2010...Will it Finally be Our Year?
We started 2010 with everyone refreshed and geared up once again
to find that illusive seed investor. Frank had some people, Scott even had one, and on the 11th I placed an ad on Craig’s List. If you have never utilized Craig’s List, then I’m here to tell you that it’s not a good place to look for legitimate business people. It’s pretty much scam central, and we were not prepared for the deluge of weirdoes, scammers and flat out lunatics who contacted us through the ad. The first legitimate investor to contact me was named Mike Ibsen, and even though he didn’t work out for us, he was good practice in learning to work with people and their needs, wants and business language. He was part of a consortium attempting to buy a large amount of raw platinum that would then be used as a seed investment. He hung on for a few months, but ultimately went the way of the rest of the possibles who didn’t have money but were trying to raise it. They were in the same position we were, which didn’t make for a good partnership.
Mike Ibsen was one of the few real people we heard from after the Craig’s List ad. Dwight Dowson was another; a film producer from the midwest who was trying to raise money for a series of films about Native Americans. There was Tyler Ross of Continuum Pictures, who read my proposal on Linked In. I had high hopes of Linked In, a social networking site for business people. I joined the site and a couple of the groups, and posted our proposal there. Tyler Ross was my first contact from the site apart from people I knew when I joined.
Dowson started out looking very promising, as did many of the people who came to us the first six months of 2010.
February 11, 2010
I have now spoken to Dwight Dowson several times. He wants to invest 20 million u.s. in one of the programs and has offered us a joint venture in which he will pay us 2 million of that to start our own fund, no percentages of any kind. We think this is quite fair, and I am sending him a revised JVA today -- last night he got the traditional jva, but this is a very different deal than we've seen before.
Please give me your thoughts on this; do you also feel this would be a fair deal?
Let me understand this. He will give you $2M off the top, as a gift, to invest on your own? He will then invest the remaining $18M on his own? What percentage of that profit does he propose to share with you?
I have programs at $1M, but $5M and $10M are better. I believe you would be a cooperative client, and I know you. So if you had $5M - $10M in your own name, that would be even better. I have not spoken with Mr. Dowson, but will next week.
Our take on Dwight's deal would be a flat 2 million, which we think is acceptable! Haven't run into anyone suggesting this before, but it certainly would be the hassle-free way to go. I've sent him a revised JVA agreement this morning. Yes, he wants to invest the rest on his own. We would need some of the 2 million right off, but if we could invest 1.5 in one of your programs it would get us started. And maybe there will be others who will come in down the line, particularly if we have an example of someone we know who is already participating.
I think this is great deal for us. We will have a complete control of the whole process and can enter program suitable to our requirements. What would be the timing, can Dwight move immediately? Deb, in you previous email you say you communicated with Kurt. Did Dwight choose to communicate with Kurt instead of Steve for some reason?
I spoke to Dwight twice, and he was ready to speak to steve this morning, as was Tyler Ross. Steve is unavailable for a week again, which means out of the past 30 days he has been unavailable for 14. He won't be ready to talk to them until next Wednesday. Dwight asked me how we met Steve, and I told him you introduced us to Kurt, who then introduced us to Steve. He said the biggest market for his series of his films about the Shawnee Indians will be in Europe, and could he talk to Kurt? I wrote to Kurt and asked him and he said sure, so they are going to talk tomorrow...as far as the timeline goes, a block of stock is being sold to finance the program, so hopefully it will be soon.
Steve Glanz finally had telephone conferences with Dwight Dowson and Steve Ibsen on the 17th. On the 20th I wrote a letter to the team:
My two new guys spoke to Steve on Wednesday. Dwight Dowson's company is selling some stock (tobacco, yuck) in order to have their seed investment, which will be sizeable, about 20 million if it goes as they plan. They have agreed to the JVA in which they will give us 2 million of that to start our own fund, and that will be the end of our dealings with them.
Tyler Ross (Continuum Pictures) I'm not sure about yet, but I am talking to him Monday morning. I think with him it has to be a board decision, but I know Steve is going to be sending him some program info. Mike Ibsen won't be starting a program until he and his business partner finish the buyup of the load of platinum; that's been going on for over a year, so I know he's hoping to finish that soon.
