Hunting for Art

Jonathan Albert
7 min readDec 15, 2021

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Last night I received a friend request on Twitter with the following direct message.

Smilesss is a reference to the Smilesssvrs NFT art collection and #8204 is the ID of the art piece he is interested in. I don’t memorize the IDs of the collections I own so I checked my inventory and found it.

Link to the art: https://opensea.io/assets/0x177ef8787ceb5d4596b6f011df08c86eb84380dc/8204

Zoom into the image as close as possible to appreciate the craftsmanship of the artist Waheed Zai. Now consider the fact he algorithmically created over 8,000 variations of this character with this same level of detail. Waheed is a 3D artist whose work touches on Hip-Hop culture. His work has aired on Jimmy Fallon and CNBC and his portfolio includes collaborations with Supreme and rappers like Pooh Shiesty. Now back to the story.

After confirming I owned the piece WoogieMan33 was interested in, my next thoughts were:

  • How did he find me?
  • How do I know if this is legitimate or a scam?
  • How do I even manage a trade without getting robbed?
  • This is a scam
  • He’s going to rob me.
  • Let’s see where this goes.

If he was a member of the smilesssvrs community then he’d likely be participating in the community Discord. Discord is a program that allows groups to organize in chat, audio, and video rooms.

I opened Discord, clicked on the smilesss server, and found a channel for trades. In the channel I found WoogieMan33 asking other members if they knew who owned #8204. To my knowledge, no one answered him but it was a good sign that he’s trying to participate in the community. A typical scammer wouldn’t risk being called out by members of the group chat.

I decided to ask the channel for advice on how to manage the trade. WoogieMan33 replied and suggested SudoSwap. This brought up a new set of concerns.

  • Did he respond quickly hoping I wouldn’t ask any questions and sign a smart contract he designed on his own website?
  • SudoSwap? Sudo as in Psuedo? In other words “Fake Swap”?
  • This landing page.
Visit the website: https://sudoswap.xyz/#/

While traditional financial applications are clean, simple, and refrain from including animated content, Decentralized Finance (DeFi) applications are rugged and have website designs reminiscent of MySpace days. Many Decentrantralized Applications (Dapps) are looking to gamify complex transactions to make them more user-friendly. It’s not the first time I’ve seen a Dapp that I thought looked questionable but I’m slowly accepting this is the new way.

Before I could do anything on SudoSwap, I had to confirm that it was a legitimate application. I searched through the Discord channel for “SudoSwap”. I found a few users suggesting it for trades and the moderator of the channel included it among a list of trusted platforms. I also searched online and found this article on how to trade NFTs by Bankless HQ which includes SudoSwap: https://metaversal.banklesshq.com/p/how-to-trade-nfts

Bankless HQ is a trusted and well-respected resource for information on cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance so it gave me the confidence I needed to proceed.

WoogieMan33 sent me a private message on Discord and asked if I wanted to trade #8204 for #2056.

Link to the art: https://opensea.io/assets/0x177ef8787ceb5d4596b6f011df08c86eb84380dc/2056

I like the bag and skateboard, but I hold other pieces in this collection with the same items. Our pieces share the same shirt and platform so I was really just swapping out the shorts, hat, and background. I wasn’t a fan of the trade but WoogieMan33 suggested I check his profile for other pieces I may be interested in. He holds a great collection so I told him I would be interested in any other piece and he offered #3668.

Link to the art: https://opensea.io/assets/0x177ef8787ceb5d4596b6f011df08c86eb84380dc/3176

Since the avatars are randomly generated it’s more common to see figures that don’t have matching clothes so the matching black shirts and pants along with the matching brown bag, skateboard, and background give it an uncommonly clean look. It’s an added bonus that I don’t own a piece with the same platform.

To me, this was a great deal and concerns started to rise again. What if this isn’t the real collection? He could have copied the images, made his own collection and now he’s trying to swap a bootleg one for a real one. To address the concern I went to Opensea.io, an NFT marketplace commonly used for generative art projects like this one.

Established NFT art collections are verified with OpenSea and their verification is on display as a blue badge with a white checkmark. The Smilesssvrs collection is verified which makes it easier to distinguish from any copies. OpenSea actively takes down copies of verified collections making it harder for scammers to trick users into buying fake collections.

If you navigate to the page of the individual NFT you can see the collection it is a part of and the owner of the NFT. WoogieMan’s account matched the account listed on the NFT so I knew it was a legitimate piece from the Smilesssvrs collection. The art is legit, Sudoswap is legit; I had all the information I needed to proceed.

To set up a trade on Sudoswap the person initiating the swap has to connect their wallet and add the assets they are looking to trade. After adding their own assets they will need to approve the assets to be used on Sudoswap. Once their assets are approved, the user can choose the assets they want to trade for.

Select Custom Asset and ERC 721 for asset type. ERC 721 is the Ethereum Smart Contract used to manage NFTs. The Asset Address can be found on the Opensea page of the asset you are interested in.

Scroll down to the details to find the contract address and the token ID. Enter the information into the swap. Create the swap.

Woogieman initiated the contract and he sent me a link where it was already set up. I clicked on the Opensea link to verify that it was the NFT we agreed on and it checked out. Woogieman paid around $33 to approve his NFT and warned me I would have to do the same. I approved my NFT and finalized the Smart Contract. The person who finalizes the contract has to pay for the gas fees and the estimated fee was around $130. WoogieMan offered to split it but it wasn’t a big deal, I was happy with the trade, the overall experience, and the opportunity to connect with a fellow collector.

I was still left wondering how WoogieMan had found me so I decided to ask him. While no one responded to the post on the trade channel, another user found my Twitter account and sent my account to WoogieMan in a private message.

I followed up with the community member who helped Woogieman locate me and he provided the following explanation.

The transaction took a few minutes but I successfully swapped an NFT with a complete stranger that hunted me down across several networks to find a piece of art he loved.

Take-Aways

Cryptocurrencies and blockchains are not anonymous and if you’re transacting on blockchains with public ledgers anyone can figure out who you are, especially if you have an ENS. You will need to take active steps to hide your identity on Web 3.

There are several ways for someone to scam you out of your money or assets so be sure to search for signs of credibility, verify Dapps with trusted sources, verify the authenticity of every asset in a deal, and triple-check every part of the deal before proceeding.

In Web 3 software acts as a mediator between strangers allowing both parties to engage in complex financial transactions without risking their assets.

Notes

  • This is not an endorsement for any particular Dapp, I am merely sharing my experiences.

Resources

Want to get a better understanding of how this all works? Check out these resources:

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Jonathan Albert

Futuristic reverse engineering the products and services of tomorrow today. I write about emerging technologies and their implications for the world.