updated 10:45 am EDT, Thu July 23, 2009
Zer01 strips websites
Despite announcing a launch of its unlimited wireless voice and data service on July 1st, Zer01 has yet to deliver either to customers. The company is in fact reversing course and has quietly removed information from its website, which happened in the past few days, following a recent ComputerWorld report that questioned the validity of Zer01's claims. Zer01's offer was to have included unlimited talk and data as well as text messaging for just $70 per month, all of which would be contract-free.
The multi-level marketing campaign for Zer01 is headed by a company called Global Verge, founded by Mark Petschel, who has pleaded guilty to securities fraud in 2005. He is currently on probation. Zer01 and parent Unified Technologies Group (UTG) CEO, Ben Piilani, claimed he only met Petschel in May and was not aware of his criminal record. As soon as he found out, Piilani said Petschel was made to leave his post.
Findings on the Internet suggest Global Verge and UTG had tie-ups dating back as far as December 17, 2008. This includes a PC website ran by Global Verge that sold Piilani computers. Just yesterday, a link from the nextdaypc site had disappeared.
At the same time, UTG's web site has pulled its executive bios, company addresses, phone numbers and links to affiliates. The Yorkshire Bancorp site is still live and claims the group has regulatory approval to offer banking service, despite contradictory agency records.
The addresses were pulled after some of the locations, including a mailbox rental store in Creve Coeur, Missouri, were found not to exist. In an interview last week, Piilani claimed UTG was a large holding company that rents offices when it needs to, including the Creve Coeur location.
Inaccurate executive biographies have also disappeared. CFO Rick Parker's bio said he graduated from Georgetown in 1973, but neither Georgetown University nor Georgetown College found a record of anyone under that name. Executive bios of Lance Dascotte and OK Van Slett say the successfully started companies, but do not go on to name them. All of these are no longer on the site, while Piilani's was edited down.
UTG spokesperson did not comment why the website was changed or about a tech patent that is keys to Zer01's operation. Zer01 promised to bring its unlimited service via custom software and a unique network trick for data and voice that would use a VoIP system to pass both through a cellular network as data. [via NetworkWorld]