I've had a lot more inquiries over the past week, no one else has asked to speak to Steve yet. I had a note from Richard J. Dubin -- I haven't spoken to him for about two months because I didn't really have any concrete news, but he said he still really wants to produce DC whenever we are ready.
More news later, Debora
The king of the scam artists has to be, for us, a man named David
Mark who claimed to be the President of the Nigerian Senate. For all we ever learned of him, maybe he was the real David Mark. We first heard from him on the 21st of February, a general inquiry regarding our investment needs. We were at this time still posting on Craig’s List, although it was for the last time; we never had a legitimate investor contact us through Craig’s List.
Senator Marks agreed to invest one million dollars in LMI. He told us he would be using funds housed in London; this was an immediate red flag for Steve Glanz, who knew from a previous business association that Nigerian citizens weren’t allowed to keep money in accounts outside the country. Steve wrote to him, but after they started to communicate he investigated Marks and discovered he was something of a crook (yes, that was an understatement) and pretty much was trying to take over the country – he was probably a multiple murderer, although it hadn’t been proven.
Compliance: At the very least, a criminal background check. Countries that have difficult political issues with US/Europe are usually excluded. In this case, he is borderline criminal, and Nigeria is borderline with US/Europe. If his financial gain was through corruption, that could be a big problem. More importantly for us personally, do we really want to support someone like this. He could become President of Nigeria. Given his background, he could become another Idi Amin. Do we want to feel that we supported his rise to power just to make a few bucks? Anyway, maybe I'm being too judgmental. I'll check into it, but I'm dubious.
Two days later...
Given my research which I shared with you, and which strongly points to the sender being a scammer, I am dubious to respond until I hear back from the real Mr. Mark from his website email form, where I submitted a message to him this morning.
As to mass murder and genocide, there are some indications that he may have been involved in that, if you read the articles about him. There are also lesser crimes he has committed, but still very serious. This is not merely a case of cultural profiling. We have to decide where to draw the line.
I'll report back to you when I hear from the real Mr. Mark's office. Meanwhile, if you have evidence to support that you have been in contact with the real Mr. Mark, and can refute my evidence to the contrary, I'm open to that.
February 26, 2009
He's just responding to you from the same email address. His terse response is suspicious. He does not really answer your questions, and therefore does nothing to disprove the suspicion that he is an impostor. So far, neither one of us has heard from the email we sent to the real Mr. Mark from his official website. If this guy had gotten that email, he would have responded just as quickly from that place as well.
My main reason for not moving on this has less to do with my concerns about the corrupt politician, than the fact that I don't believe that this is Mr. Mark. It has all the appearances of a scammer.
If we don't get a response from the webform emails, I'd say the case is closed.
That was pretty much the end of David Mark in our lives. We never actually found out if he was the real David Mark or someone pretending to be David Mark. Either way, it didn’t really seem to matter; Steve Glanz never contacted him, so my curiosity was never satisfied.
More people came and went; in early March Steve opened another high-yield CMBS program. Scammer #2 entered the picture, and his name was Mark Walter, supposedly an investor in London. He wrote to me on March 5th and asked for more information, which I sent him. We went on with him for a couple of weeks, there were a number of others who got as far as telephone conferences then dropped out for one reason or another.
On March 11th, after our first (very difficult due to his strong accented English and the bad connection) telephone conference with Mark Walter, I received this:
I am in receipt of your email and I want you to know that I am interested and will like to proceed with this. But my bank is not a large bank like those you have mentioned and I want you to know that after the deed of agreement which we allwill sign, the funds will be transferred to your designated bank account where you can proceed with it for your investment.
Let me know if you are comfortable with this so we can proceed.
March 16, 2009
Our second telephone conference with Mark Walter went well; I wrote this letter to our partners afterwards.
