The risky allure of WiFi Money: private jets, sports cars, and ruined investors - 20 minutes read

Alex Moeller was having a great month, and he wanted to share it with his 2 million followers on Instagram.

In one photo from October 2022, the millennial entrepreneur/influencer posed on his private jet, the fawn leather seats embroidered with the logo for his red-hot business, WiFi Money. In another photo, at a luxury resort in southern Mexico, he floated in a dazzling aquamarine infinity pool overlooking the Caribbean. In a third post, he showed off a selection from his fleet of supercars — a Lamborghini Huracán and a McLaren 650.

"To God all the Glory!" the caption read. "Years and years of hard work is paying off big time. In the next 24 months we will be helping 100,000+ Businesses."

For Jasmine Sadry and Joey Martin, that October was decidedly less enjoyable.

The Texas couple were staring down more than $100,000 in debt, much of which they had poured into WiFi Money. Overwhelmed by stress and guilt, Martin went into a deep spiral and was hospitalized several times after binge drinking and using drugs. As Moeller partied it up, Sadry and Martin were preparing to move out of the Dallas-area home they could no longer afford.

They were far from WiFi Money's only dissatisfied customers. Since its founding in 2020, the company has left a trail of lawsuits alleging fraud, bankruptcies, mental breakdowns, and financial devastation. Marketing a faddish assortment of get-rich-quick schemes — cryptocurrencies, ecommerce stores, pandemic-era tax rebates, and more — WiFi Money promises its followers "the ability to make money anywhere in the world, by doing one simple action.... connecting to WiFi." Combining the age-old influence of envy and greed with the instant gratification of influencer culture, the company sells desperate Americans the paradoxical idea that a bit of hustle will allow them to coast to the easy life.

In the process, Moeller and his business partner, Chris Frederick, have amassed millions for themselves, promoting their glitzy lifestyle everywhere from Instagram to Fox News. Many of their customers and investors, meanwhile, have ended up in financial ruin. As trust in the institutional ways of moving up in the world has deteriorated, WiFi Money offered an express lane to financial freedom. It ended up sending many of its most devoted followers straight into a ditch.

A native of Quito, Ecuador, Moeller (, 2 million followers) moved to Florida with his family when he was 11. One of his earliest gigs was working at his family's cosmetics business, Casa Moeller Martinez. There, he learned the value of a good sales job — even if what you're selling is based on an illusion. Casa Moeller Martinez wound up embroiled in scandal: News reports in Ecuador said the company owed more than $7 million to investors, including a retirement fund for the national police force, and ultimately sought bankruptcy.

Twentysomething and boisterous, Moeller began to frequent Miami's club scene, often with a woman on his arm. At age 25, he launched MentorCI, a marketing firm that promised to make its clients rich by boosting their follower counts on social media. The company's Facebook page included such cutting-edge insights as "Snapchat can be very beneficial for those companies trying to reach Millenials!" and "Websites are a must!" Social media, MentorCI promised, would set you free: "Get financial freedom and explore the world!! Did you know that you can monetize your Instagram account and make thousands of dollars each month?!?" The company's own Instagram account, meanwhile, featured photos of enticing landscapes and attractive young women.

In Moeller's telling, his business was an instant hit. Within a year he had some 1,000 clients, whose accounts he grew using automated software to follow and unfollow other accounts on Instagram.

Today there are two primary types of business-minded influencers on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. The first is aspirational posters peddling lifestyle content — the Kim Kardashians of the world, showcasing a never-ending stream of exotic locales and innate glamour, 'grammed in the service of relentlessly selling products. The second is #hustlegrindset thoughtfluencers like Gary Vee, who preach a gospel of business acumen to followers looking for a shortcut in the rat race.

Moeller crafted a potent blend of both: a steady drumbeat of ultraluxe vacation photos paired with "hustle culture" koans. "Those who endure will conquer #wifimoney #paidtolive," he captioned a photo of himself in a swimming pool, a snowy mountain range behind him. "Let them hate, just make sure they spell your name right," he wrote in another post. The message conveys a promise implicit in Moeller's brand: Invest in my schemes, pay for my workshops, subscribe to my business philosophies, and you, too, can achieve a life of luxury resorts, fast cars, and ripped pecs.

