NFTs... Non-Fungible Token. Huh?
In May of 2014 a Charleston-based digital artist named Kevin McCoy created and sold the first-known NFT for a whopping $1.5 million at a Sotheby's auction. And suddenly the whole world was nuts about NFTs. But what are they and how are they being used to scam?
Full disclosure, I still don't completely get NFTs, and I am probably not 100% accurate in the workings of how they're done. But, NFTs essentially are a high res digital file of a work of art. In McCoy's case (and the intended purpose of NFTs) is there's a single high res digital piece with a single buyer... and that's it. It cannot be reproduced.
NFTs are bought and sold through cryptocurrency. Originally it was to move digital money around. But, these days NFTs are pretty much done and worthless as a commodity... but not as a scam. They're used to capture real currency from you and convert and move it into cryptocurrency.
The scam, as always, is to get your money.
What they do is make you an offer (that's too good to be true), and invite you to upload the digital images to a specific site. But, that site requires a credit card payment for each upload. We're talking around $150 for each upload. And then there's something they call a Gas Fee, which is a and $500 a pop to "convert" the file to an NFT.
Fortunately, I do not have any direct experience with this to carry on in explaining the manner of the scam beyond this. All I can say is DO NOT BUY INTO NFT OFFERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
If it's too good to be true, it is. Don't engage.
Have you ever received an email inquiry like this:
If it's you're first, you may be tricked into believing it's authentic. But, chances are you'll received another one, close to exactly like this one but the name and where they're from has changed. Sometimes they'll be more specific and list artwork they want to buy.
It's not even about getting your artwork. It's about getting your money. What they do is they find a high ticket item on your site, offer to buy it full price plus whatever your shipping cost is. Then they mail a check... or what looks like a check.
When you see the check, though, it will be fore more than the agreed upon amount. Usually by a couple thousand dollars. So, you contact them. They apologize 'ohhh, my accountant sent the wrong amount. How about you send me a cashiers check for the difference and send that along with the artworks?'
You shouldn't even bother going any further with this conversation.
If you deposit the check, the bank will hold it because the funds cannot be verified. And then, boom - you can be hit with your own bank fees for their bounced check.
I used to receive emails like this at least once a week... sometimes three or four times. At first, I would reply and string them along. After while, I would email them simply "I'm reporting you to Gmail for using their platform for nefarious reasons." - because 100% of those I received were coming through Gmail. Now... I just delete.
Engaging with scammers opens the door. Who knows what they do with your information if you do reply. Who they share it with. So, I highly encourage you to just delete the email.