Amazingly enough, it did go well. We are waiting for the joint venture agreement from him -- 11 am our time was already late night for him, so we should have it tomorrow morning. I'm going to send everyone a copy for input. What I don't know yet is how many times the investment he's going to want returned, and how much of a percentage of the films. His money is in HSBC bank in London; there is an HSBC branch (two, actually) in San Francisco, and as soon as the joint venture is signed we're going to call and talk to them. We will probably need to go up there to open a corporate account; I'm hoping the money can be sent by wire transfer, but they can tell me everything then.
If everything works out, once the money arrives here we will start the cmbs program -- before that I will get all the specifics from Steve regarding timeline and payout, etc. Depending on how it works, how the broker fees are paid (probably before we get any of the money) and how the investor repayment works, we can then work out a schedule for all of us to be paid and pre-production started. I have everyone lined up, it's just a matter of getting it going.
So keep good thoughts and you'll hear from me tomorrow. Also hoping our second possible seed investor, Mamerto Aguilar, will be ready to talk to Steve tomorrow. He's in SF so that would be a good one, too. I don't know how many seed investors we can actually have before the Feds would classify US as brokers -- that can't happen because then we can't have any of the profits from the funds. But I'm pretty sure two is safe!
It was nice talking to you this morning, even though it was a bit difficult for us to hear and understand one another. We are now waiting for your Joint Venture Agreement, and I wanted to ask you if, as our seed investor, you will want a percentage of the films financed through the fund you are starting. 5% is common; with an investment of 3 million lbs or approximately 5 million u.s. we are willing to go to 6 or 7%. Please let me know; we can draw up a separate joint venture agreement to cover the percentage.
Do you have a website for your company? As you know, Steve will need to do compliance on your company and assets; I thought it would be good to know these things now. Also, are you a member of Facebook or Linked In? I am a member on both networking sites.
Once I receive the JVA we will review it and get back to you.
Thank you for your interest.
Sincerely, Debora Hill
I think Walters said he would send you not only his JV agreement, but instructions on how to transfer funds from his bank to yours. That will be interesting to see!
I wouldn't say that I do "compliance" on his company or assets. I'm just curious to see if he will provide any written or online information about his company. He says he's an oil trader. Maybe he keeps a low profile and doesn't have these. Or maybe he's lying. Hard to tell at this point. If he sends us his company information and it checks out, that will be encouraging.
My main concern, besides the famous front-fee Nigerian scam (he claims he does not charge front-fees), is the possibility of laundering, which could get us all in trouble. It was odd that he didn't have any questions about what we intend to do with the money specifically. Maybe he just likes to take risks, as he stated. Or maybe it doesn't matter to him because his main interest is in laundering the money. Well, that's a cynical speculation, but with Nigerians, you have to be cautious. I was straight with him about my concerns.
I have received your documents. On the telephone you mentioned the sum of 3 million lbs. GB. The agreement states 2 million u.s. dollars. We understand if you have decided on a smaller amount, but there is no mention in the agreement of the money being at the HSBC bank in London. As we will be setting up a corporate account at the HSBC bank in San Francisco for the transfer, we need to be certain of this.
Also, there is mention of an 'insurance premium' to be paid, an 'indemnification charge'. I assume, since you sent us the insurance certificate, that this has already been taken care of. As we explained when we were on the conference call with Steve, due to the nature of this program and the u.s. government regulations, no upfront fees are allowed on the money invested.
There is no mention of your return on the investment. How many times your investment will you want returned, and when? During the first three months of the payout from the fund? Also, will you want ownership points in the two films funded? I mentioned this over the telephone -- this percentage also needs to be included. It can be as much as 8%, although between 5-7 % is more common.
Please get back to me to clear up these points before I have our broker and my business partners read the documents you sent.
Sincerely, Debora Hill
Nice to know you received the agreement. My funds are based with the HSBC and I only said I was worth three million pounds which should be approximately five million dollars and I can for a start offer you the sum of $2 million dollars just to see how far you can go with this.
Also, it was not mentioned that my funds are lodged with the HSBC but I know that it is been lodged in there and will be made available to you from that bank as soon as we have agreed to the agreement.
