As we all know, Hop On Wireless finally (they’ve been promising hardware since 2001) released the Hop1800, a $10 disposable dual-band phone with no screen. Great, right? So what am I so antsy about? I did a little digging recently and came back worried.
Hop On has been hyping this device for seven years. Its founder, Peter Michaels, made a huge splash in 2001, receiving accolades from the Washington Post and BusinessWeek. It turns out he just put a Nokia phone in a plastic case and passed it off as his device. Knowing that devices that take a long time to come to market are usually fishy, I found that the company had some shady dealings in the Web 1.0 world.
Hop-On is officially registered as a Las Vegas corporation that focused on online gambling under its prior name, NWDP.com. It also is intertwined with a defunct online betting firm, also run by Michaels, called World Wide Web Casinos. That Orange County company was raided by California regulators two years ago for allegedly fleecing hundreds of investors out of as much as $20 million.
A separate shareholder lawsuit filed against WWW Casinos accused Michaels of siphoning off funds to pay for at least five cars, a $125,000 racing boat and gambling trips in Nevada. The suit was settled out of court two years ago.
The company also sells tiny little phones from Asia and there hasn’t been much mention of a scam recently, but the glossy renders in the product page make me and the fact that you can’t actually order one online make me concerned. Let us know if you spot one of these in the wild. Otherwise, steer clear.