A recent arrest shows just how misleading appearances can be when it comes to judging entrepreneurial success and sniffing out con men.
On Thursday, Joshua Bryce Newman was arrested by the FBI after allegedly attempting to defraud investors, lenders and business partners out of more than $2 million.
On the surface, Newman appeared to fit the part of a normal, hardworking serial entrepreneur. Early success when he was featured in a Wall Street Journal article about college-aged venture capitalists as a student at Yale helped the 35-year-old build an early reputation as an entrepreneur to watch. After graduating, he founded a film production company and co-founded two CrossFit gyms in Manhattan.
Investors and acquaintances say they saw Newman as a confident and well-regarded entrepreneur, even as his money ran dry. Then, when they attempted to recoup loans, raise concerns or threaten legal action, he would allegedly attempt to smooth things over with false promises, checks drawn on accounts with insufficient funds and, once, a faked photo of a wire transfer.
From 2012 to this year, the complaint alleges that Newman misrepresented his financials to attract investors so he could open more CrossFit training gyms, falsely telling them that one of his CrossFit ventures raised millions of dollars in funding. Then, he reportedly used the funds to pay off prior projects' investors, as well as other personal reasons.
Newman plans to “vigorously defend himself” against the charges, his lawyer told the Times.
While $2 million is minor compared to some other cases of duped investors, Newman could spend up to 40 years in jail if found guilty of the crimes.