Mobile device charger maker denies crowdfunding fraud

June 30, 2016 17:54
Nelson (left) and Benson Chiu failed to ship their smart coffee machines last year after they raised HK$18 million via a crowdfunding scheme. Nelson Chiu's wife now operates Znaps, a maker of mobile device chargers. Photos: HKEJ,

Znaps Inc., a supplier of mobile device chargers, has denied a Hong Kong media report that accused the company of crowdfunding fraud.

In a statement on its website, the company, incorporated in Ontario, Canada, told its Kickstarter backers to remain patient as it will soon ship its products following a delay.

"Local media reported that we have never shipped Znaps and do not intend to do so ... These, of course, are not factual as we have shipped many samples in the past and are already shipping the rewards now," it said.

"Backing a project on Kickstarter is very different than purchasing an item as you might do in a store. Creators often launch projects on Kickstarter early in the development process. The goal of this is to give backers, like you, an opportunity to be a part of a creator’s process from the beginning," the company said.

The statement came after the company's crowdfunding page drew a lot of negative comments following the Hong Kong media report.

Many of the backers asked for a refund while some suspected that it to be a crowdfunding fraud as Znaps failed to ship their magnetic adapters on schedule in November 2015. 

Apple Daily reported on Thursday that the sole director of Znaps Limited, a Hong Kong distributor of Znaps Inc., is Gloria Lau, who is the wife of Nelson Chiu.

Nelson Chiu and his brother Benson Chiu had been accused of cheating investors in a crowdfunding effort for a smart coffeemaker called Arist after they failed to ship the products on schedule.

The two brothers had raised HK$6.55 million through online crowdfunding. 

Nbition Development Ltd., which owns the Arist brand, won the top award at the Hong Kong ICT Awards 2015.

Last July, Znaps Inc. claimed to have pooled CA$3 million (HK$18 million) for an innovative mobile device charger from more than 70,000 investors worldwide. 

In April this year, Znaps Limited won the bronze medal in the government's Best ICT Startup (Hardware and Devices) competition.

Znaps said its external smart device adapter enables devices to charge their batteries and synchronize data without the hassle of plugging and unplugging. 

The product can increase the lifespan of cables tenfold, thus saving a lot of damaged cables from going into landfills, it said.

It priced its product at about CA$9 (HK$54) per unit.

However, it is reported that similar products can be founded on, the online shopping mall under Alibaba Group Holdings, for only 18 yuan (HK$21) per unit.

Znaps has not yet answered backers' questions about its shareholders.

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