Scammed by a Startup

Interesting article. called to my attention by a reader of this blog. The H-1B issue is not central, but does come in at several points. Note that the article’s author describes the H-1Bs as quite inexperienced, which is a point I hear a lot from people who work together with H-1Bs. The idea is clearly to save money, without much regard to “you get what you pay for.”


13 thoughts on “Scammed by a Startup

  1. This, my friends, is a typical story of the bottom 50% or so of the VC world. I’ve been through several of these myself, though I don’t believe I ever was shorted a paycheck, though I know many others who have been. By about age thirty hopefully you know enough to not fall for these. The author Penny stayed through a dozen red flags that would have had me out of town, even while I was still under age thirty. Now, just so you have clear eyes on this from day one, and think you want to buy the ticket and take the ride, hey go head, but what are the odds. Maybe everyone needs to go through these, once or twice, or three times for slow learners, LOL.


  2. View at

    This morning, I woke up to find out that a job-matching company I’d been advising, WrkRiot (formerly known as and apparently also known as JobSonic), was in the news and for the worst of reasons — a post from a former employee entitled “I Got Scammed by a Silicon Valley Startup”. A few of my friends noticed my name on their now deleted team page (which they found through this Hacker News post), and I’m grateful that they immediately reached out to me about it. …


  3. I couldn’t find one person in the story with an IQ higher than a goldfish’s.

    It sounds too much like a bad copy of yet another Millennial “poor me” or “aren’t I smart?” fake story from the Bay Area.

    Poor H1Bs. If this is a true story, where did they come from in short order? It doesn’t smell true to me.


  4. Yeah, departure time was around red flag #2 or 3. You can blame some of this on unrealistic optimism by inexperienced founders. This is probably the usual reason for stories like this. But the guy in charge in this case was obviously into fraud. Caveat emptor.

    It also illustrates that H-1b types are at the mercy of employers, one more reason this program needs revision.


    • >> one more reason this program needs revision.

      “this” program should be “entire” immigration program. there are loop holes in every non-immigrant (alphabet visa) and the immigrant visa (employment/family/diversity green card) programs..

      while on the subject, just stumbled upon the ‘parole for entrepreneurs’ rule making released by the obama admin.. it’s 5 years parole for (guess who it’s aimed at ?) – yep, indians… and at the end of such 5 year period, they need to get ‘back in the queue’ of greencard backlogs !! this thing just keeps getting better (or worse) every day.. wonder what’s in the store for tomorrow…


  5. I’m most interested in the “H1-Bs” in this tawdry tale.

    Not paying true H1-Bs would leave them out of status and cause serious problems with USCIS. True H1-Bs would likely be in a panic, since USCIS requests pay-stubs as proof of continuous employment/status. I would hope, in the future, that authors of “tell-all” tales keep in mind that when USCIS/ICE reads that a bunch of “H1-Bs are not getting paid,” that could lead to an investigation from immigration authorities, as it is a very serious issue.

    OPT students would technically still be F1 students, nothing much to lose there, and would likely stick around even for free, “learning.” Parents may still be picking up the tab.

    “Rented” H1-Bs from Tata etc. would technically have to be paid through Tata, not the startup. I’m not sure how long Tata would pay them without getting paid from the start-up.

    I agree with Norm that these were probably not H-1Bs, but rather OPT students.


    • A friend of mine named Kumar has tried to give his paystubs to the DOL as proof and they won’t accept them even though they prove that he has been benched without pay and even though they do not specify the hours he works, both of which are violations of the rules.


      • @vbierschwale

        >> paystubs to the DOL as proof and they won’t accept them even though they prove that he has been benched without pay and even though they do not specify the hours he works, both of which are violations of the rules.

        It’s the LCA that is filed with DOL that is supposed to have the wage, job level , # of hours etc,that’s what USCIS wants as a preliminary proof (and the latest pay stubs as well, which as we all know that *anyone* with quick books/payroll software can produce in no time)


        >> True H1-Bs would likely be in a panic

        It’s the not the Tata’s that dont pay, but the mini mom-n-pop/dime-a-dozen ‘consulting’ companies that do not pay. And that’s a yuge racket by itself.


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