The remaining team member behind the Pepe memecoin said three former colleagues were responsible for stealing approximately 16 trillion Pepe tokens ($15 million) from the project's multisig before selling the tokens on crypto exchanges and deleting their social accounts.
The last multisig controller left at the project said the tokens were sent to OKX, Binance, Kucoin and Bybit before being sold, and the multisig was reduced from a 5/8 signer count to 2/8, according to an announcement late Friday.
Multisigs are often used by crypto projects to enhance security, requiring signatures from multiple team members to approve transactions.
Pepe shot to the top of the memecoin zeitgeist after its launch in April, surging over 1,500% to reach a peak market cap of $1.5 billion in May. The top 15 Pepe whales were sitting on paper profits worth more than $90 million at one point before the token's value abruptly fell.
The stolen tokens represent around 4% of the token supply, and the multisig has approximately 10 trillion tokens remaining (roughly 2% of the supply). "I can assure you that those tokens as well as this Twitter account are in safe hands," the one remaining signer and spokesperson said.
Onchain analysts Lookonchain picked up on the multisig transfers on Aug. 24.
'Big egos and greed'
The remaining signer said the project was plagued with bad actors from its inception, motivated by "big egos and greed," who had blocked progress on making donations or purchases with the multisig funds.
"The multisig was set up to require 3/4 signers present for approval. Yesterday these 3 ex-team members came back behind my back, logged onto the multisig, stole 16 trillion / 60% of the 26 trillion multisig tokens, and sent them to exchanges to sell," they stated.
"They then removed themselves from the multisig in an attempt to absolve any association to Pepe, deleting all of their social accounts and leaving me behind with nothing but a message stating 'the multi-sig has been updated, you are now in full control,'" the spokesperson added.
The signer apologized for the fear, uncertainty and potential losses community members faced from these actions, adding that the tokens were never meant to be sold but the project was now free of this "baggage."
The spokesperson added that the remaining 10 trillion multisig tokens would be transferred to a new wallet, where they will "safely rest until a use or burn arises."
That could include web domains and usernames the signer wants to acquire for the project. Once these purchases or donations have been made, the signer said they will burn the remaining multisig tokens, leaving it in a more "decentralized and anti-fragile state."
Pepe falls following multisig transfers
Following the multisig transfers on Thursday, the Pepe token dropped around 18% to $0.00000088. It briefly jumped nearly 10% to $0.00000096 after Friday's announcement, before falling back. Pepe is currently trading down 1.5% over the last 24 hours at $0.00000087, according to CoinGecko data.
Pepe's memecoin rivals are faring better, however, with Dogecoin and Shiba Inu up 1.1% and 1.6% over the last 24 hours, respectively.
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