creator of Mutant Ape Planet was arrested in New York and accused of using a “rug pull scheme” to cheat investors out of $2.9 million.
The person was caught on January 4 at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Ivan J. Arvelo, an agent with the Department of Homeland Security, says that “Aurelien Michel perpetrated a rug pull scheme” and stole “nearly $3 million from investors for his own personal use.” He added:
“Purchasers of Mutant Ape Planet NFTs thought they were investing in a trendy new collectible, but they were deceived and received none of the promised benefits.”
In a press release from the Department of Justice, an IRS agent named Thomas Fattorusso was quoted as saying, “Michel defrauded investors by making false representations of, amongst other things, giveaways, tokens with staking features, and merchandise collections.” In the announcement, it says that Michel took out the money when the nonfungible tokens (NFTs) ran out.
The statement says that Michel told the group through a social media chat that he had pulled a rug, saying, “we never intended to rug but the community went way too toxic.”
There are 6,797 NFTs in the collection. They are all stored on the Ethereum blockchain. It copies the well-known Mutant Ape Yacht Club NFT collection. Since it came out in January 2022, the collection has sold a total of 567 Ether ETH tickers for $1,247 less. However, its average price and sales volume have both dropped.
After James was arrested, the owners of the collection went on Twitter to tell their side of the story. They said that James tried to blame his leaving on the community’s growing skepticism because there hadn’t been much activity.
Since then, the project has been taken over by the community, which, led by an anonymous user with the handle HTMadge, is working to give it new life.
DappRadar released a report on December 21 saying that rug pulls, a type of exit scam in which the creators of a project suddenly stop working on it or pull money out of the platform, were the most common type of attack in 2017. They happened 119 times and stole $200 million.
Lana Rhoades, a well-known influencer and former adult film star, has been accused of pulling off one of the biggest rug pulls of 2022. She allegedly stole $1.5 million from the minting of an NFT project that has sold less than 1 ETH on the secondary market since its launch in February.