The $3M Mutant Ape Planet NFT Rug Pull

A French developer, the mastermind behind the Mutant Ape Planet NFT collection, is potentially facing up to five years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of wire fraud.

The creator of the Mutant Ape Planet non-fungible tokens, which are imitations of the Mutant Ape Yacht Club series by Yuga Labs, admitted to a conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a federal court in New York.

The Eastern District of New York’s U.S. Attorney’s Office announced on November 14 that Aurelien Michel, a French national, confessed to orchestrating a “rug pull” scheme, defrauding investors of $3 million through the fraudulent Mutant Ape Planet NFTs.

Prosecutors from the Department of Justice indicated that Michel and his associates deceived investors by falsely promising rewards and benefits to enhance the appeal of the collection. However, they deliberately failed to deliver on these promises, diverting the funds for personal gain.

Thomas M. Fattorusso, the special agent in charge of the New York office of the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation division, remarked, “Michel sold what he claimed were dream NFTs with attractive rewards and benefits. In reality, he engaged in a scheme that left investors with nothing but deception and financial loss.”

Michel’s guilty plea marks a significant step towards accountability for his actions. He was arrested on January 4, 2023, in New York, related to this fraud. On January 5, the Department of Justice disclosed that Michel admitted to the NFT collection’s community in a social media chat that he had carried out a rug pull, saying, “We never planned to rug, but the community became overly toxic.”

Michel now faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and has agreed to pay $1.4 million in restitution.

Formerly listed on the NFT platform OpenSea, the Mutant Ape Planet collection consisted of 6,797 NFTs minted on the Ethereum blockchain. In February 2022, it achieved over 320 Ether in sales volume, which significantly decreased by April 2022.

Around the time of Michel’s arrest in January 2023, the collection’s average price and total sales volume had nearly collapsed to nothing.

Francis Caldonia

Francis Caldonia is an accomplished article writer deeply passionate about the Crypto and Web3 realms. With a knack for demystifying intricate topics, Francis has earned recognition as a trusted voice in the realm of decentralized technologies and digital assets.

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