Bill Murray is the latest celebrity to be targeted by crypto thieves.
Criminals made off with 119.2 ETH (about $185,000) that the actor raised during his NFT charity auction. The unknown hackers also attempted to steal non-fungible tokens from Murray’s personal collection, which includes two CryptoPunk NFTs, according to Coindesk.
CryptoPunks are among the most sought-after NFTs and can cost anywhere from $77,600 to $1.2 million in Ether, according to GoBankingRates.
The Groundhog Day star’s virtual wallet security team, NFT consultancy Project Venkman, was able to protect his NFTs. However, they were unable to protect the funds raised for charity. They might be difficult to retrieve as cryptocurrency transactions are usually irreversible.
Murray’s team say they have filed a police report and are working with crypto analytics firm Chainalysis to identify the thief.
Although Murray’s charity funds appear to be gone, another Coinbase user has donated about $187,500 worth of ether to Chive Charities, the non-profit organization Murray was raising funds for, to replace the stolen money.
Murray is far from it the only celebrity targeted for their pricey digital collectibles. In May e.g. actor and producer Seth Green lost four Bored Ape NFTs to a phishing scam in which cyber thieves steal users’ personal information by tricking them with fake links.
Like CryptoPunks, Bored Ape NFTs are among the most well-known non-fungible tokens and are a popular target for theft.
Since the launch of the Bored Ape Yacht Club collection in June 2021, a total of 143 Bored Ape NFTs worth nearly $13.6 million have been reported stolen through August 2022, according to Immunefi, a Web3 security company.
Green paid nearly $300,000 to recover one of his stolen NFTs, Bored Ape #8398, for use in an animated series he is developing, according to Buzzfeed News.
While crypto scams involving celebrities tend to be the most noticeable, they’re certainly not the most common, says Chen Arad, chief operating officer of Solidus Labs, a company that provides services like trade monitoring, transaction monitoring, and threat intelligence to some of the biggest exchanges.
“Scammers don’t discriminate against or target anyone they think they can get money from, from celebrities to royalty to average people,” he told CNBC’s Make It.
However, cybercriminals tend to target celebrities in particular because “it creates a stir” and attracts more attention, explains Arad. “Celebrities are also perceived as wealthy and often are, which makes them a great target,” he says. “Celebrities have to deal with a large volume of offers/proposals, which could mean less time to properly review and assess their legitimacy.”
How to protect NFTs, crypto and other digital investments
Although theft and fraud are not unique to the crypto market, there are high rates of illegal activity in the crypto space because “the new technology is still battle-tested and it takes time to discover and patch security flaws,” says Arad.
If you are interested in buying NFTs, there are a number of ways to protect your investment.
OpenSea, the most popular and largest NFT marketplace, recommends implementing various security measures, including using two-factor authentication and a physical hardware wallet, in addition to your digital one.
Also, be careful not to share your personal and financial information with people you have never met. A seemingly random text from an unknown number could be an attempt to lure you into a “pig fight” scam, the latest scheme that is costing crypto investors millions.
It is important to note that NFTs, like cryptocurrencies, are subject to unpredictable fluctuations in value. There is no guarantee that you will be able to make a profit from your investment, which is why experts advise against spending more on your crypto, NFT or other speculative investments than you can afford to lose.
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