There appears to be a fraudulent site or company in China masquerading as Battery Ventures, in what looks to be a first for a well-known venture capital firm.
The scam seems to be, “Weï¿½ll invest in your company, but you have to pay a processing fee,” Battery Ventures spokeswoman Karen Bommart told us Wednesday evening. Battery Ventures has offices in Silicon Valley, as well as Boston.
But check out the Chinese clone site, at http://www.usa-big.com. Pretty identical to the real Battery site. About the only thing that’s really different is the logo. The clone drops the “V” and just carries the big “B”. Calling themselves the “American Battery Investment Group.” Suppose that makes it just fine then.
Guess there is indeed the upside for Battery — imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Battery is taking it seriously, and have called in the lawyers. They’re pressing the host of the illegal website to take down the site, Bommart updated yesterday morning. Investigators have determined that there is a physical presence of some kind in LA, and are working with local law enforcement to start knocking on doors.
The thinking is, the group will get scared and shut it down. Apparently, Battery has now been hearing of other kinds of scams: US-based ï¿½unlicensedï¿½ VCs selling pre-IPO shares of fake companies, and so on. We missed Battery partner Roger Lee yesterday pm, but hope to get updated with the latest. Wonder if Kleiner Perkins’ new partner, Colin Powell, who has been upping the ante on the IP protection problem in China, will make any headway?
There’s even a reference to our Mercury News article about Battery in the clone’s tab on news about itself.
Apparently, there’s a Private Equity Insider piece on this. Anyone have a link? [Update: Thanks, see link below]
Update: Monday, 7/18: We’re hearing a lot more on this. See Dan Primack’s blurb on the rip-off of Carlyle Group’s website. We’ve also heard from a source that there was a fraudulent group masquerading as Jerusalem Venture Partners. Indeed, check out the alert on the left-hand side of JVP’s Website. Dummy emails, sent in in JVP’s name, says you will be “granted a loan from which your personal business will flourish by acting as our representative.”
We chatted with Mike Kessler, of Kessler International, who is helping Battery with the investigation. He says this all seems to be part of a “major syndicate that has defrauded people all over the world.” The group is ripping off text, photos from Web sites, and also developing fake products and floating fake IPOs, he said. He says billions of dollars could be lost. Apparently, a lot of this activity is in California. He said he might have more news today…
Update: Meanwhile, we just received a copy of the fake JVP email (download here). It is a piece of work.
Meanwhile, let us know if you hear of anything else, as we’ll be doing on-going reporting. Thanks.