At the core of the allegations against Block Inc. (formerly known as Square Inc.) with its popular cash app platform is that their true number of users is far below what they report - potentially done to mislead investors. Research carried out by Hindenburg Research alleges that former Block Inc. employees reported that as many as 40-75% of their accounts are either fake or multiple accounts tied to one individual.
Some accounts are also allegedly connected to fraud activities as fraudsters open fraudulent accounts (again, using fake identities or a mix of a fake identity and details of a real person) for the purposes of committing scams and money laundering - something that was allegedly neglected by Block Inc. due to its “wild west” approach to opening up finance to the ‘underbanked’.
In certain cases, it was alleged that some fake accounts were blacklisted - but not the original user connected to them - which allowed them to continue their activities by creating more accounts or continuing using other accounts they controlled not yet blacklisted. This practice is allegedly so commonplace that hip-hop artists brag about this in their songs!
In the case of Frank, the fintech startup aimed at helping young Americans with the student loans application process is alleged to have inflated its user base with fake accounts to give the impression that it was more successful than it was. J.P. Morgan, impressed by this apparent success, acquired the fintech for $75m. Their suspicions about the company’s success led them to ask for proof of the true no. of its user base, which the CEO Charlie Javice stated stood at 4 million. In their lawsuit against Frank, J.P. Morgan claims the true user base stood at around 300,000.