Calvin Becerra, the owner of three iconic Bored Ape non-fungible tokens (NFT), lost all three to scammers on social networking platform Discord in what many consider to be a foolish way to give up $1 million’s worth of digital artwork.
“Guys posing as buyers in Discord were helping me troubleshoot a problem we thought was happening,” Becerra said of his ordeal on Oct 31. “They walked me through language settings in my MetaMask and had me choose an option and took everything,” he complained.
The three apes, part of the Bored Ape Yacht Club collection, have a combined value of nearly $1 million, he said. Becerra bought one of the apes just two weeks ago for 65 ETH or about $300,000 at current market prices. In total, he spent 185 ETH or $854,000 on the three pieces, according to a record of his transactions on OpenSea.
To lose the Bored Ape NFTs, it appears that the motivational speaker didn’t send the scammers his seed phrase or anything like that. He simply allowed the transfer to take place, giving the online criminals complete control over the artwork via a simple chat on Discord.
Some commentators argue that what happened to him cannot be considered hacking at all. Becerra was duped, they say.
Social media platforms aren’t always a snake pit, but often they are teeming with scammers looking to make easy money, even by posing as legitimate admins on official company channels. Becerra fell for this old trick, and crypto Twitter was uncharitable in its criticism of his perceived naivety.
Bored Ape owner pleads: ‘Please, let’s work out a deal’
Becerra gets more comical in his desperate attempt to recover his expensive monkeys. He writes an NFT note to the thieves, pleading: “Please, let’s work out a deal. It’s better than nothing.” The entrepreneur is hoping that threats of the apes being blacklisted as stolen art will change minds.
The thieves ignored his pleas, and instead responded by listing the note for sale. Eventually, Becerra enlisted the help of the NFT community.
If you guys can help me remove your bids from these stolen apes and boycott the sale, it may cause them to have to bring the price down so I can get at least my PFP (profile picture) ape back cheaper. I don’t know what else to do here.
The collector even called the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to report the theft.
“Officer, they stole my apes!” mocked one Twitter user. “If you gave someone your username and password to your bank and they stole funds, do you think the FBI is going to come help?”
Another ridiculed: “Hello Police. Somebody hacked my Internet and stole my monkeys. No, not the monkeys themselves — they’re worthless — but the certificates of ownership that prove that they’re my monkeys. They’re very valuable. The certificates.”
Some help did come in the end. The non-fungible token marketplaces OpenSea, Rarible, and NFT Trader banned the sale of the stolen apes on their platforms. On Nov 3, Bacerra got back one of his apes and thanked “his captors for negotiating his safe return.”
The theft exposes serious security loopholes within the NFT industry — and not everyone was thrilled with the NFT marketplaces’ intervention.
“So these platforms have demonstrated that they are capable, and willing to invalidate and remove tokens from being accessed,” queried @Asmodean_.
“Aren’t NFTs supposed to be a solution to potential meddling? If platforms can meddle with access to the blockchain, what makes them any different?”
Becerra had a final word for lovers and collectors of tokenized digital artwork. “Beware of Discord account names matching moderators names and exact Discord ID numbers” he cautioned. “Do not answer DMs (direct messages) or click on any links. They took over a million dollars in apes and NFTS from me.”