sob story. I remember sending her eth one time for chemo, I thought she’d thank me or whatever but she was upset — she said, if you care so much, why not just collect my art. lesson learned.”

A scammer socially engineered Andrew Wang
Andrew Wang unknowingly shilled a scammer’s NFT project
Image Credit: Andrewwang.me

As we can see, this tweet did not age well! After learning about the stolen art, Wang updated his tweets admitting his mistake. All in all, it was a real downer for the whole space yesterday, however. Just when we thought we had a nice story to feel good about, we were reminded that Web3 is still rife with scams and bad actors.



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This article is educational material.

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