The creator of the popular Mutant Ape Planet non-fungible tokens (NFTs), Aurelien Michel, has been arrested and charged with fraud by the US Department of Justice (DOJ). According to the DOJ, Michel is accused of carrying out a “rug pull,” a term used to describe a sudden and secretive withdrawal of funds from a project, resulting in losses of approximately $29 million for investors.
Michel was arrested last night at JFK airport in New YorkvCitvy by federal authorities on wire fraud charges. Michel, a French citizen, resides in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Michel and other defendants are accused of falsely marketing Mutant Ape Planet NFTs to buyers by promising various benefits such as rewards, raffles, and exclusive access to other cryptocurrency assets, as well as the support of a community wallet for marketing the NFTs.
They also made vague claims about obtaining “metaverse land” for the NFT project. However, none of these promises was kept, and the defendants are alleged to have transferred the approximately $3 million in proceeds from the NFT sales to other wallets, including some controlled by Michel, after all the NFTs were sold.
Michel admitted in a social media chat with the community that he had engaged in a “rug pull,” according to the statement. Michel reportedly said that “we never intended to rug, but the community went way too toxic.”
It’s alleged that Michel defrauded investors by making false representations of, amongst other things, giveaways, tokens with staking features, and merchandise collections,
wrote Thomas Fattorusso, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ‘s Criminal Investigation team.
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,
The news of the arrest and charges has sent shockwaves through the NFT community, with many investors expressing disappointment and outrage at the alleged fraudulent activity. It serves as a reminder of the potential risks of investing in NFTs and the importance of thoroughly researching projects before investing.