The indemnification has already been taken care of as it is my duty as the investor to insure my funds against all risk and have funds secure for onward transfer. The certificate proves that funds has been indemnified and I want you to get back to me after you have viewed and signed the agreement so we can proceed.
Thank you for the clarification, Mark. The terms you have outlined in the agreement are acceptable to us, and we will make a schedule for the repayment of your seed and also the payment of profit. I will now send the agreement and certificate to our broker and colleagues, and will get back to you by tonight our time, tomorrow morning yours.
Sincerely, Debora Hill
On the 18th Mark Walter sent us his agreement. I sent it out to the whole team, and Steve came back to me that night.
That's all he gave you? I don't know what to make of it. Nicon Insurance does not have a website. But you can find news about them, ie. http://allafrica.com/stories/200811050617.html
The document is signed by Management, but there is no name. It's just squiggles. An authentic document would have a printed name to go along with the signature.
You could call Nicon and ask them if Mark Walters is a client.
It's not clear what the document is saying. It seems to say that YOUR funds of $2M are insured because you have abided by some rule, but then it talks about a Beneficiary. Who is the insured and who is the beneficiary? Why do we need insurance at all? And then at the end it says Premium must be paid? What premium? Who pays it? And where is that rule - let's see it! Sounds like the same old Nigerian scam.
What typos do you want to correct? There are ways to do this, but don't bother yet. Let's find out more about this first. He can always correct it and send you the corrected version.
I thought he was going to simply ask you for a wire transfer instruction to your bank. That would be legit. Also, where is his company profile?
I asked him about the payment and he says below he has already taken care of it. This is supposed to be our Joint Venture agreement -- I didn't expect him to send wire transfer instructions before that is signed. Should we send him a revised version with the changes you have suggested here? I believe I can either print the document and make changes with a pen then scan it and send it back, or possibly open it as a text and make changes.
OK. Got your phone message too. Will have to look at it more carefully. I'll send you a Word version. Letterhead lacks a phone number. Lots of typos.
Other than the one sentence in the JV Agreement, where is the proof that Mr. Walter has paid the insurance premium. Scammers can be very clever. Check for proof, and then call the insurance company to make sure. Otherwise, he could hit you with those charges at the last minute before the transfer, or try to pull off something else.
To transfer funds from one bank to another, there should be no need for insurance or indemnification. Have you ever seen that? It's a common scam. I'm not saying it is this time, but one cannot be too cautious with Nigerians.
Can you send me the jva received from Mark Walters? Without jva I can't make a full picture of his intentions. I didn't know he also sent with the Certificate jva and taking the certificate alone without any supporting documents it doesn't look like a genuine offer. I sent to Deb also some observations about the flag that is definitely not a part of original document and is a bad quality scan added to the picture. Too many details indicate the certificate was generated on computer and nobody can convince me it's original document. I received something similar from Lloyds few years ago and we had to report it to the British police. If everything is OK with him and he really wants to do business with us why did he send fake document? It doesn't make any sense to me. Obviously we need to find out more about him and his company and proceed further only if we are 100% sure he's real.
Concerning misuse of private data, as the crooks change their identities they use names and company details of people they already approached. I think this is probably the only way how the data could be misused. I wouldn't send him any other information except what he already has. Those people are also able to clean your accounts. It is estimated that Nigerian scammers made more than $5 billion on upfront fees and illegal account withdrawals.
Maybe we should ask him for his passport copy. We can say we need it for the contract or bank. It could be possible his name is not even what he says it is.
I don't want to jeopardize the whole deal. If you believe he's genuine and we should proceed with him, go ahead. Those are just my concerns, our company lost some money in similar circumstances on a couple of occasions in the past and I just wanted to share my experience. It doesn't mean Walters is a scammer but we need to consider all the options.
March 20, 2009
Dear Frank and Scott;
I heard from Mark Walter today. I cannot explain this situation; we are being very careful with him. He asked me to make a list in my email of the changes we have made in the jva, which I did, and I sent him the revised pdf again. We were surprised to hear from him again.
