When someone takes ownership of an NFT without the previous owner’s consent, is that considered a criminal action?

Select jurisdiction

  • Germany
  • India
  • France
  • Brazil
  • Sweden
  • Nigeria
  • Poland


It depends on the circumstances how they got hold of the NFT without the original owner’s
consent. Scamming someone of their NFTs or hacking someone’s computer and/or wallet to
get their NFTs, will usually be a criminal offence. However, if the scammer or hacker then
transfers the NFT to an unsuspecting third party that is not participating in this criminal
offence, the third party is not an offender as they did not do anything, did not know about the
offence, and were also not able to prevent it.

Christoph Engelmann



Yes, taking someone else’s property without their consent is considered theft, which is a criminal act under Section 378 of the Indian Penal Code. However, the specific laws and penalties for theft of NFTs are as of now uncertain because there is no formal or legal structure of legislation for NFTs
in India.

Garv Sultania

Web3 Regulations; Jurisdictions;


To bring a criminal action based on infringement in France, there is both the material condition of misappropriation but also an intention to misappropriate, (whereas this second criterion does not apply before the civil courts).

So criminal law may apply but the level of proof required may be deterring, as well as the technicity of the NFT process for a criminal court.

Casey Joly

Intellectual Property


If the individual perpetrated a scam, fraud, cyber-attack, or any other criminally typified act for that purpose, it will be considered a crime by the Brazilian Criminal Code, like in any other asset.

Murilo Picchioni

NFTs, web3, Crypto


Theft or arbitrary conduct of an NFT is a criminal act.

Elvin Sababi

Regulatory and Compliance (including AML), NFT IP rights, Crypto taxation


Where the marketplace (NFT Platform) is seen as a market overt (this is
arguable), and the person in good faith purchases an NFT without the original
owner’s consent, such a person will have a defence against the criminal action of
receiving stolen property.
Where the person is selling on an NFT platform without the original owner’s
consent, then the person will be liable for stealing or conversion. In the case of
stealing, the NFT must not be land and the NFT must have been caused to move.
In the case of conversion, there is no requirement of moving the thing.

Ifeanyi E. Okonkwo

Intellectual Property & Commercial Law


Depending on the particular circumstances of the case, especially on whether this person deliberately stole the NFT from the owner without his / her consent, such behavior shall be qualified as criminal actions and should be prosecuted by relevant public authorities in Poland.

On the other hand, if such a person got hold of the NFT by accident, or if the third person transferred the NFT in question, but at the same time this person has no intent to keep the NFT without the owner’s consent, then such behavior will not be qualified as criminal action.

Justyna Maria Bartoszek

FinTech, Crypto & Web3

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