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The FBI Las Vegas Field Office wants to ensure community standards for buying, selling, and trading NFTs are followed by interested parties. By following common-sense community standards, you can help the NFT community thrive and keep participants free from life-altering financial losses or worse.
NFT theft
Even in down traditional and crypto markets, NFT theft has increasingly become a community targeted by criminals of all stripes. Some NFT collections have become valuable and the darling of high-tech theft. NFT collections such as Bored Ape Yacht Club, Mutant Ape Yacht Club, Cyber Punks, Azuki, and Cool Cats have elevated floor valuations and contain individual NFTs that are highly valuable. It shouldn’t be any surprise these are being targeted by thieves.
How they do it
Typically, it’s social engineering coupled with some technical know-how. Criminal adversaries will find NFTs they’re interested in on social media or on exchanges and target them. Social media platforms are popular for chatting about buying, selling, and trading NFTs, amongst many other NFT topics. Owners of valuable NFTs can be lured into using a social media site rather than the exchanges to complete a transaction by attempting to avoid commissions, higher prices, and/or unbalanced trades (in favor of the legitimate owner). Once a trade agreement has been reached between the legitimate owner and the criminal, the criminal sets up the trade and returns with a link in a direct message. Upon clicking the link the legitimate owner will see exactly what they expect to see. What the legitimate owner is really seeing, however, is a fake (phishing) site styled to look exactly like a legitimate site. It all looks good to the legitimate owner, and he/she links his/her digital wallet to the site and executes the trade. Upon doing so the legitimate owner has granted full access to his/her digital wallet and will quickly notice all his/her NFTs have been stolen. The stolen NFTs are listed on an exchange at a discounted price and quickly sold. The funds from the resulting sale are run through several wallets and/or mixers to “wash” it. Viola, a new victim is born.
How to defend against it
Since NFT theft can take place as a “drive-by” theft or over a period using social engineering tactics, it’s important to adhere to community standards to protect yourself.
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