A financial advisor named Anna Golberg, who has an investor interested in a joint venture sent her my proposal, and wrote to me today to say her investor is interested. I told her the next steps must be to speak to Steve (her, her and the investor, all of us, whatever) and a joint venture agreement. I offered to send her the sample ones we've formulated thusfar; there hasn't been any negotiation as to shares yet.
Mamerto Aguilar told me yesterday he is hoping to speak to Steve
next week, but it would have to be toward the end of the week as he still doesn't have his voice back.
So, I'm still working on sending out the proposal...I'll keep everyone posted.
Hey, Deb --
First, from a graphics point of view. The watermark pages have been separated from the text pages. If Walters doesn't care, OK. But to do it right, just keep it all in Word, and then do the conversion to PDF so that the watermark page and the text page are together.
As to working with Walters, I agree with Frank that there are many questions, and numerous pointers that he is a scammer. Before proceeding, I will send him a list of observations and questions, and see how he responds. It will incorporate all of the phony things Frank and I have noticed. I can't do this until at least Tuesday, but if I have time, will get to it sooner.
It was on the 22nd that the second shoe hit the floor with a
shattering clunk. I received this from Walters, and his intent finally became clear. He was one of the best, I had to admit.
I called my bank to confirm the amount available and like I stated, the sum of $2million would be made available to you but that have also included that you would be responsible for the taxes so I decided to inform you first if you will be ok with this..
Waiting to hear from you so we can proceed.
I'm not sure what you mean about being responsible for the taxes. Naturally the tax from the u.s. government would be paid here. Do you mean British taxes? That could run as much as 40% of the amount received, so it would substantially reduce the amount you would be able to invest in the program. If you mean that once the money is received into the HSBC account here then taxes must immediately be paid, that could be arranged but, the amount of the investment would be reduced.
As Steve and I both told you, there are restrictions on how this program is run and how it can be entered -- because the profits are so high and in part due to the Patriot Act (don't ask, I don't understand it either and I doubt anyone else does) no fees may be paid to obtain investment money that is used directly in the program or to an investor that enters the program.
So, if you could elaborate on this, it would be helpful.
Sincerely, Debora Hill
After that, we never heard from Mark Walters again. Anna Golberg turned out to me a more ordinary type of scammer – she wanted to send me a check from one investor, have me deposit it into my account and send the money to the second investor, who supposedly charged an upfront fee. Whatever made her think we would fall for something so obvious when these types of scams have been showcased for years, I can’t imagine.
We ended March back at the beginning yet again, and I had started to post our proposal on Linked In. Unfortunately the first people I heard from either insisted what we were doing must be a scam, or illegal. It became somewhat trying, but we revised our proposal five or six times before we came up with something that didn’t push some idiot’s buttons.
In March of 2010 I heard from a woman named Roberta Kinney, a film producer from Los Angeles who had also been working with Rob Simpson when we were attempting to work with him. Her experience with him wasn’t any better than ours had been. I first wrote to her on the 28th, and heard back from him on the 29th.
I don't know if you remember me; we communicated a little over a year ago when we were represented by Rob Simpson of Vision Angels. We ended our contract with him in May of last year, and I came across your letters to me today. I was wondering if you continued to work with Mr. Simpson. I would have liked to remain friends with him after deciding not to work with him anymore, but it was not to be.
We realized after Rob that so-called 'film fund brokers' don't work very well for the funding of films. Do you feel your experience was different, and did you come to a different conclusion? We are now working with a broker of high-yield programs that actually have nothing to do with film, but we will be using for that purpose. The three 'film fund brokers' we worked with convinced us that this type of funding, high-cost and punitive, would eat up any profit from a film.
Please let me know your thoughts on this.
Sincerely, Debora Hill
Nice to hear from you. You're still on the path, which is good.
It's a hard nut to crack, but what are we going to do, but keep on going, huh?
Rob Simpson and I parted ways very early on when I wouldn't sign over 10% of the back end. Considering he wasn't the money man but only
a third party, I thought it was onerous, and not only was he unwilling to negotiate that with me, he got very abusive on the phone. I don't do
abusive. In fact, he turned up in another deal I was negotiating in Michigan and I just flat out told those producers I wasn't interested in signing anything that put me remotely in the vicinity of him. They'd worked with him before and understood.
