Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are the modern way of collecting timeless artifacts for art connoisseurs. Based on blockchain technology, these offer a way to sell digital assets such as art or historic moments in human history.
It is hardly a surprise that an unsuspecting buyer jumped at the chance to buy the first-ever NFT by pseudonymous artist Banksy, whose art has adorned most of the walls in England. As it turns out, the NFT was a fake and the connoisseur was short 100 Ether coins, according to a BBC report.
Banksy's work has largely been auctioned publicly or sold through an agency called Pest Control. The agency also maintains a website of the artists' work and this was used as the basis for the NFT scam.
A new page appeared on the website linking and showcasing a pixelated artwork titled, Great Redistribution of the Climate Change Disaster. Like most of Banksy's work, this image also was a piece of satire but on NFT's themselves and the amount of energy the blockchain technology consumes.
The connoisseur, who goes by the name of "Pranksy" and did not want to reveal his identity came across the NFT sale on a social media site. After confirming that the link was legit on the Banksy website, he put a large fairly large bid of 100 Ether, a cryptocurrency, valued currently at approximately $355,000.
It was the following turn of events that made Pransky suspicious of the scam. Since his bid was relatively higher than most of the other bidders, the auction was closed abruptly, and the NFT was assigned to him. As the sale of NFTs does not involve the physical movement of goods, Pranksy was never due to receive anything. But his suspicion led him to contact the Banksy website which clarified that no NFT was ever put to sale. How did it appear on the website though, is still a mystery and the Bansky team refused to comment on it, according to the BBC.
The news of the fake NFT did spread widely and many outlets covered it. Pranksy himself followed up with the seller of the NFT and even found out his Twitter handle. This seems to have put some pressure on the hacker(s) who then refunded most of the Ether. Pranksy believes that the lead he got from the social media site about the NFT sale was also part of the elaborate planning the hacker did to reel him in.
Bids placed in cryptocurrencies are irreversible and Pranksy really got lucky that his Ether was returned to him. With no legal recourse available since the transaction occurred in crypto coins, Pranksy would have been poorer a few Ether, if not for the reversal.