Aurelien Michel, a French national and the mastermind behind the Mutant Ape Planet NFT collection has pleaded guilty. He is charged for conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a New York federal court.
What did the court say?
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York revealed that Michel and his co-conspirators used false promises of rewards and benefits to market the NFTs. This enticed investors and drove demand for their bogus collection.
However, their promises turned out to be nothing more than a deceptive scheme. Michel and his associates intentionally failed to deliver on their commitments. They diverted millions for personal gain.
When Michel was arrested in New York on January 4, 2023, it sent shockwaves across the NFT market. He openly admitted to the rug pull via a social media chat on January 5.
He claimed that “we never intended to rug but the community went way too toxic.” Michael now faces a sentence of five years in prison a fine of $1.4 million in restitution.
The downfall of Mutant Ape Planet collection
The Mutant Ape Planet collection has been removed from the NFT platform OpenSea. It once boasted 6,797 NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain
The collection initially soared over 320 Ether in sales volume by February 2022. However, the collection’s value plummeted significantly by April 2022.
By the time of Michel’s arrest in January 2023, the average price and total sales volume had cratered to near zero. It left its investors in disbelief.
This NFT saga serves as a cautionary tale. It highlights the darker side of the evolving digital asset market. It is important for investors to perform their due diligence while they navigate the volatile landscape of this sector.