Not surprisingly for an industry that is based on conjuring money out of thin air, the field of cryptocurrency “initial coin offerings” and “initial token offerings” is rife with allegations of wrongdoing.

The latest company to be accused of misconduct is Pocketinns, a Carnegie Center-based company that started as a travel website, but raised money in January, 2018, by selling “PINNS Tokens” in exchange for Ethereum, a widely used cryptocurrency.

Earlier in August New Jersey attorney general Gurbir S. Grewal filed a lawsuit against Pocketinns and its CEO, Sarvajnya G. Mada, accusing the company of selling PINNS tokens without ensuring that its customers were accredited investors, as was required by Securities and Exchange Commission regulations.

On its Linkedin page, Pocketinns describes itself as “a revolutionary new blockchain driven online marketplace ecosystem, built around the decentralized blockchain oriented model.” According to the AG’s complaint, 217 investors who bought into the ecosystem saw their money, $410,000 in all, evaporate into thin air.

In the complaint against Pocketinns, filed in Superior Court in Essex County, the state says the company sold the cryptocurrency under an exemption from normal SEC regulations that allowed it to sell its cryptocurrency as securities as long as it ensured that investors were accredited (i.e. that they were a high net worth individual or represented a qualified institution such as a bank). However, the suit accuses Pocketinns of selling Pinns to unregistered investors.

Pocketinns sought to raise $46 million by selling 30 million PINNS tokens. Investors would buy PINNS using a cryptocurrency called Ether in a “reverse Dutch auction” where the price of the tokens would fall over time until the end of the auction, at which point the lowest price would be applied to all the purchases. The minimum investment was one Ether, which was worth $728 in real money at the time but had fallen to $209 as of press time.

The auction fell short of its goal, raising only $410,000 worth of Ether. The suit accuses Pocketinns of selling PINNS to buyers who did not provide proof of accredited investor status.

The complaint also says the investors’ cryptocurrency has disappeared into the ether: “Mada and Pocketinns have since spent nearly all of the Ether raised from investors with the remainder being lost to the market volatility of Ether.”

The Pocketinns.io website has been taken down. A Reddit page called “Pocketinns Community” was full of unhappy customers demanding their money back, threatening to sue, and calling the company a scam as far back as a year ago.

On the message board, the company had a lone defender, who posted under the name “cryptohustler10” and had only one post, which claimed Pocketinns was “one of the most legitimate company.”

The AG’s lawsuit seeks to ban Mada from selling securities ever again and to pay restitution to investors.

Pocketinns, 300 Carnegie Center, Suite 300, Princeton 08540. Sarvajnya G. Mada. pocketinns.io.

TESU Launches Doctor of Business Administration Degree

Thomas Edison State University, the Trenton-based university for working adults, will launch its second doctoral program, a , with courses that begin next January.

All requirements for the new course can be met online. The doctoral program will be the second for the university, which currently also offers a doctor of nursing practice with a specialization in systems-level leadership.

The DBA degree is designed to enable business students and professionals to advance their careers toward becoming executive leaders, educators, and consultants.

“This degree is at the core of what we do here at Thomas Edison,” said President Merodie A. Hancock. “Professionals pursuing the DBA will be able to infuse their learning immediately into workplace situations: applying knowledge and leadership and understanding the outcomes in real time. This applied scholarship and experiential learning are a powerful combination that will benefit today’s working professionals who seek to advance their careers and become leaders in their fields.”

Sometimes referred to as an “applied doctorate” or a “professional doctorate,” the DBA degree can be completed part-time and is intended to be practical for practicing professionals in a variety of occupations including industry, higher education administration, and consulting.

A grant from the Thomas Edison State University Foundation helped support the cost of developing low or no-cost course materials for the DBA to minimize the costs to students.

The university plans to admit up to 20 applicants in its initial cohort.

Thomas Edison State University, 101 West State Street, Trenton 08608. 888-442-8372. Merodie Hancock, president. www.tesu.edu.

Deaths

Steven Gubser, 47, on August 3. The Princeton University physics professor died while rock climbing in Chamonix, France, when his rope snapped and he fell 300 feet. Gubser was an award-winning scholar of string theory and black holes. The university will hold a memorial service in the fall.

Leslie Vought Kuenne, 58, on August 12. She was a past president of McCarter Theater Center’s board of trustees and also served on the boards of the Arts Council of Princeton, the Vestry of Trinity Church, and as an officer of the Stony Brook Garden Club. A memorial service takes place Saturday, August 17, at 4 p.m. at Trinity Church, 33 Mercer Street, Princeton.

Herbert W. Hobler, 96, on August 10. A World War II veteran and 1944 Princeton University alumnus, he founded the Nassau Broadcast Company, establishing radio stations WHWH and WPST. He served on the boards of numerous organizations, including the YMCA, Hun School, Nassau Club, Tiger Inn, and Princeton Savings and Loan. He was also involved with the Princeton Area Community Foundation and spearheaded the creation of the brick walk in Palmer Square. A memorial service will be announced.

William J. Bregenzer, 90, on August 2. He ran the family business, Bregenzer Brothers, established 1919, which is now under the direction of his son, Mike.

Joseph M. Mancuso, 39, on July 30. He was employed as an electrical appliance inspector at L G Electronics in Cranbury.

Robert F. Penardi, 88, on August 5. Together with his late wife, Joan, he owned and operated Penardi’s Jewelers in Hamilton for many years.

Margaret Berry Gargiullo, 76, on August 6. She was a plant ecologist and botanist who wrote extensively on the subject. In her early career she worked for the Textile Research Institute in Princeton, studying combustion products of fabrics. She later earned a doctorate from Rutgers. Her written works include “A Guide to Native Plants of the New York City Region”; “A Field Guide to Plants of Costa Rica”; and “An Ecological Manual of New York City Plants in Natural Areas.”

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