A TECH fan spent £10,000 on a tract of virtual land – only for it to be stolen out from his under his nose.
The fuming gamer revealed how he spent the funds to purchase the digital asset in The Sandbox mobile game.
Taking to Reddit, user infiniti711 told how he believes his account was hacked and his precious computer generated land was stolen.
And tracing the transactions using the unique IDs which are included on every crypto-based trade, he found the crook is now selling it on.
It appears the hacker is flogging the stolen digital land for £23,000.
His story is another cautionary tale from the burgeoning online economy, with constant warnings about the risks these online trades pose.
Sandbox is an online world which allows users to monetise their creations as part of a multiplayer metaverse.
Like a cross between The Sims and Minecraft, the platform allows users to purchase areas of virtual land to develop and then sell them on for crypto.
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The land parcels are represented as NFTs – unique monetised digital assets -based on the Ethereum blockchain – which provides a foundation for the in-game economy and the exchange of tangible cash.
It also allows users to invite their friends and to participate in virtual activities together such as attending concerts or parties.
Some celebrities have endorsed the game – including Snopp Dogg and Deadmau5.
However, infiniti71, who appears to be from Canada, saw himself stung on December 3 – realizing some 11 hours later on December 4.
He noticed his land contract was transferred out of his online wallet for £0.
"I never consented to this transfer, I had no intention of selling this land and I was going to hold it for an extended period of time, for over a couple of years at minimum," the Reddit user wrote.
"There is no way I would have transferred it to anyone, especially at zero dollars."
He went on: "I have followed the trail, and my land has been transferred to 3 other accounts since it was stolen, and now being sold for 40k. [CAD]
"I have not shared my account details with anyone, I have not synced my wallet with any other software or wallets.
"I have no idea how this could have happened without the hacker having my passphrase because I have not shared this information with anyone, I wrote it down on physical paper and hid it."
After some assistance from other users on the /r/cryptocurrency subreddit – the user realised his computer had been infected by malware.
He said that he believes he downloaded the virus while attempting to get hold of a new pass for The Sandbox.
The user accidentally went to a website that was a clone of The Sandbox's homepage – downloading a .exe file that turned out to be the malware.
The virus saw the hackers get into his account and steal his land.
He said: "There was a lot of lessons learned, and thank you to the people who reached out to me.
The risks of buying with cryptocurrencies
Investing and making a purchase in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin is risky .
Their value is highly volatile and City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority has warned investors should be prepared to lose all their money.
Investing in cryptocurrencies is not a guaranteed way to make money.
You should also think carefully about making purchases with a cryptocurrency.
For example, Bitcoin has had wild price fluctuations in recent months and the price can change on an almost hourly basis.
The price of a Bitcoin was at $40,258 on January 9, according to Coindesk, but fell to $34,214 just three days later.
That's a 15% drop.
These price swings are risky for a business as you could sell an item for a Bitcoin at one price and the value may drop soon after, leaving you with less money from a sale.
Similarly, the price of Bitcoin has soared by more than 21% since the start of this week so it can be hard for a shopper to get an accurate idea of the price of an item if its value changes on a daily basis.
"I hope Sandbox will do something to seize that stolen land, but I don't have much hope.
"However, I do hope many crypto users learned some valuable tips on how to secure your digital wallet and digital assets, get a USB authenticator, and a hard wallet."
Founded by Sebastian Borget and Arthur Madrid, Sandbox models itself as a “community-driven platform where creators can monetize voxel ASSETS and gaming experiences on the blockchain”.
It uses the token SAND, which runs on Ethereum’s blockchain.
The supply of SAND amounts to 3billion, according to the cryptocurrency.
There is also an element of LAND, which the cryptocurrency describes as portions of the meta-world.
While this is owned by the players, the LAND will always be limited to 166,464.
The price of SAND is currently $4.39 at the time of writing, down some 50 per cent from highs of $8.40 in November.
It comes amid a wider crypto crash as Bitcoin – the most popular currency – collapses sparking fears of "death cross".
The death cross is when the short term growth falls beneath the long term average – sparking a massive sell off.
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