BAPE’s dedicated NFT Discord channel is hardly a day old, and scammers have already used it to bilk several members out of thousands of dollars.
Within hours of BAPE announcing it would launch NFTs and opening its Discord channel, users of the platform received fraudulent direct messages notifying them that they’d been “whitelisted” to mint non-fungible tokens for 0.20 ETH (about $2,800 as of this writing). An attached link took users to a site designed to mirror BAPE’s own, from which they could connect their wallet — and just like that, their crypto was gone.
More than 20 users reported falling for the scam inside the Discord channel, many of whom were seeking to mint an NFT for the first time. Most said they were taken for 0.10 to 0.20 ETH, roughly equivalent to $275 to $550 as of publishing. Moderators for the channel have been slow to ban the numerous accounts that have been sending the fraudulent DMs, and an official announcement from the BAPE team warning of the scam didn’t come until early Tuesday morning.
Welcome to the metaverse — For those new to NFTs, the BAPE scam highlights the risks associated with operating in the unregulated space of cryptocurrency. Whereas making a purchase through, say, PayPal, would come with fraud protection, users may have little recourse for the funds lost from their digital wallets. Losses such as these are also unlikely to be accepted by the IRS as tax deductible, leaving those who fell for the scam to accept that the crypto taken probably won’t be coming back in any form.
In widely publicized examples of cryptocurrency and NFT theft, those who’ve declined to participate have gleefully highlighted the downsides of the virtual economy. When several Bored Ape Yacht Club owners lost their tokens last month, a Twitter user said: “Obsessed with these NFT theft stories. ‘My millions of dollars in ape cartoons got stolen because I clicked on a bad link but I still believe decentralized blockchain is the future.’” One of the victims was able to successfully recover his BAYC NFT, but only after paying $38,000 for something he had previously owned.
BAPE also seems as if it was unprepared to properly moderate its Discord channel, which already boasts nearly 90,000 members. Applications to become a moderator opened yesterday, and while some degree of spam is to be expected, it’s clear BAPE is going to need more people in power quickly in order to better protect its user base.
For all of the trouble that’s come up in the first day of operations, BAPE hasn’t even announced when and how it’ll release its first NFTs. Some would-be minters are already in the negative for their investment, and these cases of fraud should serve as a precautionary lesson for those who want to wade into NFTs.