Five Frenchmen arrested and indicted for NFT theft

The Paris Prosecutor’s Office announced on October 12, 2022 that five individuals of French nationality have been indicted. They are alleged to have set up a well-prepared method to recover fraudulently non-volatile tokens (NFT) estimated at several million dollars. Among the stolen NFTs, we find the famous monkey heads from the Bored Ape Yacht Club collection.

The Paris prosecutor’s office relies on a user’s investigations

Considered one from the most developing technologies of 2022 by Gartner, some NFTs are now worth a small fortune. What makes you want to enter this market that is worth more than 40 billion dollars in 2021. However, instead of going through the legal route to get them, by buying or passing a video game for example, some people decided to steal them directly from their owner.

In late 2021, a netizen known as ZachXBT noticed that some owners of these immutable tokens were upset that they had lost or could no longer find their certificate of ownership. If nothing more has been revealed about the nature of his research, his investigations have particularly interested the Paris prosecutor’s office.

As of August 23, 2022, the Central Office for the Fight against Crime Related to Information and Communication Technologies (OCLCTIC) was entrusted with an investigation at the request of the Paris public prosecutor’s office. They were able to shed light on the nature of these annoyances: some owners of these Bored Ape NFTs simply had their certificate of ownership stolen.

Phishing: the method used by criminals to steal these NFTs

To achieve their goals, the five friends between the ages of 19 and 24 have developed a whole technique to steal these NFTs. Using a fake page they had coded, the youngsters invited token holders to turn their static works into animated files. A godsend for owners who see this as an opportunity to add more value to their NFT Bored Monkey.

Unfortunately for them, they are the victims phishing, a technique which consists of luring an Internet user to a fake, trustworthy page so that he gives all his identifiers and passwords. Thus, cybercriminals can recover as much information as possible and deceive their victims. By going to the fake page, the owners give their NFT identifiers thinking they will recover their property a few hours later, but it won’t be. Youngsters gather all the information, connect to the right page and in a few clicks become NFT owners.

On October 10, 2022, the game ends for the five young men who are all arrested and held in custody. According to world, the parents of one of them will also be suspected before being released a few hours later. The five suspects were charged on October 12 and a judicial investigation was opened for money laundering, criminal association, organized fraud, etc.

In total, the stolen NFTs are worth nearly $2.5 million. Five victims have been identified, but the others are still unknown to the police. One of them would have lost three NFTs in one fell swoop. At the moment, there is no information that these thefts are related hacking from the Bored Ape collection last April.

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