|Beware This new Cort Christie Venture Capital Investment Scam|
Let's stop this latest Cprt Christie scam before it bites too many people! Cort Christie has set up a new scam in Las Vegas, via Los Angeles. It is a new scam referred to as an angel investment ?scam' where startup companies have to pay to pitch their companies to potential ?angel' investors. This is a new variation of the venture capital investment scam where a so-called VC firm invests someone else's money in a startup in order to screw both the investor and the startup out of the money?
This kind of activity may be foreign to places like Silicon Valley where fake VC firms would be quickly outed and ostracized by the legitimate venture capital community. Unfortunately, it's the very thing that tends to thrive in places that lack a strong VC scene such as Las Vegas and Los Angeles, as well as small town America, where startups are desperate for attention (let alone investment), and there is a lot of institutional money looking for places to invest.
In any case, here's how the VC investment scam works. The fake venture capital firm: Raises funds from institutional investors;
Invests in a few startups; and
Does a range of things designed to extract large amounts of money from the startups and into in its own coffers. This typically includes charging the startups all manner of advisory fees, management fees and finder's fees (e.g. for finding more investors).
Alternatively, if a company actually looks promising (at least for a while) the ?VC firm' might concoct some other scheme whereby it merges one startup with another, or back-doors a startup into a public company, or does something else calculated to reduce the founders' shareholdings and get rid of them before the ?VC firm' cashes out in some way.
While the modus operandi of these VC scammers varies, they all tend to share two key qualities: They do not really know to identify and invest in promising companies; and
Their business model is not, ultimately, based on identifying, investing in, or exiting good companies e.g. via a trade sale or IPO (the traditional VC exits). Rather, their business model is based on extracting money from large, somewhat gullible institutional investors, via the facade of investing in good companies.
I've seen a couple of these firms in action. Unfortunately, they are so well-versed in looking the part of legitimate venture capitalists that it was only because I lucked into having an insider's vantage point that I saw how they truly operated. One of these firms pretty much gutted at least one the startups it invested in a company that was, at the time, a pioneer in the email industry.
So how does a startup (or an institutional investor) avoid being taken for a ride by fake VC firms like these? As with anything, it comes down to doing your due diligence. At the very least stick with highly respected, name-brand VC firms with a visible track record of successful investments. If that means avoiding local money then so be it. It might mean the difference between living on ramen noodles and bootstrapping your company for a while and seeing your company torn apart before it even has a chance at gaining market traction.
Cort Christie's track record is 20 years of scamming and cheating entrepreneurs out of their money. Here's just a short list of Mr. Christie's scams:
1) The Peruvian Gold Bearer Bond scam (Tehachapi, CA)
2) The National Audit Defense Network (Las Vegas, NV)
3) The Phoenix Project (Las Vegas, NV and Tehachapi, CA)
Christie has a track record of tax and business formation scams which has destroyed the entrepreneur before they had a chance to start. Anything Christie pitches, stay far, far away, or you will be soon parted from your money. Stop this VC scam before he has a chance to strike too many unsuspecting entrepreneurs.