Bioring, Zen Blanket and now Like Bike, is this the worst crowdfunding scam ever?

Bioring Zen blanket
Bioring, Zen Blanket and now Like Bike, is this the worst crowdfunding scam ever?

Like bike is the third possible crowdfunding scam with links to the same person. Photo: Press and Jon Mauno Pettersson.

Johanna Ekström

Reporter

A Swede with connections to two previous million dollar crowdfunding scams can now be linked to yet another one: An e-bike campaign on Indiegogo and Kickstarter, created by a company with no real address, no products yet delivered and a stolen ID.

For a longer version in Swedish, click here.

Some of you might remember the story about “Big Mike”. The Swede who raised $400,000 on Indiegogo for a “smart” ring called Bioring, and then disappeared.

The trail led Breakit to a former student at Stockholm School of Economics, and to a new $800,000 campaign - Zen blanket - with connections to him.

The SSE student denied any involvement in the two campaigns when Breakit payed him a visit at his dorm room in a suburb in Stockholm, Sweden.

The person in question has not had a taxed income in Sweden for the past five years. He has not been penniless, however. Documents that we have acquired access to show that a large amount of money, with connection to him, has been transferred to Sweden.  

Now, with the help of sources and some new formal documents, Breakit can connect the student to yet another campaign, which ran on both Kickstarter and Indiegogo this summer.

Like Bike is described as being “the coolest and most affordable electric bike”. The campaign raised a total of more than $300,000 from around 500 backers.

The SSE student is, according to documents from the Swedish Companies Registrations Office, linked to the company behind the campaign. He has used that particular company name when signing papers to register yet another company. The name of the company has since been removed from Like Bike's website. 

The Like Bike team confirms, however, in the crowdfunding page's comments section that the address where the company is registered is their real address, in a business park in the outskirts of Uppsala, Sweden.

When we call the chairman of the area's business council he tells us that no such company exists there. No electric bike company at all actually. What's more, the house number that Like Bike has reported does not exist.

And there’s more to come.

Like Bike names one person as responsible for the campaign. There’s only one person in Sweden with the same full name, a person who lives over 400 miles from Uppsala.

When Breakit contacts him he claims he has nothing to do with the campaign. He files a police report for identity theft and contacts Kickstarter, who still, a week later, have not removed his name from the campaign.

The people behind Like Bike claim that their design and technology, is unique and developed in Sweden, while the bikes are produced in Shenzhen, China.

Breakit asked a bicycle expert to have a look at the bikes, who immediately concluded that this is one of more than 10,000 or so different foldable e-bikes from China, many easily available on Alibaba.

Both the Police Finance Department and the Swedish Economic Crime Authority refer to the preliminary investigation confidentiality and have neither been able to confirm, nor deny, if the authorities are investigating the campaigns or the people behind them.

Chief Prosecutor at the Swedish Economic Crime Authority, Stefan Lundberg, has previously told us that this type of crime is difficult to control.

“The culprit is often in one country, and the backers or investors in another. They might even be in several countries. That causes problems for the different countries’ legal systems. Which country should take on the case? This is a part of the crime plan: to make it difficult for the authorities”, he said.

It remains yet to be seen whether Zen Blanket or Like Bike will deliver any products, which they might as well do. In theory, the SSE student could also be a middle man or have had his identity stolen. Or there might come another greeting from “Big Mike”.

Speaking of Big Mike, what’s the former SSE student's take on our new findings? We tried to call him on the number he gave us last time we met, on which we’ve been in contact with him subsequently. Not that surprisingly, the number is no longer in service.

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