I think you have been spared, but if you liked him, then I'm sorry it didn't work out. I have worked with other brokers, me being a third party that brought in projects to them, and frankly not a single thing got funded and, yes, their percentages seemed high to me considering they weren't the money guys either. Being in the daisy chain closer to
story than money my percentage would've been between 2.5 and 5%,
and their's would've been between 5 and 10% depending on the budget.
I'm still pounding the pavement for my two projects, and while my one sheets happen to be sitting with a broker this minute, I continue to look for equity funding. I hear it's out there. :-)
Good to hear back from you, glad to know you are still on the merry--go-round as well; sometimes it seems lonely. I did like Rob at one point, but when we decided to part ways he became quite abusive to me as well. I've run into some other producers who also had dealings with him and found him too difficult to work with and ultimately with no result. I don't know if you remember, but there was talk around the time we left him and for a couple of months before of him relocating to Los Angeles and having his office on a studio lot -- that doesn't seem to have happened.
I hope you are able to find equity funding; that would be ideal. We have gone a different way; we still have our Managing Producers and some of the crew who hung in with us for over a year now and are still waiting -- but the funding opportunity we have, which is not a loan and would leave us owning a large percentage of our films, requires a seed investor for each film -- we would be willing to go in with other producers for this, but they don't seem to have that seed right now, mostly due to the economy, so I have had to start dealing with some different kinds of money people. It's been confusing, but being worked out.
Anyway, here's to us...may we find what we need, with no Rob Simpson's along the path!
I'll be interested to know how this works out for you. Please keep me posted. And thanks for the tip re Secured Capital. BTW, one of the meetings I took about 18 mos ago was in the offices of Capitol
Films. They had my script, were enthusiastic about slipping it into their line up. Taylor Hackford was down the hall interviewing actresses. I was very excited. Then like within moments, Capitol, Thinkfilm, anything David Bergstein had his hands in, went belly up, and they stopped returning my calls. Whatever Taylor was doing disappeared, along with the projects of the producer who had brought me in. THIS CLOSE. I did the this close thing twice more after that. One was a financier who was going to get me a loan out of New Century Bank. The afternoon he called to tell me, very excited, I said, have
you seen the paper today? Headlines, above the line, New Century was under investigation for sub prime loans. And that was the end of that. LAUGH.
Well, shit. I am writing a book about our adventures in the trying to get a film made world...can I include you and these stories in it?
As for what we are doing, I can send you more information about how it works. Basically it is an invitation-only fund that uses capital from huge investors around the world and has large returns. But because it is invitation-only and the brokers cannot advertise their services, we got in through a connection -- our colleague in Australia, who is a corporate fund-raiser, introduced us to the German broker, who then introduced us to the U.S. broker who is in Marin County. But...he never would have contacted me at all except he realized we live a half-hour away. So he called me, we all met for lunch, and we signed a contract to enter the fund.
If you think you might have investors who are interested, I can send you more information; I have to be careful, because during the 1990's there were a load of scams in Europe involving Private Placement Programs. But let me know...we do know the broker personally, he owns a house in Marin and is very active in the community there. That made us feel better about it.
I've learned not to post our funding request on Craig's List, although I still use Linked In. Got to be careful; one of the people who wanted to invest was the President of the Senate in Nigeria, apparently orchestrating a coup to take over the government there...that was weird.
I don't have any investors to refer at this point. But thanks, I'll keep it in mind. Sure, you can use my stories but I have to keep the specifics anonymous. I don't know if that's good enough for you. I wouldn't want to name Capitol Films for instance because who knows...it might resurrect in some form and I may still know some people over there.
I have others, too! Been at this for a couple years now.
Oh, boy, Craigslist. Yes, I had a producer friend who got hauled in by the SEC for soliciting financing that way. I'm always a little perplexed by the number of projects who advertise for an executive producer. LAUGH. Anyway congratulations on the book. Nice use of your experience. If I can contribute, I'd be glad to.
