Aurelian Michel, the founder of Miami-based non-fungible token (NFT) Mutant Ape Planet, has been sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for engaging in multiple unlawful activities. Michel was charged with orchestrating one of the largest NFT rugs pulls that resulted in the loss of millions.
A rug pull refers to an incident whereby the creator of an NFT or other crypto assets engages in deceptive marketing activities to attract more audience. According to the court report, Michel adopted a unique approach to hype the Mutant Ape NFT.
Mutant Ape NFT Developer Charge for Defrauding Investors
The report demonstrated that the 25-year-old French national promised fake returns to the NFT holders. The report demonstrated that the Michel-led project exposed the NFT investor to a loss of funds totaling around $3 million.
The Mutant Ape incident was ranked among the largest NFT rug pull in history. The loss of substantial assets forced the law enforcers to arrest Michel and file criminal charges for engaging in fraudulent activities.
In January, Michel was arrested by the federal authorities at JFK airport. In his arrest, the Mutant Ape NFT creator was charged with wire fraud and other criminal charges. A review of the Department of Justice’s finding demonstrated that Michel promised measurable returns and benefits to the Mutant Ape NFT investors.
The DOJ noted that the rewards aimed at motivating the NFT enthusiasts to invest in the new digital assets. The law enforcers observed that Michel had promised to offer the Mutant Ape NFT holders free giveaways, tokens with staking capabilities, and other merchandise collections.
Customers Losses $3 Million in an NFT Rug Pull
These rewards aim to increase the demand and the value of the Mutant Ape NFT. Contrary to the initial agreement when purchasing the Mutant Ape NFT, Michel failed to honor his promises and pocketed the returns from the sale.
The regulators noted that approximately $2.9 million was generated from the sale of Mutant Ape NFT, which was used to meet Michel’s personal needs. Commenting on this, Michel apprehended that the Mutant Ape did not intend to rug pull the NFT holders.
He regretted that the previous sale of the Mutant Ape NFT the community demonstrated their toxicity. He admitted that also his behavior contributed to the rug pull.
Mutant Ape NFT Developer Pleads Guilty
During his November 14 arraignment, Michel pleaded guilty to defrauding the NFT holders in a rug pull. A judge at Brooklyn court demanded that Michel settle a court fine amounting to $1.4 million. Due to the severity of Michel’s criminal charges, he will be put behind bars for five years.
A report from Attorney Breon Peace demonstrated that the Mutant Ape creator conspired with another executive to defraud the customer’s interest in crypto assets. The executive stated that Michel and his team were attempting to capitalize on innovation in the digital sector.