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‘Evolved Apes’ NFT creator Evil Ape disappears with $2.7M

PC Gamer | Andy Chalk | Oct 14, 2021

Evolved apes - 'Evolved Apes' NFT creator Evil Ape disappears with $2.7M

Image credit: Evolved apes

Buyers got their NFTs, but a promise of a fighting game built around them went up in smoke.

Evolved Apes is a collection of 10,000 unique NFTs available for purchase on the NFT marketplace OpenSea. Each of them was also meant to be a character in an Evolved Apes fighting game, in which NFT owners would pit their apes against one another in battles for Ethereum cryptocurrency rewards (just as ancient hominoids did thousands of years ago, as I understand).

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But it's all gone disastrously off the rails:

According to a Vice report, one week after Evolved Apes went live, the head of the project vanished, taking 798 Ether—worth roughly $2.7 million—with them.

The money was raised through the sale of NFTs, and was expected to be used to support the development and marketing of the game. But the situation started to look sticky in September, according to the report, as project leaders began to fall off the radar and communications grew erratic. It also came to light that the artist on the project hadn't been fully paid, and winners of a social media contest hadn't been given their NFT prizes.

Backers eventually asked Mike_Cryptobull, a member of the community who spent a little over $10,000 on 20 Evolved Ape NFTs, to investigate the situation and compile a report on what exactly had happened. In it, he said that Evil Ape, the aptly-named administrator of the project's blockchain wallet (whose real identity isn't publicly known), had disappeared, taking the money with him. The official Evolved Apes Twitter account and website are also gone.

There is no mention about the pursuit of criminal charges in either Mike_Cryptobull's report or the Vice story, in part because it's not completely clear that a crime has been committed. According to Jdmjem, an administrator of the Fight Back Apes Discord, police reports were filed in the UK, where the Evolved Apes crew is based, but while there is "definitely an aspect of a scam," there may not technically have been one.

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"The thing is that everyone did get what they paid for, an NFT," they said in an email sent to PC Gamer. "At the end of the day any promises of a game or other development fall out of the scope of your purchase."

"People are trying to file police reports but [the] problem is this is unknown turf and while unethical not technically illegal. We all got what we paid for."

There are still questions about the unpaid artist and contest winners, but the matter is further complicated by jurisdictional issues—the NFT market is international, and Evolved Apes purchases come from all around the world—and the fact that individual reports are for much smaller amounts than the sum total, and thus aren't likely to garner much attention or traction from police agencies.

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