Two of the projects that have recently been uploaded to the Built on Cardano database of projects have raised both our eyebrows and those of our partners at SCATDAO. These two projects are Cardalonia and DigiRack. To conserve length we are going to focus on Cardalonia in this piece and then bring you another piece on DigiRack very, very soon.
Before we jump in we want to note what really drew our attention to both of these projects. It was a person by the name of Denis Lukavackic. He is Co-Founder at DigiRack and an Advisor at Cardalonia. Not being able to recall this name from before and seeing it twice in the course of a week, linked to two projects we found it difficult to verify, piqued our interest and we set out to explore further.
Denis’s Twitter is sparse to say the least, with just one tweet of him with Roger Ver at a Bitcoin Cash meet up in 2018, and his Linkedin is also quite similar. Attempts throughout April to contact him on both platforms, by us and SCATDAO, have not been answered. This person, if real, is linked as a co-founder and advisor to multiple projects across multiple blockchains:
Delving in and discovering all of this we also found that joining Denis in many of his ventures is a person called Piyanut Wonglakhon. She is, consequently, also an advisor to Cardalonia, the CSO at DigiRack, and holds multiple co-founder, marketing, and advisor roles at other projects Denis is involved in. Incidentally, she recently (1 month ago) posted one of the photos of her, Denis, Roger Ver, and the Business Developer for Crypto-Tron, taken at a Bitcoin Cash meet up; the same one that is Denis’s Twitter cover photo from 2018.
As mentioned, Denis was the link between the two projects that birthed this article and the next. So, without further ado, let’s get into Cardalonia.
The intro line of the Cardalonia website is “Cardalonia is a 3D Virtual Reality Experience Owned by Creators where they can Explore The metaverse”. This hits all the points that anyone might want to see and, truth be told, it does sound like an inviting prospect!
It is a gamified medieval world with an in-game token and marketplace for purchasing in-game CNFT items using the game’s native token. If a player owns land they can build what they want on it and use it for whatever they see fit, or even rent it out for others to build on and use. Avatars in the world are split into categories and this project seems to blur the boundaries between an MMORPG and what is typically thought of as the metaverse.
So, what red flags popped up in our research and inclined us to author this piece?
If the below is TLDR for you then our friends at SCATDAO did a DYOR report on Cardalonia using their DYOR Tool and you can find the results of that here. And if that’s too much to handle then you can just know that their results came in at 36.67%; negative.
An idea is great but when all a project offers are a few repeated screenshots of a generic landscape, and a few head and body shots of very similar male avatars then there is little to back up the appeal for funds. Especially when the team’s credentials seem to be thin on the ground.
The team are questionable at best and the social media accounts that are available for them seem to have been created around the same time as Cardalonia. Let’s delve deeper.
The Founder - Alice Sands’ Twitter account was created in 2007, but, on closer inspection, it posted the same tweet twice, in Chinese, in 2007 and then there was no activity between then and the beginning of April 2022, where all the activity is in English. This is often noted as a sign that an account has been bought. Alice is, however, now an active retweeter and sends many tweets herself.
Alice’s Github is also brand new, as of early April, and contains 5 cloned repositories and two with only titles, these are the only two that are related to Cardalonia. From what is available there is no evidence, or mention of, this persona’s development skill.
The CTO - Vasil Air’s Twitter is less misleading as it was created in 2019. But it did only give 1 retweet and then not come back until March this year. He also has a brand new Github, all 7 repositories are forked, coincidentally on the same day as Alice’s were.
The Fullstack Developer - Dustan Water’s Twitter was created this April, and has one piece of activity, a retweet of a tweet from the official Cardalonia account. His Github is also brand new and features 10 forked repositories, the majority done on the same days as the other two members of the team.
All three of these personas joined Github on the same day, April 8th 2022.
Project Managers - Two Project Managers are listed in the second part of the team section. One, Danney Velázquez, seems to be a very real person. However, when SCATDAO reached out to her he received quite a defensive response and was directed to send any questions to the Cardalonia contact address. Not what might be expected from someone who probably wants a project they’re managing to be well received.
