U.S. Air Force Cyber Analyst Arrested for Alleged Role in NFT Scheme

A magnifying glass amplifies images of NFTs.

An active-duty senior airman in the United States Air Force was arrested this week after being implicated in a scheme hyping the value of NFTs.

Devin Alan Rhoden, who works for the Air Force as a cyber analyst, was arrested earlier this week, according to a report from the newsletter Court Watch, which has partnered with Forbes.

A criminal complaint filed with the Middle District of Florida, which was first spotted by Court Watch, alleges that Rhoden was involved in a “rug pull” scheme. In a rug pull, a digital asset is promoted to attract an investor before the project is abandoned, according to the court filing. Rhoden allegedly promoted UndeadApes NFTs, the name itself riffing on the more famous (or infamous) Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT group.

The main victim, unnamed in the criminal complaint, is an Air Force veteran who joined a Discord channel for the UndeadApes NFT group. It was there and on X (then Twitter), as the complaint alleges, that Rhoden played up the value of blockchain-supported creations under the username “Deviinz.” The average price of the UndeadApes NFTs reportedly rose, especially as the project promoted a collaboration with a larger NFT collective known as Stone Ape Crew. That was until Stone Ape Crew revealed there was no collaboration.

The purported value of UndeadApes NFTs immediately dropped, with the victim calling them “worthless” as the developers lost trust. The last message in the Discord, sent by the seeming ringleader under the username “Denny,” said only, “Yall are dumb as f**k.” That account was then deleted. Victims then tried to uncover who exactly “Denny” and “Deviinz” were, eventually linking the latter to Rhoden.

In April 2022, the filing states that Rhoden collected and withdrew approximately $80,000 from his Coinbase account, to which his driver’s license was linked. Much of the money appears connected to the allegedly fraudulent activity. Further, Rhoden and his wife reportedly purchased a home in Florida for just over $300,000 in May 2022. The court documents note that, during the underwriting process to purchase the home, Rhoden provided bank statements “reflecting the fraud proceeds.”

All this then led a judge to sign a search warrant for the Google profile associated with the Coinbase account. After the April 2022 rug pull regarding UndeadApes, Rhoden’s account allegedly made several incriminating searches, including “does logs show on discord if they delete their account,” “what happens if a utility nfts rugs,” “wire fraud court martial,” and other queries regarding wire fraud and money laundering.

It appears Discord logs do in fact remain even after an account is deleted because the social media app handed over records with the associated account as well. Those showed Rhoden allegedly bragging about the money the NFT group had brought in.

All this led to an interview between Rhoden and two Air Force Office of Special Investigations, during which, the filing states, Rhoden admitted to making to “marketing his services to NFT developers” on Discord using the name “Deviinz.” The Air Force cyber analyst reportedly said he felt his skills could be put to use bringing in money from the cryptocurrency space. However, he denied any knowledge of fraud.

Now, Rhoden appears to be out on a $20,000 bond as of Thursday, according to Court Watch. The newsletter said there are no further court dates for the case scheduled as of yet, but it’ll be interesting to see how one of the first NFT criminal cases could play out.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.

Note: The censored quote was censored by PetaPixel and not the quoted user, Denny.