In this article, I share my experience with a new NFT marketplace called Fantasea.io. There's not much information available about it online. The domain has been registered just a little over a month ago, and the homepage currently feels like a work in progress. Because more and more photographers seem to get contacted to sell NFTs on this site, it's important to determine if it's legit.
How I Learned About Fantasea.io
I'm not in the NFT business and primarily sell my photos as prints or license them via my homepage. Two weeks ago, someone interested in purchasing four of my photos contacted me. At first, it seemed he wanted to license the photos for some exclusive use.
But after some back and forth, I found he was interested in buying those photos as NFTs. And he didn't shy away when I suggested a price of 2 ETH per photo — more than $3,000. I offered to mint (create) them at OpenSea, a well-established marketplace. He didn't like that site and suggested using a new NFT marketplace called Fantasea.io.
I have now learned that the story is a common one. I know of three other photographers who had a similar interaction with other "buyers" wanting them to sell their photos as NFTs via Fantasea.io.
Scam or Legit?
As usual in the crypto space, be careful when there is "easy" money to make. To be honest, I liked the prospect of making more than $12,000 from four of my images. But I was cautious of Fantasea.io. When I first explored the site, it revealed several flaws. It also contains only vague information and doesn't conform to the General Data Protection Regulation yet.
One could say that it's a very new marketplace, and there can be benefits to being an early adopter. The problem with Fantasea.io is that minting an NFT costs around $250. And it's not even a fully automated process where you connect a wallet like MetaMask and use it for funding.
Without getting too technical here: to create an NFT on Fantasea.io, you must send the required fee to a wallet provided by Fantasea.io after registration.
Remember that the "buyer" wanted me to mint four photos. It would have cost me $1,000. I estimated my chances of this being a legit request very low, and I would definitely not spend $1,000 on such a gamble.
By then, I had decided to write an article about this experience, and I needed a bit more evidence. So, I asked the "buyer" if we could start with just one photo as I was low on funds. I would later use the profits to mint the other NFTs. He agreed.
Since I still had some funds from writing articles on my hive.blog, I used those to mint one photo. It solidified my impression of Fantasea.io and the "buyer". He began stalling soon after, writing he was still getting the funds ready and doing some small talk.
The great thing about cryptocurrencies is: you can follow the money using tools like Etherscan. So, I checked the transactions on the wallet address to which I had sent the money. As soon as my money was received, it was already sent to another wallet and from there on to Binance.
By now, I know that I'm not the only one who has been contacted this way. Since I have one of the few accounts at Fantasea.io, other photographers contacted me about my experience with this marketplace. Like me, they were also in contact with potential "buyers."
For me, this whole interaction didn't feel right from the time I first checked Fantasea.io. But I wanted certainty, and I see the $250 I spent as an investment in this article. If you found it on Google after having a similar interaction as I had, you can now better decide if you want to gamble your money. Also, use block explorer tools like Etherscan to check the wallets where your money is going for suspicious activities.
And in case you wonder why I didn't include proper links to Fantasea: I didn't want to boost their SEO. And who knows, maybe there's a marketplace under a new domain soon with a similar "buyers" fan base. So, take care.
Am I the only person who thought the phrase "NFT Scam" felt a little redundant?
No sir you are not. Now not only can someone scam someone else into buying the Brooklyn Bridge, they can charge to a nonfungilble facsimile of it and it is oh so valuable. I men who would want to go take or buy a photo of it when you can claim your token is worth more because somehow it is uniqueish?
To be fair, NFT takes scam to the next level - you actually convince your prospect to pay you a pretty penny for utterly nothing, but instead of hiding that fact, you make it your selling point.
I have a feeling this is what just happened to me. Someone messaged me on Instagram about buying a phot but they wanted to buy it as an NFT. They recommended https://www.camseas.com/. That's a no for me.
Exact same for me. A guy named Dave Ruga? I did a quick WhoIs search on Camseas.com and found it was only created Feb 28! And then a further search found it’s originally a discredited Chinese brokerage.
I had a similar thing happen to me on March 18th when a scammer contacted me through direct messages on Instagram. Here is the message exchange between myself and the scammer, who called himself Dave Ruga. His account has since been deleted, presumably by Instagram because someone reported him.
Messages copied and pasted word-for-word directly from my Insta to the transcript below:
SCAMMER "Hello lovely feed you’ve got"
ME "Thank you Dave"
SCAMMER "Are your photos for sale?"
ME "Yes, I sell prints to individuals and businesses, and license digital files to publishers."
SCAMMER "Okay well I’m an Nft collector"
SCAMMER "I want to purchase a few of your works as NFTS for good price.
Where are you from?"
ME "I am from the United States. I travel back and forth between Washington state and Pennsylvania frequently."
SCAMMER "Ohh nice
I’m from Manchester myself"
SCAMMER "Have you converted and sold as NFTS before?"
ME "No, I am unfamiliar with the world of NTFs. But I have a few images that may be particularly well suited for such use"
SCAMMER "Okay perfect 👍 NFTS by the way silly
I’ll make a few selections and show you how to convert."
