Some NFTs are now worth a small fortune. Enough to turn heads… and inspire thugs! Five people have just been indicted in Paris. They are accused of having stolen NFT Bored Ape Yacht Club, for an estimated value of 2.5 million dollars.
An investigation started by the Internet user ZachXBT
In fact, it’s an Internet user known under the pseudonym ZachXBT who first became interested in the case. In 2021, this stranger looked into “the annoyances of the Bored Ape Yacht Club Limited Edition Ape Ownership Community”.
Recall that the NFT (“Non-Fungible Token” or “Non-Fungible Tokens”) are unique digital works identified on the blockchain. Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) is a particularly popular NFT collection. The NFTs in this collection all represent monkey heads. Some of these works have seen their prices soar since last year. The singer Madonna is known to be a fan of this collection. Other celebrities like EminemNeymar and Paris Hilton were also seduced by these monkeys.
While it’s unclear exactly what ZachBXT discovered, his investigations appear to have been serious enough to attract the attention of the police.
Crypto assets are a risky investment.
5 suspects are in the examination
The Paris public prosecutor’s office indicated that it was the OCLCTIC (Central office for the fight against crime linked to information and communication technologies) that was in charge of the investigation on August 23, 2022. The deputy head of this service, Christophe Durand, told AFP that they had previously followed ZachBXT’s research.
Monday, October 10, seven suspects were taken into custody. They are 5 young people aged between 19 and 24 and living in Paris, Caen, and Tours. The parents of one of the youths were also suspected and later released.
The 5 suspects were indicted Wednesday, October 12. A judicial investigation was opened on Wednesday for fraud in an organized gang, laundering of this offense, and association of criminals.
The “monkey heads” caught on the hook
NFT flights appear to have been stolen via a phishing technique. The criminals invited NFT holders to transform their static works into animated files. The victims were then directed to a fraudulent site where they had to provide their NFT credentials.
Two of the five suspects indicted are accused of building the phishing site and marketing it. The other three defendants appeared to be in charge of advertising and money laundering. Two suspects had already been identified by ZachBXT. The police consider that they have a central role and have asked for their remand in custody.
Among the stolen works are various collections of NFT. But the BAYC collection was particularly lucrative for scammers. Estimates put the total value of stolen assets at 2.5 million dollars. Five victims have already been identified. One of them lost 3 NFTs on her own.