Moeller's vision of monetizing social media tapped a vein of desperation in the American Dream.

Moeller's vision of monetizing social media tapped a vein of desperation in the American Dream. Four decades of widening income inequality and sluggish wage growth have pushed more and more Americans into frothy investment vehicles like meme stocks and crypto that offer the allure of "passive income" — a steady flow of cash, no work required, in return for a bit of up-front capital. A poll conducted in 2020, as internet firms like Uber and Etsy promoted a vision of home-brewed entrepreneurship, found that about one in three Americans had a side hustle.

"People are less satisfied with their current work — traditional work — and that has made the side hustles more appealing," says Farnaz Ghaedipour, who studies social media and work at Stanford University. "Social media makes it look like this is more achievable and makes it look like it's easy to turn your side hustle into a successful business."

Financial freedom became a cornerstone of Moeller's philosophy after one of his Instagram clients introduced him to Chris Frederick (, 3.5 million followers). A burly dude from small-town Maryland, Frederick had his first brush with celebrity at 12, when he appeared on the PBS show "Aqua Kids." Years later, Frederick dropped out of college to play soccer for a succession of minor-league German teams. After returning from Europe, he found his true calling as a self-promoter. In 2018, a press release announced his "successful transition from professional soccer player to serial entrepreneur" and listed some of his new hustles: luxury-car rentals, watch flipping, investment banking, business coaching, and "monetizing Instagram."

Frederick and Moeller shared a relentless self-promotional drive and a fixation on social media as a business engine. By 2019 they were working together on Money Mastery Blueprint, an online boot camp that, for $1,997, promised to teach would-be influencers how to grow their followings. From there, Frederick and Moeller refined their brand, eventually landing on a catchy name they could use to assemble their diverse and often unrelated endeavors under one umbrella: WiFi Money.

WiFi Money is hard to pin down: It's a philosophy, an advertising business, a social media collective, and a multilevel-marketing firm, all rolled into one. It provides an endless stream of technologically enabled, passive-income opportunities that just so happen to support the lavish lifestyles of the WiFi Money team, who then package their own success into social-media snippets and resell them as marketing advice.

In practice, WiFi Money is a tangled web of limited-liability companies, including some set up to manage a single investment opportunity; one LLC is dedicated exclusively to Moeller and Frederick's private jet. At the center of it all is Gatsby, a private company controlled by two other LLCs created by Frederick and Moeller. The name conjures up images of Jay Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald's legendary hard-partying, entrepreneurial, and ultimately ill-fated social climber with a habit of bending the truth.

Brandon Celi for BI

Along with Frederick and Moeller, the WiFi Money universe includes a constellation of affiliated influencers who use WiFi Money branding on social media and hawk the group's investment opportunities. There's Moeller's brother, Billy (, 1.6 million followers) and Chris Casey (@chris.casey, 624,000 followers), a multilevel-marketing guru who serves as chief operating officer of WiFi Money. There's Todd Cahill (, 383,000 followers), a "WiFi Money Mentor" from Illinois who was slapped with a $250,000 tax lien by the IRS in 2021 over five years of unpaid taxes. And there's Liz Friesen (.friesen, 465,000 followers), a "Social Media Mentor" and women's-empowerment advocate who boasts of having been featured in Yahoo Finance and Business Insider. (In reality, both sites auto-published her press release.)

WiFi Money's modus operandi is to partner with an array of external firms to pitch a wide range of money-making schemes to prospective customers and investors. For one investment opportunity, which claimed to provide annual returns of 10% to 25%, the company partnered with a pair of luxury real-estate agents in Florida. A program that promised to boost people's social-media followings touted partnerships with influencers like Tana Mongeau and a member of the Kardashian clan. And for WiFi Money's most devoted disciples, there was the "WiFi Money Experience": exclusive business boot camps in boutique locations like Mexico's Punta Mita peninsula.

