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.