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Billionaire Mark Cuban has long been a major supporter of cryptocurrencies, promoting Bitcoin as a better investment than gold and criticizing security regulators’ approach to reigning in the industry. Now, he’s been hit with a nearly $1 million loss after falling victim to a phishing scam.
The substantial theft was first spotted by an anonymous blockchain watcher on social media, who noticed that Cuban’s crypto wallet was being drained of all its funds on Friday. “Lmao, did Mark Cuban's wallet just get drained? Wallet inactive for 160 days and all assets just moved,” said WazzCrypto in a tweet with an attached screenshot of Cuban’s wallet activity. The losses amounted to roughly $870,000, according to blockchain data from the attacker’s crypto address.
Cuban spoke to crypto news outlet DL News and said that he was the victim of a phishing attack. He downloaded a fake version of popular crypto wallet software after searching on Google, he said, which was set up to drain his funds. “I’m pretty sure I downloaded a version of MetaMask with some shit in it,” he told the outlet.
“I went on MetaMask for the first time in months. They must have been watching,” Cuban said.
Crypto phishing scams are extremely common, and generally follow the pattern of a user engaging with malicious software or a smart contract on the blockchain. Because cryptocurrency transactions are instant, irreversible, and typically anonymous, there is usually little recourse for victims. Last week, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin’s Twitter account was hacked and scammers stole about $500,000 in just 20 minutes.
Cuban has publicly promoted cryptocurrency projects where investors lost their money. He promoted the crypto-bank platform Celcius before it went bankrupt, and is currently being sued by investors who allege that it was really a Ponzi scheme. In the immediate aftermath of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange collapse—its CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, is now facing criminal charges—he tweeted that he believes crypto is still in a phase akin to the early days of the internet.