Beware of Crypto scams- Rug Pulls

With the crypto market on a strong run since October of last year and with many dreamers hoping for 100x or even 1000x returns, we must be extremely cautious of scammers.
In this article, I will explain one of the most common types of scams: Rug Pulls.

The term "rug pull" in the cryptocurrency industry refers to the moment when the founding team abruptly abandons the project and sells or removes all liquidity. The term originates from the phrase "pulling the rug out from under someone," meaning the unexpected withdrawal of support.

In 2021 alone, during the previous bull market, rug pulls were responsible for losses of approximately $2.8 billion, a figure close to historical highs and an 81% increase compared to 2020, according to a report by Chainalysis.

The cryptocurrency market is susceptible to such scams due to the lack of regulations from central authorities. Unlike traditional companies subject to strict government control, the decentralized nature of the crypto space allows for complete control by private entities. This makes it vulnerable to exploitation by these entities.

Types of rug pulls:

Liquidity Theft:

Liquidity theft is the most common type of rug pull. It involves a developer listing an altcoin on a decentralized exchange (DEX) where it can be traded with a top currency like Ethereum (ETH). To enable trading, the developer must create a liquidity pool.
The team generates hype around the new project and attracts investors. As more investors join the project, the coin's price rises, attracting others who believe the project is a viable opportunity. As the coin increases in value, the developer withdraws all ETH from the liquidity pool at some point, leaving investors in the pool with no way to exchange their now-worthless tokens.

Technical Manipulation:

Some developers intentionally design tokens with the aim of deceiving investors. Therefore, they will include specific lines of code to limit the ability of retail investors to sell, thereby controlling both demand and supply. Of course, they are the only ones capable of selling, and when the price has appreciated sufficiently, they will sell all the tokens they hold.


This means that developers or promoters who hold a large percentage of the total coins sell off their entire holdings. As new entities invest in the new cryptocurrency, they exchange their valuable cryptocurrencies such as BTC or ETH for the new cryptocurrency. As a result, when the price increases significantly, developers sell off all their tokens, causing the price of the cryptocurrency to plummet.

How to Protect Your Investments from Potential Rug Pulls?

Lack of a Website:

Not all projects start with a website, but many that intend to exist for a long time do. If the developers of the token you want to invest in don't have a personalized domain for their project, this is a clear warning to stay away. There are also fraudulent projects that have websites claiming to be under construction or launching soon.

Check the White Paper:

This is an excellent way to learn about the plans of the project you want to invest in. Check for the existence of such a document, as well as any discrepancies between the white paper and the website. ALSO, VERIFY IF THE TEAM IS AVAILABLE TO PROVIDE INFORMATION ON PLATFORMS SUCH AS REDDIT OR TELEGRAM. If a developer cannot answer basic questions about their project, this raises major red flags.

Anonymous Developers:

While the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, the developer of Bitcoin, is not known for certain, the fact that a project you want to invest in has anonymous developers should raise concerns. If the developers of a cryptocurrency or DeFi project choose not to associate their names with it and remain in the shadows, they may have reasons for doing so, and it's best to avoid such a project.

Low Liquidity:

Low liquidity of a cryptocurrency means that it is difficult to convert it into fiat currency; therefore, the lower the liquidity, the easier it is for developers to manipulate the price. The best way to check the liquidity of a cryptocurrency is to analyze its trading volume over the past 24 hours. A general rule used by experienced investors is that the trading volume should be more than 10% of the coin's market capitalization.

Locked Liquidity:

To provide trust and enhance the public perception of their legitimacy, developers of serious projects will relinquish control over the liquidity pool by locking it in the blockchain often with a trusted third party. This process is called locked liquidity and prevents developers from trading with tokens from the pool, thereby making it impossible for them to steal or dramatically reduce liquidity. If liquidity is not locked, then nothing prevents developers from withdrawing their funds.

Low Total Locked Value (TLV):

TLV is another reliable measure to verify the legitimacy of a project. This term refers to the total amount invested in a particular project. Serious projects have a TLV of hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars, while newly emerging projects with only tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in TLV should definitely be avoided.

Token Distribution:

Checking the token distribution of a project on Etherscan or Binance Smart Chain explorer will show who holds the largest amount of tokens and how they are distributed. If a single wallet or two hold more than 5% of the total available, there is a risk that the price may be manipulated.
The Project lacks an Audit Report: The most notable projects will have independent audit reports in the fields of security and financial transparency, guaranteeing their authenticity. A project without an audit report is not necessarily fraudulent, but it means that you should research the project in detail before investing in it.

Losing investments through a rug pull is a common phenomenon; therefore, before investing in a project, it is wise to analyze the project, developers, liquidity, and also the developers' activity on social media platforms.
Additionally, you can opt to use online tools that can detect a potential rug pull. One of these tools is Token Sniffer. This site lists all the latest hacks and scam coins. Rug Doctor is another useful tool for detecting rug pulls. The site analyzes the code of crypto projects, attempting to identify the most common rug pull strategies.

Stay safe and good luck!
Mihai Iacob

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