Fraud · Security

Should I out someone who showed poor integrity?

Nicholas Meyler Recruiter/Broker for "Disruptive"​ Talent. Questing for the Next $Trillion Unicorn.

May 4th, 2016

A few years ago, an "entrepreneur" defrauded me out of $120,000 worth of services, by lying about having "$6 million in funding in the bank" repeatedly. We later found out that she had nothing, and now the new product that she is touting for her new startup is a "fraud prevention" system probably designed by consultants I found for her in the earlier startup. Is it wrong to make it known that her product and reputation is based on fraud? She seemed quite conscienceless, unfortunately. I doubt I can ever recoup compensation, but I feel an obligation to warn others about her. Seriously, I had her interviewed repeatedly by a very smart Silicon Valley attorney, but she was able to "pull the wool" over the attorney's eyes, too.

Brian McConnell

May 4th, 2016

Integrity is _everything_ in business. I am sorry to hear that you got swindled by this POS. You have a civic duty to warn others who are in harm's way. The main problem is that this type of person can be quick to retaliate (as they rely on concealment of past business dealings to swindle the next round of victims). I was once swindled out of about a million dollars in an acquisition. The individual involved was exceptionally dishonest, unpleasant and loved to bully people with legal threats. I wrote about the experience in a widely read site, and as expected, he had his lawyers threaten me. I refused to take the article offline for months. Since everything I said was true (and some of what this person did was blatantly illegal), this was an empty threat. (He has since run his company into the ground, and it was with great pleasure that I sent him a video of his competitor ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange with the caption "This could have been you, but it isn't.") I still hear from people about this person from time to time. Without saying anything that can be interpreted as slander, I just warn them as follows: "You really need to do your due diligence here." Anyone who is remotely sophisticated will get the memo. It's hard for the bully to respond to this because you are simply emphasizing sound, common sense business advice (always do your due diligence when working with new people or firms). Don't assume potential victims are aware of what's going on. Professional swindlers are very adept at misdirecting people so they do not notice the warning signs that are right in front of their faces. My $0.02.

Brian Piercy Full-stack product manager. Polymath.

May 8th, 2016


I found this morbidly fascinating. To me the crux(es) of the issue are 1) what due diligence did you use regarding the $6M in funding, and 2) what contingencies did you use (should have used?) to safeguard your $120K in services?

Seeing a customer being unable to pay a supplier due to unforeseen business conditions seems very likely given the startup scenario you mention.

"Outing" her seems vindictive. I would instead try to introduce myself to her new investors assuming they can be IDd.

Sorry, man. $120K is a lot of breakfast tacos.

Christine Danning

May 4th, 2016

If not you.... who????
Sounds like you may be a little too trusting; taking one's own advice is usually a good idea when it's warranted.

Brett Whysel

May 10th, 2016

I sympathize with you. We've all made big, costly mistakes. I recently blogged about many of my own poor decisions. I think you need to be cautious if you feel compelled to warn others about this individual. At the very least consult a lawyer to minimize your legal risk. You should determine if law enforcement should be notified. Seems to me this is more their fight than yours.

Here's a more constructive, less risky and costly alternative that would have a greater impact on more people. Write a thoughtful article about what you learned from this experience, without getting into names or too many details. Share it publicly. Personally, I would be very interested in reading this. 

Agree the title change was offensive. 

Good luck!

Nicholas Meyler Recruiter/Broker for "Disruptive"​ Talent. Questing for the Next $Trillion Unicorn.

May 5th, 2016

By the way, the wording of this post "Should I Out Somebody... etc.?" is offensive to me, and it is NOT what I posted.  My title was changed by a Moderator without any consent on my part.  My title was completely different.

Nicholas Meyler Recruiter/Broker for "Disruptive"​ Talent. Questing for the Next $Trillion Unicorn.

May 6th, 2016

Thanks for trying to help, Aiborlang.  Obviously, you have some interesting 'insight' into the situation, but I believe that the conclusion of fraud was long ago determined by Law Enforcement officials, such as the DHS.  Thanks for identifying yourself.

Jhilmil Kochar Seasoned Technology and Organization Leader/ Entrepreneur

May 8th, 2016

Integrity is everything. If you can't trust the people you work with, how can you give your 100%? This should be a unilateral decision and yes, you should definitely warn others as well, for the sake of your integrity.

Nicholas Meyler Recruiter/Broker for "Disruptive"​ Talent. Questing for the Next $Trillion Unicorn.

May 9th, 2016

Hi Brian,

I agree with you that the moderator's choice of title ("should I out someone who showed poor integrity"?) is quite offensive. Those are not my words. My title was: "Sanity Check: Looking for Feedback -- How Important is a Reputation for Integrity?"

But I don't think "unforeseen circumstances" were to blame, since Isaw an article (which I posted, above) about someone else suing her for defrauding him of $120,000 as well. It appears to be quite intentional, and I did discuss her with law enforcement officials, who already had quite a bit of information about her, three years ago. Not sure why she hasn't been prosecuted.

Garry Schafer Programmer, Developer and Geek

May 9th, 2016

Honestly, I would but you'd have to have proof otherwise you yourself might get tagged with being a liar. Perhaps contact others she's worked with before?

Suresh Neti Software Outsourcing Advisor | Custom Software & Product Development

May 9th, 2016

If I were you, I would definitely let the concerned people know about the facts along with proof if any. I think it is your responsibility to let the others know about your experiences so that they do not face similar issues and the person understands that the same cannot go on forever.