During the pandemic, strange digital images of cartoon apes called “Bored Apes” have become the latest way to collect both crypto credibility and some celebrity cachet.
Bored Ape Yacht Club is one of the most valuable and successful collections of crypto non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to date, with some selling for over $2 million dollars. A number of the digital apes have ended up in the crypto wallets of celebrities like Jimmy Fallon, Paris Hilton, Steve Aoki and actor Seth Green.
In May, Green made news when he announced that he had lost possession of his treasured BAYC original (# 8,398 out 0f 10,000 total unique digital assets in the collection), along with three other valuable NFTs: two Mutant Apes and one Doodle.
All of these popular NFT collections exist on the Ether ETH eum blockchain, the second most valuable crypto ecosystem behind Bitcoin BTC and the birthplace of NFTs. Transactions on Ethereum can be done anonymously, but all transactions are also transparent for anyone to see. That’s how Green was able to ascertain that BAYC #8398 had wound up in the wallet of someone going by the handle DarkWing84, who appears to actually be a Sydney-based cinematographer. (Hat tip to PJ Vogt and Crypto Island for doing 99 percent of the work connecting the handle to an actual human being.)
It’s also how we know that Green seems to have eventually bought the ape NFT he calls “Fred” back for more than what DarkWing84 paid the thief for it on June 7.
The Bored Ape and two Mutant Apes now reside in a wallet tagged as “Fred_Simian” on OpenSea. Green reportedly has plans to develop a show featuring some of his NFTs as characters, which may be why he was willing to pay up for the stolen ethereal goods.
Much of the focus of the case of Seth Green’s ape has been on the journey of the NFT itself across different slots on a distributed public ledger and who controls the keys to those movements. Meanwhile, flow of the fungible tokens that can more readily be exchanged for actual fiat cash and used in the non-digital realm have been more opaque.
Green has said he was tricked by a phishing scam site that was a clone of the Gutter Cat Gang, another moderately successful NFT collection.
Now, blockchain investigator @ZachXBT has traced the path of the roughly 106 ETH (worth $121,000 as of July 11) that went from the wallet of DarkWing84 into the possession of the scammer in exchange for the stolen ape, which the thief only held in custody for less than two-and-a-half hours before selling it on.
In a Twitter thread, the pseudonymous sleuth lays out how after Green connected his Ethereum wallet to the scam phishing site, he apparently clicked something that then authorized the scammer to transfer away Green’s most valuable NFTs.
“ I’m crazy careful with separate wallets and security but still got got,” Green said on Twitter on May 17 after the digital goods were heisted.
Within minutes of selling of the stolen Apes and Doodle, the thief began a flurry of crypto transactions in an attempt to launder the funds. All four stolen NFTs netted over $400,000 of ETH, that were then exchanged for an Ethereum ERC-20 token called renBTC to facilitate moving the proceeds into Bitcoin.
“The scammer then uses a technique called peel chain where they launder large amounts of crypto through small transactions,” explains ZachXBT.
After ten layers of transactions to try and wash the funds further, a large chunk is moved back from ETH to Bitcoin and eventually swapped for $107,000 worth of Tether USDT stablecoin.
“The funds then sit dormant for 41 days before I receive a notification they are on the move again,” the thread continues. “On June 21st the scammer begins transferring stolen funds to @WhiteBit (a European crypto exchange). I immediately DM them but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to get reviewed internally.”
A centralized exchange like WhiteBit or Coinbase function as a crypto on and off-ramp where the digital tokens can be exchanged for dollars, Euros or some other fiat currency and then more easily disappear into circulation.
ZachXBT believes the perpetrator has scammed and laundered millions of dollars through similar means.
“While Seth Green is the victim in this example many other people have lost money to the same scammer. Hopefully at some point they slip up.”
If you have tips on sketchy activity on the blockchain, hit me up @ericcmack, email@example.com or my colleagues @journodao.
Read more: Seth green nft – Krypto-NFTs