A Frenchman aged just 24 is accused in the United States of defrauding buyers of his non-fungible tokens (NFT) of more than $2.9 million in cryptocurrencies. In his defense, he just hired a criminal defense attorney. And he hasn’t chosen just any lawyer… His lawyer is the top lawyer in the Bernard Madoff case.
NFT scam : Who is the Frenchman arrested in the United States?
On January 4, 2023, a young Frenchman was arrested by U.S. authorities as he landed at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. His name is Aurelien Michel, son of former En Avant de Guingamp soccer player Claude Michel, he is originally from Brittany, France. He was living in the United Arab Emirates in Dubai before his arrest. He is accused of fraud using non-fungible tokens (NFT) called “Mutant Ape Planet” to defraud more than $2.9 million in cryptocurrencies.
After spending the night in police custody, he was immediately brought before a Brooklyn federal court judge, who ruled to keep him in custody pending trial.
For the American authorities, he is the mastermind of this scam. According to the indictment, Michel was the main administrator of the “Mutant Ape Planet” project, which was actually a plagiarism of the famous NFT collection “Mutant Ape Yacht Club“. He promised investors numerous benefits and rewards, and assured them that the value of their virtual images would skyrocket.
NFTs, sold on the Ethereum blockchain, cost about $468 each when the collection launched.
Aurelien Michel hires Madoff lawyer
You’ve probably heard of Bernard Madoff, an American financier who was convicted of fraud in 2009 for running one of the largest frauds of all time, involving billions of dollars. He ran one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history, which earned him a 150 year prison sentence, or life. Madoff died two years ago in prison.
Well, the young Breton currently in prison in the United States for NFTs fraud has just hired the best lawyer of the Madoff case to represent him : Ira Sorkin.
Sorkin, who is a partner at the law firm Mintz & Gold LLP, said he is working with colleagues Adam Brody and Halle Preston to get Michel released on bail. Aurelien Michel’s initial bail was rejected as “insufficient” by a judge at a Jan. 10 hearing.
“This is an issue we are discussing with the government and we are optimistic that Aurelien Michel will be able to post bail at the next hearing, which will be held soon.”
Ira Sorkin, lawyer
Sorkin, a former federal prosecutor and enforcement attorney at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, declined to comment on the allegations against his client.