Some of the people associated with CYNK, the mysterious social networking company that generated headlines last week when its stock surged 25,000% in just 16 trading days, have worked together before. And one of them has been associated with an allegedly shady penny stock operation.
On Friday, the SEC suspended trading in CYNK until July 24. The agency attributed the halt to “concerns regarding the accuracy and adequacy of information in the marketplace and potentially manipulative transactions in CYNK’s common stock.”
Though CYNK was technically worth over $US5 billion on paper at its peak, filings show the company had no revenue or assets. Its management structure, as pieced together from government filings, was a complex merry-go-round of little-known executives.
The trail begins in Nevada where CYNK was first founded as “Introbuzz” in 2008.
Documents show the company’s first CEO was a man named John Kueber, who is currently the chief operating officer of Tiger Oak Media in Seattle. Last week, Kueber told the Wall Street Journal he no longer has any connection to CYNK and merely “read about it on the news.” Kueber did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider on Sunday.
In October of 2011, a man named Kenneth Carter bought six million shares of CYNK and became the company’s next CEO and sole employee. On Facebook, Carter goes by the name “Kenny Blaque” and identifies himself as the “owner and founder” of a Vegas-based “internet marketing company” called Blaque Technology.
According to a filing, Carter resigned in March 2013 and his shares in the company were cancelled.
In a series of Facebook messages with Business Insider Sunday, Carter promised he would “give a full story on Tuesday” and promised his team would soon be launching “new software…the real software that intro buzz was suppose to use.”
A month after Carter’s resignation, in another filing, CYNK said Marlon Luis Sanchez had become CEO, taking a 72% share in the company. Sanchez was identified as a partner in Sanchez Medical Services, which is described on its Facebook page as a company dedicated to helping customers travel to Mexico for “bariatric, plastic and orthopedic surgical procedures.” A call to Sanchez Medical Services went unanswered Sunday, but Sanchez spoke to the Wall Street Journal Thursday. He said he was no longer involved with CYNK, but he also boasted about his performance at the company.
“I worked my magic for a year, my friend, and now you can see the results,” he said.
The next person to lead the company was a man named Javier Romero, who was identified in a filing with OTC Markets, the platform where CYNK is traded, which described him as “the President, CEO, Secretary, Treasurer, and Director of CYNK Technologies, Inc.” and noted that “since 2009 Mr. Romero has been a Fisheries Officer for the Government of Belize.”
According to a June 11 letter to OTC Markets Group from Las Vegas attorney Harold P. Gewerter, Romero purchased 210,000,000 shares of CYNK from Sanchez on Feb. 20. Last week, Gewerter told the Wall Street Journal he no longer represents the company. He has not responded to multiple requests for comment from Business Insider.
On Friday, Business Insider found a man named Javier Romero who appears to match the description of the former CYNK executive. After originally pretending to be another person by the name of “Jason,” Romero confirmed his identity and said he is a former fisheries officer with the government of Belize, now attending flight school in Massachusetts. He also acknowledged there was a “proposed transaction” for him to purchase CYNK shares from Sanchez.
“With the advice of my attorney, I’ll say. According to the research on this now delicate situation, one Javier Romero was CEO of CYNK Technology from May 9, 2014 to June 18, 2014, served as an interim President, Secretary and Director of CYNK Technologies,” said Romero. “During this time, I received no compensation in neither cash nor shares of this company. The proposed transaction whereupon it was contemplated that I purchased restricted shares from one Mr. Sanchez was never completed. Further, I have never owned or purchased a single share of CYNK Technology.”
Romero went on to name another man — by the name of Howard Berkowitz — whom he said is actually CYNK’s top executive.
Reading from a prepared statement, Romero told us, “According to records, one Javier Romero on June 18, 2014 resigned as President and Secretary and Director of CYNK Technologies, whereupon on Mr. Howard Berkowitz filled these vacancies. At this time, the stock was around $US2 per share.”
Interestingly, the June 18 date Romero identified as Berkowitz’s start with the company coincides almost exactly with the surge in CYNK’s stock price.
Documentation tying Berkowitz to the company includes the names of two additional players, accountant Peter Messineo and consultant Brian Blaszcak, who have worked together multiple times in the past. Messineo, a Florida accountant, has been linked to potentially questionable penny stocks and has already made misleading statements about his connection to CYNK.
Berkowitz, who is now identified as CYNK’s president on the OTC Markets website and was also listed as the company’s president, secretary, treasurer, and director in CYNK’s registration with the state of Nevada, could not be reached for comment.
The OTC Markets description, which identifies a man named Brian Blaszcak as a CYNK consultant, lists Messineo’s firm as CYNK’s accountant and auditor. In a letter to the SEC last year, Messineo described himself as CYNK’s “chief accountant.” Messineo, who did not respond to multiple requests for comment, gave an interview to CNBC last Thursday in which tried to distance himself from CYNK.
“Who knows if insiders are trying to pump it to a high price?” Messineo wondered, adding, “All I know is that I disassociate from this. … You issue a report on something and then they pump and dump.”
Messineo told CNBC he last reviewed CYNK at the end of October. Noting that he works in a “very shitty industry,” he described himself as a “one-person shop” and said he was, at first, unable to recall CYNK at all without reviewing his paperwork. After doing so, Messineo described it as a “shell company.”
“They were all but a shell company other than the plan for what they were going to do: Issuing some stocks and paying professional fees, they had some research and development — they were trying to do something on the programming end, so something was going on,” he said. “Nothing to generate revenue, nothing like contracts, nothing of that sort.”
However, Messineo has extensive ties to other CYNK executives.
In addition to CYNK, Messineo, Blaszcak, and Gewerter all worked together on another Vegas-based company, Tenaya Acquisition Company. An Aug. 9, 2013, letter from the SEC asking for more information about Tenaya’s registration statement identified Blaszczak as the company’s president and Gewerter as Tenaya’s lawyer. The company’s SEC registration, dating from last July, identified Messineo as “the independent auditor.”
Records show Blaszczak and Gewerter also teamed up at a third company, Blue Wing Business Services, Inc. Gewerter is also associated with a fourth business that was headed by a woman named Molly Blaszcak. Records show Molly worked at Blue Wing and has shared an address with Brian Blaszczak.
Messineo’s services as an auditor have come under scrutiny. After a 2011 inspection by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, a report issued on April 2, 2012, described Messineo as the only staff member of his firm and said “the inspection team identified what it considered to be audit deficiencies” at Messineo’s firm.
“The deficiencies included failures by the Firm to perform, or to perform sufficiently, certain necessary audit procedures,” the report said.
Messineo has also been linked to penny stocks that were criticised by investors. He served as CFO and treasurer of a company called IC Places Inc., which was led by Chairman and CEO Steven “Steve” Samblis. Multiple users on the forum InvestorsHub criticised that company in a lengthy series of postings.
Over the years, Samblis, Messineo’s onetime partner, has been disciplined multiple times for his investment activities. In 1990, he received a a censure and $US10,000 fine from the National Association of Securities Dealers for sending misleading letters to customers. In 2000, he was hit with a $US11,000 federal court judgment after the SEC filed a complaint accusing him of “passing himself off as an independent and impartial stock picker when, in fact, he is nothing more than a paid pitch man for the companies he hypes.”
In an email to Business Insider on Monday, Samblis said he stopped working with Messineo in November 2012.
“I have not spoken to him in almost two years,” Samblis said. “I worked with him only once.”
Samblis said he had “no response” to the criticism of his company on InvestorsHub.