How The Lyvo Tech Internship Appears to Have Scammed Dozens Of Students Out of $10k By Seemingly Using My Identity (And Tips For College Kids Struggling This Summer)
The bizarre story behind the Lyvo tech internship program, which I believe has scammed dozens of college students out of $10k+, as well as some actionable tips for college students struggling to find opportunities in technology this summer.
Normally, I write about Software Engineering, Data Science, and startup career advice. But today, I’m using my platform and voice to tell this sad, strange story about an apparent network of sham companies and possible scammers who used my name and likeness to potentially steal \$10k - \$20k from the audience I serve for free every damn day: ambitious students interested in technology careers.
Here is that story, along with actionable tips for students struggling to find tech opportunities (so that more ambitious students interested in technology don’t fall into traps similar to Lyvo).
If you don’t want to read all the juicy details behind this apparent scam, here’s a quick table-of-contents so you can skip ahead:
- How the Lyvo Tech Internship Program Claims to Work
- How My Name & Likeness Was Used to Deceive
- How The Apparent Lyvo Scam Worked: Real Students Placed At Likely Fake Companies
- How Lyvo Seems To Have Stolen \$299-\$499 Each From Dozens Of Students
- Before The Apparent Scam Was Exposed, Lyvo Seems To Have Ignored Complaints And Threatened Alleged Victims
- Where it gets bizarre: Confronting Lyvo & The Apparent Scammers Who Seem To Show Zero Remorse Or Responsibility
- Here’s Where It Gets Gross 🤮: Lyvo Seems To Play The Victim Card
- My Motivation For Writing This Was To Address The Deep Shame Felt By Victims Of The Apparent Scam And Provide Accountability
- Actionable Tips For College Kids Struggling With Finding Internship Opportunities This Summer
Everything in this blog is to the best of my knowledge based on what I discovered by talking with 2+ dozen victims who claimed to have fallen for the apparent scam, as well from viewing apparent screenshots of course materials, credit-card transactions, and publicly available business filings.
I am not naming the perpetrators of the apparent scam in this blog post. But, I have already filed a case with the FBI around what I believe to be credible evidence of identity theft and wire fraud, and given them the names, identities, and addresses of the potential perpetrators along with the contact information of other victims who first-hand witnessed the apparent scam. I am exploring legal avenues with the help of PilieroMazza.
Suspicions Begin After A Few Weird LinkedIn DMs About Lyvo & Cibu Snacks
It all began with a few weird LinkedIn DMs I got early last week. Some folks messaged me questions about “Lyvo.” Others sent me connection requests about how they were “so excited to work with me on Cibu Snacks”
There was just one small problem: I had no fucking idea what either Lyvo or Cibu Snacks was 🤷🏽♂️🤷🏽♂️
I’m not the only Nick Singh in town, so aI just assumed this was a routine mixup. There was no reason for me to think some question about a private Slack group had anything to do with multiple strange messages I received about Cibu Snacks. Plus, Cibu Snacks looked like a pretty cool startup and had a neat little website with a reasonable LinkedIn page. I mean, it looks legit, right?
But two cases of the wrong “Nick Singh” on the same day raised a red flag, so I asked some follow-up questions. What I learned over the next few days was deeply unsettling.
How The Lyvo Tech Internship Bootcamp, Was Supposed To Work
Lyvo was supposed to be a free boot camp for aspiring PMs and Software Engineers. It’s supposed to teach career and technical skills over four weeks. After the bootcamp ends, they claimed to match you up with startups who need PM or SWE interns.
Students claim that Lyvo alleged a $499 placement fee IF and ONLY IF you were successfully placed in a startup internship. During one of the intro Zoom sessions during the bootcamp, they explicitly stated their pricing policy.
Funny enough, the orange box covers the name of the person who did the intro session, which I believe is the name of one of the masterminds behind the potential scam (more on that later).
Free sounds a little too good to be true, BUT I’ve seen other bootcamps do similar income-share-agreements. Paying back the placement fee seems reasonable to me, and I don’t fault the applicants for trusting Lyvo’s offer.
Will The Real Nick Singh Please Stand Up: How My Name & Likeness Was Used To Deceive
So, at the end of the bootcamp, how are students actually being placed at startups? Thanks to the counterfeit tech recruiter, “Nick Singh”
An apparently fake recruiter was active in the Lyvo Slack community with the same first name and last name as me, and this “Nick Singh” looked oddly like me. And by “looked like me” I mean they used my exact photo from 6 years ago which I took at the UVA career fair.
And by “odd” I’m referring to the photo… why was I looking so damn smug as a 19-year-old college freshman 😂😂
Note to potential scammers: If you're going to impersonate me, at least use a good, recent photo of me. I mean my Instagram is public, and I lowkey glo’ed up - choose any photo you’d like!
Why did Lyvo seem to use my name and image?
