Crowdsourcing firm Springleap claimed to connect marketers with some 180,000 creative professionals to help them understand local trends, according to an earlier article in TechCrunch.
It was described as a “TaskRabbit for research.”
However, the New York Attorney General last week announced Springleap CEO Eran Eyal, 43, of Brooklyn, was indicted on felony charges of stealing $600,000 from investors. Eyal allegedly sought investors through false representations of this company, according to the office. He faces five to 15 years in prison.
Crowdsourcing refers to an online platform that parses out work to a far-flung “crowd” of independent workers, according to SIA’s lexicon of industry terms. It’s part of the human cloud/online staffing segment. Revenue in just the B2B portion of the human cloud rose 19% year over year in 2017 to $6.4 billion, according to SIA research.
But while Springleap claimed 180,000 creative professionals, Eyal allegedly hired a hacker to scrape data from legitimate sites to falsely create an inflated list, according to the office. Eyal allegedly claimed this cost him $25.
Eyal also claimed Springleap had chief technical officers, which it did not, and a nonexistent advisory board, according to the office. In addition, Springleap claimed high-profile clients, including a computer corporation and a multinational semiconductor design company, of which neither was a customer, the office reported.
The indictment pertains to four investors, but the office has also located others in Australia, South Africa and the UK who invested a total of more than $1.3 million in Springleap.
Eyal faces three counts of grand larceny in the second degree, one count of grand larceny in the third degree, one count of unlawful duplication of computer related material in the first degree, one count of criminal possession of computer related material, one count of scheme to defraud in the first degree, and four counts of securities fraud under the Martin Act.