One of the current downfalls of the NFT space is how common scams are.
There isn’t a week that goes by where we don’t see some kind of major scam, leading to the loss of multiple high-value assets, just last week an experienced NFT trader had 7 Bored Apes stolen, valued at over $1 million. There will of course be even more ‘lower tier’ scams that we don’t hear about on a daily basis, and information like what’s being shared in this blog is so important to get in front of as many people as possible to limit this activity.
As the NFT space has matured, scammers are getting more and more sophisticated alongside it, and tend to show up in full force around the time of high-profile NFT collection launches when people’s FOMO (fear of missing out) is at an all-time high. Scammers are mostly active in direct messages on Twitter & Discord, making them hard to spot - especially for newcomers.
If we want the space to continue scaling, education surrounding this topic is crucial so newcomers and experienced collectors alike can continue to operate safely and with enjoyment.
With that being said, let’s get into our 3 tips on how to spot NFT scams in your direct messages.
As a general rule when it comes to spotting NFT scams, and arguably one of the most important to internalize when operating in the NFT space daily is that if an offer seems too good to be true it almost always is.
Scammers will often try and suck you in with a large offer for one of your NFTs, be that the one you are using as your PFP or another in your wallet if you have it linked to your Twitter or displayed in your bio somewhere. The offer will likely be way above the collection floor price, as a tactic to grab your attention and they will say it's because they 'love' your NFT or something of a similar nature. Don’t be fooled and let your mind run wild with the multiple scenarios relating to what you could do with the extra liquidity, remain level-headed and ask the right questions (more below) to determine if the deal is potentially legitimate or not.
The unfortunate reality for the majority in this space is that a lot of encounters in DMs that are related to the trading and buying of NFTs will have malicious intent, particularly if you were not the instigator of the conversation.
Act with caution and be realistic.
An extremely high percentage of scams in this space happen as a result of interacting with fake links, and this is another surefire way to spot NFT scams.
Firstly, scammers will almost always be the ones looking to initiate a trade or sale by sending fake marketplace or swap site links. Often, due to the sophisticated nature of scams in recent months, the site will look completely legitimate bar 1 or 2 minor discrepancies either in the URL or site UI itself that without a second glance or closer look, would go unnoticed.
In instances like this (when you are sent links) it is down to you to realize this may not be correct and in short, someone looking to do a deal with you in DMs that is insistent on sending their own link is an immediate red flag and should automatically trigger your mind to think defensively.
If, and only if you have checked the link multiple times and you think it is the correct one, should you open it and then begin looking for other red flags. A scam tactic that has become rampant in recent weeks and months is using the correct trade site links, but fake collection contract addresses and NFTs. Always check the contract addresses, token IDs, etc match that of the assets you are looking to trade.
Without going into too much more detail on the above, there is a simple rule to follow here. Never click links that have been sent to you via DM. If you think a deal is legitimate, always set up the trade yourself, and if you don’t know how to, learn, watch videos on the process or take it as a sign that you have some more experience to gather in the space before you can be comfortable and confident with doing private deals.
This is possibly one of the best ways to draw scammers out, as it takes the control of the deal completely out of their hands, making it an easy method to help with the spotting of NFT scams in direct messages.
Essentially, all you need to send once a potential scammer makes their fake, overinflated offer is a reply with:
"Great, I'll set up the private sale on Opensea. What's your wallet address?"
Where possible, get a message like this in as early on in the conversation as possible. It sets intentions and more importantly if you receive any pushback or reluctance on the other party's behalf you know to have your guard up throughout the negotiations if you do decide to continue to entertain it.
Now, of course, other marketplaces and swap sites are available, but Opensea is the most known and the hardest to fake on their part if they were to come back with a counter. More often than not though after a message like this, you won’t get any response. They'll disappear as they know you won't fall for their scamming methods.