Shark Tank's Kevin O'Leary and Kevin Harrington sued for fraud in alleged 'structured scam'
Plaintiffs allege Kevin O'Leary and Kevin Harrington encouraged them to hire one of two "scam" companies to crowdfund their products or businesses.
In a complaint filed Wednesday, 20 plaintiffs from across the country claim they "were lured by the involvement, endorsement, and credibility" of the ABC stars to hire the services of one of two companies purported to be in the crowdfunding business, InventureX or Ideazon, to help launch their product or business. According to the complaint, the companies "turned out to be nothing less than facades designed to lure in unsuspecting victims, extract their money and then virtually disappear under the guise of delays, minimal to no performance, and no results."
In a statement issued via his lawyer, O'Leary says, "It appears that someone has been using my name and likeness without my knowledge, permission, or consent. I've never heard of any of these purported companies and have never conducted business with any of the plaintiffs who filed this suit. Obviously, I want to get to the bottom of it too, as my rights have been violated. We will make sure that the bad actors are held accountable."
A rep for Harrington did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment. InventureX and Ideazon also did not respond.
The complaint claims the plaintiffs spent "months, if not years" trying to get their products and businesses started with no results, and also have yet to get their money back. The complaint outlines a "structured fraud scam" in which the two companies, represented as separate entities to the public, "are actually intertwined and connected internally, constituting practical mirror images of each other."
According to the complaint, O'Leary, 67, endorsed both companies, despite a "lack of due diligence, basic investigation or minimal inquiry to determine how real or legitimate" they were. Harrington, 64, is a "partner and primary executive" of InventureX and "knowingly made personalized videos" that were sent to the plaintiffs "in order to lure [them] to sign up and and/or continue paying fees," per the complaint.
The two companies allegedly "took hundreds of thousands of dollars" from the plaintiffs "while delivering little to nothing on the services they represented would be provided."
The plaintiffs are suing for fraud, negligence, breach of written contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress. They are seeking pay for damages, economic loss, emotional distress and legal feees.
O'Leary has been on Shark Tank since 2009. Harrington made regular appearances in seasons 1 and 2.
TMZ was first to report the lawsuit.
This story originally appeared on people.com