Customers and investors, meanwhile, are recruited from anywhere and everywhere — not just social media but friends, neighbors, and other would-be entrepreneurs. Those who give their money to WiFi Money are often encouraged to sign up other people in return for a cut of their profits — and perhaps, one day, a chance to become part of the WiFi Money crew.

The company insists its business model is a win for everyone. "WiFi Money has made a multitude of its customers prosperous, particularly during the pandemic, as well as afterwards, despite ever-shifting economic winds," the company's attorney, James Ragano, told me. But investors have often found themselves burned by WiFi Money's moves. During the cryptocurrency mania of 2021, for instance, Moeller and Frederick joined the leadership team of a crypto project called Nobility, which set out to revolutionize esports, sell a line of knight-branded NFTs, and expand into the metaverse. Frederick was listed as the chief marketing officer, while Moeller worked on business development.

The project promised to promote its most dedicated NFT investors on "the world's top billboard locations, including Times Square, Piccadilly Circus, and the Burj Khalifa." Some investors poured tens of thousands of dollars into the initiative, buying up Nobility's cryptocurrency in hopes of seeing the price soar. After the token's launch that summer, its price jumped fourfold in less than a month, to about $0.0014 a token. But it quickly plunged to $0.000039, a 97% drop from its high. The billboards never materialized.

In 2020, Joey Martin (, 12,000 followers) was a 40-year-old product manager living in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area with his partner, Jasmine Sadry (, 59,500 followers), a radio host and media strategist. He dreamed of flipping real estate to escape the 9-to-5 grind — but he needed extra cash to get started. He joined a mastermind group, a decades-old peer-to-peer mentor program for aspiring entrepreneurs. That led to an introduction to Moeller.

In his Instagram DMs and early calls with Martin, Moeller presented himself as a smooth-talking problem-solver. He pitched Martin on what he described as an incredible passive-income opportunity: Amazon automation. For an up-front fee, Martin would get a custom-built storefront on Amazon Marketplace, the tech giant's platform for third-party sellers. The listings, though, would consist of products available for less at other stores. When an Amazon customer bought something in the store, a "virtual assistant" would use a credit card taken out in Martin's name to buy the item from the secondary store and mail it directly to the customer — and Martin would pocket the difference. All he had to do was pony up $35,000, and the automated riches would start rolling in.

"I don't know if I would call it laziness or greed necessarily," Martin told me. "But I was salivating a little bit at the idea of being able to say, OK, I can move a little quicker and don't have to focus as much on generating month-to-month income."

Brandon Celi for BI

Moeller had essentially sold Martin on dropshipping, a common business model. And while WiFi Money would pocket a hefty chunk of Martin's up-front payment, the company wouldn't actually set up his storefront or help him run the business. That would all be done by a third-party LLC called Kyncey Investments. The firm was run by Kyle McDougal (.mcdougal, 986 followers), who also served as CEO of Nobility.

Almost as soon as Martin and Sadry handed their money over, things started to go wrong. Their store, which sold everything from Scotchgard to diaper-rash ointment, was suspended repeatedly by Amazon, in part because of low customer reviews. It was shut down for good in mid-2021. Other investors faced similar suspensions; some never even had their stores set up.

Though WiFi Money had pitched many of the initial investments, the company largely managed to stay out of the legal hot seat, likely because the contracts were ultimately signed by Kyncey. In nine lawsuits, Kyncey and McDougal were variously accused of fraudulent inducement, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and unjust enrichment. In many cases, McDougal simply didn't respond to the suits. One plaintiff got a judgment to raid Kyncey's bank account, but they were able to recoup only $13,000 of their $35,000 investment.

McDougal maintains his innocence and suggested he had only missed the cases because the legal documents had been delivered to his old addresses. "Contrary to popular belief," he told me, "we had a lot of clients that were making significant returns, and the vast majority were very happy once their stores started picking up." But as the issues mounted, WiFi Money parted ways with Kyncey. Irate investors were offered an alternative: They could turn their Amazon stores over to DBC, a Canadian firm that WiFi Money was partnering with. It was a classic hustle-culture move: If the first venture doesn't work, simply pivot to another one. But the same issues that plagued Kyncey soon resurfaced with DBC. Investors found their accounts abruptly suspended by Amazon, with little recourse to recover their money. The side hustlers had once again been hustled.