Roberta L. Kenney
March 31, 2010
Anna golberg is gone -- she refused to give us any of her contact information beyond her email address and wanted to send us a check to deposit, then send a check from our account to the investor for upfront fees. A common scam, that, the lack of contact info and the fact that she was going to send us a check for the upfront investor fees without signing a joint venture agreement or sending us back copies of her NDNC or fee agreement signed by her, even though she had asked for them.
I keep on trying. today Richard J. Dubin asked if I would contact my network regarding some funding for a film he may produce for Halle Berry. I did; I'll see if I can help him out...he offered us a fee and Associate Producer credit.
April brought less scammers and more people we couldn’t hope to understand with a universal translator. People in China, in India, in Bahrain. Skype conferences in which I couldn’t understand one word out of five, conferences where I had to translate for Steve Glanz because HE couldn’t understand. It was an interesting time, if interesting can be used as a euphemism for utterly annoying. And even worse than that, people in San Francisco, Florida, all over the place who really should be able to handle the English language well enough to communicate, but apparently cannot.
Brokers turned out to be our bete noire. They surfaced from everywhere and wanted us to leave Steve and work with them, do their programs, etc. It took hundreds of hours of filtering through them to realize there was no way we could ever work with any of them. Frank Cmero was trying to get funding for his last fish farm, and thought we could use some of that financing to do the film fund program.
There were people who looked promising, in Canada and England, but after numerous telephone conferences and hours of emails, they turned out not to have any money. We went into May with dozens of people interested in working with us, but none of whom ever got far enough to sign a contract. There was one man from the UK named Stephen Edwards who wrote to me on May 2nd and asked me for details of our project. I sent them to him the following day, and like many others I never heard from him again. I had no idea that a few months later he would become important to us.
Frank Cmero flew to Italy the second week of May, supposedly to finalize his investment money for the fish farm. He was expecting the first payout by the 17th of the month. He was driving from Rome to Milan, and from there to Prague, where he would remain for several weeks. But we didn’t hear from him until the 18th, when he told us the financing bank required tax returns for the past five years. That meant Frank had to fly home, get the tax returns and fax them to Italy, and wait again.
The brokers were still around, and they were the most blatantly self-serving people I think I’ve ever encountered. One man named Peter Pescosolido at a company called Odin Global Financing actually wrote to me and told me, after several communications and a month of my sending him information, that he had never meant to work with us at all – he only wrote to me in order to get to Steve Glanz. He finally admitted that to me and asked me to have Steve telephone him...for some reason he actually thought I would. I wrote him this short message – it wasn’t the most polite, but by that time I was incensed by this time-wasters.
Thank you, Peter --
I'm going to have to end our connection now; Steve has stopped dealing with people who just want information about the platform -- there have been a lot of them -- and now only wants to deal with investors.
Thank you, anyway.
Frank’s deal in Italy blew up, and he wound up losing money once again. We finished May in the same position we started; surrounded by people who were supposedly investors, none of whom ever seemed to actually DO anything.
May 29, 2010
You were expecting to hear from me before this date with good news. I know this, and Richard J. reminded me of this today. But as always nothing is as simple as it is supposed to be, at least not in our universe.
Frank went to Italy to sign the final papers for his seed investment. He had all his documents with him, he thought -- and had arranged for the 250,000 euros required for the pre-payment of interest for one year in the event he pays off the loan early (as he is planning to do). He signed the final papers, left Milan and got as far as Rome when he was called to say there were two years of corporate income tax returns missing from the package. He called his office in Australia and went on to Prague, to his sister's house there.
From there he flew home, arriving last Tuesday, I believe. He collected the required forms from his office on Wednesday and overnighted them to Milan -- they couldn't be faxed. So, they arrived in Milan and on Friday he was waiting for word.
We haven't stopped working on other seed investors and have four good possibilities now, but Frank really wanted us to get started -- it has been so long. He even found some alternate investors but they wanted to take over the company in return for the investment money, and if something goes wrong with the Italian money this late in the game I think he's going to go for it.
So I'll have more news on Monday, hopefully...still in there pitching. Just nobody catching...damn it.
Cheers, talk soon hopefully!