Battle of the bots: WTF token launch drains 58 ETH

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Fees.wtf is a simple service that shows Ether (ETH) users their lifetime spend on Ethereum blockchain transactions by measuring gas. You plug your wallet address into their website and they tell me how much gas you spent.

The project released its token, WTF, in an airdrop on Friday at midnight. Essentially, users could claim WTF tokens along with a “Rekt” NFT for 0.01 ETH. The Rekt NFT grants lifetime access to the pro version of fees.wtf.

According to their Discord announcement, the initial launch would offer 100 million WTF and “circulating supply will be the main attraction in tokenomics.” However, it didn’t quite go as planned.

Following a series of frantic trading behavior between bots during the airdrop’s opening hours, one bot ran away with 58 ETH, or $180,000. On Etherscan, 58 ETH was drained from wrapped ETH (WETH) to the WTF liquidity pool.

Social media was quick to react as many airdrop participants lamented the loss of thousands of dollars in ETH. The WTF team intervened two hours after the drop to calm its ranks:

“Immediately at launch there was only a tiny bit of liquidity and there were monkey bots throwing hundreds of ETH into a pool with one or two ETH of liquidity. They also had high slippage and ended up being sandwiched by the other bots who basically drained all of their ETH.

Basically, within five minutes of the token’s launch, mismanagement of the liquidity pool by the WTF developers left the liquidity pool exposed. As liquidity was low, the bots were able to manipulate the price of WTF and then sell it to WETH.

The bots would fight until a winner takes the pot. In effect, the bot robbed users who provided liquidity to the pool, trying to claim their WTF and Rekt NFT tokens. The winner managed to send a “super-fast transaction at 3,000 Gwei”, making a 6x return on their initial investment.

The WTF team sent out another Discord update two hours after the airdrop, stating that “basic contracts are all good, it was a war against Uniswap.” The team added: “We hope no one has been affected by this.” However, as has become common in recent airdrops, many users lost a lot of money.

The price chart of the token since launch is worth a thousand words. The initial spike shows bot activity, quickly followed by a 10x decline in value.

The official WTF Discord group is full of users sharing stories of losing money. Some “tremble” with rage while death threats and legal proceedings multiply.

An Etherscan transaction shows that a user loses 42 ETH, or $135,000, for 0.000044170848308398 WTF, or $0.01.

Related: Telling the biggest DeFi hacking incidents of 2021

As daylight dawns on the project, some Twitter users have branded the project a Ponzi scheme. The reference to the project is misleading. WTF project referrers claim 50% of fees “for wtf to go viral”, while WTF team earns 4% of each transfer. In total, the WTF team claimed nearly half a million in token transfer fees in just over 8 hours.

Twitter user Lefteris Karapetsas did not mince his words:

The WTF Project simply states that the token supply is “deflationary”, and that 40 million WTF tokens will go to their treasury. There are not many details regarding the token distribution. Meows.ETH concluded its Twitter feed with a zen approach to the controversial launch of the project:

“If you were lucky enough to claim a large sum of $WTF and cash it out for a profit, be happy. Unless you’re trying to bot the initial liquidity, don’t hesitate to buy a newly launched altcoin with high slip.