A developer of Mutant Ape NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) has been arrested in a multi-million dollar international fraud scheme called ‘rug pull’. Mutant Ape Planet NFTs are digital assets built on the Ethereum blockchain. It is a collection of 6799 unique mutant apes. Around $3 million worth of crypto assets of NFT investors were wiped out in this fraud.
Rug Pulling scheme
The United States Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York announced at Federal court, in Brooklyn, that Aurelien Michel was arrested on the night of January 04 at the John F. Kennedy International Airport for operating a rug-pulling scheme.
Rug Pulling is a well-known crypto fraud scheme in which the developer of any digital token proceeds with conducting marketing of digital tokens on social media platforms to attract investors by making false promises.
He has admitted the crime and stated, “We never intended to rug but the community went way too toxic.” Thomas Fattorusso, IRS Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, commented, “Michel can no longer blame the NFT community for his criminal behavior. His arrest means he will now face the consequences of his own actions.”
Michel, 24, ‘Mutant Ape Planet’ non-fungible token (NFTs) developer and a French nationalist residing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He promised the NFT purchasers to provide several rewards and benefits, but investors lost more than $ 2.9 million in cryptocurrency instead of these benefits.
The false promises include exclusive opportunities for investments, giveaways, merchandise, and many more benefits.
“As alleged, Aurelien Michel perpetrated a ‘rug pull’ scheme – stealing nearly $3 million from investors for his own personal use. 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,” said Ivan J. Arvelo, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New York.
He added, “HSI uses our extensive experience investigating financial crime in conjunction with our cutting-edge cyber capabilities to uncover fraud and bring the perpetrators to justice.”
According to a Department of Justice report, special agents in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York, and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, New York (IRS-CI) are cooperating together to get a positive outcome for these allegations.
The report also mentioned a helpline number that if any user finds themselves a victim of the scheme, they can call the HSI Tip Line at 1-866-347-2423.