Mutant Ape Planet, a Mutant Ape Yacht Club knockoff collection, has been arrested in New York and charged with defrauding investors of $2.9 million.
A homeland security agent, Ivan J., arrested the suspect at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Jan. 4. According to Arvelo, French national “Aurelien Michel” perpetrated a rug pull scam and stole nearly $3 million from investors for his personal benefit.
Despite believing they were investing in a trendy new collectible, Mutant Ape Planet NFT buyers were deceived and did not receive any benefits.
According to a Department of Justice press release, Internal Revenue Service agent Thomas Fattorusso “Michel defrauded investors by presenting false information about giveaways, tokens with stake features, and merchandise collections, among other things.” Michel, however, withdrew the funds once the nonfungible tokens (NFTs) were sold out, according to the release.
Michel admitted to the community via social media that he had perpetrated a rug pull, saying “we never intended to rug but the community became way too toxic.”
It is based on the popular Mutant Ape Yacht Club NFT collection, and consists of 6,797 NFTs stored on the Ethereum blockchain.
The currency launched in January 2022 with ETH in sales, but its average price and sales volume have plummeted.
Holders of the collection have been sharing their side of the story via Twitter, noting that James had attempted to blame his departure on the community’s growing skepticism.
Community members have taken over the project and are trying to revive it
Rug pulls, a type of exit scam in which project creators suddenly abandon or withdraw liquidity from a platform, were the most common type of attack last year, with 119 incidents and $200 million in stolen funds.
A popular influencer and former adult film star, Lana Rhoades, is suspected of being behind one of the biggest rug pulls in 2022, after she was allegedly given $1.5 million for minting an NFT project that has seen less than 1 ETH in secondary market sales since its launch.