finance

Doop Snogg: how a fake Snoop Dogg fooled an NFT conference


Snoop Dogg has rapped that “It’s kind of hard being Snoop D-O-double-G”.

But apparently not that hard for a Snoop Dogg impersonator who was hired “last minute” by a crypto startup to grab attention at an NFT conference in New York – and ended up fooling just about everyone there.

Thousands of investors and enthusiasts attended NFT.NYC this week to talk about buying and selling non-fungible tokens amid a market wipeout and urgent warnings for traders to stay vigilant against a proliferation of scams.

But that skepticism wasn’t on the mind of the crypto fans who rushed to take pictures with the impostor as he walked around near Times Square.

“I think I just caught @SnoopDogg. Thank you for the selfie,” tweeted one conference-goer.

“Catching up with our old fren @SnoopDogg at #NFTNYC2022. Great to meet ya, buddy!” tweeted another.

Apparently none of them noticed the glued-on moustache, or name-tag that read “Doop Snogg”.

Last year, endorsements from superstars including Snoop Dogg, Paris Hilton and Floyd Mayweather helped fuel a frenzy in non-fungible tokens, which are receipts of ownership stored on the blockchain, an energy-intensive technology that aims to prevent digital duplication. At the peak of the fad, users paid eye-popping sums for avatars of “Bored Apes”, “flying war babies” and even “CryptoDickButts”.

Sweta Malik takes a selfie with a man she thought was Snoop Dogg, but was in fact an impersonator calling himself Doop Snogg
Sweta Malik takes a selfie with a man she thought was Snoop Dogg, but was in fact an impersonator calling himself Doop Snogg. Photograph: Sweta Malik

Many pro-crypto celebs have quietly retreated from view as the NFT market has plummeted by 92% since its peak last September, while investors have suffered multimillion-dollar thefts and constant scams. The largest NFT platform, OpenSea, estimated in January that 80% of the NFTs created through its tools were fraudulent.

But Snoop Dogg has doubled down. This week, the rapper, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, filed for two trademarks to sell “virtual cannabis goods” authenticated by NFTs. Earlier this month, he grabbed headlines after buying NFTs created by an ex-trader at Barclays.

And Broadus’s record label, Death Row Records, just inked a partnership with an NFT company called MoonPay, which counts among its investors Justin Bieber and Gwyneth Paltrow.

The idea to hire the Snoop impersonator was an 11th-hour decision by a small NFT platform called Fair.xyz to try to stand out in a market that was “getting pretty saturated” with similar startups, according to Isaac Kamlish, the company’s 25-year-old co-founder.

Jack Burke, 35, a marketing director for Fair.xyz, told the Guardian their initial idea was to get a Justin Bieber lookalike, but they decided Snoop Dogg would be a better choice because “Snoop is actually heavily involved in the NFT space and so it’s very plausible that he would rock up to NFT.NYC.”

The team didn’t ask Snoop Dogg for permission for the stunt. “To be honest with you, we went into it not knowing what the results would be like,” Burke said.

They registered the impersonator for the conference as “Doop Snogg”. The hired actor, who only gave his name as “CP” to the startup, applied makeup, glued on a fake moustache, and stuffed paper in his shoes to appear taller, the NFT marketers said. One member of the startup posed as a security guard. The co-founder acted as a paparazzo with a flash camera. They also rented a Cadillac Escalade SUV “to make it seem more believable”.

Chaos erupted when Doop emerged with the entourage. “Literally within a minute, you’ve got 50 people near us, 100 people near us, plugging their project, throwing business cards after us. It was intense. We just had to keep moving or else we were just going to get swamped,” Burke said.

“People were chasing down the car and at one stage it got quite philosophical. People were asking, is it the real Snoop? Is it not the real Snoop? People were literally pondering looking at him, like, maybe he’s too short, maybe he’s too tall.”

One of the crowd members who took a selfie with “Snoop Dogg” was Shweta Malik, an engineer and NFT investor from Portland, Oregon. Malik said she “sheepishly asked asked one of the security persons if it was really him”, and the fake guard implied that it was.

“I was excited, my hands were shaking,” she told the Guardian. “I thought that was the highlight of my day.”

Malik only found out about “Doop Snogg” from her friends later on. She has lost money to NFT scams and works in an NFT community to protect other users, she explained.

“So it was kind of ironic that I learned later that this is not real,” she said. “I knew there was always a 50/50 chance.”

Kamlish said the stunt, which cost the startup around $2,000, was an effort to “invoke conversation” about the impostors in the NFT world. “Hopefully it has a quite powerful message: be very careful and always watch your back. I’ve personally lost countless amounts of money in the space from scams and fraud.”

The co-founder claimed they weren’t trying to fool anyone. “We never at any point said it was Snoop. His name badge even said Doop Snogg. It was kind of up to the interpretation of the viewer.”

That doesn’t convince Eric Finch, a professional Snoop Dogg lookalike based in LA who has worked in shoots with the real Snoop Dogg. Finch told the Guardian that the Fair.xyz team tried to hire him, but he refuses any job that asks him to deceive people. (Kamlish said they “may” have reached out to Finch but he could not remember.)

Eric Finch, a professional Snoop Dogg lookalike who declines gigs intended to deceive.
Eric Finch, a professional Snoop Dogg lookalike who declines gigs intended to deceive. Photograph: Eric Finch

“I’m glad I didn’t get that gig, man, because I wasn’t willing to stoop to that level, to pretend all the way,” Finch said. “It’s one thing to be a double at a wedding. But to go out in the streets of New York, I couldn’t do it.

“I don’t want to do anything to hurt [Snoop Dogg’s] brand, embarrass him, and at the same time embarrass myself.”

Finch researches each client he works for, especially if it involves crypto. “If I feel like it’s going to be bad, then I don’t want to take it. There are a lot of people out there – scammers – that will book you and say one thing and then do just the opposite.”

The real rapper appeared to acknowledge the con on Wednesday, retweeting a post about the fakester with only the caption “Doop Snogg”. Representatives for Snoop Dogg did not respond to a request for comment.

Snoop Dogg is “a very cool character, sort of a brand like a Mickey Mouse” who “adds a lot of value and credibility to NFTs” and “makes it feel comfortable and safe for other people to follow him and to do the same thing, said Joost van Dreunen, an entrepreneur and professor at NYU’s Stern business school.

Even Doop Snogg’s appearance was “very emblematic of crypto culture more broadly”, in that it was about social signaling more than economic rationality, Van Dreunen told the Guardian.

“He’s sort of like a clown that cracks us all up and we have a good time, and part of it is that you can say you saw him, you were there, and you have a picture with him. It gives you some kind of clout. It’s accumulating status among virtual peers.”

These signals, whether from a real or fake celebrity, can easily lead investors astray, Van Dreunen said. “Is that how you want to allocate your 401k resources, based on Snoop Dogg’s financial advice? Would you take a Snoop Dogg NFT portfolio over something that’s been studied and curated by actual financial investors?”

True believers would say yes.

“A lot of these people have become very financially fatalistic,” Van Dreunen said. “Part of the crypto mindset is they know it’s chaos and bullshit and also they don’t care.”





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