NFT NYC Malicious QR Code Phishing

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NYC NFTs Phishing Website

NFT NYC is an annual event which happens in New York City, United States. There were widespread reports of malicious QR codes at the event in 2022. One reported scheme revolved around replacing QR codes on menus with alternative QR codes which directed the user to a malicious website promising a 25% discount if they hooked up their wallet. No specific documented cases of malicious QR codes on billboards have been recorded. There was one documented loss of a single NFT being transferred due to this attack.

About NFT NYC

NFT NYC describes itself as "the leading annual non-fungible token event" and has been held annually in New York City[1] since 2019[2]. NFT.NYC has been a platform dedicated to amplifying the voices of the growing NFT community[2]. The events bring together a large community of attendees, including artists, speakers, sponsors, media representatives, and more[1]. Their events are sometimes referred to as "The Superbowl of NFTs" and are designed to showcase the best ideas and projects in the NFT space[2]. They feature sessions covering topics such as art, music, sports, collectibles, fashion, film, brands, gaming, finance, and the legal aspects of NFTs[1]. The event is supported by numerous partners, reporters, and brands, with over 100 partners, 200 reporters, and 500 brands participating[1]. There are 1,500+ speakers, 2,000+ artists, and 6,000+ attendees[1]. Notable brand speakers include representatives from Rarible, OpenSea, Salesforce, BNB Chain, PwC, EY, Ripple, Dapper Labs, and others[1]. NFT NYC aims to provide a platform for the NFT community to share ideas, showcase art, and educate about the NFT ecosystem[1].

About The 2022 NFT Industry Event

The 2022 meet-up was the "4th Annual NFT Industry Event"[2] to take place[3]. The event,supported by Polygon, MoonPay, and Coinbase, was scheduled to take place from June 20th to June 23rd, 2022[2]. It also features various sponsors who play a crucial role in bringing the community together[2]. Interested individuals could explore the list of speakers and sponsors on the NFT.NYC website[2]. The NFT.NYC website also featured media coverage and highlights from the previous year's event and over 200 satellite events[2].

The Reality

With NFTs gaining widespread favourable media coverage, it's natural to think scammers would turn their sights on the plundering of incredibly fungible apes and other items of a digital nature[3].

What Happened

Reports surfaced of malicious QR codes that were tricking people into having their digital assets stolen. While details remain unclear, at least one NFT holder and event participant lost an NFT from a malicious QR code.

Key Event Timeline - NFT NYC Malicious QR Code Phishing
Date Event Description
June 19th, 2022 Malicious Domain Registered The nycnfts.xyz domain is registered[4].
June 20th, 2022 12:34:19 PM MDT Otherdeed #95904 NFT Stolen The Otherdeed #95904 NFT[5] is transferred from OpenSea user "MattyZ" to an unknown attacker[6].
June 20th, 2022 12:54:35 PM MDT Otherdeed #95904 NFT Resold The Otherdeed #95904 NFT[5] is resold by the attacker to OpenSea user pandooo for 2.660 ETH[7].
June 21st, 2022 7:01:00 AM MDT NFTNYC Billboard Takeover The NFT NYC event is well underway, with reports of a "Times Square Billboard Takeover" which is displaying NFTs on a large billboard in Times square[8]. The main event of NFT NYC is reportedly not until 3 PM[9].
June 21st, 2022 10:08:00 AM MDT GammaCounter Posts Warning A warning is shared to Twitter, with a screenshot from a Discord channel[10].
June 21st, 2022 7:07:00 PM MDT Several Reports Of Drained Wallets Twitter user PRD_ALPHA posts on Twitter about "several reports wallets being drained" and recommends not to "scan billboard QR codes or flyer QR codes"[11].
June 21st, 2022 9:53:00 PM MDT Peckshield Reports Phishing Site A Peckshield report is generated on a nycnfts phishing website. This Tweet also includes a reference to an NFT Otherdeed #95904 being transferred earlier, presumably by the attacker[12][13]. TBD follow the blockchain trail on this.
June 23rd, 2022 12:12:00 PM MDT Black Alchemy Tweet Report The Black Alchemy Solutions Group posts on Twitter to warn about reports they are receiving of malicious QR codes "by the hour". They mention both key loggers and wallet draining applications[14]. They include a photo of a QR code which is not malicious[15].
June 23rd, 2022 MalwareBytes Labs Article A report by MalwareBytes highlights the emergence of "rogue cryptocurrency billboards" as a scam technique in the context of the NFT NYC event[3]. These billboards are being used to "go phishing for wallets", or promote phishing websites through QR codes[3]. The scam involves victims scanning the QR code, which then directs them to a phishing page where they are prompted to enter their details[3]. The phishing attempts aim to steal cryptocurrency from unsuspecting users through methods such as airdrop phishing, bogus giveaways, or other deceptive techniques[3]. The report suggests that this trend of rogue billboards targeting cryptocurrency users is not isolated to NFT NYC, and references unrelated cryptocurrency exchange billboards in Turkey as another example[3]. It advises caution when encountering cryptocurrency billboards and recommends verifying the authenticity of URLs and avoiding sharing sensitive information like seed or recovery phrases[3]. The article references the Twitter post by GammaCounter[3].