As the money poured in, WiFi Money gained a patina of mainstream credibility. In the spring of 2021, just as their Amazon-automation pitch was kicking into high gear, Moeller and Frederick landed a prime self-promotional opportunity. Sitting down with CNN, the duo lamented the economic chaos caused by the pandemic and hyped the potential of WiFi Money as an answer for people who had lost their jobs.

"We really wanted to come up with a solution where we could help the average individual, just about anybody, translate their income to the online space," Moeller said.

The following year, Moeller and Frederick were interviewed by Fox Business. Tailoring their message for the network's right-wing audience, Frederick described WiFi Money as a righteous crusader helping conservatives fight back against social-media censorship. "We consider ourselves a conservative company," he told Fox Business. "I don't agree with Big Tech censorship and I think they have lost their markets."

Through WiFi Money, Moeller and Frederick had created a virtuous cycle of money and influence. They 'grammed themselves hanging out with increasingly high-profile celebs: the "Shark Tank" star Kevin O'Leary, the notorious "Wolf of Wall Street" Jordan Belfort, the legendary Brazilian soccer player Ronaldinho, the conservative commentator Glenn Beck. Frederick took up soccer again, playing as a backup goalie for the Florida Tropics Soccer Club, an indoor-league team sponsored by WiFi Money. Moeller, meanwhile, leaned hard into YouTube creatordom. In one video he cruised around New York City, ensconced in the back of a white Rolls-Royce, on a mission to spend $1 million in 24 hours. In social-media posts and in interviews, he and Frederick boasted that they were banking tens of millions of dollars a year.

While Moeller and Frederick lived the high life, Martin and Sadry were struggling to salvage their investment with WiFi Money. As they grappled with Amazon's customer-service team and their mounting debt, Martin felt crippled by shame. He turned to cocaine and binge drinking to cope. His trips to the hospital for issues related to substance use and stress exacerbated the couple's debts. "It honestly was basically mental exhaustion," Martin said. "Basically a full collapse."

In an attempt to make ends meet, the couple refinanced and rented out their home, moving from an upscale Dallas townhouse to a mold-ridden apartment near the airport. In November 2021, Martin filed for bankruptcy protection, and Sadry prepared to follow suit.

I wake up every other morning and I've got an angry family member texting me about it

McDougal, the Kyncey founder, said he warned investors that "there were risks involved, that it wasn't all sunshine, and nothing was a guaranteed success." But other investors were also struggling to stay afloat, with bills from credit-card companies and state tax authorities adding to their costs. One Florida resident faced with $138,000 in debt sold her house to pay it down. A real-estate agent from Minnesota sold her home and moved in with her partner's parents, sharing a bedroom with her teenage children for more than a year. One investor says he was assailed by relatives he'd signed up for a referral bonus of $5,000 a pop: "I wake up every other morning and I've got an angry family member texting me about it." Another investor who convinced people he knew to invest said it ruined his reputation, prompting him to consider suicide. Some DBC investors found their homes barraged with packages returned by dissatisfied Amazon customers; one had to grapple with dozens of garden loungers, bikes, and rugs that were mailed to her house.

Daemon Budkowski, a former actor and model in Los Angeles with multiple sclerosis, said his investment in WiFi Money put his mortgage at risk. "Legally, I'm disabled," he said. "I'm not able to work. I'm tired of being a debt to society. That's why I wanted to invest — to make a living. Now, honestly, they ruined my life." He filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission but never heard back.

As the losses mounted, disgruntled investors banded together in an informal grapevine. They found each other through Reddit threads, comparing horror stories and detailing the amount of money they'd lost. They circulated email chains comparing notes on lawyers who might take up their case and urging victims to contact the FTC. Nearly 100 complaints have been lodged with the FTC about WiFi Money, Kyncey, or DBC. It's not clear whether the agency is investigating; a spokesperson said they couldn't comment on specific companies "outside the context of a law enforcement action."

