When it came time to call his attorney, Peter Michaels may have wished he owned the disposable cell phone he had been promising investors. His phone privileges will be decidedly more limited for the next 8 months. Michaels, the former CEO of Hop-On, Inc. (Pink Sheets: HPNN), whose unfulfilled promise to deliver a disposable cellular telephone enticed investors and seduced much of the mainstream media, has been sentenced to serve 8 months in jail for defrauding investors in connection with an online gambling company called World Wide Web Casinos (WWWC).
Michaels grabbed headlines with his promise to deliver "the world's first disposable, fully-recyclable and contract-free cell phone." The hype attracted media attention and persuaded Time Magazine to cite Hop-On's disposable phone as one of the "Inventions of the Year" in 2001. There was just one problem – Hop-On did not appear to have a phone to deliver. See HOP-ON.COM, INC. — TROUBLE IN RIVER CITY.
Meanwhile, authorities were focusing on Michaels' earlier activities promoting another tiny public company, WWWC. On April 17, 2003, prosecutors charged Michaels and four other men with raising $12 to $15 million for WWWC by orchestrating an aggressive telemarketing scheme and issuing online press releases that created "a veneer of legitimacy for WWWC and affiliated companies." That same description could be used to characterize Michaels' efforts to promote Hop-On.
Once he has completed his 8 month jail term, Michaels will remain on probation for 3 years. He also has been order to pay a $100,000 fine – a seemingly paltry sum considering the alleged scheme allegedly netted millions of dollars.
While Hop-On – sans Michaels - currently offers cell phone for sale, the Company no longer appears to be marketing its erstwhile invention of the year. It seems that the product, like Michaels, became disposable.
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