Mutant Ape Planet creator arrested in NY for alleged $2.9M NFT ‘fraud’

The developer of a Mutant Ape Yacht Club knock-off assortment — Mutant Ape Planet — has been arrested in New York, charged with allegedly “defrauding” buyers of $2.9 million in a “rug pull scheme.”

The arrest occurred on Jan. 4 on the John F. International Airport in New York, with homeland safety agent Ivan J. Arvelo alleging that French nationwide “Aurelien Michel perpetrated a rug pull scheme” and stole “practically $3 million from buyers for his personal private use,” stating:

“Purchasers of Mutant Ape Planet NFTs thought they have been investing in a classy new collectible, however they have been deceived and acquired not one of the promised advantages”

Internal Revenue Service agent Thomas Fattorusso was additionally cited in a press launch from the Department of Justice, alleging that “Michel defrauded buyers by making false representations of, amongst different issues, giveaways, tokens with staking options, and merchandise collections,” earlier than withdrawing the funds as soon as the NFTs have been offered out.

According to the assertion, Michel is known to have admitted to the group by way of a social media chat that he had perpetrated a rug pull, saying “we by no means meant to rug however the group went means too poisonous.”

The assortment — a knock-off of the favored Mutant Ape Yacht Club NFT assortment — consists of 6,797 NFTs saved on the Ethereum blockchain with 567 Ether (ETH) price of gross sales however has seen its common value and gross sales quantity crater because it launched in Jan. 2022.

Sales of the Mutant Ape Planet NFT assortment. Source: Opensea

Following the arrest, holders of the gathering have been sharing their aspect of the story by way of Twitter, noting that James had tried responsible his departure on the group who have been changing into skeptical as a result of lack of exercise.

The undertaking has since been taken over by the group who’s trying to breathe some life again into it, spearheaded by a person with the pseudonym HTMadge.

Mutant Ape Planet creator arrested in NY for alleged $2.9M NFT 'fraud'
A screenshot of discussions between group members. Source: Discord.

According to a Dec. 21 DappRadar report, Rug pulls — a sort of exit rip-off the place the creators of a undertaking all of the sudden withdraw liquidity from the platform —have been the commonest sort of assault all through 2022, accounting for 119 incidents and $200 million in stolen funds.

Related: Magic Eden to refund customers after pretend NFTs offered because of exploit

Popular influencer and former grownup movie star Lana Rhoades was accused of being behind one of many larger rug pulls of 2022, after reportedly strolling away with $1.5 million from gross sales of an NFT undertaking which has seen lower than 1 ETH price of gross sales since its Feb. 2022 launch.