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Bitcoin Ordinals Hype Lures Meme Token Traders Into Wallet Drainer Attack

Ordinals gave Bitcoin a way for creators to “inscribe” NFT-like digital media and later meme tokens on the Bitcoin blockchain—but along with substantial growth has come the same kinds of scams and exploits that have thrived on other platforms. Last week, the Ordinals space saw what is being described by some users as its largest such attack to date.

On Friday, a new alleged meme token project called ORNG launched, offering users the ability to mint a BRC-20 fungible token via the Ordinals protocol. It rolled out on what appeared to some users to be an actual Ordinals launchpad site called Luminex.

But it wasn’t Luminex—and the mint apparently also wasn’t legit. It was launched via a knockoff website called “Luminux” (note the sly vowel change), and soon Twitter users complained of their Bitcoin wallets being drained after they believed that they had signed a transaction to mint the new meme token.

It’s a familiar story in the world of Ethereum NFTs and token drops, and such “wallet drainer” scams come in various forms. Sometimes it’s through a phishing-style attack in which a doctored website is created that looks like an actual official website or marketplace. Other times, such scams are spread through a hacked Twitter account of a notable creator or brand.

It’s not clear exactly how much was stolen in the attack, but the wallet tied to the scam took in about 2.37 Bitcoin—or about $63,000 worth—primarily on Friday, with fewer transactions registered over the weekend.

Since the Friday launch, the Twitter account tied to the scam has rebranded to try and serve up another potential scam, with the same fake “Luminux” landing page adjusted to promote a new token mint. It’s still unclear who was behind the scam mints.

Luminex and Bitcoin wallet creator Xverse were among the companies warning users of the scam and tweeting details on how to avoid falling for similar attempts. A Luminex spokesperson told Decrypt that it warned its community “within minutes” of the scam launch.

Like similar scams on Ethereum that have drained untold millions of dollars’ worth of crypto from unsuspecting users, it’s often a matter of people acting too quickly to take advantage of what they believe will be an opportunity to make some money.

That “fear of missing out,” or FOMO, often drives crypto and NFT traders to overlook potential red flags. In this case, the rising buzz around Ordinals projects and BRC-20 tokens—including the hyped recent launch of the OXBT token—may have tripped up overeager minters.

“Scams often ride on popular project waves, as seen here,” the Luminex spokesperson told Decrypt. “We always encourage our community to double-check URLs and wait for official announcements before joining new projects.”

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