Analyzing data from the REKT database, a recent study by the company “Smart Bettin Guide” found that crypto scams in the gaming and metaverse sectors reached a record $43.7 million last year.

Alarm bells are ringing for users in the crypto space, who are increasingly faced with scam attempts such as phishing, fake smart contracts, exploits and much more.

In any case, although the phenomenon appears to be growing, in 2023 the total number of hacks took away a lower value of assets from the crypto market compared to 2022.

This data marks an important reversal of trend, except for the category of cross-chain bridges which amplify the technical vulnerabilities of some operations that take place on blockchain.

All the details below.

Gaming and the metaverse: thefts and crypto scams worth $43.7 million in 2023

The “Smart Bettin Guide” company in a recent study, conducted by analyzing the data present on the REKT database, highlighted alarming numbers regarding crypto scams operating in the gaming and metaverse sectors.

In 2023, cybercriminals stole various decentralized protocols belonging to these market niches with a total value of approximately 43.7 million dollars.

The figure itself represents just 2.5% of all the money lost by users in the crypto world last year due to hacks and exploits of various nature, which amounts to 1.64 billion dollars, but underlines the advancement of increasingly sophisticated fraudulent practices by malicious actors.

Gamin and metaverse represent the sixth most targeted category in 2023, after the cross-chain bridges, the CeFi platforms, the lending protocols on Polygon, the Binance decentralized network and the DEXs on Ethereum.

Particularly in the field of cryptographic games and virtual worlds, traps for less experienced users are becoming increasingly ingenious, sometimes also accompanied by AI technology, so much so that it is difficult to distinguish them from what is truly legitimate.

Sometimes the perpetrators of the scams try to establish a relationship with the victim, with the aim of creating a “fake friendship” and lowering the defensive barriers. Once the target is achieved, scammers use various means to extract valuable data and money from users’ pockets.

Going into specifics, the vulnerabilities reported by REKT in this context range from theft attempts via phishing, to false virtual exchanges within the metaverse, NFT scams, up to the use of malicious smart contracts.

Companies such as GameStop, Microsoft and Best Buy are worried about the increasingly frequent theft of digital assets within gaming platforms since they primarily offer the possibility of paying for games in cryptocurrencies and could be the next target of hackers.

The most affected gaming/metaverse projects in 2023 according to REKT data are Stake Wallet, MetaPoint, Ocean Venture, Tales of Elleria, Syncspace Aury, Doglands and Mars Meta Space.

Cyber ​​security experts suggest keeping your eyes peeled during this time of year, which historically turns out to be one of the most profitable for hackers in the crypto world.

Overall, the probability of being hit by a crypto scam is higher in the first half of the year than in the second half, excluding December.

Always check the origin and authenticity of the links we find onlinealways double check with the verified channels of the project in question, use reporting tools for malicious smart contracts such as WalletGuard and never trust anyone when the ethics of money are involved.

These small precautions could save your wallet.

Here is what igmas Pekarskas, CEO of Smart Betting Guide, reported regarding the proliferation of crypto scams in gaming and metaverse contexts:

“Some platforms, including those in the metaverse and gaming sphere, are more susceptible to cybercrime than others. When transacting on any of these platforms, be sure to do your research and due diligence. Be careful of ‘too good to be true’ prices or unverified sale items, especially if you’re purchasing an extremely limited or high-demand gaming item, as scammers will try to exploit your interest.”

Hacks and exploits decrease overall in 2023 but bridge incidents increase

Beyond the scary numbers in the gaming/metaverse category, in 2023 the trend of crypto scams and hacks in web3 in general it has slowed down compared to the year 2022 in which there was a real massacre for cryptographic protocols.

According to data on DeFiLlama, last year the overall exploits involved assets worth more than that 1.4 billion dollars, of which a large portion is in the months of March, July, September and November.

The most attacked projects were Euler Finance, Mixing Network, Poloniex and Atomic Wallet.

crypto scam metaverse

In 2022, however, the total amount of crypto stolen by hackers reached the crazy figure of 3.2 billion dollarsor 41.6% of all blockchain thefts ever recorded.

March, October and November were record-breaking months for cybercriminals, with infrastructure such as the Ronin network, Binance Bridge and the FTX exchange being targeted.

crypto scam metaverse

However, in 2023 there was a category that stood out along with the gaming and metaverse platforms for the large amount of scams and thefts.

We’re talking about cross-chain bridges, hackers’ absolute favorite targets who exploit the still immature interoperability technology to obtain large illicit profits.

In total, since their inception, bridges have lost approximately 2.83 billion dollars with the cases of Ronin, BSC TokenHub, Wormhole, Multichain, Nomad, Horizon, Heco and Orbit among the most profitable hits.

The growing need for decentralized finance to move assets quickly and cheaply between multiple blockchains pushes more and more bridges to look for solutions that are still little tested by the community, with an excessive risk of technical vulnerabilities in the code.

As also highlighted by a recent study by Chainalysis, in the last two years these protocols were of great help to North Korean hackers who laundered over $1 billion coming from other illegitimate transactions carried out on the network.

hacked bridges

The hope for the sector in this situation is that the new emerging interoperability solutions such as LayerZero and Chainlink CCIP can solve this gap, making it simple, but at the same time also safe, to transfer assets in multichain mode without running the risk of coming across crypto scam.


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