The other Project Manager, Hannatu Shallangwa, has a Twitter account, (full of retweets for an NFT project whose website was a dead link at the time of writing) and a telegram profile link. This telegram profile is active in the Cardalonia Discord.
Advisors - We started this post by describing two of the three advisors for this project. The third has a very sparse Linkedin profile that also says that he is an advisor to the 98defianalytics.com project (a dead link at the time of writing and one that doesn’t come up as a result in an internet search).
If these instances were individual and on their own then we may not question them as much. But, when all of these are bundled into one project’s team it doesn’t make very good reading. It is also hard to discern the developer experience that exists amongst this group of individuals.
The social accounts for Cardalonia are all very new, created in 2022 or 2021. In this short time the most popular public accounts for users of a project, Twitter, Instagram, and Medium, seem to have picked up an astounding amount of followers.
Their Twitter, created in April 2022, has over 20,000 followers at the time of publication, their Instagram, despite having only 2 posts, has just under 5,000 followers, and their Medium account, created in February, surpasses that of almost any this author has ever seen with over 4,200 followers!
The supposed popularity of this Medium account may be quite good to contrast with a popular project that is highly active on Medium and has been for some time, occam.fi. In contrast to Cardalonia's social followings Occam.fi's Medium account, Occam_PR, only has 2,300 followers, whilst Occam.fi’s Twitter pushes over 70,000 followers and has been active for just over a year.
It is a well known fact that followers can be bought on both Twitter and Instagram, and a quick search shows that 1000 Medium followers can be bought for $200USD.
Cardalonia’s Discord boasts over 3000 members and, from research done by our partners at SCATDAO, we find that there are lots of generic, potential bot posts in the Discord and, for a Discord of 3000 people, not a lot of activity at all. To add to this, an overwhelming majority of the posts that cannot be classed as generic bot posts are all about purchasing tokens, with some responses encouraging users to buy more tokens. When approached about the legitimacy of their Discord members by SCATDAO they got quite defensive and pointed to their verified status on Twitter as proof of them being legitimate.
Twitter Verified Blue Checkmark
You can apply for the verified blue checkmark on Twitter and the criteria for getting one is much more lax for a company than an individual, making it much easier for a company to obtain. Furthermore, there are numerous guides online that tell you how to make sure you hit all the points, and there are even companies you can pay to get you verified. In short, a verified blue tick on twitter is NOT a good way to reassure yourself of a company’s legitimacy.
Most of the media posts about Cardalonia are on paid platforms or are copies of their press releases, possibly paid for too. This is a common activity by malicious projects trying to attract followers and to prove legitimacy to followers by showing themselves as featured in various media outlets.
Their pitch deck is very basic in design, showing nothing of the product being produced, and is very short on concrete informational content about the product itself.
In a Medium Post Cardalonia say that they have completed a pre-seed funding round (in this post they also make the claim of being the “First Metaverse game” on Cardano) where they raised $420,000 (assumed USD) from “more than 8 investors”.
The two companies cited in this post, Hedgespur and Kitkat Metaventures do not seem to be overwhelmingly active or well known in the space. Hedgespur is a legitimate company registered in the UK, however the founder, Edison Johnston, is hard to find any information on, and it is hard to see what, if anything, they’ve invested in before. It is even harder to find anything on Kitkat Metaventures’ activities and the people involved.
This is the first of two pieces diving into projects in the Cardano ecosystem that Denis Lukavackic and his close relation Piyanut Wonglakhon are involved in. Looking at all the information on display here we are personally discouraged by this project and what they offer. But we want to offer Cardalonia the opportunity to come forward and to discuss this with us in the public sphere on a live voice chat, preferably video too. Will you Cardalonia?
Stay tuned for our next piece on DigiRack and, in the meantime, we remind you to never trust, always verify, always DYOR, and, as always, stay safe out there Cardano 🦆