BOOT Project recap

The following is a short recap on what happened with the Boot project so far from my point of view. You can verify the proof of the transactions that happened on the blockchain and the associated addresses. The contract addresses are still on the website (https://docs.bootleg.market/) which is not under my control.

The whole story

The BootlegNFT project was a project that me and James were brainstorming for a month, to launch and participate to the https://nfthack.ethglobal.co/. I’ve met James few months before in a discord group (called DataDao), which I’ve found on twitter. The group was basically related to brainstorming a DAO idea related to The Graph project. I ended up talking with James about different ideas there, related to the graph protocol, NFTs, DAOs and a lot of other popular things. This was back in early January/December.

After some time I started talking with James again on Discord and he proposed an idea about an interesting NFT project that will create a Bootlegs from an existing NFTs. At the beginning I didn’t know what bootleg term meant in english and I thought that we’re going to do a lottery system and the main prize would be an NFT from the NFTX vault. But after some google meets James described the idea more clearly and I finally figured it out. The idea was for this to be a fun project that will take an original NFT (the image of the original NFT, as this is mostly related to images), and do distortions, glitches and image processing. From this process new NFTs would’ve be created. I didn’t thought that this idea have much value and utility, but I thought it would be a fun way to learn more about NFTs and participate in a hackathon with it (https://nfthack.ethglobal.co/). So I worked on this as on a side project.

We’ve also tried to think how this NFTs would be minted, and we liked the NFTX project a lot. We’ve thought of a way that the Bootlegged NFTs would be minted by a token BOOT, and the utility of the BOOT token would be to mint NFTs. We created a staking contract that would’ve basically take in NFTX and will mint BOOT based on the amount of the NFTX share in the contract pool by the owner. The idea was to mint 100 BOOT per block for 314159 blocks (the digits in the Pi number) and distribute it to the stakers proportionally to their shares (the more NFTX you stake the more BOOT you will be able to mint). James staked 80+ NFTX and paid me 5 NFTX as a compensation for my work until that point. As a true believer in the project I staked those 5 NFTX as well. James took the role as a “owner” of the project and that’s why he compensated the amount for the development work. He also took care to investigate the legal stuff behind copyrighting and everything related to it. The staking contract was released around 21–22.02.2021 and the staking should’ve lasted about 6 weeks. At the beginning James posted a twitter thread about this, but no one staked and no one seemed to be interested in it. This was risky, because the contract was not audited and the users should’ve done their research.

After back and forth with development, we’ve managed to create an initial version of the product and test it locally. It wasn’t planned very well, but James compiled a documentation about the project, what is the idea about the project and also what is the value of the BOOT token (it’s core idea was to be able to mint BootlegNFTs). I helped with the planning process as well, and the initial idea was the minting price to increase linearly with the block time and there to be a max cap. All of this was described here: https://docs.bootleg.market/. We’ve also planned to launch a DAO and put the minting contract and the whole project behind a DAO.

Because James minted most of the funds until we planned to launch the main project (BootlegNFT), we decided that he should create a Uniswap liqudiity pool and provide most of the funds there as well as keep some of them as a developer funds. James pulled out the earned BOOT from the development contract and created a liquidity pool on Uniswap, so that people can buy the token and use it for minting on the original minting contract once ready.

I was unaware of this Uniswap pool until 12 hours later, when people started messaging me and I saw 2 million BOOT tokens in my wallet (the dev funds that James sent me). I’ve checked the liquidity pool and the price of the token was risen 3000%+ from the initial price. I found out that there was an unofficial telegram group shilling the project and that traders picked up the project and started pumping the token heavily. At this point the website was non functional and also the NFT minting contract was not deployed on mainnet. After some time, I was messaged on discord that the NFTX Staking contract was compromised. I’ve checked this and indeed this was the case.

I tried to pull out the NFTX I’ve staked (5) but I got only the BOOT token back and no NFTX tokens. Someone found a way to exploit this, and created a lot of “false” transactions to increase his share in the staking pool and to be the main earner of the BOOT tokens. He was periodically pulling out and selling the token. I thought of a way to mitigate this, I’ve contacted several people from the NFTX community, if there are some NFTX whales that can basically do few “false” transaction to reduce the hacker’s pool allocation in the NFTXStaking contract and afterward burn the earned BOOT tokens, so the hack would’ve been somehow mitigated (by some degree).

However there were no replies with any hope and the other solution was to do an airdrop.

