One Stop Communication won a
great deal of publicity recently when it advertised that it would hand out
25,000 iMac computers in return for a guarantee that all recipients
would spend at least $100 per month in the company’s virtual shopping
mall for a period of 36 months.
This is reminiscent of computer firm ActiviNet, which offered
last year to hand out free computers to its clients, and then
disappeared leaving clients with no computer and no money. This
similarity is no coincidence, as the owner of One Stop Communication,
Israel Rosenfeld, was owner of the now defunct ActiviNet.
On July 8 1998, Ami Ginzberg published an article about Israel Rosenfeld
in the Ha’aretz newspaper. According to the article, about three years
ago, Rosenfeld was involved in a company, Wall Street
Investments, which offered people the opportunity to
invest their money in a company-selected list of companies, with a
guarantee that the stock value would not fall below the amount invested.
A short time after an aggressive ad campaign was waged, the company
disappeared, leaving debts to the newspapers and creditors in an amount
calculated, according to Ginzberg, at hundreds of thousands of shekels.
Rosenfeld reappeared with the Internet provider, ActiviNet,
where he served as its vice president. The company agreed to provide
the free access to the Internet if customers were
willing to pay in advance thousands of shekels. The customers could
then ‘use’ this money to buy on a monthly basis merchandise in the
company’s virtual shopping mall, for no less than 100 NIS per month.
Problems didn’t wait long to catch up with Rosenfeld: the Communications
Ministry determined that the company had connected its customers
illegally and in July of 1998 Bezek, The Israeli carrier began to cut
off the Frame Relay lines to customers after a debt of 5 million NIS had
Recently, ActiviNet employees have requested that the
courts declare the company bankrupt, as they have not received their
salaries. During the last days of ActiviNet, new customers had
purchased new computers for a free Internet linkup. Many of them never
saw the computers, nor the money they paid.
The similarity between Rosenfeld’s proposal “to hand out free computers”
and “the free Internet linkup” of ActiviNet is amazing: long-term
contract, payment in advance, guarantee to purchase merchandise in a
virtual shopping mall.
Rosenfeld could not be reached for comment.