The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has warned about individuals disguising themselves as legitimate NFT developers, intending to steal cryptocurrency and NFT assets.
Scammers hack into the developers’ authentic social media accounts or create fake profiles similar to the real ones. After setting up these accounts, they promote “exclusive” NFT launches. Scammers often use forceful marketing tactics to indicate urgency. They add phrases like “limited supply” and advertise the NFT release as a “surprise” or an undisclosed minting event.
“Links provided in these announcements are phishing links directing victims to a spoofed website that appears to be a legitimate extension of a particular NFT project,” said the FBI in an official statement.
Scammers would direct unsuspecting individuals to connect their crypto wallets to fraudulent websites and buy the advertised NFTs. Instead of getting the NFTs, the scammers take the money and any NFTs the victim had in their wallet.
The FBI also pointed out that scammers have made it harder for authorities to track lost assets.
“Contents stolen from victims’ wallets are often processed through a series of cryptocurrency mixers and exchanges to obfuscate the path and final destination of the stolen NFTs,” the agency said.
The FBI’s advisory offers several tips to help users avoid these schemes. First, users must check if the NFT projects offering surprise deals have a history of similar opportunities or have declared their position on such mints.
Furthermore, users should thoroughly check the credibility of social media accounts supporting these offers. Confirm whether they are official accounts and not copycats recently created for this purpose. The FBI stresses that any variations in the spelling, account history, screen name, followers or creation date suggest a fraudulent account.
Users are also advised to verify the domain names of linked websites, ensuring they correspond accurately to the project offering the deal without any spelling errors or discrepancies.
The FBI advised victims to quickly report any cases of suspicious or deceitful NFT-related actions via the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). When submitting a report, victims should include information such as links, social media profiles, crypto accounts or scam-related domains. Adding the keyword “NFTHack” will help categorize reports connected to this scam.
The FBI has previously warned crypto holders about various scamming methods. Five months ago, the agency warned investors of “pig butchering” schemes.
In this type of scam, criminals use fake identities to form romantic relationships, build trust and lure investors into sending them crypto.
These fraudsters operate various channels, from dating apps to messaging platforms like Telegram and WhatsApp. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, one of these schemes pulled in over $10 million from five victims.
“The emotional manipulation, friendly tone, and sheer duration of the pre-exploitation phase allows genuine feelings to develop, and the actor exploits that emotion for financial gain, to the loss of sometimes millions of dollars,” said Sherrod DeGrippo, a company vice president of threat research and detection at Proofpoint.
Investment fraud resulted in the highest reported losses of any scam to the IC3 last year, totaling $3.31 billion, with most of these losses coming from schemes like pig butchering. Pig butchering scams increased by 183 percent year-over-year in 2022, resulting in reported losses of $2.57 billion.
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