Crypto Sleuth ZachXBT’s Efforts Lead to Prosecution of Alleged Bored Ape NFT Scammers

Five people connected to the phishing scam involving the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) collection were indicted in Paris on Wednesday, months after the scam was undercover by prominent crypto sleuth ZachXBT.

Christophe Durand, the deputy head of the French National Cyber Unit, told the AFP that the investigation had started "at the end of 2021.”

The police suspect the five individuals of having formed a network that fraudulently advertised a service that would produce an animated version of any users’ BAYC non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The individuals operated out of BAYC’s official Discord channel, which lent a blanket of authenticity to their purported services.

The phishing scam required interested users to click on a link to generate an animation. But instead of animated apes, the users found the service stole their NFTs, digital assets on a blockchain that represent ownership of virtual or physical items, with the scammers managing to steal over $2.5 million in total.

ZachXBT first uncovered the crime in an August post titled “Scammers in Paris.” An online trail of the crypto funds movement at the time eventually led to the unmasking of the scammers Mathys and Camille, who the Paris police now consider central to the operation.

The duo mainly targeted BAYC collections, but also seemed to have phished holders of Azuki and Doodles, two other popular NFT collections.

Meanwhile, the Paris police said the five individuals were born between 1998 and 2003 and lived in Paris, Caen and Tours. The parents of one of them were also initially indicted but later released without prosecution.

Among the five, two are suspected of having made the site and the marketing, and three others are said to have done the advertising and the money laundering operations.