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Press Release

Defendant Charged With Theft Of Cryptocurrency And NFTs Through Spoofing Of OpenSea Marketplace

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Christie M. Curtis, the Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced the unsealing of a four-count Indictment charging SOUFIANE OULAHYANE, a/k/a “Soufiane Oulahya,” for a scheme to impersonate the OpenSea marketplace in order to obtain unauthorized access to cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”).  In September 2021, OULAHYANE stole approximately $450,000 worth of cryptocurrency and NFTs from a victim in Manhattan.  OULAHYANE is currently in custody in Morocco for domestic Moroccan charges. 

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As alleged, Soufiane Oulahyane used a common cybercrime technique to steal victim cryptocurrency and NFTs.  ‘Spoofing’ is one of the oldest tricks in the criminal playbook.  Oulahyane adapted this old tool for use in a new and developing arena – the crypto space.  The charges unsealed today should serve as a reminder that digital assets, such as cryptocurrency and NFTs, are not immune from cyber fraudsters and that my Office is committed to prosecuting these fraudsters both here and abroad.” 

FBI Acting Assistant Director in Charge Christie M. Curtis said: “Oulahyane is alleged to have operated a spoof website to gain unauthorized access to victims’ cryptocurrency wallets to steal their cryptocurrency and NFTs.  The FBI is committed to holding all individuals who conduct malicious cyberattacks against U.S. interests accountable in the United States criminal justice system - no matter where in the world they are located.”

As alleged in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:[1]

In or about September 2021, SOUFIANE OULAHYANE, a/k/a “Soufiane Oulahya,” engaged in a scheme to “spoof” the login page to the OpenSea marketplace, the first and largest NFT marketplace.  Through paid advertisements on a popular search engine, OULAHYANE caused his spoofed version of OpenSea to appear first in search results for “opensea.”  The spoofed website was purposefully designed to look like the legitimate OpenSea login page in order to trick unsuspecting victims into thinking they were interfacing with the real OpenSea marketplace.  However, when victims entered their login credentials or other private information on the spoofed site, their credentials were automatically sent to an email account controlled by OULAHYANE.

On or about September 26, 2021, a Manhattan-based victim (“Victim-1”) used a popular search engine to search for “opensea.”  That search yielded a link that, unbeknownst to Victim-1, connected to OULAHYANE’s spoofed version of the OpenSea login page.  Believing that the spoofed website was the legitimate OpenSea website, Victim-1 entered the seed phrase to their cryptocurrency wallet.  By doing this, Victim-1 unwittingly transferred their seed phrase to OULAHYANE, giving access to Victim-1’s cryptocurrency wallet.

Almost immediately, OULAHYANE used Victim-1’s seed phrase to obtain unauthorized access to Victim-1’s cryptocurrency wallet.  OULAHYANE then transferred the cryptocurrency from Victim-1’s wallet to another cryptocurrency wallet outside of Victim-1’s control.  In addition, OULAHYANE sold approximately 39 of Victim-1’s NFTs on the OpenSea marketplace and transferred the fraudulent cryptocurrency proceeds to a wallet outside of Victim-1’s control.  For example:

OULAHYANE sold an NFT from the “Bored Ape Yacht Club” series, depicted below, which Victim-1 had purchased for approximately 49 ETH.

Picture of Bored Ape Yacht Club series NFT

OULAHYANE sold an NFT from the “Meebit” series, depicted below, which Victim-1 had purchased for approximately 9.88 ETH.

Picture of Meebit series NFT

OULAHYANE sold an NFT from the “Bored Ape Kennel Club” series, depicted below, which Victim-1 had purchased for six ETH.

Picture of Bored Ape Kennel Club series NFT

OULAHYANE sold an NFT from the “CryptoDad” series, depicted below, which Victim-1 had purchased for 1.789 ETH.

Picture of CryptoDad series NFT

In total, OULAHYANE stole cryptocurrency and NFTs from Victim-1 that Victim-1 had paid approximately $448,923 to obtain.

*                *                *

OULAHYANE, 25, of Morocco, is charged with wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; the use of an unauthorized access device, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison; affecting transactions with an access device to receive something of value that is equal to or greater than $1,000, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison; and aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison. 

The maximum and mandatory potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas W. Chiuchiolo is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.       

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.


Nicholas Biase
(212) 637-2600

Updated July 12, 2023

Press Release Number: 23-238