Technical Details

https://twitter.com/search?q=(from%3Aharper)%20until%3A2022-06-25%20since%3A2022-06-20&src=typed_query


A report by MalwareBytes highlighted the emergence of "rogue cryptocurrency billboards" as a scam technique in the context of the NFT NYC event[3]. According to the article, these billboards are being used to "go phishing for wallets", or promote phishing websites through QR codes[3]. The scam involves victims scanning the QR code, which then directs them to a phishing page where they are prompted to enter their details[3]. The phishing attempts aim to steal cryptocurrency from unsuspecting users through methods such as airdrop phishing, bogus giveaways, or other deceptive techniques[3]. It advises caution when encountering cryptocurrency billboards and recommends verifying the authenticity of URLs and avoiding sharing sensitive information like seed or recovery phrases[3]. The article references the Twitter post by GammaCounter[3].


"Sadly, it seems nobody grabbed a photo of what these scam billboards look like. However, a "wallet drainer" is just another way of saying "phishing website"."

Total Amount Lost

The only verified reported loss from this incident was an Otherdeed #95904[5]. This NFT had an immediate resale value of 2.660 ETH[7].

While some sources seemed to suggest that QR codes were more prevalent, there has been no substantiated report of any other loss.

Immediate Reactions

[16]

https://twitter.com/BlackAlchemySo2 <-- TBD review this account.

https://twitter.com/search?q=(from%3ABlackAlchemySo2)%20until%3A2022-07-09%20since%3A2022-06-07&src=typed_query

PRD Alpha QR Codes Warning

Twitter user PRD Alpha claimed there were several reports of wallets being drained[11]. No details were provided.

If you are in NYC for @NFT_NYC don't scan billboard QR codes or flyer QR codes There are several reports of wallets being drained

Other Twitter Community Warnings

Various reactions were received from the community[17].

"Don’t tell me people actually got scammed with QR code’s at NFT NYC"

Black Alchemy Fraud Reports

On June 23rd, Black Alchemy reported that they were receiving "cases of this by the hour"[14].

QR Code Warning NFT_NYC.

NFT_NYC, we highly urge you advise your audience.

We are getting cases of this by the hour.

QR Codes are being used to download various types of malware

Drain Wallets

Keystroke Logging (Seed Phrases)

Example Story Shared Later

The following story was shared on June 24th, with no indication whether it was indicative of what was actually happening[18]:

attacker goes to a restaurant near NFT NYC with QR code menus. clones their website, adds a "25% discount for NFT NYC" that requires you sign with wallet to claim, and replaces the QR with their own. goodbye bored ape

Ultimate Outcome

What was the end result? Was any investigation done? Were any individuals prosecuted? Was there a lawsuit? Was any tracing done?

NFT NYC 2023

NFT.NYC took place again in April 2023 in Times Square and Hudson Yards[19]. Attendees reportedly praised the maturity and diversity of use cases, stories, and companies showcased at the event[19]. It attracted participants from around the world who appreciated the networking opportunities and the chance to connect with artists, projects, and creators in the Web3 space[19]. The event featured speakers, artists, DJs, and singers, creating a vibrant atmosphere[19]. Attendees described NFT.NYC as a valuable resource for gaining insights into blockchain applications and learning about the challenges and innovations in the industry[19]. The event received positive media coverage, highlighting its significance in the NFT community and its role in shaping the future of digital art and blockchain technology[19].

NFT NYC 2024

According to the website, NFT NYC is scheduled again for April 3rd-5th in 2024[19].

Total Amount Recovered

There do not appear to have been any funds recovered in this case.

What funds were recovered? What funds were reimbursed for those affected users?

Ongoing Developments

NFT NYC ran their next event in April 2023[1][19], and continues to run annually. According to the website, NFT NYC is scheduled again for April 3rd-5th in 2024[19].

Individual Prevention Policies

There is limited visibility into exactly how this QR code scheme operated, so the advice covers over multiple possibilities.

Smart Contract and Website Analysis

Avoid the use of smart contracts unless necessary. Minimize the level of exposure by removing or withdrawing assets whenever possible. Aim to choose smart contracts which have obtained third party security audits, preferably having been audited by at least three separate reputable firms. Pay attention to the audit reports, which smart contracts are covered, and whether the smart contract has been upgraded or modified since the report. Ensure that any administrative functions with the ability to remove funds from the smart contract are under the authority of a multi-signature wallet which is controlled by at least three separate and reputable entities.

