“I been hacked. All my apes gone. this just sold please help me”, collector Todd Kramer, in a now-deleted post, tweeted on 29 December.
NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are digital receipts of images stored on the blockchain. Buyers do not own the copyright of the original image, only the code behind the replica or ‘token’.
The Bored Ape Yacht Club, the specific brand of image stolen, are cartoons of algorithmically-generated primates. Rapper Eminem recently spent £334,000 for a digital receipt of an ape that resembled himself.
Mr Kramer reportedly clicked on a phishing link purporting to be linked an app, which led to the theft of the NFTs.
In response, OpenSea reportedly froze the NFTs after the hackers put them back up to sale. This led to criticism from some crypto supporters.
“Who was able to freeze the nfts? Feels pretty anti crypto to be asking third parties to do this and ideally they shouldn’t be able to”, one user wrote in a reply to Mr Kramer’s deleted tweet.
Who was able to freeze the nfts? Feels pretty anti crypto to be asking third parties to do this and ideally they shouldn’t be able to. This was just extremely poor opsec on your part. True decentralized ownership no one should be able to step in. Good luck.
— kw.sol ◎ (@Forculus) December 30, 2021
This criticism stems from the idea that cryptocurrency and other blockchain technologies do not require external oversight and can be managed by decentralized platforms.
Unfortunately, in the case of thefts, crypto advocates often look to platform managers or law enforcement to act.
Critics say centralised platforms, such as OpenSea, have historically had significant vulnerabilities that let savvy hackers steal crypto wallets by leveraging security vulnerabilities. Due to the high price of these images, thefts can cost victims thousands or millions of dollars they have spent on images of apes and other artworks.
Neither OpenSea nor Mr Kramer responded to The Independent’s request for comment before time of publication.
Theft of NFTs is not a new phenomenon. In November 2021, three Bored Ape NFTs were stolen from collector Calvin Becerra when hackers manipulated him into logging into his cryptocurrency wallet and handing over ownership of the receipts to them.
NFTs, and other crypto services, have also been criticized for being harmful to the environment. Bitcoin’s environmental impact has been well documented, with analysis from the University of Cambridge suggesting that the network consumes more energy than the whole of the Netherlands.
Estimates of NFTs carbon footprint claim that “selling an edition of 100 works has a carbon footprint of over 10 tonnes CO2, which is more than the per capita annual footprint of someone in the EU – including all emissions from industry and trade”.