Hi everyone and thank you for reading my post,
I want to share with you the story that happened to me on AngelList (i.e. www.angel.co). Some scammers have tried to fraud me and charge more than $12,000 🙀, then they have tried to get equity of my startups / side projects that I’m working on right now.
For those who do not want to read all this post, here is some brief information on how to avoid scam on the internet regarding investment opportunities:
- Avoid emails from random domains. Big VCs and asset managers will not send you a request from @gmail or @yahoo 🙂
- Check the contact person’s name and company name through Google and social media networks
- If you have found a contact person with the same name on the web, contact directly to clarify your conversation and make sure that it is a real person (you can even attach the screenshots of messages with investment opportunities)
- Once you’ve clarified all information, I totally recommend requesting a video call or personal meeting face2face. Note, that not a single investor will agree to provide you with investments without having a personal meeting or long discussion to understand risks, goals, etc.
- You shouldn’t provide any documents (except some generic presentation or pitch deck) via email, chat, etc. I recommend to sign off the documents only with lawyers during personal meetings.
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Here’s the full story
Everything happened when I got a notification (summer 2018) from AngelList about investment opportunity into my startups and side projects. The conversation started in form of a talk to real investors, we exchanged the contacts, emails, I presented self into and pitched information about startups and projects. See the screenshot below of the first email I got after the conversation had been moved from AngelList to email.
What’s funny is that they attached some documents and account statement with a huge balance available on their account. These documents looked very impressive. Take a look…
I was excited about this opportunity, because it was AngelList and previously I had heard some good feedback from this source. But then, first of all I started to think about this random email, such as: firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, I wondered why they sent me such private documents. Then we had a lot of different conversations and they requested to provide a presentation and pitch deck about the product / startup. This was fine, I didn’t see any risks there by providing some generic presentation, especially when it is already available on the web and SlideShare.
The major risk and signal was when they proposed me $2,000,000 of funds as loans at the rate of 4.5% annually and pushed me to open the issuance of the surety bond. They sent me some scam website www.boasuretybonds.com. This website looks terrible, they don’t even have SSL certificate. The price for opening a surety bond was $12,000.00.
Needless to say, I turned down this offer 🙂 But I was still curious about this fraud and what will be next. I told that I wasn’t ready for loans. They asked me about equity and I answered that this could be the best option and suggested discussing this opportunity. They offered me a 25% stake in the company for $2,000,000. Sounds like a dream 🙂 The next step was to prepare and send them LOI Letter. I knew that to make a proper LOI I should spend around $500 – $1000 for lawyer fees.
Since this fraud scheme was going on for quite a while, I decided to stop this game because didn’t want to waste time anymore. So, I answered them that I would like to schedule a video conference call or meet them in person. These scammers got furious and started to talk some bulls#^&@t something like “ we gave you a huge opportunity, you are delaying this deal, bla-bla-bla”.
So guys, to avoid risks and optimize your time, just ask for a video conference call or meeting face to face. Believe me, this will make scammers back off. They will immediately stop harassing you.
What’s funny, they sent me some phone number with notes, like: I can’t make a video call I have a full time job in some bank and let’s make just a phone call… LOL.
These scammers tried to reach out to me a couple of times more. But I ignored all their next messages.
After several months, I’ve got a new request on Angel List (C’mon Angel List, is it some kind of joke? Again?). The funny thing is that this time new scammers have sent me a passport of some U.S. person. Hah…
I asked them for a video call through Zoom or Skype and they immediately stopped fooling me. Below, I want to share with you these profiles of scammers, so that you can be aware.
I hope it’s been useful and my story will serve as a warning to watch out for scammers.
Please feel free to leave comments or ask me any questions.
Best regards and be careful,