The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has seized 86.5 Ether (ETH) an two nonfungible tokens (NFTs) worth more than $100,000 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 2022.
The FBI’s official notification on Feb. 3 outlined that Seneca’s property — including an Audemars Piguet 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, 2022. The seized NFTs included Bored Ape Yacht Club#9658 and Doodle #3114, valued at $95,495 and $9,361 respectively, 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.
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.
— ZachXBT (@zachxbt) February 3, 2023
“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.
Notably, the flashy 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, 2022, ZachXBT explained that after seeing 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 2022, France’s national cyber unit cited ZachXBT’s work in helping it catch and charge a group of alleged fraudsters suspected of stealing $2.5 million worth of NFTs via phishing scams.