Regulation

FBI seizes $100K in NFTs from scammer following ZachXBT investigation

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has seized two non-fungible tokens (NFTs) worth more than $100,000 and 86.5 Ether (ETH) from a reported phishing scammer.

The alleged scammer in question, Chase Senecal — known as Horror (HZ) online — was initially exposed via a lengthy investigation by independent blockchain sleuth ZachXBT posted back in September.

In the FBI’s official notification posted on Feb. 3, it outlined that Seneca’s property — which also included an Audemars Piguet (AP) Royal Oak Watch worth $41,000 — was “seized for federal forfeiture for violation of federal law.”

The FBI’s notification did not detail much other information on the ordeal apart from noting that all of the property was seized on Oct. 24. The specific NFTs include Bored Ape Yacht Club#9658, and Doodle #3114 and were valued at $95,495 and $9,361 at the time of seizure.

The 86.5 ETH was valued at $116,433 at the time of seizure, but is now worth $144,000 at the time of writing.

It is unclear what the full scope of legal proceedings that have taken place against Senecal are at this stage. However, according to the FBI’s law enforcement bulletin, federal forfeiture is a law enforcement tool that enables the government to “remove—without compensation for the individual—ownership of property involved in a crime.”

“It may occur in a civil procedure, like a lawsuit against the item, or after the conviction of an individual in a criminal trial,” the FBI states.

While the FBI has not come out with an official tip of the hat to ZachXBT, the on-chain sleuth noted via Twitter on Feb. 3 that the property seizure did “come as a result” of his investigation.

“I look forward to hopefully seeing more phishing scammers suffer a similar fate in the future for harming so many people in this space,” ZachXBT wrote.

With the seizure of a Bored Ape NFT, people in the community have joked that the FBI will change its profile picture to Ape #9658.

Photoshopped FBI profile pic: @CryptoWithNick on Twitter

Notably, the flashy AP watch was one of the key identifiers that helped ZachXBT unmask Senecal’s identity and on-chain activity during the investigation.

In a medium post from Sept. 2, ZachXBT explained that after seeing Horroz (HZ) brag about the new watch on social media, he asked “around a few mutual friends who sell watches” and eventually managed to get in contact with the person who sold that specific AP watch to Senecal.

Unfortunately for Senecal, the payment was said to have been made on the blockchain via the use of USD Coin (USDC).

“The address HZ used to pay the watch seller $47.5k was DIRECTLY funded by multiple addresses used to scam people with hacked Twitter accounts such as @deekaymotion, @Zeneca_33, @ezu_xyz, [and] @JRNYclub,” ZachXBT wrote.

This is not the first time ZachXBT’s research has played a key role in helping government authorities. In October, France’s national cyber unit cited ZachXBT’s work in helping it catch and charge a group of alleged fraudsters on suspicion of stealing $2.5 million worth of NFTs via phishing scams.

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