ME "Here on Instagram I only have some low resolution square cropped photos posted. The real versions of these photos I have in my archives and on my website"
SCAMMER "Okay you’ll be able to use that.
The process to selling by converting in an NFT platform and I’ll be able to purchase"
SCAMMER "My budget is 2 Eth per Nft
That’s $3000 about.."
SCAMMER "We good?"
ME "I don't know yet. It depends on the process that I must perform."
SCAMMER "Okay fine I’ll send a direct link to the marketplace I use"
SCAMMER "Create and upload as NFTS"
SCAMMER "Created yet?"
ME "already? no, of course not. I will spend a lot of time doing research about this before I actually register for an account and create one"
SCAMMER "Okay sure. Do keep me posted on time"
ME "okay ..... it'll probably be sometime lid-late this coming week"
ME "Will I be able to do everything in regular U.S. currency? Including collect payment? I just want to make sure that I won't have to deal in crypto at any point in the process."
SCAMMER "I’m based on using crypto as my bank is encrypted at the moment.
What’s wrong with crypto mate?"
ME "I know nothing about crypto and would need to set up accounts in order to use it as a medium of exchange. And I am very hesitant to use any currency that could rise or drop in value quickly. I am willing to have my images available as NFTs, but I would need to have any payments made in traditional U. S. dollars."
SCAMMER "There’s no problem with that. When you get paid you could simply just trade and send almighty dollars to your account."
ME "oh, good! as long as there is no minimum and no percentage taken out then that would be great"
SCAMMER "Did you successfully create an account with Camseas?"
ME "Oh, not yet. As I said, I will do much research before I decide which service to use. I never use direct links, anyway - it is better for me to go onto my other computer and just put the website name into Google and then get to it via the Google results. That way I don't inadvertently use a link that benefits anyone financially."
ME "Otherwise I could be helping someone get referral dollars without even realizing it!"
When I sell photographs I have legitimate sites people can use. I’ll never sell photographs to or interact with random people contacting me on Instagram (or other sites) offering to pay me in Klingon Groats or whatever virtual scam currency they’re offering.
Wow, that intro from Dave Ruga you got could be (is!) a cut & paste of what I got.
At this moment on opensea, Trey Ratcliff's nfts are at an average of 0.04 eth
.04 eth = about $69.94 usd
2 eth = about $3429.42 usd
Trey Ratcliff is a respected photographer with 1000 nfts and a history at opensea, yet his average price appears to be only a tiny fraction of what you were expecting to make. Both you and Trey are working in comparable genres, so it would seem that you're way overpriced for a relative newcomer. If I'm not reading the analytics wrongly, then it's debatable who would be scamming who because even if you were able to find a buyer at those prices it would most certainly be a ripoff for the buyer.
But the author was playing with a scammer, not actually serious about selling NFTs for that price. The way I read the article, the whole time he knew the guy was a scammer and was just toying with him and using ridiculously inflated prices just to see how the guy would respond.
You could definitely be right. I interpreted the article as if he was hoping that everything was legit but was still thankfully cautious enough to only spend the money to mint one nft.
Payment of minting fees brings up another red flag. If a buyer is offering to buy nfts for a high dollar amount then he'd probably be willing to finance the minting of the nfts too. If he's asking for money to mint the nfts first then it's probably a scam. That kind of scam is similar to the model agencies that say they'll sign a model but first the model has to pay for a portfolio shoot. If the model was really going to be profitable for the agency then the portfolio should be done without costing the model. I actually knew a photographer in Las Vegas that was propositioned by an agency to participate in a scam where the agency would send the model to the photographer and then the photographer would split the portfolio fee with the agency. My friend declined but sadly these kinds of things really do happen.
Okay if I put aside the "scam" here, who are you to say what value Michael's work is? I can turn around and say that Trey Radcliffe has so much art for sale that he is a commodity photographer and there is no uniqueness to his work, so therefore Michael's small available catalog should be priced higher.
Target sells more furniture, yet you're more likely to see something from RH in some rich folks house...
I said it was debatable not definitive. It's a fact that there is similar work from a better known photographer that's already on the market for comparison. It's more likely that competition in the same genre would drive Trey's prices down rather than reward a newcomer.
"Scam" is a pretty harsh word. If a friend came to me and asked if 2 eth was a good price for each nft, then I'd say that was too much money. However, I don't assume most overpriced photographers are trying to scam people. They're more likely to be dreamers with unrealistic expectations than con artists. The same could be said for a lot of these new nft marketplace startups because many of them will lose money even though their founders might genuinely think that they're doing the right thing.
Agree with your sentiments about Trey Ratcliff. His NFT methodology seems to be of a spray and pray system and therefore the low average of .04 eth would make sense. Also, what he has been good at is leveraging his HDR success on to future ventures in photography. So he will jump on whatever is the next popular bandwagon to make more money. His photography is nothing special at all (check his smugmug portfolio); simply put he just knows how to market well.
The nft space is monetized differently than what most photographers like Trey have been accustomed. He's basically a travel blogger that dabbles in stock. Content creators make money from traffic/views that lead to ad revenue and upsells like books, workshops, gear ambassador etc. Stock photographers make money from usage. In both cases, it pays to take as many photos as possible whether they are good or not (spray and pray) with the hopes of appealing to the widest audience possible.
