Banksy NFT Scammer Returns £240,000 to Victim

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An online scammer who duped an art collector into spending over £240,000 for a non-fungible token (NFT) has returned the money, according to the BBC.

The unnamed investor told the news site that he bought the NFT after being alerted to its sale by an anonymous person in his community on Discord on Monday morning.

Their tip-off took him to the website of famous British street artist Banksy, which had just launched a new NFT page. That page included a link to an auction site selling an NFT called “Great Redistribution of the Climate Change Disaster.”

However, unknown to the man, the link he clicked on appears to have been inserted on the site by the scammer.

It took him to an auction site where Banksy’s supposed first-ever NFT was up for sale. The individual is said to have bid 90% more than rival bidders to secure the token — subsequently sending the funds via Ethereum to the scammer.

"It does seem to be some hack of the site. I confirmed the URL on PC and mobile before bidding. I only made the bid because it was hosted on his site,” he told the BBC. "When the bid was accepted I immediately thought it was probably fake.”

However, in a bizarre twist, the fraudster had returned all the money except for a £5000 transaction fee by the same evening.

"The refund was totally unexpected. I think the press coverage of the hack plus the fact that I had found the hacker and followed him on Twitter may have pushed him into a refund,” the victim noted.

"I feel very lucky when a lot of others in a similar situation with less reach would not have had the same outcome.”

It’s still unclear exactly how the scammer managed to hack Banksy’s website to insert the offending link.

A spokesperson for the Bristol-based artist confirmed: "The artist Banksy has not created any NFT artworks.”

NFTs are a unit of data stored on a blockchain that provide proof of digital ownership for items like artworks, which can then be traded online.

However, they’re also fertile ground for cyber-criminals looking for ways to extract money from buyers, according to ESET cybersecurity specialist, Jake Moore.

“It is vital — as with any online transaction — to purchase from a verified location, but unfortunately this advice becomes redundant when legitimate websites are hacked,” he warned.

“Those looking to buy should remain largely sceptical of NFTs while they are in these early stages and always err on the side of caution. Scammers are very good at manipulating people, and the makeup of NFTs themselves is easily abused due to the lack of a physical product or service.”

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