The founder of the Mutant Ape NFT project faces 5 years in prison for defrauding customers of nearly 3 million USD.
The creator of the Mutant Ape Planet nonfungible token (NFT) collection — a knock-off of Yuga Labs’ Mutant Ape Yacht Club project — has been sentenced to 5 years in prison after admitting to the charge of defrauding customers of almost 3 million USD.
A federal court in New York has filed charges against Aurelien Michel for his involvement in defrauding customers through the “Mutant Ape Planet” NFT project, which capitalized on the popular Mutant Ape Yacht Club collection. Michel, a French citizen residing in the United Arab Emirates, was accused on January 3rd, along with several accomplices, of manipulating the price of Mutant Ape Planet NFTs and promising rewards to those who held them. In reality, the group pocketed 2.9 million USD of users’ funds for personal gain.
After an investigation, on November 14th, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York stated that Aurelien Michel had “rug pulled” the project, stealing nearly 3 million USD from investors for personal purposes. Buyers of Mutant Ape Planet NFTs believed they were investing in a timely collection, but they were deceived and received no benefits.
Before, Michel admitted on the project’s Discord channel that he had “rug pulled” the project because the “community had become too toxic,” the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) asserted that Michel and his accomplices admitted to “intentionally not fulfilling commitments to investors, illicitly transferring millions of dollars for personal gain.”
In response to these developments, the Department of Justice declared that “There is no excusing this kind of greed, and today’s guilty plea brings Michel one step closer to realizing his nightmare — behind bars.” Michel has been sentenced to 5 years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of 1.4 million USD.
From the beginning of the year until now, the cryptocurrency industry has consistently faced various types of attacks and scams, such as Lodestar Finance (6.5 million USD), Ankr (5 million USD), Bitget’s Bitkeep wallet (8 million USD), BTC.com mining pool (3 million USD), veteran Bitcoin developer Luke Dashjr (3.3 million USD), GMX whale (3.4 million USD), and 8 individuals behind CoinDeal (over 45 million USD).