Mutant Ape Planet NFT: The $3M Rug Pull
Unveiling the scandalous story of the developer behind the Mutant Ape Planet NFT series, now facing a potential five-year prison term for wire fraud
The developer from France behind the Mutant Ape Planet NFT series is facing a potential five-year prison sentence after admitting to wire fraud.
The individual responsible for creating the Mutant Ape Planet nonfungible tokens, imitations of Yuga Labs' Mutant Ape Yacht Club series, has confessed to wire fraud conspiracy in a federal court in New York.
On November 14, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York announced that Aurelien Michel, a French citizen, acknowledged his role in a "rug pull" scam, cheating investors of $3 million with the counterfeit Mutant Ape Planet NFTs.
The Department of Justice prosecutors reported that Michel, along with his collaborators, lured investors by falsely promising rewards and benefits to boost the collection's demand. They intentionally did not fulfill these promises, misappropriating millions in proceeds for their own use.
Thomas M. Fattorusso, the special agent leading the Internal Revenue Service's criminal investigation in New York, commented, “Michel claimed to offer dream NFTs with enticing rewards and benefits, but instead, he swindled investors, transforming their aspirations into a reality marred by deceit and financial losses.”
Michel's actions are indefensible, and his guilty plea moves him closer to facing the consequences of his actions in prison. He was apprehended in New York on January 4, 2023, for his involvement in this scheme. The Department of Justice revealed on January 5 that Michel confessed to the community of the NFT collection via social media that he had executed a rug pull, stating, “We never intended to rug but the community became excessively toxic.”
At his sentencing, Michel is looking at a maximum of five years in prison and has agreed to repay $1.4 million.
The Mutant Ape Planet collection, previously available on the NFT platform OpenSea, comprised 6,797 NFTs created on the Ethereum blockchain. In February 2022, the collection's sales volume exceeded 320 Ether but saw a significant decline by April 2022.
By January 2023, coinciding with Michel's arrest, the average price and total sales of the collection had plummeted almost to zero.