With the recent exposure and hype around NFTs, it has been explosive for artists around the world to be able to express themselves, earn a sufficient income, collaborate, learn, and make some great friends along the way. Thanks to blockchain, art is entering a brand new frontier. As blockchain now provides artists with a way to not only monetize and market their creations more efficiently, it allows for true asset ownership to be created, shared (fractionalized), transferred, and most importantly…proven.
Like any new frontier, the good can often be overshadowed by the bad, to say the least. Now that minting art on the blockchain is so simple and anyone can do it, a lot of individuals are taking advantage of the trend and creating impostor accounts (posing as the original artist) and selling unofficial art as official art. Many platforms do a wonderful job whitelisting to prevent this from happening, but ultimately it has been a good social experiment to see how artists, collectors, and developers react.
Ways to Validate (Prove Authenticity)
It is highly encouraged for everyone to do their own research when it comes to anything, but especially in the realm of blockchain and cryptocurrency. This equally applies to CryptoArt and NFTs. If you purchase fake art or art that isn’t officially from the intended creator, there are no guaranteed refunds or ways to get your investment back. The following methods are helpful to those new to the space — they do not guarantee legitimacy, but can help identify suspicious indicators and red flags.
Every platform has a different verification, whitelisting, and approval process. The example above is on Rarible.com. The yellow check indicates that this artist has been approved by the team and is legitimate. Be aware that it is still possible for the team to make mistakes (though unlikely). Another popular scam that users are doing is taking a screenshot of the avatar with the yellow check, so that when they upload it, it can/may look legitimate to those that do not look close enough.
You can also check the artist’s public Ethereum address on a block explorer, which Etherscan.io is a great choice that is popular and reliable. With the above example, you can visit the Etherscan that displays all activity for Totemical’s address, here. For those a bit more tech-savvy, this is an option that you can see which platforms the artist has minted on, timestamped, and cross-reference to validate whether this is the official artist or an impostor.
Another helpful indicator, rather than an independent guarantee, you can also check on Rarible.com for the follower count, as well as the creators that the artist follows. This is not necessarily going be obvious or to determine 100% if the account is legitimate, but it can certainly be a red flag or another method to get you closer to the truth.
For those new to the space, it’s always a good practice to verify if that artist is sharing their CryptoArt/NFTs on their social media accounts or talking about it at all. Many platforms will offer some type of “verified” status, though this isn’t entirely fool-proof. If you are a collector, reach out to the artist if you have any doubts. Another example is when platforms publicly announce a new artist joining their platform like this article from SuperRare (welcoming artist Android Jones).
It would be nice to see artists and collectors on certain art platforms using their power, whether governance tokens or voting power, to be able to report and remove bad actors from the equation, though community governance is far easier said than done. Regardless, we each have the responsibility to look out for each other in life and in this space. Speak up and report someone/something if it is suspicious, you may end up saving someone from being scammed. Let’s help to give CryptoArt the spotlight and recognition that it deserves…
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