YouTuber and internet personality Logan Paul has found himself with a massive target on his forehead recently. Paul, who’s been on something of a redemption arc these last few years following the “suicide forest” fiasco in December 2017, is back in hot water after crypto investigator Stephen “Coffeezilla” Findeisen published a three-part video series looking into CryptoZoo, a blockchain “game” Paul once heavily promoted. There are just two glaring problems here: The game doesn’t exist yet, and Paul’s most ardent fans and early investors have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process of supporting it.
Logan Paul, the older brother of boxer and media personality Jake Paul, is a YouTuber who began creating content on Vine in the early 2010s before migrating to Google’s video platform once Vine shuttered. He regularly uploads vlog-style videos in which he offers viewers a voyeuristic look into his daily life and the various shenanigans he engages in. While already a controversial figure during his early content creation days, Paul didn’t really draw the internet’s ire until December 2017 when he filmed a video in Japan’s Aokigahara Forest in which he and members of his crew filmed and interacted with a dead body in a manner many considered tasteless and inappropriate. (Aokigahara has a reputation for being a site of frequent suicides.)
This video and the subsequent reaction to it absolutely tanked Paul’s career for much of 2018. However, since then, Paul’s been rehabilitating his image as a media personality and professional wrestler, signing to WWE’s Raw while hosting a YouTube podcast that boasts over four million subscribers. Dude’s doing very well for himself. However, he’s the internet’s main character again following what appears to be his involvement in one of the biggest crypto scams that has been uncovered to date.
In a three-part video series totaling a little over an hour, Stephen “Coffeezilla” Findeisen—a YouTuber who “uncovers scams, fraudsters, and fake gurus that are preying on desperate people with deceptive advertising”—looked into CryptoZoo. What the hell is CryptoZoo? Well, as Paul explains it, it’s a “really fun game that earns you money.” According to the official website, which says the game is currently “undergoing upgrades to the core infrastructure of the ecosystem,” CryptoZoo is an “autonomous ecosystem that allows ZooKeepers to buy, sell, and trade exotic animals and hybrids.” Basically, it’s an NFT game in which players purchase zoo coins, CryptoZoo’s in-game currency, to buy egg NFTs that are hatched to become animals. Once hatched, you then breed those animals together to make hybrids and the rarer the hybrid, the higher the daily yield of zoo coins. Cash those out and boom, you’re pulling in money. In short, it’s structured to work like passive income.
Unfortunately, this “play-to-earn” NFT game filled with hand-made art—as Paul likes to heavily emphasize on his podcast Impaulsive—has never yet been playable, despite letting people sink tons of money into it. Coffeezilla discovered that, since CryptoZoo’s introduction in 2021, Paul stans have spent some $2.5 million on eggs alone, with the coin itself skyrocketing to a market cap of roughly $2 billion. Some folks Coffeezilla talked to shelled out tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars on CryptoZoo because they believed Paul was a “changed man” and he was creating a “safe place” for the everyperson to invest in cryptocurrency. Turns out they were wrong, at least on the second part, because now those people are out thousands of dollars.
Rob, or Helicopter Bob, one of the victims Coffeezilla video-chatted with, said he lost “just under $7,000 with CryptoZoo.” Helicopter Bob explained that the passive income, the project’s core mechanic, “never did [work] from the beginning and wasn’t even written into the contract where it showed you were actually yielding with Zoo.” He went on to say that “there was no way to claim your yield [and] there never was.” Basically, people were putting money into a system that was providing zero returns.
Worse yet, as an unnamed person told Coffeezilla in a separate video call, those who invested in CryptoZoo couldn’t even hatch the eggs they bought. “It’s just a picture,” the person said about the eggs. “There’s nothing I can do with it. It’s basically worth nothing whatsoever.” So, you’ve got diehard Paul fans pining to play a nonfunctioning game and losing money in the process. A game, mind you, that still doesn’t work to this day.
In Coffeezilla’s videos, we hear Paul explain certain issues with CryptoZoo’s development. Specifically, he says a “developer fled to Switzerland” with the source code and held it hostage for $1 million, and this is why the game’s been broken. But this developer, who Coffeezilla spoke to in the course of his investigation, claims that he hadn’t been paid at all for his work on CryptoZoo, despite bringing on a team of 30 engineers and burning $50,000 a week to build the NFT project. Another CryptoZoo developer Coffeezilla spoke with corroborated the claim, saying he also hadn’t been paid at all. Not only were Paul’s fans finding holes in their wallets after investing in CryptoZoo, but it appears that the people working on the project weren’t even being paid adequately or on time.
Kotaku reached out to Findeisen and Paul for comment.
Paul, for his part, has said that the report is “simply not true” and that, “when appropriate, all bad actors will be exposed, explained, & held fully accountable,” promising more details in his January 3 podcast. On December 26, Paul publicly invited Coffeezilla to appear on the Impaulsive podcast to hash everything out, though Coffeezilla responded by saying that he’d already invited Paul onto his show the day before. It remains to be seen whether or not anything will come to fruition from these exchanges.