“Carbonomy raises $16M from Hedonova”: the story of a fake deal with a wide coverage

The other day, multiple news outlets shared a fake press release about an Estonian startup Carbonomy raising $16 million from French fund Hedonova. The story drew the attention of Mauro Battellini, a co-founder of Black Unicorn PR. “Unbelievable — someone sent out a fake press release about raising money and got covered. They also completely copied the (old) website of an existing (and very real) startup,” he wrote in a Twitter thread, revealing the proofs that the deal is fake. AIN.Capital shares the details.

  • The news about the deal of Paris-based hedge fund named Hedonova investing $16 million in an Estonian leading platform for bringing economic benefits to sustainable farmers Carbonomy during a Series A round was spread on the Internet. As it turns out, the fund, as well as the startup, misrepresent their selves online.
  • In particular, allegedly Estonian startup Carbonomy used eAgronom’s digital identity to present itself as an affiliate. eAgronom is indeed a Tartu-based sustainable farming company, that is not, in fact, in any way associated with Carbonomy.
  • The website of so-called Carbonomy was also completely ripped off of eAgronom, using its name on the Terms and Conditions page. At the moment of this publication, this website went blank, but the domain name can still be found.
  • As Mauro Battellini noticed on Twitter, the identity of the French investor Hedonova appeared to be unreliable, too. In the story with Carbonomy, the firm was presented as a Paris-based hedge fund. In other instances, Hedonova is mentioned as a California-based global fund, with the CEO named Alexander Cavendish. But neither Hedonova’s website nor its social media mention Carbonomy. Although, the fund fairly recently announced the funding with the same amount, but in a completely different project.
  • Moreover, the Hedonova fund had wide coverage in online media, including a sponsored post in Forbes India, where allegedly Alexander Cavendish “raised $400M from the likes of Microsoft and the family of Oman.”
  • According to several reviews, that Mauro shared in his Twitter post, there seemed to be uncertainty connected to Hedonova. The investment community published some articles that the investor didn’t pass the standard KYC (Know Your Customer) check. In particular, Alts.co warned that the Hedonova had a founder misrepresenting himself online, among the other red flags.

The whole fake story coverage seems to have started from the Hedgeweek European Awards 2023 winner announcement. The award was indeed a real event, where Hedonova Advisors were awarded as Best Multi-Strategy Hedge Fund.