Image source: Variety
Ever since the NFT boom in early 2021, NFT theft has become a recurring problem to markets and owners.
Every now and then, news reports emerge of owners and even celebrities getting their NFTs stolen.
But how much of NFTs have been stolen in the past year?
Elliptic released a report that shows a staggering number.
Blockchain analysis firm Elliptic revealed that over $100 million in NFTs have been stolen since 2021.
The report was released on Wednesday.
Titled “NFTs and Financial Crime,” the report covers nefarious crypto activity between July 2021 to July 2022.
The report only covers statistics from last year, but Elliptic also covered the years before.
They found that over $8 million in illicit funds have been laundered with NFTs since 2017.
Breaking down the theft
According to Elliptic, cybercriminals netted an average of $300,000 per scam.
They reported that over $24 million in NFTs were stolen via scams in May this year, with July 2022 setting the highest month on record for numbers of NFTs stolen: 4,600.
“Actual numbers are likely to be higher, as thefts are not always publicly reported,” said Elliptic.
The unreported thefts are usually the lower-priced NFTs.
The reports also say that 23% of NFTs stolen this year stemmed from compromised social media platforms, including Discord and phishing messages sent to members of a channel.
Elliptic also found that other attack methods include phishing emails, malicious websites, and an exploit in a mobile wallet.
The mobile wallet exploit occurred earlier this month when a Solana hack happened.
Elliptic found that the most valuable NFT stolen was CryptoPunk #4234.
The NFT was stolen in November 2021, and is priced at $490,000.
Since then, CryptoPunk #4234 has been “reported for suspicious activity” on the OpenSea marketplace.
Meanwhile, the most significant theft led to a loss of 16 “blue chip” NFTs worth $2.1 million in December 2021.
Elliptic also revealed that bulks of Bored Apes, Mutant Apes, Azuki, Otherside, and CloneX NFTs were lost to scams.
“Together, these five collections constitute over two-thirds of the stolen NFT value since July 2021,” wrote Elliptic.
Cybercriminals often went after Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs, which accounts for $43.6 million in stolen NFTs.
Two months ago, actor and producer Seth Green had to pay $300,000 to recover his stolen Bored Ape NFT after a phishing attack.
In April 2022, a fake airdrop targeting Bored Ape NFT holders accounted for an estimated tens of millions of dollars stolen.
Elliptic data suggests scammers removed $58.1 million worth of Ape NFTs from the Bored Ape Yacht Club and Mutant Ape Yacht Club in July 2022.
“Across June and July 2022, thefts of valuable NFTs decreased while those affecting lower value early-stage projects rose,” wrote Elliptic.
“This trend likely partially reflects valuable NFT owners “hodling” their assets throughout the bear market and not engaging as actively with new projects vulnerable to scammer activity.”
Elliptic’s report also talked about North Korean Lazarus Group hacking Axie Infinity’s Ronin Ethereum sidechain bridge in March 2022.
They also talked about the recently sanctioned Tornado Cash mixing service, wherein digital assets worth more than $160,000 from sanctioned entities were used to purchase NFTs.
“Although crime represents a small proportion of overall NFT trading, it has a disproportionate impact on the industry’s reputation and undermines the quality of experience of legitimate users,” said Elliptic.
Along with the impact on reputation, Elliptic noted that cybercriminals are becoming more crafty in circumventing verification protocols.
In January, scammers managed to get away with 9,136 SOL (around $1.3 million before the market crash) despite being verified.
Counterfeit NFTs have also started making more waves.
In January, OpenSea removed 80% of NFTs from the platform for violations like plagiarism, fake collections, and spam.