A twenty-five-year-old Moroccan man named Soufiane Oulahyane has been charged by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for allegedly stealing around $450,000 worth of cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Oulahyane is accused of creating a fake version of the popular marketplace OpenSea and tricking victims into providing their private crypto wallet keys.
He paid for advertisements to ensure that his fraudulent OpenSea website appeared as the top search result. Through this scheme, he convinced people to input their wallet keys, unknowingly giving them access to their cryptocurrency. Oulahyane has been indicted by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the FBI.
Oulahyane has been indicted by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office. If convicted, he could face severe penalties, including a lengthy prison sentence. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams emphasized that digital assets like cryptocurrency and NFTs are not immune to cyber fraudsters and that his office is committed to prosecuting such cases.
In a specific incident from September 2021, Oulahyane allegedly stole $450,000 worth of NFTs and cryptocurrency from a victim based in Manhattan. The victim accessed Oulahyane’s spoofed OpenSea login page, unwittingly providing him with their cryptocurrency wallet’s seed phrase. Oulahyane promptly transferred the victim’s cryptocurrency to another wallet and sold 39 NFTs, redirecting the proceeds.
This is not the first occurrence of theft in 2023; numerous instances of theft have been observed in the cryptocurrency and NFT sectors. Additionally, in June 2023, it was observed that the total value of stolen NFTs amounted to $2.27 million, which marked the lowest monthly figure for stolen NFTs this year. This amount represented a significant decrease from the highest recorded figure in February, which was $16.2 million, indicating an 85% decrease from that peak.
According to Peckshield, an analysis firm, half of the stolen NFTs were sold within an astonishingly short period of 160 minutes. The primary platforms utilized for selling these stolen NFTs were Blur and OpenSea, accounting for 99.7% of the total in June. Specifically, 86% of the stolen NFTs were sold on Blur, while OpenSea accounted for 13.76% of the sales.