However for this James didn’t consult with me and he sold out his team funds and obtained the ETH to provide liquidity for the new token and an airdrop. After he sold them he told me, and we started working on an airdrop. I wrote a script that parsed the balances of the compromised BOOT token at a given snapshot, and from the addresses I’ve excluded the hacker’s address, the uniswap pool address, James address and the team swap address on which I’ve locked my 2 million BOOT tokens that I’ve previously received from James.

After the script was verified, James created a new token and new liquidity pool, this time with much lower supply (15 million total BOOT), and the airdrop happened. The new token started trading instantly again. The community drama was cleared, and we’ve continued on deploying the NFT minting contract BootlegNFT. We’ve worked hard on getting everything online, fixing application bugs and testing the new contract.

After some time the contract was app and ready to be used.

The next day I’ve continued on fixing some glitches with the frontend, started writing a post mortem for the hack. I’ve also debugged some of the tokens that the users minted, there were some backend problems with the image processing service, but we got them resolved. There was also an issue with the OpenSea metadata parsing, so James wrote them an email to resolve that. After few hours I was shocked to see that James sold his dev funds again and destroyed the token price. I was confused what is going on, and he messaged me that he did something bad and that he made a mistake and someone was draining the liquidity pool. I was trying to calm down the community and to wait for an explanation.

After some time, James come with an explanation to the community.

I was getting harassed, sworn and threatened by the trader community and disappointed by James, as he didn’t do any action by that point and told me his intentions. I’ve closed the telegram group in order for further public information not to spread until we get final, clear statement from him.

After this point I’ve burned the new dev tokens I’ve received from the airdrop, under pressure, stress and threats from the community. I didn’t wanted to be involved into any of this. From what appeared to be a hackathon project, turned into a complete beast that took over my life in a negative direction.

I also saw no other direction, because I don’t have access over the deployed contracts (James owns the deployer address), the website deployment or any other media account of the project and saw this as an abandonment from his side.

James messaged me that he will get public statement on what he did the way he did it. I was shocked to see that he sent me 20 ETH from the dev funds that he sold today. I will see what is the best way to do with them after all this happened. I will either multi send them, burn them, return them back from where they came or think of a more clever solution for what to do with them, as I don’t want to have any involvement with this project. I am not sure why he sent them to me either. Maybe he felt sorry for me, for the time spent on this project and that I believed him so much. But maybe for something else, I hope he will come up with a statement.

The token trading and the trading community

Although the role of the token was to be utility token for the BootlegNFT contract (to be used as a resource to mint Bootlegged NFTs), the trading community viewed something different. The project was shilled a lot on 4chan and unofficial telegram group was created discussing price pumps. It was stated on the website that the token has no value and that it shouldn’t be viewed as a tool to make profit from (https://docs.bootleg.market/terms). Also before anything was officially published the traders and the promoters on twitter, telegram and 4chan promoted the project and possibly lead other people to invest in it. They’ve made their own decisions to buy the token and to participate in unaudited project and contract.

After James sold his development fund a lot of the users started complaining and rightfully so that they’ve lost a lot of money. I think what James did is far from good thing, but theoretically selling the dev funds was and is possibility for every project. The dev funds were not locked. I thought they will be put as a treasury fund once the project stabilises. That’s why I’ve locked my part of the tokens in the first version.

My feeling is that the trading community is overreacting and being angry because they didn’t made any profit out of this. The initial liquidity was not pulled away from the LP on Uniswap and it is still there. Although everyone saw what is going on with this project, they continued trading it on uniswap trying to make profit.

A lot of marketers and promoters reached out to me asking for funds to continue with the project shilling, that now act as a community mediators trying to take actions against James and me.

Conclusion

This is my statement from my point of view, as a letter for my exit from this project. I don’t want to have any associations with this project, James or anyone else from the trading community. I’m having too much stress and feel heavily disordered from this events. I’ve lost much time and other opportunities by working on this project, at the end of the day to be harassed by people who viewed this tool as a way to pump its token and make quick profit. I’ve tried to help to everyone with the airdrop and the actions that I took afterwards. I didn’t wanted anyone to loose any value from this project, and I also had a vision for this project and trusted James a lot. But at the end of the day, the financial decisions you make are your own and you should not blame anyone else for them. I don’t think what James did is right and I sincerely hope he will come up with a statement for his actions.

From my side I’ve published the contracts and the frontend code that I have to the community and also the airdrop script that I’ve created.