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Online Shopping Card Company Cyberbuck Files for Bankruptcy

California

January 10, 2001|ROBIN FIELDS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cyberbuck Corp., an online shopping fraud prevention company whose former top executive turned out to be a convicted felon, has filed for bankruptcy protection.

The Santa Ana start-up listed $150,000 in debts and no assets in its Chapter 7 liquidation petition filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana.

The company's chief executive, Tony Mazzamuto, resigned in June after the firm's directors learned he had fabricated parts of his background and failed to disclose two criminal convictions.

"With things tightening up because of the market and the history we had, we had a hard time to bring more money in or keep the investors we had," said Gary Koopman, who took over as chief executive after Mazzamuto's departure. "People became leery."

Mazzamuto's cover-up unraveled after he complained to news outlets when Southwest Airlines forced him to buy two seats to accommodate his 400-pound girth, prompting people familiar with his past to come forward.

He had served a three-year prison term in the early 1990s for cocaine possession with intent to sell and for carrying a gun after a felony conviction. He also shaved three years off his age and falsely claimed he had two master's degrees.

Backed by $1 million in private financing, Cyberbuck hoped to sell consumers prepaid cards for online shopping, thus safeguarding their regular credit. The company hired away staffers from Western Digital Corp. and other well-established firms, expanding to about 40 employees.

But once Mazzamuto's lies were exposed, the company foundered.

The company ran out of cash before completing its Web site. Cyberbuck shut down Dec. 1, Koopman said.

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