An unsanctioned Squid Game cryptocurrency that played off the hit Netflix series made big losers out of people who bought in only to see the value plummet.

The digital asset launched on 21 October using imagery from the hit series without the permission of Netflix.

The streaming television powerhouse has touted the South Korean series as the most-watched program in its history.

The value of the cryptocurrency called SQUID quickly climbed from pennies at launch to $2,856 (€2,465) yesterday, according to specialty site CoinMarketCap.

But it plunged even faster and was worth less than a penny after its creators evidently converted an estimated $2.5 million to $3.5 million into other currencies.

The massive withdrawal caused SQUID to become virtually worthless, bearing the signs of a scam nicknamed the "rug pull" in reference to a carpet being yanked from under investors' feet.

"There is growing evidence that this project has rugged," CoinMarketCap said in a message at its website's SQUID page.

"This project, while clearly inspired by the Netflix show of the same name, is NOT affiliated with the official IP."

Those who bought SQUID said in online posts that they could not sell or convert the digital assets to other forms of currency, according to posts on social media.

Criminal prosecutions in such cases are unheard of given the difficulty in identifying and finding those behind them, as well as the lack of binding regulation in many countries.

The SQUID website along with social network accounts associated with the project have been shut.