Between my newsletter on tech careers, which reaches 38,000 subscribers in 42 countries, my LinkedIn posts about Software Engineering, Data Science, and startups, and my past experience at Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, I believe they used my identity to legitimize the apparent scam they were running.
How The Apparent Lyvo Scam Worked: Real Students Placed At Likely Fake Companies
Lyvo apparently used the imposter “Nick Singh” account to place interns at companies that in my opinion are phony. Remember those weird LinkedIn DMs about working with me on Cibu Snacks? Turns out Cibu Snacks was just one of many potentially fraudulent companies that interns were placed at.
Why do I think these companies seem imposters? Outside of the several Lyvo interns who “work” at Cibu Snacks, there is only one person who is a full-time worker on LinkedIn. It’s the Cibu Snacks Founder, Zach D., who has no picture, no details, and a whopping 22 connections on LinkedIn. Not super convincing.
Dozens of other students were placed into companies called GoLocus, Nubis, and Instans.
Looking into GoLocus, and Nubis, reveal similar seemingly sham companies that were setup just as placeholders. Each has a decent looking landing page, with nothing else of substance. Each has seemingly imposter founders on LinkedIn, and only Lyvo interns working for these companies.
I was able to corroborate this by DM’ing around 15 interns who were listed at these seemingly fake companies. Most responded back to me acknowledging that they believe they were scammed, and that they had forgotten to remove the potentially sham company from their LinkedIn profile.
Almost all were placed by the profile impersonating me. There were 3 separate slacks - one for each of the dummy companies - and in each the impersonator used my name & photo to convince students that they had secured an internship. I have videos of one of the apparent scammers, affiliated with Lyvo according to his LinkedIn profile, welcoming students into their internship at GoLocus (which I believe to be further evidence that “Nick Singh” was not some isolated persona, but a core part of the apparent Lyvo scam).
How Lyvo Seems To Have Stolen $299-$499 Each From Dozens Of Students
After Kyle Rudman bravely shared his story, many Lyvo interns came forward and sent me transactions which show them being charged by Lyvo.
Many of these students claim that they did not accept their internship, or dropped out of the program before being placed. Yet, it seems like everyone was charged as Lyvo had their credit card on file.
Here’s just 5 screenshots, from five different people. I have dozens of these transaction screenshots. These credit card transactions list merchant ID information (phone # and address) which I was able to cross reference with other online records to find the apparent people behind what in my opinion is wire fraud.
How Lyvo Seems To Have Gotten Credit Card Information In The First Place
Earlier during the bootcamp, Lyvo, in an attempt to get rid of “fake people”, seems to have asked for credit card details and made a $1 test transaction which they soon refunded to boot camp participants.
After the boot camp ended, they seem to have used these stored payment credentials to charge everyone and anyone - regardless of if they successfully completed the bootcamp, or accepted “Nick Singh”’s internship placement. It’s so funny that their apparent attempt at getting rid of fake people was exactly how the seemingly dishonest people behind Lyvo charged people for their apparently fake placement services.
Before The Apparent Scam Was Exposed, Lyvo Seems To Have Ignored Complaints And Threatened Alleged Victims
While later on Lyvo alleges that they were the victims in the apparent scam as well, I personally believe there is sufficient evidence that Lyvo was acting in bad faith for multiple weeks.
Below is a screenshot of a particularly brazen thing I believe they did: threaten to report a student to their university and law enforcement for not paying the seemingly fraudulent fee.
While they have already brought harm to my image and reputation, seeing such disgusting behavior is why I’m aggressively pursuing them and why I take no stock in their sham apology (more on that later).
Confronting Lyvo & The Apparent Scammers Who Seem To Show Zero Remorse Or Responsibility
Y'all this is where it gets crazy, and why I have reported this to the FBI and am pursuing legal options.
After presenting this information, having multiple students come forward on LinkedIn, and seeing the course instructors disavow their affiliation, you’d think the masterminds behind the apparent scam would give the jig up, issue refunds, and make an apology. NOPE!
They dug their heels in even deeper.
When confronted by one of the students who was apparently scammed in the Slack group, here is what the imposter “Nick Singh” came back with: “you signed an NDA”.
They also tried to use the defense of “I just stopped using his picture” As if removing my picture right as an apparent scam is about to be exposed fixes anything. They even tried to defend themself by sending me an email titled “Allegations” where again they claim that they aren’t pretending to be me.
The excuse that “we just happen to have the same first name and last name” stops working when you happen to use my photo. I believe they stuck to this lie because they did not know that I had multiple screenshots from multiple people of them using my photo and name to apparently scam students.
The people behind this program aren’t afraid to keep lying and not accept responsibility.
Here’s Where It Gets Gross 🤮: Lyvo Seems To Play The Victim Card
Here’s where it gets gross: it appears to me that Lyvo is pretending to have been duped by “Nick Singh”, and that the Lyvo program claims itself is a victim - not a perpetrator of the apparent scam.
