Sacramento Kings’ guard De’Aaron Fox has been picking pockets both on and off the basketball court lately. After announcing his NFT program “SwipaTheFox” in December and launching it in January, it took less than two months for Fox to shut down the program with more than $1.5 million unpaid to its nearly 100,000 investors.
Investors started to notice that something had gone wrong with the program when all communication ceased Wednesday. Later that same day, without so much as an update from Fox or any other major parties involved with the project, the program’s website went offline, the project’s Twitter account was deleted, its Discord was shut down, and Fox disabled replies to his personal Twitter account. All that evidence points to Fox making a quick buck by promising NFTs, tickets to games, signed jerseys, chat rooms with the Kings star, and even a scholarship to a University of Kentucky student (Fox’s alma mater), then copping the money without delivering on any of his promises. However, the Kings’ star claims that is not the case.
“The project launch was ill timed,” Fox said. “I delegated certain aspects to the launch of the NFT in an attempt to partner with professionals. We weren’t happy with the execution & demand on my time and attention during the NBA season. This project is about a brand that will continue to grow, but I have obligations that I must fulfill to the Sacramento Kings and their loyal fanbase. They deserve all of my attention. As I stated previously, I look forward to doing this again the right way and adding value to my NFT holders. I’m excited to learn from the entire NFT community as well. The project will be updated at the conclusion of the NBA season.”
That’s all well and good. If this is truly the case, then yes, people would be upset that their return on investment would be delayed, but hopefully they’d understand Fox’s intentions and be willing to wait until the end of the NBA’s regular season: April 10. However, that still doesn’t explain why everything regarding SwipaTheFox was shut down entirely. Why not tell your investors that this was your plan and that the site was going to come down? Why not keep the Discord up so that investors could at least continue waiting for updates while keeping in touch with one another? Fox wouldn’t have to be insanely active on the platform. All he would have to do is let people know his intentions and stay quiet until the end of the season. Deleting everything just creates panic given what other popular NFT projects have done in the past.
Recently, a verified NFT collection called Doodled Dragons promised to donate all funds from their project to charities helping animals facing extinction. They even tweeted that they’d be donating $30,000 to the World Wildlife Foundation. Sounds pretty noble, right? Well, two minutes after that tweet, they announced that instead of donating the money, they were going to keep the money all for themselves: “Actually. Fuck that. Our charity will instead now be...my bank account. See ya, nerds.” Investors were stunned, but there wasn’t much they could do about it. Since this was an NFT collection, the money invested was not protected under the law in the same way that business investments are. People don’t want to experience a similar outcome with Fox’s project.
Many of Fox’s investors believed the project to be infallible because of Fox’s high-profile status, believing that someone with a $163 million contract wouldn’t dare take money away from people poorer than him.
One of Fox’s investors, known online as HoneyBuzz, was quoted saying, “I know there’s a degree of risk in any NFT project. I try to mitigate that risk as best you can. And I think usually you look for projects with public founders. And so I felt like [Fox’s] was pretty safe.”
Other investors are calling Fox a liar and a thief. Said SwipaTheFox investor Loaded Lion, “I’ve never seen someone act so despicably. To lie about giving away scholarships, diverting all funds, taking funds away from people who are way poorer than him. It’s really low.”
Still, some investors seem to believe Fox’s intentions were good, but his inexperience in the crypto market led to several setbacks. “I really do think that he had good intentions of making it everything he wanted it to be. But then I also think that he was super inexperienced and totally underestimated the amount of work that would go into actually creating a sustainable NFT community,” HoneyBuzz said. “And then, in kind of a privileged way, he just decided to walk away because he could and it wasn’t really going to affect him.”
What Fox did is like if Tesla promised an electric car and allowed people to put deposits down, but when people started investing, Elon Musk just destroys all evidence of Tesla ever existing, but claims that he’s got a plan. Like, don’t you think it’d be a good idea to let the people who gave you money in on the plan so that they don’t start pointing fingers and screaming fraud? “But why would Musk do something like that? He’s a gazillionaire!” Why would Fox steal $1.5 million when his contract has him making over $32 million annually? It doesn’t make sense, but that’s essentially what Fox will have done if he doesn’t restart the project.