The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York announced fraud charges against Aurelien Michel, a 24-year-old French national living in Dubai. Michel, under the alias « James », had created an NFT project called Mutant Ape Planet, which minted in February 2022. He collected $2.9 million in proceeds from the project, which promised an extensive roadmap: hundreds of thousands of dollars to be put towards marketing, community raffles, merchandise, a project crypto token with staking features, metaverse land acquisition, etc. However, none of this ever came to be.
Michel said in his defense that he « never intended to rug but the community went way too toxic ». In a press release, an IRS Special Agent stated, « Michel can no longer blame the NFT community for his criminal behavior. »
Mutant Ape Planet — though clearly based on it — is unaffiliated with the Mutant Ape Yacht Club project, a Yuga Labs-created spin-off of their own Bored Ape Yacht Club.