Sophie Ryan is online editor for the Business Herald

App 'connecting' celebs with fans hit by fraud claims

Brandon Reynolds and Jarrad Hrotek, both in their early 20s, founded the start-up last year. Photo / Facebook
Brandon Reynolds and Jarrad Hrotek, both in their early 20s, founded the start-up last year. Photo / Facebook

An Australian start-up tech company that offered fans an opportunity to connect with sports and entertainment stars for a fee has been targeted with claims it made false promises of its celebrity backers.

Sociabl launched its app on Monday with claims fans could pay a fee of hundreds or thousands of dollars to participate in a video call with celebrities and a cut of the cost would go to charity.

App founder Brandon Reynolds has been forced to defend the start-up after Australian media claimed the company was listing celebrities who hadn't agreed to be part of the deal.

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Connect with Kiwi YouTube blogger Jamie Curry for $3200

Kiwi YouTube star and author Jamie Curry was listed among the sporting, entertainment and fashion stars available for video calls.

A video call with the vlogger was listed as costing a fan $3200.

Brandon Reynolds and Jarrad Hrotek, both in their early 20s, founded the start-up last year. Photo / Facebook
Brandon Reynolds and Jarrad Hrotek, both in their early 20s, founded the start-up last year. Photo / Facebook

Australia's Channel 9 network grilled Reynolds yesterday after journalist David Campbell and his father, musician Jimmy Barnes, were featured on the app. Campbell told Reynolds he and his father had heard nothing about the app.

Reynolds later asserted in a statement posted online that his company had contacted an assistant for Campbell and Barnes who had agreed to run the concept by the two stars.

Confirmation that Jamie Curry had agreed to be part of the promotion for the app has been sought from Sociabl.

The fee for listed international celebrities such as Richard Branson was said to cost $100,000.

In an email to Mashable Australia, Branson's spokesperson said permission had not been granted to list Branson on the site.

Reynolds told Mashable Australia Branson and other A-listers had never signed a contract of involvement, but he remained confident they'd be on board for the app's release in the United States in April.

The funding for Sociabl was also questioned by Mashable Australia. Reynolds claimed in an interview Xero chief executive Rod Drury had shown early interest in the app, but Drury's spokesperson told Mashable he had never heard of Reynolds.

After claiming to have 30 Australian celebrities available to video chat in October, that number was down to 13 listed on the app yesterday.

Sociabl's website has reduced to a statement with a contact for media enquiries and a link to Reynolds statement on the controversy.

- NZ Herald

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