New York prosecutors have charged three UK residents with creating the fraudulent NFT project Evolved Apes, which collected about $3 million from investors.

Three years after the Evolved Apes scam was uncovered, prosecutors identified its alleged masterminds as Mohamed-Amin Atcha, Mohamed Rolaz Waleedh, and Daood Hassan. They are charged with money laundering through crypto assets and wire fraud. The men face up to 20 years in prison on each count.

The infamous Evolved Apes scam scandal rocked the crypto space in 2021. 10,000 unique collectible tokens were presented to investors, and in just a week the project was able to raise $2.9 million. However, just a few days after the launch of the project, an anonymous developer using the pseudonym Evil Ape disappeared with investors’ funds. Official Evolved Apes channels, including the website and social media accounts, have also been deleted.

“The creators of Evolved Apes misled investors with false promises of profit, and this is a direct violation of federal law. “Prosecutors will continue to fight fraudsters who abuse the trust of investors, regardless of industry, including in the NFT market,” said Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Last year, the creator of another monkey-related NFT scam, Mutant Ape Yacht Club, was caught. French citizen Aurelien Michel admitted that he was selling counterfeit tokens and, having received $3 million, disappeared with the money.