The developer of Mutant Ape Planet has been arrested after allegedly scamming investors out of millions of dollars. The project, which is a knockoff of the original Mutant Ape Yacht Club, made many promises that went unfulfilled.
The developer who goes by the name Aurelien Michel was arrested this Wednesday evening at the John F. Kennedy airport in New York. He is a French citizen who, at the time of his arrest, resided in the United Arab Emirates.
According to the charge sheet, Michel and his conspirators marketed the NFT project to lure investors without the intention of keeping their word. Some of the promises included “rewards, raffles, exclusive access to other cryptocurrency assets, and the support of a community wallet with funds to be used to market the NFTs.” There was also the promise of buying metaverse land.
The only problem was that when it came time to deliver, there was nothing tangible for investors. It was disheartening given that these project believers had sunk over $2.9 million into the project.
Once the NFT sale was over, Michel and his conspirators transferred the funds to other wallets. Unwittingly, some of these wallets were traceable to Michel.
Michel Blames Investors For The Rug Pull
The transfers raised red flags among Mutant Ape Planet community members.
Authorities claim that Michel, using the pseudonym “James” admitted to the rug pull in the community’s Discord channel when the buyers of the Mutant Ape Planet became suspicious of the transfers.
According to the complaint which sees Michel in serious trouble: “In a social media chat with current and prospective purchasers, Michel admitted to the fraudulent “rug pull,” but blamed the community of NFT purchasers for his actions, stating, “We never intended to rug but the community went way too toxic.”
In other words, they rug-pulled the project because investors were asking too many questions.
Unfortunately, rug pulls have become common in the NFT space, however, investigations and counteractions are helping combat these frauds.
Thankfully, authorities were able to see through the mendacity.
Thomas Fattorusso, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge with the IRS Criminal Investigations Team, notes, “It’s alleged that Michel defrauded investors by making false representations of, amongst other things, giveaways, tokens with staking features, and merchandise collections.”
Describing the situation, Fattorusso added, “Michel can no longer blame the NFT community for his criminal behavior. His arrest means he will now face the consequences of his own actions”. Let’s see how this one goes.