Evolved Ape Creators Face 20 Years for Alleged Fraud

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has charged three citizens of the United Kingdom for participating in a fraudulent NFT scheme worth $3 million, associated with the “Evolved Apes” series. The named individuals, Mohamed-Amin Atcha, Mohamed Rilaz Waleedh, and Daood Hassan, are accused of wire fraud and money laundering.

Details of the Scam

The defendants are charged with promoting the sale of 10,000 NFTs on the Ethereum network, claiming they would be utilized in an online battle royale game. However, the game never came to fruition and is believed to be a scam. This incident occurred in September of this year and resulted in 798 ETH being raised, equivalent to approximately $2.7 million at that time. It is alleged that the accused individuals took possession of the funds and abandoned the project only two weeks after its initial launch.

Attorney Damian Williams made it clear that making false promises for financial gain is illegal. According to Williams, the defendants allegedly received investor funds without actually developing the game and kept the profits for themselves. The Department of Justice also pointed out that the accused individuals went to great lengths to promote their NFTs, including hiring a social media influencer to increase sales.

On October 5, 2021, the Evolved Apes website was shut down, leaving investors with tokens that held no value. Waleedh allegedly moved the stolen funds into his personal wallet and then withdrew them from a cryptocurrency exchange under the false pretense of using the money for his grandmother’s cancer treatment.

The offenses could result in up to two decades of imprisonment in a federal penitentiary for each charge. In addition, the U.S. Attorney’s Office aims to confiscate $875,850 worth of Tether (USDT) from a designated wallet.

Broader Context

The frequency of rug pulls in the cryptocurrency world is highlighted by this case, where developers utilize token sales to secure funds and subsequently vanish with the funds. Similar incidents include the “LIVEMOM” and “HANDS” meme coin schemes.

Despite the fraudulent activity, the Evolved Apes NFTs are still available on OpenSea, but their minimum listing price has significantly dropped to $7.60. This occurrence serves as a clear indication of the importance of staying alert and conducting thorough research in the ever-changing world of digital art and cryptocurrency.


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