NEWS – “without comment”
Founder of ‘Uber for private investigators’ sentenced to 8 years in prison Boice, founder of Trustify, a failed Uber-like model for private investigators, on June 23, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post) By Rachel Weiner – https://www.washingtonpost.com<https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/legal-issues/trustify-founder-prison-sentence/2021/03/26/f3b18e94-8d71-11eb-a730-1b4ed9656258_story.html>
March 26, 2021
An Arlington start-up that promised to help people root out schemes and scams in their own lives was, nearly from the start, a cash cow for the founder’s extravagant lifestyle, start-up CEO Daniel Boice acknowledged in Alexandria federal court Friday.
“I accept full responsibility, I make no excuses, no justification, and I am truly, truly remorseful,” said Boice, 41, who had billed his company Trustify as an “Uber for private investigators.”
Boice admitted last year that he sustained his start-up by lying to investors, then used a good chunk of their funding to live the lush life of a mogul.
“It would be difficult to describe the havoc you created by your fraudulent actions,” Judge T.S. Ellis III said before sentencing Boice to eight years in prison. “It’s an egregious fraud.”
Revenue was “very low and declining . . . for Trustify’s entire life,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Carlberg said in court Friday, yet Boice “immediately began siphoning large sums of money” from the company for himself.
The model was viewed sceptically from the start by veteran private investigators, who said Trustify’s rates were too low to generate quality work and the kind of profit Boice claimed.
Most of the money came from investors, for whom Boice painted a picture of success by making up balance sheets and forging promises of funds from other sources.
Eighteen million dollars went into the company between 2015 and 2019, prosecutors said. While some was used for legitimate expenses, millions of dollars were not.
When staff started asking about their unpaid wages, he fired them the week after Thanksgiving. When he was sued by investors, Boice said he was being targeted by “old White male 1 percenters and their silver spoon trust fund inheriting lackeys.”
When he was ordered in court to pay his staff back and give up control of the company, Boice moved to Florida, started calling himself Keith, and got a job at a medical software company that is now suing him for fraud and theft.
He had the “apparent belief that these were rich people who could afford to be defrauded,” Carlberg said, and as a “99 percenter” he was entitled to their money.
Public defender Todd Richman said Boice had accepted all responsibility for his “terrible, abysmal choices,” including by agreeing to pay an $18 million debt “from which he will likely never get out from under.”
Trustify was not designed as a scam, he said, but “a real company that employed real people and created a real service utilized by thousands of real customers.”