Mutant Ape Planet creator, Aurelien Michel, has been arrested in New York on charges of defrauding investors of $2.9 million by selling non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The French national is accused of perpetrating a “rug pull” by creating a “knock off” Mutant Ape collection and tricking buyers into believing that it’s an offshoot of the highly-coveted Mutant Ape Yacht Club.
The collection, Mutant Ape Planet consists of 6,797 NFTs on Ethereum and has seen its average price and sales volume decline rapidly since its launch in January 2022.
Aurelien was arrested on Jan. 4, 2023 at the John F. International Airport in New York, with homeland security agent Ivan J. Arvelo claiming that the founder used the funds from the sale “for personal use.” While Internal Revenue Service Agent Thomas Fattorusso said Aurelien had “defrauded investors by making false representations of, amongst other things, giveaways, tokens with staking features, and merchandise collections,” before withdrawing funds for himself.
Holders of the collection have begun sharing their side of the story and claim that Aurelien had previously attempted to blame the community for his departure by claiming that “he never intended to rug pull, but the Mutant Ape Planet community had become way too toxic.”