Someone Stole This VR Producer’s Friendship Bracelet—Here's How She Handled It

Dealing with theft is never fun, but interdisciplinary artist and BFF holder Jessica Kantor wants to speak out about the incident that drained her BFF Friendship Bracelet from her MetaMask wallet in the hopes of saving fellow community members from the same fate.

Kantor, who grew up in New York City and currently resides in Santa Monica, Ca., is a highly sought-after writer, director and producer of immersive augmented reality (AR) experiences. She is also the chief of staff at RMX, an early-stage Web3 startup that develops on-chain tooling for creators. BFF played an important role in Kantor’s Web3 onboarding, which happened, she says, “in a postpartum daze in early 2022.”

“I watched a replay of BFF’s launch,” Kantor said. “I remember being in my women's metaverse group and Cathy Hackl was one of the founding BFFs. She was like, ‘come to this livestream.’ I watched it later on demand because life with a two-month-old — well, yeah.”

After watching the Mint Your BFF NFT replay, Kantor made her first MetaMask wallet and jumped happily down the Web3 rabbit hole. Kantor then minted a BFF Friendship Bracelet and her very own You #340 profile picture (PFP), a pigtailed brunette with pink eyeshadow and yellow and black checkered top. 

The incident

Kantor enjoyed her new PFP and kept adding new charms to her Friendship Bracelet. However, in October 2022, Kantor was upset to learn that her bracelet was missing. “The theft happened without my knowledge while I slept,” Kantor writes. “I’m still trying to track down the culprits and not entirely sure how they got access to my wallet.”

What she does know is this: The NFT was drained on October 7, 2022, at 5:29 a.m. PST. Her bracelet was worth about 0.3 ETH (roughly $450 USD) at the time. Thanks to blockchain, the record is public data, so we know exactly when the theft occurred. However, we don’t know the identity of the person behind the wallet to which the bracelet was transferred.

“This was a wake-up call for me about security practices,” Kantor writes, urging anyone in possession of beloved NFTs to transfer them immediately to a hardware wallet like Ledger or Trezor

Becoming a Web3 sleuth

Kantor invested $100 in gas fees to move all her NFTs to a cold desktop wallet that she doesn’t plan to connect to any site. She then ordered a Ledger hardware wallet and moved her NFTs to it as soon as the device arrived.

She also dabbled in crypto forensics and attempted to recruit other detectives on Twitter — a mistake she soon regretted.

“I tweeted about it,” she writes. “SO many scammers wanted to ‘help me get it back,’ which is impossible on the blockchain.”

But even though she knew it was impossible, she hoped that one of the scammers would turn out to be the original thief offering to bribe her to return the NFT. One person suggested she email a suspicious Gmail account and share her wallet ID and seed phrase, claiming it was MetaMask support (a major red flag!).

Fortunately, Kantor was wise enough to avoid these traps. She also purchased a new BFF Friendship Bracelet — albeit with one fewer charm than her original. “I cherish being a member of the BFF community,” she writes.

Kantor's new BFF Friendship Bracelet (Source: OpenSea)

Why Kantor still believes in Web3

It would be easy for anyone fresh off their first NFT robbery to feel disillusioned with Web3, but as an artist, Kantor still believes in the future of a decentralized, creator-owned internet.

“I have a history of creating storytelling in new media,” Kantor told BFF. “I’ve worked in VR, I've dabbled in AR. I've played with taking traditional tropes and concepts and reinterpreting them in new spaces.”

When a new space pops up, Kantor says, she’s naturally intrigued. She understands that errors, mishaps and friction are all part of a shifting landscape — and she’s not deterred. 

“I do believe our computing paradigm is shifting,” she said. “I don't know exactly how or where it's going, but I believe it's changing. And so I'm really interested in understanding that and bringing humanity to it.”

Playing a positive role in Web3

Kantor, who was a fellow for the Oculus VR for Good initiative, is super bullish on using innovative storytelling technology for social impact and human connection. She also believes that immersive experiences can help us connect stories with our bodies in a holistic way — a consideration that she brings into her work with AR and hopes will translate into the development of artificial intelligence (AI). 

“As a society, we focus so much from the neck up in terms of education,” Kantor says. “Think of an AI — they don't have a body, and we're not teaching it. We're only focusing on the mind piece.”

Merging technology with art helps Kantor explore these ethical and humanitarian questions. For instance, in a recent project for the Bruce Lee Foundation, Kantor focused on helping participants connect their minds, bodies and spirits through digital video mediums.

“Working with the Bruce Lee Foundation taught me a lot about how to be a whole being,” she says. “And so then I'm like, ‘how does that apply to something like AI?'”

As for her continued role in immersive storytelling and Web3, Kantor hopes to keep helping people “open their eyes to new perspectives of the world.” 

And, of course — she plans on keeping her digital assets secure from now on.

Megan DeMatteo is BFF’s Guest Editor.

Jessica Kantor is an interdisciplinary artist working across film, TV, virtual reality, augmented reality and NFTs. She writes more about her experience setting up her MetaMask wallet, losing her BFF Friendship Bracelet and transferring her assets to cold storage on RMX’s Mirror.

This article and all the information in it does not constitute financial advice. If you don’t want to invest money or time in Web3, you don’t have to. As always: Do your own research.

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