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STFIL Protocol in Crisis After Team Detention by Chinese Police

The sudden team detention and subsequent token movement provoked rug-pull fears among investors in Filecoin's staking project.

STFIL Filecoin china police

A recent update shared by the STFIL Protocol on their official X account revealed their technical team is under investigation by local Chinese authorities, having been detained last week. In response, the remaining STFIL team members, presumably not based in China, have hired lawyers to help understand the situation better and to try to assist their detained colleagues.

The STFIL Protocol is notable for being the first Filecoin Liquid Staking protocol introduced on the Filecoin Virtual Machine. It offered $FIL token holders the opportunity to earn stable returns without necessitating a lock-up period and also serves as collateral for storage providers looking to engage in leveraged farming. Before the incident, the protocol was offering an attractive 15% Annual Percentage Rate, according to information available on their website.

The situation took a concerning turn when it was discovered that tokens were transferred to an unknown external address last week, coinciding with the detention of the team members. The address in question currently holds over 2.6 million FIL tokens, with an estimated value of over $23 million.

Before the funds were moved to a new address, the protocol underwent unexpected and unscheduled updates. Specifically, on April 5, 2024, STFIL announced a website upgrade purportedly aimed at enhancing security measures. Following this announcement, the functions of staking and unstaking were temporarily suspended, and the project owner modified the contract to allow withdrawals only to a designated address, from which funds were subsequently withdrawn.

Despite the project’s presence on Filecoin’s official communication platforms, there are growing suspicions that this could be a rug pull by the team, though conclusive evidence has yet to emerge.

Ironically, in the STFIL whitepaper, the protocol is described as trustless, community-owned, and decentralized. This entire situation contrasts starkly with those claims.

Whatever the explanation, the scenario bears a striking resemblance to last year’s incident with the Multichain protocol, which experienced a sudden halt in operations and a significant drainage of funds amidst claims of team members being detained by Chinese authorities. Multichain was also “completely decentralized” until it was revealed that the founder had control of all the nodes.

To this day, all the victims and related parties are trying to understand what happened, whether it was a rug pull or an investigation by Chinese authorities, but no one knows for sure.

Executive disappearance is not an uncommon occurrence in China. Last year, Reuters reported a long list of executives who have abruptly gone missing from public view in recent years. Unfortunately, if somebody gets imprisoned in China, there is very little public information available, and it is quite hard to obtain, especially for Westerners.

However, what can be learned from both cases is to steer clear of projects with teams based in China. Considering recent incidents and the Chinese government’s negative view on crypto, teams based in China might seem reckless or possibly planning a rug pull. So, there is a good chance that you will be either robbed by a Chinese project or by the Chinese government.