They claim to have not known that all their interns were being placed at seemingly sham companies. Even though it’s been happening for weeks, and even though just a few days ago THEY WERE STILL TRYING TO HUSTLE KIDS INTO THE BOOTCAMP.
Lyvo alleged to be the victim, even though ACTUAL victims, who discovered this apparent sham in the weeks before, brought up these fraudulent charges with the Lyvo team, and were either ghosted or told that “it was all in the agreement they signed” which is not true. Remember, Lyvo is the same program that seems to have threatened a student for not paying up for a likely fraudulent credit card transaction.
I only learned about Lyvo last week. But this appears to have been happening for a while according to Reddit.
It took an avalanche of people coming forward and the realization that they were going to be exposed for them to seemingly realize that they had an issue with a “third-party provider.” In my humble opinion: that’s some absolute steaming 100% organic GMO-free bullshit.
As of this morning, Lyvo replaced their website with this faux apology blaming it on a “third party provider”.
But again, I need to reiterate - I believe this is an insincere apology from my own personal research and do not claim to know every aspect of the Lyvo operation.
I am leaving it up to the FBI to investigate the relationship between the imposter “Nick Singh” profile and Lyvo. I’m simply presenting what I believe after talking with dozens of people and reviewing dozens of transactions and materials from the sham Nick Singh profile and the Lyvo program.
Lyvo claims to be issuing refunds, but also has claimed their payment processing has been "compromised." I'm excited to see them put their money where their mouth is. So far, some of the victims of the scheme were able to dispute the transactions but not all of them. I am actively updating the alleged scam victims with updates on the FBI case and legal side in order to get them the paperwork they need to successfully dispute the transactions with their bank. I am also taking quick calls with those who helped me build the case, to offer some career guidance/advice to make up for the time they wasted in this apparent scam, and the time they spent helping me get to the bottom of this mess.
My Motivation For Writing This Was To Address The Deep Shame Felt By Victims Of The Apparent Scam, Provide Accountability, & Give Actionable Tips To Students Struggling To Find Tech Internships
First off, in uncovering this whole mess, I talked with dozens of victims, many of whom felt embarrassment and shame for falling into the trap. I’m here to say: it’s 100% not your fault.
I would have easily fallen for this trap if I was in college.
I talk about this in my About Me, but the reason I write so openly about Software Engineering, Data Science, and startup career advice via my newsletter, blog, and LinkedIn is because I didn’t always know the things I know today. Luckily, I had mentors who helped, as well as many failed experiences, that taught me the career lessons I write about today. BUT NOT EVERYONE HAS THESE!
If I was an ambitious college student, who faced one of the worst economic situations due to COVID-19, I would be struggling to learn, network, and find an internship in tech. I easily would have fallen for this apparent trap which preyed on ambitious and interested students. I write publicly to provide this group of ambitious and tech-interested students a way to freely learn more if they weren’t fortunate enough to have access to the mentors and experiences that I did.
I’ve taken all this information, transaction details, business information, and what I believe to be the identities of those who ran the apparent scam and successfully filed a case with the FBI and engaged legal help from PilieroMazza.
This all might seem “extra”. Friends and family warned me not to write this, just move on, and not rock the boat.
But recent stories and documentaries about famous Hollywood, political, and tech figures highlight just how important it is to reveal to the proper channels, in a timely fashion, when people are potentially conducting criminal acts. It didn’t seem morally right, to have been given this large audience and platform, and remain a silent voice.
And lastly, I wanted to protect the trust in my work and name that was abused and leveraged in this apparent scheme.
Actionable Tips For College Kids Struggling With Finding Internship Opportunities This Summer
This apparent scam preyed on ambitious students who struggled to find opportunities in tech this summer. You might be expecting me to give some fresh tips, new insights, and groundbreaking information.
The truth is I don’t have anything new to share.
I’ve already written about this topic openly for two years now, which is precisely why my identity was used in this scheme.
I recommend students read my guide on How To Land Tech Jobs During COVID-19 if you are still hunting for work experience. It’s a lot of work but I stand by the advice I gave in May when I saw folks have their internships cancelled and job offers rescinded.
Since this summer is almost done for many of you, I also recommend people shift their focus to creating kick-ass portfolio projects so that they can crush it this fall.
Killer portfolio projects are my #1 “secret” to getting great jobs. In multiple mentorship calls with students this summer who had their summer plans fall through, I recommended the portfolio project approach paired with aggressive cold-emailing this fall to make up for any lost time.
While my kick-ass portfolio projects guide is aimed at Data Scientists, most of the tips are applicable to other tech jobs that benefit from a strong portfolio, such as Design, Software Engineering, and Product Management. The tips in my Win Hackathons guide also apply really well to Software Engineering portfolio projects.
Those of you interested in Data Science can also work through the courses, books, and materials in the Breaking Into Data Science Guide.
And if you got to the end of all this, I have to plug the real “Nick Singh” - follow me on LinkedIn, join my email newsletter, send me email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and come solve Data Science interview Questions with me on Instagram.