back to article Newsflash! Faking it until you make it is illegal in Silicon Valley: Biz boss pleads guilty

It turns out bullshitting your way to fame and fortune is illegal in California's playground of tech startups, rather than a viable business model. Who knew? The former CEO and founder of defunct Silicon Valley upstart WrkRiot has pleaded guilty to defrauding and lying to his firm's former employees. Isaac Choi, 36, on Monday …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Does this really count ?

    So one guy in a startup nobody's heard of got caught cheating. And ?

    It's going to take a lot more than catching one little pig to stop the likes of the board at Uber or other startups who claim great things and deliver nothing.

    Spring Cleaning is long overdue in Sillycon Valley. I'm not taking this as a sign that winter is over.

    1. FidotheFrightful

      Re: Does this really count ?

      Fire the sob with no pension FOR TELLING PORKIES!

  3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
  4. Jay Lenovo Silver badge

    Not a crime (inspired by real news)

    No reasonable prosecutor should have pursued charges based on the evidence.

    It was simply "extreme carelessness" with the truth.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Not a crime (inspired by real news)

      It was the wire fraud. The rest was just dirty laundry.

  5. JohnFen Silver badge

    Genuinely surprised

    I'm genuinely surprised at this. Considering the cesspool that is silicon valley, I figured something like that would be applauded instead of subject to criminal conviction.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Genuinely surprised

      I'm genuinely surprised at this. Considering the cesspool that is silicon valley, I figured something like that would be applauded instead of subject to criminal conviction."

      I'd not be surprised if he is seen as a hero by segments of Silly Valley, probably only diminished slightly by being caught. But Silly Valley is not the law. That's created somewhere else, slightly less insane.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Genuinely surprised

        Caught your typo:

        That's created somewhere else, slightly more insane.

        Fixed it for you :)

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Genuinely surprised

      It's not just Silly Valley, but California in general. The state is full of businesses that fuck over their employees.

      O.K. well that's the US in general, but you get the idea. Silly Valley is even worse.

      1. gbshore

        Re: Genuinely surprised

        Ah yes the anti US rhetoric... yes .. all US companies screw people over... how are ridiculous comments like this made or allowed? SMH...

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: Genuinely surprised

          US run by Corporations. Laws favour Corps over consumers. Look at what lobbyists spend. Also USA falls to 21st on Democracy ratings. One in five, (20%) of "Black" adults in Florida have no vote, One in ten over all.

          You don't want to eat USA chicken, pork/bacon/ham or beef due to the way they are grown or processed.

          EPA head an ex chemical related company. A Health head had to resign due to shares in Big Tobacco.

        2. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Genuinely surprised

          Not all, but many -- and even more who aren't actively trying to screw people over, but couldn't really care less if that's the side-effect of their profit-seeking.

          Saying that out loud isn't anti-US rhetoric. It's anti-abusive corporation rhetoric.

    3. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Genuinely surprised

      Magic Leap?

      1. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Genuinely surprised

        Was thinking the same :)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Almost made it !!!

    The only reason he was caught/will be sentenced will be because of the fake wire transfer confirmations.

    The rest is par for the course.

    You can lie all you want as long as you 'bring home the Bacon' otherwise known as pay your Investors a good return on their money.

    All the lies about your experience and success will then apply based on the previous 6-12 months, rinse, spin and repeat.


  7. Maelstorm Bronze badge


    Lying about yourself is not illegal. Sending fake wire transfer notices is. That's what they nailed him on. He can say all that he wants about himself having attended business school, working for a financial company, etc... As long as he doesn't try to use those lies to defraud people, it's perfectly legal.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Fraud

      Sending fake wire transfers was really dumb. The solution was to offer alternative shares to cover debts and threaten to declare bankruptcy if the deal was not taken. He could have got detailed advice in return for a single drop of blood.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. GrapeBunch


    Lying about your education? When I was graduated with a Maths degree more than four decades ago, I got two sealed transcripts, foreseeing that I would need proof. I managed to lose one, and the other I still have, unopened. Nobody cared. "A Primary Ideal is the kernel of a homomorphism in which every zero-divisor is nil-potent." See what a good mathster I am? But I might have memorized that, before entering Uni.

    It was the wire fraud that did for him. Lying, meh. Business degree? It's all funny business.

  9. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Works both ways?

    > Choi acknowledged making false statements about his educational background

    So it is "wire fraud" because the claims were made electronically. That would imply two things. First, that everything you say on your CV must be supportable and provable- but only if you email it.

    And secondly, possibly more importantly - that everything companies say in online job ads must be true, as well.

    So the vacancy that says "dynamic company" or "good working environment" or "strong promotion prospects" or that makes promises about training, "fun" or where you will work can be sued if the job doesn't live up to the description.

    I wouldn't hold my breath!

    1. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: Works both ways?

      No no. It's in the middle of the article but what he got nailed for for faking wire payments to his employees so that they would stay. he lied to get free work.

      Oh no, Silicon Valley! Failed startup CEO on fraud rap after allegedly bullsh*ting staff and refusing to pay them

      In an indictment unsealed on Wednesday, Isaac Choi, founder and CEO of failed Silicon Valley job search startup WrkRiot, was charged with five counts of wire fraud for allegedly defrauding former employees.

      "In reality, as alleged in the indictment, Choi sent forged wire transfer confirmations in order to induce WrkRiot employees to continue working for the company without being paid," the Department of Justice said in a statement.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. anothercynic Silver badge

    In Silicon Valley everything goes...

    ... Just don't get caught doing it.

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