NFT dangers highlighted by fake Banksy digital artwork that cost US$336,000

The collector believes the hacker might have been frightened into refunding him.
The collector believes the hacker might have been frightened into refunding him. Photo credit: Supplied

The apparent risk of purchasing non-fungible tokens (NFTs) has been highlighted after one collector was briefly conned out of US$336,000 for a fake Banksy digital artwork.

Pranksy, an anonymous NFT investor, won the image of a pixelated man smoking, from an auction linked on Banksy's official website.

However the page was later deleted with the artist's team telling the BBC that "any Banksy NFT auctions are not affiliated with the artist in any shape or form".

Luckily for the anonymous NFT enthusiast, the hacker later returned the money, minus a transaction fee of around US$7000.

Pranksy thought he was purchasing the first ever NFT from the street artist, famous for their images dealing with social issues, but identified quickly there was an issue.

He told the BBC the whole episode was "bizarre" and that he had found the hacker and followed him on Twitter and that may have frightened into refunding him.

"I feel very lucky when a lot of others in a similar situation with less reach would not have had the same outcome," he said.

Pranksy said he was told of the new page on Banksy's website via social media. The page linked to the NFT, which was titled Great Redistribution of the Climate Change Disaster, for sale on digital marketplace OpenSea.

"It does seem to be some hack of the site. I confirmed the URL on PC and mobile before bidding. I only made the bid because it was hosted on his site.

"When the bid was accepted I immediately thought it was probably fake," he told the BBC.

Once a buyer places a bid on OpenSea and it is accepted then the cryptocurrency is transferred.

The Verge reports the fake Banksy NFT is attracting bids below what Pranksy paid for it.

"I will be keeping it," Pranksy told the website.

He later took to Twitter to deny it had all been a stunt he himself had organised.

"I would never risk a future relationship with Banksy or any fine artist by hiring someone to hack their website and then buying an #NFT from myself, what an unusual day!"

How the hacker got access to Banksy's website to put up the fake page is unknown, but the page is still viewable through the Internet Archive.