Ethereum has a problem with gambling.
Since July, products similar to Ponzi schemes, a fraudulent form of investments that promise high returns at low cost, have surpassed the rankings among the decentralized applications (dapps) running on the second largest blockchain in the world, surpassing even the popular CryptoKitties.
But if the user counts and the transaction volumes observed on these applications are high, so is the level of concern about the risks consumers face when using them. Already they are mounting cries of warning from technologists who are not exactly known for their reticence to risk, a group that includes the developers themselves.
Such was the case of Team JUST, the group of anonymous developers behind the infamous FOMO 3D gambling game, which warned last week that what looked like an almost identical copy of his game was consuming one-third of the Computational power of the network, raising over 7 million dollars in ETH over a period of seven days.
The JUST team has recorded public and private recordings with CoinDesk to affirm that the game of impostors is a Chinese mobile app called LastWinner apparently created to "trick" users by displaying a fake, based gambling activity. on the bots.
To elaborate, the JUST team claims that the game essentially uses its own ether, 200,000 to be exact, as a means of feeding thousands of transactions that are performed by computer robots. The goal is to give the appearance of a very popular and legitimate gambling game, so as to induce users to engage with their own ether in the hope of winning big.
One of the main designers of Team JUST, who plays the pseudonym "Justo_Bot," has come to the point of issuing statements in a channel-level Discord post Tuesday, warning users that LastWinner could be run by criminals.
"The scale of this portfolio, the scale of these robots The amount of pure gas you are using I sincerely believe you are probably looking at a criminal syndicate that runs this in China to cheat people on a scale that the ethereum network has never seen before … It's very bad. "
The limits of analysis
But it's not just developers who worry about it.
Users and analysts have raised alarm on several online channels beyond the frenzy of transaction activities caused by the new gambling game, which is said to be LastWinner. First, though, there was the problem of understanding exactly what was going on.
In the days following the launch, the Etherscan comments stated that the activity was evident, with users noticing how the app was outperforming even those designed to imitate. As a user has attested at the moment in what amounts to an eyewitness report, "It is definitely the most popular F3D clone so far, beating the original very easily."
Indeed, the business was quickly identified as an anomaly from data providers.
Amberdata, a blockchain monitoring and analysis company, explained to CoinDesk that as a result of the "clone of the FOMO 3D gaming app" the blockchain ethereum underwent a heavy load.
"Altogether, $ 50.7 million worth (Incoming: $ 29,000,000 and Outgoing: $ 21,750,000 together) were transmitted through this contract," the firm has estimated as of August 16th.
Dr. Also Aleksandra Sokolowska, head of research and analysis of Validity Labs, took over the activity, agreeing that the "highly coordinated and automatic" interactions of the dappe are indicative of computer robots.
However, he concluded in an e-mail address to CoinDesk that the true nature of dapp, whatever its real name, can not be fully ascertained, explaining that:
"Since we do not see the source code, it is very difficult to say what the purpose of the code is: It is possible that someone consciously encourages honest users to play this game by generating artificial traffic with Sibyl accounts in order to withdraw some or all of the funds. "
Friend or foe?
With the skills of the limited analysts, the warnings of the JUST Team have triggered a certain suspicion that refers to the true nature of the original FOMO 3D application.
Because while both games have clear instructions on the rules of the game, the source codes are sponsored for the actual distribution of the game still needs to be fully disclosed and verified.
For users, however, this actually increases the risk.
Scott Bigelow, a blockchain developer for the first Augur, explained in a post on Medium that when it comes to unverified source code, the potential for "malicious intent and bugs" can not be discredited. He also explained how the "unverified contract" of FOMO 3D could only lead to an arrest of the entire game one day, "allowing a single player to claim the jackpot for himself."
What Bigelow is describing here can be typified as a "get out of the scam" where game creators have pulled out an orchestrated attempt to hijack the collected funds. The same vulnerability lies in the alleged LastWinner itself, as it is also partially executed on unverified source code.
And of course, this is not the only potential danger that exists for users who play the game of chance as those described above.
PeckShield, a security company blockchain, reports in an e-mail to CoinDesk that the alleged LastWinner has a common "flight vulnerability" in which small amounts of user funds can be intentionally touched by airdrop awards. According to reports, the developer of ethereum Peter Szilagyi originally reported as a way to "PWN" FOMO 3D, although Team JUST claims to be aware of the early vulnerability.
As such, allegations of fraud brought by the JUST team against the alleged LastWinner have raised interrogation lines that refer to the intentions of the original game.
A Reddit commentator asked:
"If this is a clone and the clone owner has a chance to get out of the scam, does not that imply that the original owner also has a chance to get out of the scam?"  An unstoppable force
However, just because something looks like a scam, it does not mean it is. (After all, Bitcoin has been labeled by the most severe critics as a Ponzi scheme).
Even for the developer of Ethereum Lane Rettig, such determinations of the nature of the activity generated by the alleged LastWinner can not be established. He wrote in e-mail addressed to CoinDesk that without "the contract code" it would be "impossible to say more".
What can be said, at least from Amberdata's CEO Shawn Douglass, is that gambling and their respective clones do not seem to go away early given their appeal to a growing user base on Ethereum.
"If there was a demonstration mechanism that you can enlist a lot of participation and accumulate a large sum of money, I think you'll see more … I do not think the foundation ethereum can control it as a decentralized organization. "
Put a different way, Sokolowska compares ethereum to" a free market "in which" anyone who can make a return on investment will use his opportunity. "
As such, not It is so surprising that despite the growing concerns about user safety in the gambling games on ethereum, there is strong opposition in the community from stopping the whole m.
As one user says about Reddit: "It's fascinating how people want decentralization, as long as it's not working against them … people are playing the game / gambling game and pay high gas prices to do it It is an egalitarian model, and it is successful because people … can not choose what to censor. "
It seems the mantra of the ethereum platform, at least for the moment, when it comes to the user's appetites for games risky are to live and let live because, ultimately, the choice to involve remains in the hands of users.
And this, as with most decentralized platforms, is a risky venture.
Image of the dice through Shutterstock