Mutant Ape Planet Developer Arrested For Alleged $2.9m NFT Rug Pull

Key Takeaways

  • Michel marketed NFTs with “fake” promises, including “rewards, raffles, and exclusive access to other cryptocurrency assets, among others.
  • As per US DOJ, over $2.9 million in purchasers’ cryptocurrency was diverted as part of Michel’s scheme. 
  • Michel reportedly admitted to the rug pull in the community’s Discord channel.

Aurelien Michel, developer of the famous NFT collection Mutant Ape Planet, has been arrested in New York for alleged $2-9 Million NFT rug pull fraud.

As per the complaint, Michel and other unnamed defendants marketed the Mutant Ape Planet NFTs to potential buyers by luring them with hollow promises, including “rewards, raffles, exclusive access to other cryptocurrency assets, and the support of a community wallet with funds to be used for marketing the NFTs.” Following “defrauding,” the buyers, Michel, and his team, allegedly transferred nearly $3 million in earnings to other wallets, including wallets under Michel’s control.

As per the US Department of Justice, in total, over $2.9 million in purchasers’ cryptocurrency was diverted as part of Michel’s scheme.  “After sending their cryptocurrency and obtaining the NFT, purchasers received nothing while their crypto was diverted from the Mutant Ape Planet NFT project to crypto wallets controlled,” US Attorney Breon Peace’s statement reads.

Commenting on the development, homeland security agent Ivan J. Arvelo stated, “Purchasers of Mutant Ape Planet NFTs thought they were investing in a trendy new collectible, but they were deceived and received none of the promised benefits.”

When suspicions arose about the NFT transfer, Michel reportedly admitted to the rug pull in the community’s Discord channel.

Michel, arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport, is scheduled to make his initial court appearance on Thursday before US Magistrate Judge James R. Cho.

Mutant Ape Planet- a knockoff of the Mutant Ape Yacht Club collection sold on the Ethereum blockchain, was launched in January 2022. As per reports, the collection cost about $468 each when it was launched, based on the price of the Ether at the time. The Mutant Ape Planet collection consisted of 6,797 NFTs stored on the ETH blockchain with 567 worth of sales.

Rug pull schemes are plaguing the NFT space. Last year, Frosties-an ice-cream-themed collection of 8,888 NFTs, marketed itself as a “cool, delectable, and unique” project only to end up defrauding the buyers and stealing $1.3 million. In early 2022, “Big Daddy Ape Club” NFT collection creators swiped 9,136 SOL, worth around $1.3 million, from would-be collectors, making it one of the biggest “rug pull” in the Solana blockchain’s history.

Saniya Raahath
Saniya Raahath

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