Brandon Celi for BI

Some who spoke out against WifiMoney have found themselves targeted by the company. Chris Costello (, 40,000 followers), a real-estate agent in Florida, and his wife, Francis, were invited to invest by their close friends Chris Casey, the COO of WiFi Money, and his wife Ashley. Costello went in on Amazon stores and Nobility in a big way — at one point, according to court documents, his stake in the crypto project reached $325,000, and he bragged on Instagram about "joining #wifimoney." After Nobility went south, he was angry. "These people are 21st-century snake oil salesman!" he wrote on Reddit. "Do not trust them or any company they partner with."

WiFi Money fought back. Moeller, Frederick, Gatsby, and Casey filed a suite of defamation lawsuits against the Costellos, accusing them of tortious interference, cyberstalking, and harassment. Costello, in turn, called the ongoing lawsuits "an attack by these individuals to smear our name, stop us from telling our personal experiences, and cause financial hardship to our family." His war with WiFi Money has cost him more than his investment. "Not only did we lose money," he says, "we also lost our best friends."

As the anger from investors built, the WiFi Money team did what it does best: It pivoted again.

The company dove into helping small businesses get access to a special tax credit created by the federal government to give money back to companies crushed by the pandemic. Partnering with a third-party firm, Bottom Line Concepts, WiFi Money helped firms jump through hoops to access the employee-retention credit — and made serious cash in the process. On a podcast in 2023, Moeller said WiFi Money was making $10 million a month in pure profit off the program. But last September, the government placed a moratorium on the program, citing "a flood of improper Employee Retention Credit claims." It had wound up being a gold mine for scammers.

It's not a small amount of money these people are entrusting to another person. And it certainly had a financially devastating effect.

By then, the legal issues had started to mount. Last July, the IRS hit Moeller with a $1.3 million lien over unpaid taxes, which his attorney says has since been resolved. In November, Avery Williamson, a former NFL linebacker, filed suit against Moeller and McDougal, claiming he had been defrauded out of more than $400,000 he gave to Nobility in return for crypto tokens that never materialized. And in December, more than 30 investors in the Amazon-automation business took WiFi Money, Moeller, and Frederick to court, alleging fraudulent inducement, negligent misrepresentation, and civil conspiracy over the sale of DBC stores. The plaintiffs, most of whom lost tens of thousands of dollars, said WiFi Money team members had encouraged them to take out loans to pay for the storefronts and to lie to Amazon.

"It's had a real effect on people's lives," said Victor Bermudez, the attorney representing investors in the suit. "It's not a small amount of money these people are entrusting to another person. And it certainly had a financially devastating effect."

Even some of WiFi Money's partners appear burned by the company. DBC, the Canadian firm that handled the Amazon stores for WiFi Money after Kyncey, said the influencer group took a 50%-plus commission on each sale — and refused to return the cash when stores were shut down by Amazon. The same month investors took WiFi Money to court over the stores, DBC announced it was closing down.

"WiFi Money looks forward to its day in court, and will not make any further comment at this time," said Ragano, the company's attorney. At the moment, dozens of other investors — including Martin and Sadry, the Dallas couple — are thinking about joining the lawsuit. Martin believes that WiFi Money's leaders "deserve to have their asses kicked." But he doesn't think paying a settlement will force Moeller and Frederick to change their ways. "They're not scared of the law. They're not scared of writing a check," he said. "I think it's just part of their business."

If Moeller is perturbed by the lawsuit, he hasn't let it show. About a month after the suit was filed, Moeller posted videos of himself on Instagram sipping Champagne on a private jet en route to Munich, a shiny new gold Rolex Submariner strapped to his wrist.

"More motivated than ever," he said. "Cheers to the biggest year of our lives."

Rob Price is a senior correspondent for Business Insider and writes features and investigations about the technology industry. His Signal number is +1 650-636-6268, and his email is

Source: Business Insider

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