Major media outlets such as The New York Times, The Financial Times, and Bloomberg have asked the court in FTX’s bankruptcy case to hand over a list containing the names of millions of FTX customers.
In total, the lists the media outlets are asking to get access to contains the names of some 9 million FTX customers and creditors who lost their money when the exchange filed for bankruptcy in November last year.
And while transparency is normally a good thing in any legal process, the petition to the court has raised eyebrows in the crypto community given the risk that the customers could become targets for scammers.
The fears that scammers could take advantage of customer data have increased recently due to the prevalence of so-called “pig butchering” scams, also known in Chinese as sha zhu pan.
“Pig butchering” is one of the most sophisticated types of scams around, and involves long-term manipulation of the victim to get them to hand over key financial information.
And with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, the scam has become much easier to carry out on a large scale than before.
Customer data has been kept sealed
Up until now, the bankruptcy court in the FTX case has kept the list of customers sealed due to the risk posed by scammers.
Now, however, a 90-day deadline for renewing the seal is pending, with the major media outlets eager to get the names released, arguing in a recent filing that “there is no legal basis for giving crypto users the ability to participate in bankruptcy proceedings anonymously.”
Crypto users are uniquely vulnerable
In the past, FTX representatives in the proceedings have argued that crypto users are more vulnerable to scams than other groups of people when their personal information is released.
The representatives have also made clear that the rise of AI tools like ChatGPT makes long-term scams like the “pig butchering” method much more efficient, while pointing out that customers of now-bankrupt crypto lender Celsius have already been targeted by scammers.
Still, the media outlets demanding to see the customer lists argued to the court that crypto users should not receive special protection from public scrutiny.
“Despite these scam attempts, the record contains no evidence that any individuals named in the Celsius litigation have fallen victim to theft—either of their identities or their crypto assets,” the three media outlets wrote in their filing.