CEO of cryptocurrency firm that disappeared with $375,000 of investor money lied about his employment

Key Points
  • Cryptocurrency start-up Confido raised nearly $375,000 via an initial coin offering
  • Its social media and website went dark following the fund raise
  • Joost van Doorn, Confido's alleged CEO, wrote on its now-deleted website that he worked at eBay, PepsiCo and Zalando
  • Both PepsiCo and Zalando said they can find no record of him
  • eBay has not yet responded to CNBC's request for comment
Andrew Brookes | Cultura | Getty Images

The CEO of a cryptocurrency start-up that raised nearly $375,000 through an initial coin offering (ICO) and then disappeared, lied about his employment history on the company's website, CNBC has learned.

Confido billed itself as a blockchain start-up that was disrupting traditional escrow services and transactions.

After it raised the money, all of its social media platforms went dark, with the company claiming in a now-deleted blog post that it was in a "tight spot" due to "legal trouble" with a contract.

Investors have reported on websites including Reddit that they have been unable to get in touch with the founding team. CNBC has also tried to contact Confido without success.

On Confido's website, which has also been deleted, a man called Joost van Doorn is named as the CEO. His biography said that he previously worked at eBay, PepsiCo and Zalando.

But two of the companies have no record of him.

After being contacted by CNBC, a PepsiCo spokesperson said that its human resources department could not find him. And German online retailer Zalando said that his name could not be found on any employees or freelancer list.

However, eBay has not yet responded to CNBC's request for comment.

An ICO is the latest way for cryptocurrency start-ups to raise money by issuing their own digital tokens in exchange for a virtual currency like ether or bitcoin. Investors don't get a stake in the company, but the tokens they receive can be traded or used on a service provided by the platform. ICOs have exploded, with more than $3.55 billion raised via this method so far this year.

Confido managed to raise just under $375,000 via an ICO on a platform called TokenLot. On Monday, TokenLot, the firm that hosted the ICO, put out a statement saying the Confido team had "pulled an exit scam." The company also said it had lost all lines of communication with Confido.

ICOs are currently unregulated in the majority of the world and banned in China and South Korea. This means that investors do not have any protection should an event like this take place.

A number of people in the cryptocurrency and technology world have criticized ICOs.

Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple, the fourth-largest cryptocurrency by value, told CNBC in a recent interview that "a lot of what's happening in the ICO market is actually fraud."