Dive into the captivating, yet risky, world of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and arm yourself against the potential dangers that lurk within. This article seeks to shine a light on the labyrinth of NFT Scams, a rising menace in the digital space. Delving into the unique, irreplaceable nature of NFTs and their various uses, offers you an understanding of why they’ve become a multibillion-dollar industry overnight.
We will dissect common types of scams, identify red flags, and equip you with steps to safeguard your investments. Should the unfortunate occur, we’ll also guide you on recovery methods. So let’s navigate this exciting realm together.
Fungibility is one of the core attributes of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Fungibility means that one bitcoin is identical in value and scope to another. Therefore, every bitcoin is fully replaceable with every other bitcoin in existence.
NFTs are non-fungible tokens. NFTs are each one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable by any other blockchain asset. That said, NFTs carry value as well. And NFT owners can express this value in any blockchain asset of their choice or even fiat currency.
Non-fungibility makes NFTs unfit for use as currency. At the same time, it lends them plenty of theoretical and practical utility.
- They can represent digital and physical items, like music, art, collectibles, real estate, etc.
- NFT enthusiasts can sell them easily on digital marketplaces for cryptocurrencies.
- They can authenticate and prove ownership.
- They can play a role in cross-platform integration and interoperability.
- They can carry smart contracts that enforce royalties and residual income for their creators.
Many blockchain-versed people jumped on NFTs as they represented another embodiment of the blockchain craze. The reasons why NFTs took off and developed into a multi-billion dollar industry overnight were many and diverse.
- Celebrity influencers invested in NFTs, spreading the word through social media channels.
- Many high-profile sales initially occurred, touting million-dollar payouts for worthless jpeg images. Blockchain and crypto-focused media picked up these stories, hyping them up and turning them into global headlines that were impossible to ignore. One of the first such sales was Beeple’s “Everydays: the First 5000 Days,” which commanded a $69 million windfall for its creator.
- The digital collectibles market exploded, galvanizing pent-up interest from many collectible enthusiasts.
- The fear of missing out (FOMO) has a considerable role in powering NFT investments.
- NFTs gave artists a new way to monetize their creations.
Criminals love to use NFTs for speculation, however, and crypto scams. As an emerging crypto asset class, NFTs present many opportunities for scammers to trick those who don’t understand how these assets work. The hype surrounding NFTs and the skyrocketing prices of some of these unique tokens have triggered a greed-fuelled rush that has many investors throwing caution out the door.
Types of NFT Scams
Here’s how some of the more widespread NFT scams work:
- Fake NFTs are popular among scammers. They mimic prestigious art collections and mislead buyers into thinking they’re getting NFTs tied to fine art or hyped collections.
- Pump and dump schemes have always plagued the crypto industry. And shady actors have found ways to adapt them to the NFT scene. Criminals team up to artificially create hype around NTF collections and inflate their prices. Then, they dump their holdings on the victims and laugh their way to the bank.
- Phishing has been a preferred method for crypto criminals to steal digital assets since the dawn of the industry. They send emails peddling various hyped NFT deals, using fake websites and sales to get their victims to reveal their private keys and grant them access to their digital assets.
- Front-running is an illegal practice that scammers have used successfully in the NFT industry. When they see a pending trade, they run a trade that mimics it, using higher gas fees. This way, they can jump the queue and head off the initial transactions.
- Scammers may also manipulate metadata. An NFT’s metadata defines the image, the links it uses, and its description. By manipulating this data, scammers can mislead victims about the NFTs they buy.
- Unauthorized NFT sales allow scammers to sell victims NFTs they do not own.
- Fake NFT markets places get victims to spend real crypto funds on NFTs that do not exist, are fake, or misrepresent themselves.
Red Flags to Watch Out For
Every scam carries red flags. And those versed in how scammers operate find it easy to spot these red flags and avoid becoming victims.
Here are some red flags that will help you spot NFT scammers.
- If something looks too good to be true, it’s a scam. Consider unrealistically generous promises to be a red flag.
- If an NFT does not have a clear use case or does not provide value in any way, it is likely a scam.
- The project documentation may not exist, or it may be scant. A scam has no use for elaborate paperwork, and scammers don’t take the time to create documentation.
- No transparency. NFT scammers aren’t keen on putting their faces on their “projects.”
- Urgency and pressure. Scammers don’t want their victims to ponder their decisions. They need them to let greed push them into an investment right away.
- Scam NFT projects lack a solid community backing them. Legitimate projects have vibrant, engaged, often fanatical communities behind them.
- Poor security is also a potential NFT scam red flag. Marketplaces that don’t care about verifying their clients are shady and will allow or commit underhanded moves.
- Intellectual property rights infringements. Criminals don’t care about laws or your rights. They won’t think twice about using unlicensed intellectual property in their NFTs.
Steps to Protect Yourself
To protect yourself from NFT scams, you must first educate yourself about these digital assets. Find out how they work, what lends them value, and how you can optimally trade them.
Here’s what you can also do:
- Use only reputable platforms and NFT marketplaces.
- Secure your digital wallet and never give out your seed phrase to anyone under any circumstances.
- Be wary of phishing attempts. Never throw caution out the door in favor of greed.
- Verify the authenticity of the NFTs you buy and confirm the information.
- Stay away from “get rich quick” schemes. They only ever make their perpetrators rich.
- Pay attention to poor communication, lack of transparency, and adverse community reactions to NFT projects.
- Seek specialized advice from a person or organization whose expertise extends to cryptocurrencies and NFTs.
How to Recover Lost Funds
If you lose your funds to an NFT scam, you should gather all the details and documents linked to your interaction with the scammers. Report the crime to the appropriate authorities. “Appropriate” authorities, in this case, may be financial regulators, cyber crime departments, and local law enforcement.
Notify your wallet provider, the NFT platform, and other parties involved in any shape or form. Put out a warning to the community, so others can avoid stuffing the wallets of the thieves who stole from you.
Seek legal help. CNC Intelligence Inc. is an intelligence agency that can put you in contact with legal experts, provide advice, and offer you options for tracing and recovering stolen assets.
CNC Intelligence can also perform investigative work that allows you to identify the thieves and work with law enforcement to recover your funds. Do not allow scammers to get away with your assets. Take action and pursue recovery.
NFTs are among the riskiest crypto asset classes. Only transact them if you know what you’re doing. When dealing with NFTs, adopt an attitude of extreme caution. Do not let your sense of greed override your ability to recognize the red flags for what they are.
If you lose your assets to an NFT scam, take action! If you contact an intelligence agency like CNC Intelligence Inc., you will get free advice on how to recover your losses. We can trace most cryptocurrencies and assist law enforcement to identify those behind fraudulent transactions.
Share this piece with your acquaintances to warn them of the dangers of NFT scams and help them steer clear of them.
We offer complimentary consultations to determine if our Asset Tracing, Recovery Assistance, and Intelligence Services are suitable for your case.