It all started as an innocent proposal
As an active artist on Instagram you probably saw them popping up in your messages: The people, who desperately want to buy NFTs from you, promising significant profits. I heard of them, too. But my personal scammer was much smarter than that. It was on the second or third day of our conversation, that she mentioned NFTs. Before that, we talked about my physical art, shipping, and prices in Euro. I didn’t realize it myself when she threw that in. But she had already blinded me with the conversation. I felt uncomfortable letting her wait to collect some deeper information on the NFT topic.
First major hints
She linked me to the website >>> retartes.com <<< I’m putting an emphasis here because they have fake Trustpilot reviews that appear at the very first position if you let google search for that website. DON’T get involved with that website. The neat and clean layout creates the feeling of a trustworthy website. But you should always check for legal policies and detailed descriptions of the trading process including commission fees and payment process.
Then she casually managed the minting cost of 0.2 ETH per piece, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you look it up, the amount is not as small, as it sounds. So I thought, OK, she’ll buy the piece, I’ll use the profit to mint the rest, just enough.
I had big issues with converting to crypto and I should’ve stopped when my credit card provider declined the transaction. But she was such a helpful person, so patient and friendly… They sure know how to blur your mind. Buy here, convert there, withdraw to that. It all makes so much sense when they explain it to you.
The moment when I really really should’ve stopped for good
The first art was minted. She “bought” it. But who knows, if there is real crypto behind what she was doing. Maybe the site owners just transferred those assets to her account. Maybe she did it herself. Was there a real minting process behind that? I highly doubt that it was more than decoration.
First surprise: For some reason, the so-called profit can’t be used to buy NFTs or to mint new ones. It has to be withdrawn, then re-sent to the other wallet (which was probably the only real one). No problem. Or is there one? Yes, there is. To withdraw the currency I needed 5.0ETH while I had only 1.0 ETH. I was “generously” offered to be paid “in advance” to collect the required amount and I would later provide the rest for free. For me, this meant pumping more money into this shady deal. But back then I still didn’t see a problem with that.
Showing her true face
After what seemed to be a successful transaction I made an attempt to transfer the entire 5.0 ETH to a wallet. About an hour later I was informed that the transaction was blocked and I had to contact support to find out what was the reason behind the error and the fact that my “working” wallet was suddenly at -0.51 ETH.
Apparently, that was some sort of “commission” for the withdrawal, which had never been mentioned before. But I don’t have that money. Period. By that time I came across another victim of this “Heidy” (that was how she named her fake account) who had published an Instagram post telling about her experience just that day. Exactly the same story, only that they wanted to charge her some sort of “insurance”.
I said that I quit and that’s where the “fun” began. She insisted that I had “her” money. I suggested she paid the commission of 0.51 ETH herself and I’ll transfer those 5.0ETH with the exception of my minting cost to her, no problem. Instead of accepting a constructive suggestion she wanted 2.0ETH transferred to her wallet, instead of the arts for which she “paid” in advance. Quite silly to insist on 2.0, if you get an offer for 4.6. That, of course, if they ever existed.
She wrote a ton of threats (“You’ll land on the streets and the streets won’t love you.”), started more attempts to get that last bit of my money (she offered me to pay half of the commission) and tried various techniques to put me under pressure. She played nice, she played hard. When I blocked her, she started writing e-mails to the address registered on the website. Do your math about where she might have gotten it from. She claimed it was a legal petition because her husband was a lawyer. The other victim of that scammer pointed out that she made the same mistakes in writing as the so-called support on retartes.
The German police are now investigating the case. The only practical reason behind it is that I am safe in case those people got more data from me than I think they might. There’s a registration form where you have to type in your address and phone number to just exit. I managed to change that data to fake before they banned me from the website.
I’m not particularly proud of what I did, but what’s done is done and I can’t change that. I’m happy to have lost a fairly small amount of money compared to what the scammers initially planned asking me to mint 5 of my artworks.
I am still not sure what happened to my uploaded arts, but the fact that you couldn’t access a page with details by clicking on the picture gives me hope. Retartes is most likely just a pretty-looking database, a scenery to hide a wallet that collects your money and transfers it further to the scammers’ accounts.
Don’t get involved with those “NFT traders” who promise you to buy your art on Instagram. If they promise you a lot – run! If they link you to a website that you don’t know, try to suggest trading via OpenSea to them. If you get a dramatic story about how they were scammed there – run!
There’s also a scam on OpenSea where they use a fake support address. Verify via the official website!
And, most important: Nobody is ever going to give you money just like that. Focus on a quality product and your personality as a brand image to go with your art. Stay strong an create!