Several major media outlets, including The New York Times, The Financial Times, and Bloomberg, have requested access to a list containing the names of approximately 9 million FTX customers and creditors who lost their money when the exchange filed for bankruptcy in November 2020. While transparency is typically beneficial in legal situations, concerns have been raised within the crypto community over the possibility of scammers targeting the customers whose names are on the list.
Recently, there has been an increase in the prevalence of “pig butchering” scams, also known as sha zhu pan, which involve a long-term manipulation of victims to obtain their financial information. With the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, these scams have become more efficient and easier to carry out on a large scale. Due to these risks, the bankruptcy court in the FTX case has kept the list of customers sealed, but a 90-day deadline for renewing the seal is approaching.
The media outlets requesting access to the customer list argue that crypto users should not receive special protection from public scrutiny, stating that “there is no legal basis for giving crypto users the ability to participate in bankruptcy proceedings anonymously.” FTX representatives have previously argued that crypto users are more susceptible to scams than other groups when their personal information is released, and they have pointed out that the rise of AI tools like ChatGPT makes long-term scams like “pig butchering” more efficient. Moreover, customers of a now-bankrupt crypto lender, Celsius, have already been targeted by scammers.
Despite these arguments, the media outlets believe that the customer list should be made public. They assert that there is no evidence that any individuals named in the Celsius litigation have fallen victim to theft of their identities or crypto assets. Nonetheless, the risk of scammers targeting the customers whose names are on the list remains a concern within the crypto community.