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NFT Scam Targets 71-Year-Old Digital Artist in India, Resulting in Substantial Losses

In a distressing turn of events, a 71-year-old digital artist in India has become the victim of a sophisticated NFT scam, leading to significant financial losses. The artist, known as Shivaprasad R, fell prey to scammers posing as NFT art dealers, resulting in the loss of INR 1.58 lakhs (approximately $1895) in bogus platform fees.

Shivaprasad, a practicing chartered accountant and seasoned artist, was approached by the scammers in October 2023, who claimed to be representatives of an “NFT art dealer” operating through a platform called nfttradeplace.com. Under the guise of purchasing his artworks for a substantial sum of 42 ETH (equivalent to INR 1.09 crore), negotiations ensued via email and Facebook.

Trusting the authenticity of the deal, Shivaprasad listed three of his artworks for sale, each priced between 10 ETH and 12 ETH. However, the ordeal took a fraudulent turn when he was asked to pay a “gas fee” of 0.115 ETH to facilitate the transaction. Obliging, Shivaprasad made the payment from a crypto wallet provided by the scammers.

Following the completion of his first sale, Shivaprasad attempted to withdraw 6 ETH from his earnings, only to encounter delays and additional requests for payment. Despite complying with these demands, the promised withdrawals never materialized, leading Shivaprasad to realize he had fallen victim to a scam.

In a bid to seek justice, Shivaprasad filed charges under various sections of the Information Technology (IT) Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the perpetrators. However, tracing cryptocurrency transactions remains a formidable challenge for authorities, complicating efforts to apprehend the culprits.

This incident underscores the growing prevalence of cryptocurrency scams in India, despite ongoing efforts by law enforcement agencies to curb fraudulent activities. Recent investigations into multi-million dollar Ponzi schemes and job recruitment scams highlight the urgent need for enhanced regulatory measures and public awareness campaigns to protect individuals from falling victim to such scams in the future.

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