NFT sales are the exact opposite. The point is to find a single owner who will make an investment and then sell later for a profit. Selling an nft is about finding one buyer NOT a multitude of viewers or renters. Nfts are expected to be worth more over time instead of declining in time. The key to the market is exclusivity and anything that looks like it could have been available for free on a blog or could have been used as stock cheapens the value of ownership. Why pay top dollar for images that are basically hand-me downs from social media or are listed for low cost in a stock catalog? I've noticed that a lot of photographers with popular social media followings are falling flat on their faces in the nft market. Most photographers with 100s or 1000s of images originally shot for another market are simply not exclusive enough to successfully convert to nft sales regardless of image quality.
He suggested a total Budget If 20000 USD ;-) I also find such prices ridiculous btw
That's crazy :-)
Trey Radcliffe I have originally quite liked but I think fame has gone to his head. He is an early adopter and I’d say has done well with NFTs. He defends his corner on NFTs quite aggressively. For me NFTs bar an odd one of particular significance are going to be totally worthless. It’s electronic snake oil. It’s sad for the people who buy them with their hard earned money. I’m sure sellers are quite happy to spend the money. I love it when those who make money from NFTs reassure others by buying a few NFTs themselves. Very nice of them. I think it’s been very bad for art and photography. When a virtual token is more valuable than the art itself , it’s not good for art.I’d assume NFTs will disappear soon but it will be replaced by other money making schemes that will fool the ordinary person.
Hi Hector, I agree that only an "odd one" will continue to retain value in the future.
To be clear, I think we all seem to be talking about the secondary market for NFTs. The primary market is like buying a new car from an auto dealer. The secondary market is like buying a used car. Except for a few rare circumstances, a car will decrease in value on the secondary market in relation to what it was originally worth on the primary market. Years ago, the New York Times ran an expose on how Peter Lik had an increasing pricing scheme for his print editions that didn't match their declining resale value. He said, "It's like a Mercedes-Benz...you drive it off the lot, it loses half it's value."
My belief is that if NFTs don't increase or at least maintain their value on the secondary market over time, then they are basically a declining asset and are probably NOT part of the art market. Basically, they'd just be like a digital version of a Peter Lik print. That's also why I'd consider photographers like Trey Ratcliffe to be "falling on his face" in the NFT market even though he reportedly made a small fortune at their introduction. I read that he made about $750,000 but I don't know if that's an accurate number or not.
So, the deal is: if I exchange some of my real money for fake money and send it to a sketch pop-up website, you totally promise to send me more fake money in exchange for a token that has no inherent value? Where do I sign up?
I'm not exactly a crypto sceptic, I hold Bitcoin and some Ether and have done since 2017. I have made decent money from 'investing' in crypto and have had an eye on the scene for years, From ICO's to Blockchain Metaverses...
NFT's are complete bullshit, do not waste your time. There was an initial bubble a couple of years ago when NFT became the crypto buzzword and early adopters made huge amounts of money from gullible 'investors'. That bubble has burst, NFTs that were previously valued at tens of thousands are now worth hundreds. Being able to 'retain' the rights to your image for royalties is also nonsense.
Unless you can mint an NFT for free and have a guaranteed REAL buyer who is going to pay you for it, just don't bother. Even if you think you do, there's probably a scam in there somewhere.
So basically, this is a new take on the old "advance fee" scam, updated to use NFT sales as the carrot rather than a Nigerian prince's riches?
In a nutshell yes, without the spelling mistakes in the E-Mails ;-) but because in Crypto space a lot of stuff - also legit Apps - looks like scam initially this muddies the waters.
It is questionable if the GDPR is applicable. It's EU stuff and has to be applied only there. If you use services from somewhere else, like fatoppers from US, the GDPR is out if the game. The US appluer their own rules. Each country can do so.
Anyway, thank you for sharing your experiences and buring 250USD for us! Not a little money.
you want to buy my pictures, I'LL SET THE TERMS, not you!
Michael wrote a helpful article on a timely subject. I just wanted to add that it appears to be possible to mint nfts with little or no no up front fees on opensea using lazy minting:
lazy minting at NFT school:
There are lots of ways to mint nfts and I'm not recommending lazy minting. I just wanted photographers to be aware that it might be possible to avoid paying fees up front in case a potentially real buyer contacts inquiring about converting images to nfts.
A year ago, NFTs by Alex Soth were selling for $9k. Today, they go for $150, if at all.
I have had the exact same experience with someone contacting me on Instagram wanting to buy NFTs of 3 of my images. He offered 2ETH each and then suggested using a site called Camseas. I played along, created a dummy account, and was then quoted a “gas fee” of 0,36ETH (about $650!) to mint one image! Ha ha.
I went back to the guy who originally contacted me and suggested I sell him through the well established Openseas site, only to be told he didn’t trust that site and had had “debit problems” there!
So folks, beware of Camseas.com and a character called Dave Ruga on IG.