Phishers reportedly hacked into the Twitter account of digital artist Mike Winkelmann, who goes by the artist name Beeple and who skyrocketed to fame after selling a non-fungible token (NFT) for $69 million in March 2021. Users who fell for the scammers’ ploy collectively lost over $400,000.
On Sunday, May 22, the scammers tweeted out an “official minting link” to a raffle for an upcoming “spring/summer collection 2021” collaboration with Louis Vuitton. (Last summer, Beeple collaborated with the luxury fashion house on the release of a phone game called “Louis: The Game,” which celebrated Vuitton’s 200th birthday and featured 30 collectible NFTs of which Beeple designed ten — so the raffle wasn’t completely implausible.) The tweet promised a “free mint” of “200 unique pieces.” Beeple’s Twitter bio was also edited to promote the fraudulent raffle.
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One link emptied users’ crypto wallets once clicked, stealing $365,000 worth of crypto assets including cryptocurrencies and NFTs. Another link prompted users to send Ether to an externally owned account, netting the scammers another $73,000. When Beeple woke up Sunday morning, he reclaimed control of his account.
“Stay safe out there, anything too good to be true IS A FUCKING SCAM,” Beeple tweeted, before clarifying that he would never announce a surprise mint that was mentioned “one time in one place starting at 6am Sunday morning.” He capped his tweet with a facepalm emoji. On the thread, some users suggested Beeple pay back users who lost funds to the scam using his own money.
As cryptocurrency adoption rises, scams are proliferating. Beeple’s popularity was co-opted last November in a separate hack, when his Discord was taken over and approximately $76,000 was stolen from unsuspecting users. According to research conducted by Atlas VPN, $1.3 billion worth of crypto has been stolen just in the first four months of 2022.