Even though it may not be the biggest NFT scam, it is an extremely creative one.
Although most of us understand that non-fungible tokens are incredibly scamy, it’s not every day that you see full-on art capers in the world of digital NFTs. One anonymous investor purchased a fake NFT from Banksy’s website on Tuesday, spending $340,000 on it before learning it was a fake.
Tuesday morning, the fake digital art popped up on Banksy’s official web site under the now-removed URL “banksy.co.uk/nft.html.” Rather than a full page, it featured only a JPEG of what appeared to be Banksy’s take on the $1 billion CryptoPunk’s huge hype wave, with a usual social commentary from the artist, this time on the horrible carbon footprint that NFT artwork leaves behind. As you might have guessed, the title is “Great Redistribution of the Climate Change Disaster.”
Earlier today, an artist using the name “gaakmann” put up an image of the Disaster on the Opensea NFT marketplace — a pseudonym Banksy had previously used. In other words, it appeared legitimate — or as legitimate as an NFT artwork could be, anyway — so people began bidding. A crypto-art collector named “Pranksy” ended up winning the auctioned work for a record-breaking 100 ETH (a bit over $340,000 USD), according to blockchain records.
Things started getting weird at that point. The page on Banksy’s website was quietly removed with no explanation of how it had appeared in the first place. The anonymous buyer, speaking with the BBC about the incident, said that he suspected Banksy’s site had been hacked, and that some random scam artist had actually created the seemingly legitimate page.
As Banksy’s team informed the BBC in a statement, “any Banksy NFT auctions are not affiliated with the artist in any way.” We also asked Pest Control, the agency that serves as the artist’s press mouthpiece, for any news updates.
In spite of the bizarre NFT scam, it seems to have a happy ending for now. The 100 ETH have been refunded back into Pranksy’s account by Gaakman just hours after the auction for his faked art piece finished. According to Motherboard, the buyer said that he’s planning on keeping the artwork – at least for now.