Crypto scammers are now leveraging celebrity influence to target vulnerable consumers.
BrandShield — a cybersecurity company specializing in detecting and removing online threats — identified the 10 most popular celebrities who have promoted NFTs, crypto wallets, and digital assets in the past year, and found that NFL icon Tom Brady tops the list when it comes to the most impersonated personality across social media with 2,889 impersonations (17.49% of the top 10 list.)
Actor Matt Damon (13.79%) and former professional boxer Mike Tyson (13.56%) followed the Super Bowl-winning quarterback ,with Kim Kardashian (12.05%) and Paris Hilton (10.92%) rounding out the top five.
"It's a wild west..."BrandShield CEO, Yoav Keren, said about the rise of crypto & NFT scams
Faux accounts masquerading as the Tesla CEO have, in the past, pushed crypto-related scams, while other fraudulent accounts have stolen users' log-in information or accessed their crypto wallets.
Those types of swindles are now on the rise as digital currencies become more and more popular.
"It's a wild west," BrandShield CEO, Yoav Keren, told Yahoo Finance, adding that "this is a problem of the crypto industry and the online community at large."
In some cases, scammers will create fake NFTs, which infringe on other people's trademarks and copyrights, to sell for cash on unprotected marketplaces.
BrandShield conducted a separate study focused specifically on this issue, scanning notable NFT marketplace OpenSea for fraudulent listings.
The cybersecurity firm surfaced over 41,500 NFTs with unauthorized use of likeness and image associated with popular celebrities.
Yahoo Finance reached out to OpenSea for comment but did not immediately hear back.
According to the study, Tom Brady was once again the most targeted celebrity, with 31,400 fake NFTs (75.53%), followed by Mike Tyson (6.65%), Kim Kardashian (4.23%), Paris Hilton (2.82%), and Matt Damon (0.77%.)
"It shows how important it is for companies and celebrities to protect their own brands because they're losing money — [those NFT sales] are going to the scammers," Keren said.
"Not to mention the fact that fans are getting scammed. They're not protected," he continued.
Overall, the executive advised consumers to only visit official websites and trust verified accounts, and to be wary of any special promotions, especially those that are advertised through unofficial platforms.
Alexandra is a Senior Entertainment and Food Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193 and email her at email@example.com