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[ISN] Cyberbuck stops here for its chief
From: William Knowles (wkC4I.ORG)
Date: Sun Jul 02 2000 - 12:51:40 CDT
Cyberbuck stops here for its chief
COMPANIES: An online-security firm forces out its president for hiding
convictions and falsifying his past.
June 30, 2000
By ANNE C. MULKERN
The Orange County Register
SANTA ANA -- An Orange County company that promises to protect
consumers from online fraud forced its president to resign this week
after learning he fabricated his past and hid two criminal
Tony Mazzamuto, the former head of Cyberbuck Corp., served three years
in prison for possessing 3.5 pounds of cocaine for sale, and for
carrying a gun when he had a prior felony conviction. He was paroled
Mazzamuto also manufactured his educational history, saying he has
college degrees he doesn't possess.
"I have a little bit of a checkered past,'' Mazzamuto said after his
The former chief executive thrust himself into the limelight last week
when he said Southwest Airlines asked him to buy two tickets to
accommodate his 400-pound body.
Mazzamuto, who also spells his name Mazamuto, said the airline
discriminated against him because of his size. He decried the
airline's practice first in The Orange County Register, then on
several network news reports and radio stations.
The exposure ultimately caused Mazzamuto's undoing when people aware
of his past called both Cyberbuck and The Register.
"We were tipped off, which forced the company to look into his past,''
said Gary Koopman, Cyberbuck's new president and CEO.
Cyberbuck, which uses the slogan "the Internet comfort zone,'' hopes
to sell consumers prepaid cards they use to buy items online. By using
the cards, consumers avoid identity theft and online fraud because no
credit card or other personal information is open to hackers.
The company said in a written statement that Mazzamuto resigned
because of "philosophical differences about the future of the
Mazzamuto, however, said he was confronted by the board of directors
Tuesday after it learned of his history.
"In order to protect the company, we felt it was better for him to
leave,'' Koopman said.
Mazzamuto's case comes three months after revelations that another
convicted felon headed an Orange County technology company.
Former Pixelon President Michael Fenne, whose real name is David Kim
Stanley, went to jail in April.
A church parishioner saw his picture on a police Web site. Fenne was a
fugitive convicted of 53 counts of embezzlement and fraud.
Investors funneled nearly $1 million into Cyberbuck Corp. apparently
without investigating Mazzamuto's past. The company hopes to launch
its site this summer.
It also is considering an initial public offering of stock next year,
an event that would have forced the company to disclose the chief
executive's criminal convictions.
The desire to cash in on the next Internet success causes some
investors to skip basic research, said Mark Wilson, director of
financial planning for Tarbox Equity Inc. in Newport Beach.
"It's just a mania. People are just willing to throw money into these
projects,'' Wilson said.
Cyberbuck was started by Mazzamuto with Maurizio Comelli, chairman of
the board, in fall 1999. They hired executives away from Western
Digital and other top companies, and Cyberbuck employs about 40 people
in a 30,000-square-foot office space.
Mazzamuto says he is 45 years old, but court records show he is 48. He
said that's because the Department of Motor Vehicles erred when it
issued his driver's license.
He initially said he had master's degrees from UCLA and the University
of Colorado at Greeley. Neither school has a record of his attendance.
In fact, there is no University of Colorado at Greeley. The University
of Colorado is in Boulder, while the University of Northern Colorado
is in Greeley.
Mazzamuto, when confronted with the discrepancy Wednesday, said he
lied about his education because "people want to hear what they want
He previously said the UCLA Graduate School of Management critiqued
his Cyberbuck business plan and found no flaws, but he couldn't
produce documentation such an evaluation ever took place.
Mazzamuto said he spoke up about Southwest because he thought he had a
real issue. He said he never thought his actions would uncloak his
past, a history that he says is separate from what he was trying to
accomplish at Cyberbuck.
"It has nothing to do with my ability to run the company,'' Mazzamuto
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