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Springleap’s Eran Eyal misrepresented me as Shopin adviser – Vinny Lingham [Updated]

UDPATE: SA entrepreneur Vinny Lingham subsequently told Ventureburn that he received no documentation or information from Shopin’s Eran Eyal on his shareholding in Shopin, despite Eyal saying he would send these (see below Editor’s note).

Silicon Valley based SA entrepreneur Vinny Lingham today said fellow South African Eran Eyal, who faces fraud charges in the US, “fraudulently misrepresented” him by claiming that he was an adviser to his company Shopin.

In a presentation last year at the BlockChain Economic Forum in New York — which was captured on a Youtube video (see here, at 6.49 minutes on the video) — Eyal refers to a screenshot in which Lingham, who is the founder of US startup Civic, is listed as one of Shopin’s advisers (see screenshot below).

The BlockChain Economic Forum took place in New York on 31 October and 12 November last year. The video has been viewed over 3000 times since it was uploaded by Eyal on Youtube on 12 November last year.

shopin-bef-advisers

In an exchange of messages — which Ventureburn has seen — dated 27 September 2017, Lingham asks Eyal to remove his name as an adviser to his Shopin initial coin offering (ICO), saying he has taken a decision not to get involved as an adviser for ICOs any longer.

I declined to advise Shopin, in September, so if Eran Eyal used my name in November, it’s clearly fraudulent misrepresentation, says Vinny Lingham

Eyal then persists, saying that as a shareholder (in Eyal’s then startup Passo) it makes sense for him to be involved as an adviser, but adds that if he doesn’t want to be involved he will “absolutely” respect his wishes.

“We will be descrete and remove you from all the pitchdeck materials,” Eyal adds.

Eyal then tells Lingham that he is in the process of moving investors and assets over from Passo to Shopin and that he would send Lingham details of his shareholding in the new entity.

‘I declined to advise Shopin’

In an email to Ventureburn today, Lingham explained that he was an adviser to Eyal’s previous company Passo in 2014, which was an e-commerce business that was run by another CEO, Steven Gray.

“I declined to advise Shopin, in September, so if he used my name in November, it’s clearly fraudulent misrepresentation,” he added.

A Medium post by Shopin dated 26 January no longer shows Lingham as an adviser.

Lingham said Eyal had tried to get him to invest in Shopin but that he had declined. “I didn’t suspect anything untoward, other than the usual ‘hype’ from Eran — he tended to over-promise and under-deliver consistently, over his career. I didn’t expect it to be fraudulent, just overhyped,” he said.

Ventureburn also asked about Lingham’s involvement with Eyal’s former Springleap business partner Eric Edelstein.

“Eric co-founded incuBeta with me and Eric is a straight up and honest guy, who I trust. I do not expect that Eric was aware of any fraud in Springleap and I know that his involvement was very subdued,” he said.

‘I am innocent of malicious rumours’

Eyal was charged on 24 August by the New York Attorney General with allegedly stealing $600,000 from investors by fraudulently soliciting investors to purchase convertible notes through false representations of his company, Springleap. If convicted of the top count charged, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

According to charges, between 2014 and 2015, Eyal allegedly attracted investors to Springleap through a series of false representations about Springleaps’s management team, advisory board, creative professionals and client base. The US District Attorney emphasised in her statement last month that Eyal is innocent until proven guilty.

The former Springleap founder last week said he’s “innocent of these malicious allegations and rumours”. While he said he would comment “soon on everything”, he has yet to respond to a full list of questions sent over a week ago to his attorney, Gregory Kehoe of Greenberg Traurig.

Ventureburn today also sought comment from Eyal and the Shopin senior team of interim CEO Jennifer Haggerty and co-founders Jeremy Harkness and Divakar Rayapaty on whether Lingham was misrepresented or not. None of them had responded by time of publication.

While Shopin has since removed Eyal from his position as CEO of the US company and replaced him with an interim head (see this story), it is not clear whether he still has control over the crypto keys to the wallet and the $42.5-million netted in an ICO which concluded in April.

In addition, it is not clear whether Lingham is currently a shareholder in Shopin or not. Ventureburn asked Lingham to clarify this.

In a subsequent email he told Ventureburn that he had received no details of his shareholding in Shopin after Eyal said he would sent these to Lingham.

Said Lingham in an email to Ventureburn: “It was such a small stake and I didn’t have much expectations so honestly, I didn’t care either way. I have no idea what the value is/was. I received no documentation or information after those chats.”

Ventureburn has also contacted those listed by Shopin as advisers in the Medium post in January to get comment on whether they were indeed advisers to Shopin at the time and secondly, whether they believed there was anything untoward about the ICO.

The only one to have commented to so far is DocuSign founder Tom Gonzer, who said earlier this month that he was shocked but that believed nothing on Shopin’s ICO seemed untoward (see this earlier story).

This is a developing story.

Read more: BREAKING: I am innocent of malicious allegations says Springleap’s Eran Eyal
Read more: BREAKING: Springleap’s Eran Eyal released from US prison, posts $250k bail
Read more: Are these the messages Springleap’s Eran Eyal sent to investors for funding?
Read more: Springleap’s Eran Eyal removed as CEO of Shopin and replaced with interim head [Updated]
Read more: Springleap’s Eran Eyal did not seem like scammer to me – DocuSign founder
Read more: Charges against Springleap founder not first time Eran Eyal’s in trouble with law [Updated]
Read more: Investor gatvol over losing R8.5m to Springleap through ‘misrepresentation’
Read more: Springleap charges: Are claims as world’s 7th most innovative firm a fabrication? [Updated]
Read more: SA entrepreneur Eran Eyal charged with fraud in the US over startup Springleap
Read more: Springleap’s Trevor Wolfe talks agencies, startups, and pivots [Q&A]
Read more: Springleap’s new Creatives Insights platform helps brands expand to foreign markets
Read more: Springleap goes big: expands into Middle Eastern, pan-African markets
Read more: SA crowdsource design startup Springleap secures R4m+ Angel round
Read more: Life after t-shirts: Ventureburn gets the exclusive behind Springleap’s pivot

Editor’s note (27 September 2018): Vinny Lingham subsequently told Ventureburn that he did have a small stake in Passo — but that he received no details of his shareholding in Shopin, the new entity, after Eyal said he would sent these to Lingham.

Said Lingham in an email to Ventureburn: “It was such a small stake and I didn’t have much expectations so honestly, I didn’t care either way. I have no idea what the value is/was. I received no documentation or information after those chats.”

Featured image: SA entrepreneur and Civic founder Vinny Lingham