NFT developer Aurelien Michel arrested at the John F. Kennedy International Airport for allegedly defrauding purchasers of “Mutant Ape Planet” NFTs of over $2.9 million in crypto.
Ivan J. Arvelo, Special Agent-in-Charge at HSI, reports that after selling out of the Mutant Ape Planet NFTs, the purchasers were “rug pulled” and the profits were diverted for Michel’s personal benefit.
“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,” Arvelo noted.
Michel allegedly defrauded investors by falsely representing giveaways, tokens with staking features, merchandise collections, etc., according to Thomas Fattorusso, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge at IRS-CI.
Crypto sleuth ZachXBT revealed Aurelien Michel also happens to be the co-founder of another $1.6m rug pull of Crazy Camel Club NFTs as well as being directly tied to many other projects.
Investigators claim that Michel acknowledged the rug pull in the community’s Discord channel after the Mutant Ape Planet purchasers caught wind of the moves. Michel was posting under the alias “James,” according to the authorities.
But he blamed the Mutant Ape Planet community for his behavior, saying, “We never intended to rug but the community went way too toxic.”