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In today’s email:

  • Scandalous: A founder is accused of faking 4m+ users.
  • Seriously? Scammers are coming for laid-off workers.
  • Weekend reads: Our best stuff from the week.
  • Around the web: Peacock mayhem, a responsible otter, a highway style guide, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear Zack and Juliet discuss a $175m fake email lawsuit, Prince Harry’s memoir, SBF’s Substack, and more.

The big idea
college

Scandal: JPMorgan accuses founder of faking 4m+ accounts

In 2021, JPMorgan Chase paid $175m for Frank, a college financial aid platform.

But if you go to the website today, it tells you it’s no longer available and to file your FAFSA at StudentAid.gov.

What happened?

At the time of the acquisition, founder Charlie Javice claimed Frank had 4.25m customers, per The Wall Street Journal.

But when JPMorgan sent emails to 400k users, only 28% were delivered, per court filings.

Now, JPMorgan is suing Javice and Frank exec Olivier Amar, alleging they faked 4m+ accounts to bolster the startup’s value when, in reality, it had less than 300k customers.

The dirt

JPMorgan claims that when it asked Javice to prove her customer count, she initially declined, citing privacy concerns, but eventually produced a list.

JPMorgan alleges she paid a data science professor $18k to make fake accounts to match her claims, after Frank’s engineering chief refused to, per court filings.

  • In one email to the professor, Javice allegedly wrote, “Will the fake emails look real with an eye check or better to use unique ID?”
  • Amar is accused of paying ASL Marketing $105k for a data set of 4.5m students.

Javice’s lawyer claims JPMorgan is lying because it owes the founder millions, which JPMorgan denies.

Interestingly, in 2020…

… members of Congress expressed concern that Frank was not making things easier for students, creating unnecessary work for financial aid administrators, and potentially selling student data, per Forbes.

The FTC also accused Frank of potentially misleading customers.

Fun fact: Over on Twitter, @stonks_dot_com pointed out that Javice was a Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient, alongside esteemed colleagues Sam Bankman-Fried, Caroline Ellison, and Martin Shkreli.

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TRENDING
eyeball wearing a hat

Joshua Tree’s “Invisible House,” one of the world’s most famous Airbnbs, is on the market for ~$18m. The 5.5k-square-foot reflective house, built with $700k worth of glass, features a bed that sits on a 2.5k-pound glass frame.

SNIPPETS

Inflation slowed in December, with the consumer price index falling 0.1%, the largest decrease since April 2020.

Congress rejected a $400m request from the US Army to buy 6.9k Microsoft HoloLens combat goggles, but approved $40m to develop a new model.

Ex-FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, accused of billions in fraud and out under house arrest on $250m bail, is blogging about his defense on a Substack called “SBF’s Substack.”

What’s up in AI: One tech marketing agency has “hired” AI interns, Aiko and Aiden, over human ones. Meanwhile, ChatGPT appears to be lying about what it knows.

Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare, sold 1.4m+ copies on its first day out across the US, Canada, and the UK.

HBO Max upped its price by $1 to $15.99/mo., its first increase since 2020. Its much-anticipated zombie drama “The Last of Us” drops this weekend.

Sotheby’s will auction off a Kobe Bryant jersey that’s expected to sell for up to $7m. The late NBA star wore the jersey in 25 games during his 2007-08 MVP season.

The NYC nursing strike is over after three days, thanks to a tentative agreement between their union and two hospitals ensuring appropriate staffing levels.

Meanwhile, the National Labor Relations Board has certified the Amazon Labor Union; Amazon must now bargain a contract.

TikTok is adding a “Talent Manager Portal” where managers can negotiate with brands and agencies on behalf of creators.

Chuck E. Cheese employee Stewart Coonrod’s TikTok shows how animatronics are still programmed via floppy disks. Unfortunately, Coonrod’s store will replace the bot this year with a dance floor.

Chart
job scams by quarter
Olivia Heller

Scammers are coming for laid-off tech workers

Nothing beats getting laid off during an economic downturn, finally being offered a job interview, then learning that the interview is actually an elaborate internet scam.

Job fraudsters are luring laid-off workers into offering up money or sensitive personal information with phony companies, job postings, websites, and interviews, per The Wall Street Journal.

  • Many of those being targeted are unemployed tech workers. The broader tech industry experienced a jump in layoffs throughout 2022, totaling ~154k, and has already seen 21k+ layoffs this year, according to Layoffs.fyi.
  • LinkedIn claims it blocked 20m+ fake accounts in the first half of 2022, up 33% from 2021.

The volume and economic impact of these scams have skyrocketed. In 2021, the Federal Trade Commission reported US workers lost more than $209m from job opportunity fraud, up from $118m in 2018.

In just the first three quarters of 2022, workers lost $250m.

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Free Resource

Balancing business + personal values

We all know the struggle: building a life, and building a career. No matter how lopsided you like it, keeping the separation proves to be a challenge.

But it doesn’t have to be. Listen to Emily Thompson tackle value mentality on the Being Boss podcast.

Inside this episode:

  • Core values vs. business values
  • Finding what resonates with both
  • How values guide long-term success

Here’s how a creative entrepreneur stays in the zone.

Navigating values →
Recs
Weekend Reads

Welcome to Weekend Reads

In case you missed ‘em, here’s this week’s best…

AROUND THE WEB

🖥️ On this day: In 2000, Bill Gates stepped down as CEO of Microsoft to develop new tech. He was replaced by Steve Ballmer, who was replaced by Satya Nadella in 2014.

🛣️ That’s interesting: The style guide that specifies how US highway signage should appear.

✏️From our blog: Creating a product that customers love takes time. Here’s how to craft a killer product vision.

🦚 That’s interesting: South Pasadena, California, has been in a war over peacocks, who some residents claim dent their cars and scream all night.

🦦 Aww: And now, an otter does their chores.

Shower Thoughts
  1. Laughing Out Loud is the most used lie in history.  SOURCE

  2. We can’t actually feel wetness, we can only infer it.  SOURCE

  3. A 4.7-star rating on a product looks much better than a 5-star rating.  SOURCE

  4. Seeing someone consume multiple beers at a Chili’s at 9am is suspect. Move that Chili’s inside an airport and suddenly it’s totally normal.  SOURCE

  5. The closest most of us will ever get to hunting our own food is by tracking our food delivery order status.  SOURCE

 
via Reddit
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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Mark “4.7-star rating” Dent.

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