Fighting the Scammers: Announcing shielding— governed by Proton NFT Watch!

Marco Walz
Soon.Market
Published in
5 min readNov 15, 2022

This topic is overdue for a long time!

We encourage you to read the complete article and to share it in your network. We highly believe that education is key and that we can be very successful in fighting scams by helping and educating each other.

Note: “Whitelisting” has been rebranded to “Shielding”

What happened?

Last Friday the Proton team announced a new auction for the Proton DEX Key #2. A scammer created copies of this NFT and was able to fool some community members. I don’t wanna go too much into the details, but it was a very sad moment and we’re now doing or best to ensure that this never happens again!

Mirsad from Alvosec, a Block Producer on Proton that is focused on security, asked me for a comment on this event and included it in their blog article about the most common scams.

Refunding our profit

Of course we do not want to make profit if people in the community were clearly scammed as it was the case here.

We decided to refund our 2% profit (1% maker & 1% taker fee) to both victims and additionally they received a SOON SPOT Silver as compensation. We feel very sorry about this and we are now doing everything that this cannot happen again.

Note: Independent of the new shielding feature which is announced in this article, please always do your own research!

The core issue in the Proton NFT ecosystem!

Any new account on Proton gets some RAM for free. This means, that new accounts on Proton can create collections and mint up to 10 NFTs without any costs!

On the first look, this seems like a great advantage of Proton and we still think that no gas fees and low costs are a big advantage of Proton. This is also one of the reasons we highly believe in the ecosystem.

Unfortunately, this is an absolute heaven for all kind of scammers!

Currently, most marketplaces do not perform any further background check during minting and allow anybody to mint whatever they want — without ANY technical knowledge. Scammers can easily create new accounts and mint whatever they want — this is mindblowing!

We ask every marketplace that currently allows such easy minting on Proton to consider this as a serious problem and to take action on this!

Note: Soon.Market currently does NOT support minting. We’re focusing on secondary market right now and we need to find the best way to address this huge issue.

Dilemma: Restriction vs. Openness

Restriction

One possibility is to be very restrictive as marketplace. In this case a marketplace would allow the trading of NFTs where the creators have undergone a serious background check.

Although there is still not a 100% guarantee that all NFTs are legit, potential buyers can typically feel safe in such environment.

The downside of this approach, in our opinion, is massive and probably underestimated by many people:

  • A huge support team is required to handle the demand. We’re aiming for mass adoption and we are 99,99% sure that we wouldn’t be able to handle such demand at all.
  • Depending on the quality of such process, rug pulls and other kind of scams are still possible. In most cases the verification process is hidden from the public and thus not verifiable. You need to trust the marketplace 100%.
  • In our opinion, this approach is completely against the Ethos of crypto.

Openness

This is what Soon.Market is currently doing. We are observing the AtomicMarket and AtomicAssets contracts with our services and show everything to potential buyers!

While this is cool for unknown artists to get exposure on the one hand, it’s incredibly risky for potential buyers on the other hand.

We knew from the beginning that this will be a problem and cause problems. We were always thinking about a good solution to tackle this problem and closely watched the Proton NFT Watch group on Telegram since its inception.

We still think that Openness is the better approach and that we need to find clever ways to minimize fraud. Also, we highly believe that education is key and that the Proton NFT community can tackle this problem by working together defining a shielded list and blacklist.

Announcing shielding — governed by Proton NFT Watch!

We worked almost the entire past weekend to introduce a Shield for shielded collections.

The shield indicates that a collection has been shielded by Proton NFT Watch, a self-organized initiative that was launched in November 2021 by various community members to detect scams and to prevent other community members from buying fraudulent NFTs.

At the end of September 2022, we received a developer grant by Proton to build a proposed application which supports this effort. This will provide much more transparency and will allow any marketplace to consume the blacklist and shielded list data through a dedicated API.

Shield — indicator for shielded collections

You can easily identify shielded collections if you look at the image of the collection. If the collection is shielded, it will have a shield as overlay.

Shield: Indicator for shielded collections

Hint — “Watch out for scams!”

For any kind of activity where a user could potentially be a victim, we are now displaying the hint “Watch out for scams!” to educate the users and encourage them to do their own research.

This hint will only be displayed, if a collection is NOT shielded!

Hint: “Watch out for scams!”

Fake shield — pretending to be shielded

Assuming that a scammer tries to include a fake shield in the image of their fake collection, the “Watch our for scams” hint would still be displayed!

In this case you can be 100% sure that it’s a scam!

We have already seen a poor attempt into this direction recently. Although you should be able to clearly distinguish the fake shield from the real shield overlay, the “Watch out for scams!” hint would hopefully protect you if not.

Scammer trying to fake the shield icon

How to get shielded?

Currently, the initiators of Proton NFT Watch are discussing the approach with us. Together, we aim to publish a proposal for this process as soon as possible!

We believe that we have already gathered some great ideas and encourage everybody to get involved. We can’t wait to see a thorough discussion about this process in the community.

Initially, only following collections are considered shielded:

Get involved!

Please join our Discord and get involved in the discussions about the rules of Proton NFT Watch — NOW!

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