The creator of the Mutant Ape Planet non-fungible token (NFT) collection, a rip-off of the popular Mutant Ape Yacht Club NFT collection, was arrested and charged with fraud for allegedly pulling a $2.9 million con.
According to the lawsuit filed on January 3, Michel and other unnamed defendants promoted Mutant Ape Planet NFTs to prospective buyers by promising them rewards, raffles, unique access to other crypto assets, and the backing of a community wallet with funds to sell the NFTs. Project promoters allegedly made vague promises regarding acquiring metaverse land for the NFT project.
However, after all the NFTs were sold, Michel and the other unnamed defendants reportedly transferred roughly $3 million to other wallets under Michel’s control.
When the buyers of Mutant Ape Planet got suspicious of the transfers, police believed that Michel, posting as “James” on the community’s Discord channel, admitted to the scam.
According to Thomas Fattorusso, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Criminal Investigation team, Michel allegedly deceived investors by misrepresenting tokens with staking characteristics and goods collections.
Crypto sleuth ZachXBT said that Aurelien Michel was also the co-founder of $1.6m rug pull of Crazy Camel Club NFTs.
Aurelien the founder charged today by the DOJ in the $2.9m rug pull of Mutant Ape Planet also happens to be the co-founder of another $1.6m rug pull I did a thread on called Crazy Camel Club (attached below) https://t.co/Gpb3LVkRXX pic.twitter.com/J7yCxNZwXW
— ZachXBT (@zachxbt) January 5, 2023
Michel’s arrest implies that he must face the repercussions of his acts. Thursday afternoon, Michel appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge James Cho of the Eastern District of New York.