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The Tale of a Crypto Executive Who Wasn’t Who He Said He Was


Mr. Rogers, who ran an investment fund with George Soros and wrote the book “Investment Biker,” said he had briefly been a “skeptical adviser” on the project since he didn’t expect it to work. He added that he had never bought cryptocurrency, let alone via Mr. Hannum.

“I actually have never heard of him,” he told me by email. “That is all absurd.”

Mr. Hannum was somewhat connected to the failed enterprise: He worked at a marketing firm in Santa Monica, Calif., called Hawke Media that helped with it, in line with Erik Huberman, Hawke’s chief executive.

A Guide to Cryptocurrency

Card 1 of 9

Bitcoin. A Bitcoin is a digital token that might be sent electronically from one user to a different, anywhere on the planet. Bitcoin can also be the name of the payment network on which this manner of digital currency is stored and moved.

Blockchain. A blockchain is a database maintained communally and that reliably stores digital information. The unique blockchain was the database on which all Bitcoin transactions were stored, but non-currency-based firms and governments are also attempting to use blockchain technology to store their data.

Coinbase. The primary major cryptocurrency company to list its shares on a U.S. stock exchange, Coinbase is a platform that enables people and corporations to purchase and sell various digital currencies, including Bitcoin, for a transaction fee.

Web3. The name “web3” is what some technologists call the concept of a latest form of web service that’s built using blockchain-based tokens, replacing centralized, corporate platforms with open protocols and decentralized, community-run networks.

DAOs. A decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO, is an organizational structure built with blockchain technology that is commonly described as a crypto co-op. DAOs form for a typical purpose, like investing in start-ups, managing a stablecoin or buying NFTs.

I could find no evidence that Mr. Hannum had made any enterprise investments, let alone $100 million value. And it’s not clear exactly how he found his strategy to ZenLedger. Pat Larsen, ZenLedger’s chief executive and a founder, wouldn’t get on the phone with me and didn’t reply to any of my emails. I also desired to know if he had read the massive Forbes profile, where Mr. Hannum described how he had been an early funder of ZenLedger.

Rob Ford, an out of doors spokesman for ZenLedger, tried to clear some things up. He said that Mr. Hannum didn’t spend money on ZenLedger and that Mr. Larsen had not read the Forbes article. The corporate doesn’t imagine Mr. Hannum ever misrepresented the corporate itself, he added.

(The I.R.S. connection is real: ZenLedger has 4 contracts, totaling $509,600, under the company name Blockchain Analytics and Tax Software L.L.C. The agency said contracts generally remained in place until they expired. “Nevertheless,” it added, “government contracts, including this one, are subject to ongoing review in accordance with federal contracting standards.”)

So how did Mr. Hannum find yourself at ZenLedger?

“Mr. Hannum was referred to ZenLedger through an expert relationship and was cleared by a federal background check with no flags regarding his education or work history,” the corporate’s statement said. “Once it became evident that he had misrepresented his education and work history, in addition to the character of his role with ZenLedger, his employment with the corporate was terminated that day.”

A check of federal records isn’t a nasty idea when hiring someone, nevertheless it probably wouldn’t raise red flags a few person’s skilled or educational background. So if ZenLedger wasn’t asking the proper questions, what about its investors?

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