NFT drama: the man who had his avatar stolen

Being deprived of your precious NFT is a common tragedy in the land of crypto enthusiasts. For some, like Bob *, theft is hard to digest.

For two days, Bob * could barely sleep one night. How could he, a cybersecurity expert, have been caught by such a scam? One Sunday morning in April, still foggy from sleep, he received an invitation to attend one lottery. The proposal is attractive, it could allow him to be a part of one white list. This term used in the crypto world means having preview access to a collection of NFTs, these certified digital works on the blockchain. He accepts the invitation and must enter the code for his cryptocurrency wallet (wallet). “Usually, when I receive this type of suggestion, I use one as a precaution wallet available where my NFTs and cryptocurrencies are not registered, “he points out. But not this time.

48 hours later, his NFTs were already for sale

In case of inattention, he enters the number on his wallet and validates two transactions, thinking that they are necessary to access the lottery. It did not take much for the hackers behind this alleged lottery to seize two of Bob’s NFTs. The very first ones he bought: CryptoMories. A collection of 10,000 small figures whose designs have been randomly generated, like so many others in the NFT universe. These have faces in the form of skulls drawn with a naive line and are adorned with various accessories (sunglasses, hats, Indian headgear, crown, etc.).

When he realized his loss, 48 ​​hours later, his NFTs were already up for sale on OpenSea, the main online marketplace where non-fungible tokens.

Bob is far from the only one who has fallen victim to such a scam. NFT thefts have been common for a few months. Last February, the OpenSea platform fell victim to a massive phishing campaign that led to the theft of 257 NFTs worth $ 1.7 million in a single night. And this is just one example among many others. On Twitter, many owners like Bob share their dismay and despair after the theft of their avatar.

“I became attached to it little by little”

“It simply came to our notice then. I also felt guilty about being fooled, ”says this thirty-year-old cryptocurrency lover since 2017 and well aware of the many scams in the industry. But above all, Bob had become attached to these NFTs, and to one of them in particular. He had posted it as a profile picture on Twitter, Discord and OpenSea. “It had become my digital identity. “That little character is wearing a suit,” like me, who often wears it because of my job, “he says. There is also a little seeker placed in front of his eye, similar to Vegeta, the hero of the animated Dragon Ball Z, which Bob loves.

“I liked it right away,” he said. I like the distance between the viewfinder and the costume. I had chosen it in the beginning without thinking that it was going to be my profile picture. But I became attached to it little by little. This flight touched me more than I could have imagined. »

A super positive bubble

Before this little character, his profile picture was not something particularly personal, it was just an Ethereum logo. This CryptoMorie also symbolized for Bob that he had entered this new world, the “NFT adventure”. When he posts it on Twitter, his account gets a few hundred followers very quickly and he starts interacting with other members of the community. “I discovered a hyperpositive bubble, something I had never seen on social networks. CryptoMories form a community that is very focused on psychological support, mental health and very positive values. It is very refreshing. The purchase of a Morie also gives access to free sessions with a shrink for people living in the U.S. On its website, FaMorie (the Morie family) defines itself as the friendliest and most welcoming community in the NFT universe.

Owning a Morie is also a sign of social distinction. When Bob buys it in October 2021, the price of these NFTs is still reasonable. He acquires his avatar for 0.2 ETH – about 850 euros at the time of purchase. But the price is skyrocketing, Mories is selling for a minimum of 2.2 ETH in January 2022, ie 6,000 euros at this point (before falling again in recent months). We certainly do not play on the same track as the Bored Apes – these monkeys, which sell millions of dollars, and some of them are owned by stars. But it remains “super stylish” to show his Morie, Bob says.

Support messages and scammers

There is therefore no question for him to let his digital identity slip away. He undertakes to find the little character who made him someone on the net, a member of a community. The advantage of the blockchain, on which NFT purchases and resales are registered, is that it is transparent. The 30-year-old quickly realized that his NFT, after being resold by hackers, was for sale again. He is trying to negotiate with the dealer. He will not hear anything. “I was ready to buy it back for the amount I had spent in October 2021, but he sold it on to 0.6 ETH and did not want to lower the price. He was very aggressive.”

Bob offers to swap Morie for another similar one, but nothing works. It warns OpenSea, which is merely displaying a banner on its NFT that mentions suspicious activity. The collector is also trying to find help from Twitter’s crypto community. He receives many messages of support, but is also picked up by all kinds of hucksters who are ready to “rip the ripped off”. “4 or 5 guys told me that they had experienced similar stories and that they could help me for money. I quickly discovered that they were probably scammers. “

“He’s home again now”

Bob still can’t bring himself to remove his profile picture, even though he now has other “super cool” NFTs. He’s not that attached to it. “But after a few weeks, I started with difficulty deciding to tell myself I would never see him again.” As he is about to give up, a close friend warns him that his NFT is for sale on NFTX, another NFT platform for buying and reselling. Bob does not hesitate: his resale price is 0.25 ETH (about 600 euros), almost equal to what he paid in October 2021.

That’s the price he’s willing to pay to regain his visual identity. “He’s back with me now,” he concludes with relief. It’s left to remove the “suspicious activity” banner from his NFT on OpenSea, not to resell it because Bob promises to keep it as a profile picture, but “to put this story behind him”.

The accident did not deter the cyber expert from the NFT universe. “It just pushes me to be even more vigilant. For him, non-fungible tokens still have a bright future ahead of them despite the market downturn in recent weeks.

* the name has been changed

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