Any time untrusted software is being run is an opportunity for abuse. It is recommended to always interact with cryptocurrency in a fully controlled environment, which is an environment where you have understanding of every piece of software running there. Using a hardware wallet, spare computer with all software wiped, and/or virtual machine with only the needed software greatly reduces your attack surface. Take the time to verify downloaded files come from the correct and expected source and match available hashes if provided. Any time you encounter a new file, always check if it can contain executable code prior to using it.

Never Ever Share Your Seed Phrase

Many websites operate based on requesting users to share seed phrases in order to connect a wallet or debug an initial failure of their wallet to connect. This is always a bad idea to enter your seed phrase into a website.

Private keys can be obtained through seed phrases, mnemonics, private key files, mobile synchronization screens, wallet export features, wallet backups, etc... Never ever send these to anyone else who you do not intend to allow to take all of your money. Attackers will use a wide variety of tactics to convince you like pretending to be your wallet software, pretending they work for the wallet software, or asking you to screen share. Don't fall for them.

Reduction of Risk Through Offline Storage

Store the majority of funds offline. By offline, it means that the private key and/or seed phrase is exclusively held by you and not connected to any networked device. Examples of offline storage include paper wallets (seed phrase or key written down and deleted from all electronic media), hardware wallets, steel wallet devices, etc...

For the full list of how to protect your funds as an individual, check our Prevention Policies for Individuals guide.

Platform Prevention Policies

This case does not appear to have resulted in a loss to any platform. None-the-less, platforms may play an important role in user education.

Never take for granted the limited knowledge of users of your service and their tendency to skip past provided information. It is recommended to design a simple tutorial and quiz for new users which explains the basics of seed phrases, strong password generation, secure two-factor authentication, common fraud schemes, how ponzi schemes work, as well as other risks which are unique to the cryptocurrency space. This tutorial and quiz should ensure their understanding and be a standard part of the sign-up or download process which is difficult or impossible to skip.

For the full list of how to protect your funds as a financial service, check our Prevention Policies for Platforms guide.

Regulatory Prevention Policies

The primary reason for any loss (and the panic which happened) was due to a lack of knowledge by event participants in how to properly secure their assets.

Create a standard tutorial and quiz for all new cryptocurrency participants, which is required to be completed once per participant. This tutorial and quiz should cover the basics of proper seed phrase protection, strong password generation, secure two-factor authentication, common fraud schemes, how to detect and guard against phishing attacks, how ponzi schemes work, as well as other risks which are unique to the cryptocurrency space.

For the full list of regulatory policies that can prevent loss, check our Prevention Policies for Regulators guide.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 NFTNYC2023 The Leading Annual Non-Fungible Token Event - Homepage Archive March 24th, 2023 3:08:33 PM MDT (Mar 24, 2023)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 NFT NYC Homepage Archive March 8th, 2022 3:23:39 AM MST (Jun 29, 2023)
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 Rogue cryptocurrency billboards go phishing for wallets - MalwareBytes Labs (Aug 30, 2022)
  4. Domains Registered By Date (2022-06-19) - Page 14 - CubDomain (Mar 24, 2023)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Otherdeed #95904 - OpenSea (Jun 6, 2023)
  6. Transfer of Otherdeed #95904 To The Attacker - Etherscan (Jun 6, 2023)
  7. 7.0 7.1 Sale of Otherdeed #95904 NFT For 2.660 ETH (Jun 6, 2023)
  8. warpsound - "Times Square Billboard Takeover" - Twitter (Mar 24, 2023)
  9. MrMauriceFoggy - "I'm NY now, who wants to chill until the event at 3" - Twitter (Apr 5, 2023)
  10. GammaCounter - ""Wallet Drainer" sites." - Twitter (Mar 24, 2023)
  11. 11.0 11.1 PRD_ALPHA - "There are several reports of wallets being drained" - Twitter (Mar 24, 2023)
  12. PeckShieldAlert - "PeckShield has detected nycnfts[.]xyz is a phishing site. Seems like" - Twitter (Mar 24, 2023)
  13. Paidun: nycnfts[.]xyz is a phishing website | Ethereum Price (Mar 24, 2023)
  14. 14.0 14.1 BlackAlchemySo2 - "We are getting cases of this by the hour. QR Codes are being used to download various types of malware." - Twitter (Mar 24, 2023)
  15. 1c4m3by - "The one u posted a screenshot of doesn’t seem to contain any malicious coding I ran a dynamic analysis of it" - Twitter (Apr 5, 2023)
  16. Black Alchemy Solutions - "So much more than that." - Twitter (Accessed Apr 9, 2024)
  17. NFTGUYY - "Don’t tell me people actually got scammed with QR code’s at NFT NYC" - Twitter (Mar 24, 2023)
  18. nnnnicholas - "attacker goes to a restaurant near NFT NYC with QR code menus" - Twitter (Mar 24, 2023)
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 19.6 19.7 19.8 NFT NYC Homepage Archive June 28th, 2023 1:10:23 PM MDT (Jun 29, 2023)