In a shocking turn of events, the much-hyped Mutant Ape Planet NFT has turned out to be nothing more than a figment of imagination. Aurélien Michel, the mastermind behind this ill-fated venture, has recently confessed to a staggering $2.9 million heist. Prosecutors have labeled it a classic case of "rug-pull" fraud, leaving investors high and dry.
The Mutant Ape Yacht Club, a wildly popular NFT series capitalizing on the ape-themed art craze of the crypto world, paved the way for this ill-fated endeavor. With millions of dollars worth of digital art already sold, Michel seized the opportunity and announced the issuance of the Mutant Ape Planet NFT early in 2022, hoping to attract hefty investments.
Between January and April of that year, Michel, a 25-year-old French national residing in Dubai, managed to raise over $2.9 million on the ethereum blockchain, selling a total of 9,999 tokens. However, it quickly became apparent that Michel had no intention of delivering on his promise to create the artwork.
In a candid confession, Michel, who went by the name James among investors, admitted that he never intended to release the NFT. Blaming the toxic behavior of the community, he penned a statement on Discord acknowledging the consequences of his actions: "We never intended to rug but the community went way too toxic. I recognize that our behavior led to this."
Ultimately, Michel made off with the investors' money, leaving them empty-handed and disillusioned.
This unfortunate saga serves as a cautionary tale in the world of NFTs, reminding us of the importance of diligent research and scrutiny when investing in digital assets. The Mutant Ape Planet NFT may not have materialized, but its impact on the crypto community will be felt for years to come.
Federal Prosecutors Expose NFT Scammers in "Rug Pull" Scheme
Federal prosecutors have recently uncovered a fraudulent scheme within the NFT market, which they fittingly refer to as a "rug pull." This term is commonly used to describe a situation in which an NFT developer lures prospective buyers with enticing promises and benefits, only to abandon the project after their funds are used to purchase the NFTs. Consequently, the scammers retain the money for themselves, leaving the buyers empty-handed.
According to court documents, the arrest and charges against Michel, the main perpetrator, took place in January when he was en route to the United States. As a result, Michel was put under house arrest. The case was brought in the U.S. due to the significant number of American victims affected.
Breon Peace, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, revealed that Michel has confessed to conspiring with others in order to deceive consumers who were eager to partake in the emerging digital asset market. "Our Office," Peace emphasized, "is fully aware that criminal actors are exploiting the rapid pace of innovation in the digital asset space and the public's enthusiasm for cryptocurrency, resulting in large-scale fraud."
Michel could potentially face a maximum prison sentence of five years once he is sentenced. Additionally, as part of his guilty plea, Michel has agreed to forfeit $1.4 million.
Ira Lee Sorkin, Michel's attorney, disclosed that as per their agreement with the prosecutors, Michel may serve his sentence in a prison located in France.
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