NFT Influencer Raises $7M for Token Presale, Faces Lawsuit

On May 12th, an NFT influencer named Ben.eth made an unusual announcement. Due to the success of his previous meme coin $BEN, he was launching another. To get involved in the presale, all cryptocurrency enthusiasts had to do was send money directly to his account.

And send money they did.

Within a few days, users sent $7 million in ETH to that address. It captured the attention of Crypto Twitter influencers, the space at large, and soon everyone was commenting, positively or negatively, on the event.

$PSYOP was born.

This is the story of that token, its meme worthy potential, and how the event has called into question basic cryptocurrency values — and made people wonder if the space had become just another casino, with everyone betting big to become millionaires.

Let’s get started.

PSYOP: Humble Beginnings

The origin of PSYOP actually comes from another meme coin, which Ben.eth (referred to as Ben for the remainder of this article) aptly called the token BEN. After launch, it quickly spiked in value, driven by forces in the larger meme coin market and Ben’s own large Twitter following. But, like most meme coins, it didn’t have staying power, tanking soon after its debut.

But Ben was undeterred. Using Twitter skills and showing off the ability to build hype in an almost reckless way, he Tweeted at Ben Armstrong, better known as Bitboy, to see if he would become involved in the coin. It was a success. Armstrong took over the token, promising to hold his share for at least six months.

PSYOP: The Presale of $7M

The initial presale Tweet for PSYOP came in Ben’s style: The writing was in ALL CAPS and the tone was meant to hype:

Ben asked interested buyers to send between 0.033 and 5 ETH to his personal address. The promise was simple: In exchange for the ETH, cryptocurrency traders would receive a certain amount the PSYOP supply. At no time during the early stages of the project did Ben disclose the token allocation. People sent ETH in blind faith, and with a desire to get in early to what might be the latest token to moon.

At first, it seemed like a joke. Then the number started to rise.

$1 million became $2 million. $2 million became $3 million. And within days, Ben had received $7 million in ETH for his PSYOP token, an amount that some builders in the space can only dream of. It may have even taken the founder by surprise. It seemed the top of meme coin season was here.

Before Launch: PSYOP Marketing

A short definition: The term ‘psyop’ refers to a military operation that aims to influence an enemy’s mind through non-combative means. It often refers to the U.S.’s intent to defraud the public, sometimes including its own citizens. Did Ben choose this term of his token deliberately? It’s impossible to know.

But the term has played a significant role in Ben’s marketing strategy.

Shortly after the initial Tweet, Ben hinted at a celebrity’s involvement in the token. That celebrity was none other than Andrew Tate, the kickboxer turned conservative ideologist. Tate denied his involvement, but the effect was immediate. PSYOP had now entered the mainstream, reaching beyond Crypto Twitter.

And Ben continued to play the role even after Tate’s denial. His Tweets came with a specific ending: $PSYOP. In this case, readers might think it was a double meaning. It was an advertising of the token and an invitation for supporters to believe what they wanted to believe. It created shades of gray, and the hype continued to grow.

PSYOP Launch: Growing Pains

On May 18th, Ben made the announcement that his supporters were waiting for:

Trading for PSYOP was now live. Soon, people who had sent ETH for the presale would receive an allocation of the 550 billion tokens through an airdrop, perhaps rewarding them for the risk they had taken. But quickly, the launch was met with growing pains.

As many traders discovered, the liquidity pool was not set up properly. There was a just a small amount of ETH in the pool, and people were having trouble setting the correct slippage. Large swaps of ETH were receiving small amounts of PSYOP. Traders were raiding Ben’s Twitter posts to voice complaints, and it seemed the already controversial project was becoming embroiled in drama.

To top it off, Ben only released 10% of the PSYOP token amount. He held the other 90% in his personal wallet without any restrictions on the time he could sell. This meant he could pull the rug at any time and that people had not received what they believed was a fair allocation of tokens.

He tried to calm down the crowd by saying there would be a second airdrop. But even as he did, another shoe dropped: a class-action lawsuit that threatened to bankrupt him.

Backlash for PSYOP Grows

Within hours of the presale, influencers in the NFT space took to Twitter to express criticism of the presale mechanics, Ben, and even the behavior of the participants themselves. NateAlex, a prominent member of the community and an OG, wrote:

0xQuit, another influencer who posts threads about technical topics, went a step further, saying they had lost a little faith in the space the day of the presale:

Then, a week later, the criticism took a more serious turn. On May 19th, Mike Kanovitz, a partner at the law firm Loevy & Loevy, which specializes in civil rights, threatened a class-action lawsuit against Ben, demanding that he return all presale money to the participants. The suit would accuse the influencer of wire fraud, which is a predicate act for racketeering.

“There is every reason for a jury to find that you intentionally misled the buyers, having made and reneged on several promises and used a manipulative launch strategy with the way you structured the LP pools and trickled out the tokens,” Kanovitz wrote.

He added, “You are engaging in real fraud, and it is hurting real people. There will be consequences if you don’t make it right.”

But Ben seemed unfazed by the letter. In a Tweet, he said the language in the letter would get the firm in trouble with the bar and that he would countersue for $250 million in damages if the suit were to go forward.

Final Thoughts on PSYOP

The presale and launch of PSYOP came during one of hottest trading periods since the start of the bear market, when meme coins were making people rich. Traders bet big on these tokens, which launched predominantly on the Ethereum and Bitcoin blockchains.

To date, Ben continues to Tweet about PSYOP, posting memes and making promises. Whether he will hold to them is a variable that no one can predict. Rarity Sniper has reached out to him for comment on this article and will update it if he responds.

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