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This Week in the Metaverse: Barça’s web3 play & Roblox honors Parkland shooting victim

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By Webb Wright | Junior Reporter

August 4, 2022 | 7 min read

Things are moving fast in the metaverse – and in the wider world of web3 as a whole. Depending on who you ask, this futuristic, blockchain-based space is either the next big thing for marketing (and for almost everything else) or an overhyped fad. Here’s what you need to know from this past week...

11 charged by SEC in $300m ‘crypto pyramid and Ponzi scheme’

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The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged 11 people for promoting an international “fraudulent crypto pyramid and Ponzi scheme,“ per a statement released by the agency on Monday. The agency says that the scheme, called Forsage, “raised more than $300m from millions of retail investors worldwide, including in the United States”. Among the individuals who have been charged are Forsage’s four founders, whom the SEC says were last known to be living in Russia, the Republic of Georgia and Indonesia. Three US-based Forsage promoters “and several members of the so-called Crypto Crusaders, the largest promotional group for the scheme that operated in the United States from at least five different states,” have also been charged.

Forsage.io was reportedly launched in January 2020 as a platform that enabled retail investors to enter into transactions using smart contracts. The SEC says “Forsage has allegedly operated as a pyramid scheme for more than two years,” allowing investors to reap profits through the recruitment of others. Forsage also deployed “a typical Ponzi scheme structure” to pay early investors using assets from new investors, the SEC claims.

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The avatar of Joaquin Oliver poses in front of a virtual portrait of Oliver. (Credit: Rock Paper Scissors, Inc.)

The news arrives on the heels of an investigation launched by the SEC into popular crypto exchange company Coinbase, aimed at determining whether or not the company has been illegally allowing US customers to trade unregistered securities in the form of digital assets.

Ethereum’s founder rains on Meta’s parade

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Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin believes that Meta, for all its efforts to develop the metaverse, will miss the mark. ”We don’t really know the definition of ’the metaverse’ yet, it’s far too early to know what people actually want,” the 28-year-old entrepreneur – whom Time magazine dubbed “the prince of crypto” – wrote in a tweet on July 30. “So anything Facebook creates now will misfire.” Also on July 30, Buterin further clarified his views on corporate efforts in the metaverse by tweeting: “The ‘metaverse’ is going to happen, but I don't think any of the existing corporate attempts to intentionally create the metaverse are going anywhere.”

Virtual Guacathon party celebrates the life of Joaquin ‘Guac’ Oliver

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’Guacathon’ – an annual birthday celebration for Joaquin ’Guac’ Oliver, who was killed in the 2018 Parkland, Florida shooting – is throwing a party in the metaverse.

Beginning in 2020, Guacathon was organized by Change the Ref, an organization founded by Oliver’s parents that aims “to raise awareness about mass shootings through strategic interventions that will reduce the influence of the NRA on the Federal level,” according to its website.

Hosted on Roblox, this year’s virtual Guacathon party will feature a performance from rapper Denzel Curry and a portrait of Oliver designed by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, who was also behind the iconic Obey brand artwork and the Obama ’Hope’ poster. A virtual avatar of Oliver will also be in attendance. “We’re not having a moment of silence… We’re having a party,” Oliver’s mother, Patricia, said in a statement. “I’m grateful for the metaverse, for having a place where my son can help people connect and share his life. I want his peers to enjoy a party in his honor and make friends with his metaverse self.“

The Roblox event – which was developed in partnership with metaverse design studio Melon – has been designed to be “a virtual urban festival, packed with people listening to music, interacting with art, and shooting hoops,” according to a press release. It takes place today – Oliver’s 22nd birthday – accompanying an exclusive, in-person celebration in New York City.

FC Barcelona kicks off its web3 presence

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Socios.com – which describes itself as a “blockchain-powered fan engagement and rewards platform” – has announced a new partnership with FC Barcelona. Widely regarded as one of the world’s most popular football clubs, the goal is to establish the club’s presence in the web3 space. As the club’s “strategic technology partner,” Socios.com will be responsible for “accelerating the club’s blockchain, NFT, and web3 strategies,” according to a press release. Chiliz, the company that owns Socios.com, has also invested $100m and received a 24.5% stake in Barça Studios – the Club’s digital content production and distribution arm – as part of the new deal.

Hackers steal millions in crypto assets from Solana

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The Solana blockchain ecosystem was hacked on Wednesday, resulting in the breach of thousands of users’ wallets and in the theft of millions of dollars worth of crypto.

The hack occurred just a day after hackers broke into the Nomad token bridge, making away with close to $200m in crypto assets. As of Wednesday afternoon, the attack was still ongoing. It is not yet clear how much in total has been stolen, though estimates are as high as $8m according to The Verge. Solana tweeted on Wednesday that engineers were collaborating with audit and security experts “to investigate the root cause of an incident that resulted in approximately 8,000 wallets being drained”.

News of the Solana hack arrives less than a week after the company announced that it had opened the doors to a brick-and-mortar store, called Solana Spaces, in Manhattan.

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