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“Bullying was part of his nature”: former employees and secret tapes shed light on Greg Martel

Accused fraudster assailed software team, spent millions on “piece of s—” app

By Zander Sherman
November 14, 2023
Crime
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

“Bullying was part of his nature”: former employees and secret tapes shed light on Greg Martel

Accused fraudster assailed software team, spent millions on “piece of s—” app

By Zander Sherman
Nov 14, 2023
Martel accused of defrauding more than 800 investors of $295 million. Photo: Shutterstock
Martel accused of defrauding more than 800 investors of $295 million. Photo: Shutterstock
Crime
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

“Bullying was part of his nature”: former employees and secret tapes shed light on Greg Martel

Accused fraudster assailed software team, spent millions on “piece of s—” app

By Zander Sherman
November 14, 2023
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“Bullying was part of his nature”: former employees and secret tapes shed light on Greg Martel
Martel accused of defrauding more than 800 investors of $295 million. Photo: Shutterstock

“It’s a piece of s—. It’s built crap. It f— doesn’t work.”

It was a Monday in August 2022, and Greg Martel was berating employees of carSHAiR, an app that allowed users to rent out their vehicles. According to Martel, the “poorly run, poorly laid out” app had cost millions to develop and was still buggy. “It’s me that’s paying the price,” he said.   

The comments can be heard in six new recordings obtained and verified by Capital Daily. The recordings, totalling more than an hour, were made by carSHAiR employees without Martel’s knowledge during virtual meetings in the summer of 2022.

“We had a pretty bad feeling,” said a former carSHAiR employee who asked not to be identified for fear it would affect their current job. “[We did it] so we had something…to use against him, in a way.” 

Martel stands accused of defrauding more than 800 investors of nearly $300 million through his company My Mortgage Auction Corp. (MMAC). He is currently wanted in Canada and the U.S. for contempt of court

Martel could not be reached for comment, but has previously denied running a Ponzi scheme.

In the carSHAiR meetings, Martel criticized employees by name and pondered giving the entire team a month of unpaid vacation while his engineers fixed the app. He also set lofty goals and demanded employees work 24/7 to meet them. “I built myself around champions and winners, and you get to jump on and become a champion and f—-ing do what it takes to succeed,” he said. 

At one point, Martel compared tensions between himself and his staff to China and Russia. In another analogy, he described himself as a camel who had crossed the desert only to collapse before reaching water. “I’m so f—-ing thirsty and dehydrated and I’m crawling to the lake…And then when I get about three or four feet from the lake, I die.”

Manan Parikh, a senior carSHAiR engineer who was present during at least one of the meetings—and who Martel mocked for having a “late-night DJ voice”—said employees were used to Martel’s behaviour. “Bullying was just a part of his nature. So that came across to everybody, including me.”

Parikh said he had worked 14-16 hour days, as well as weekends. According to him, his four-month probation period was extended by an additional four months without his knowledge. The day before he was supposed to become a full-time employee, he was fired. “Losing a job is no fun,” he said. 

If employees had concerns, their only option was to go to Martel’s personal assistant and chief operating officer. CarSHAiR did not have an H.R. department, according to Parikh.

Months after the recordings were made, MMAC went into receivership. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the court-appointed receiver, was then authorized to investigate Martel’s other businesses, including carSHAiR. 

Another former carSHAiR employee, who asked not to be identified, said they were owed a month’s pay they never received, and believed dozens of other employees were also owed money. 

Kathryn Wild, the COO of Martel’s mortgage company, filed a lawsuit against Martel in 2023. In her notice of civil claim, Wild alleged that Martel had bullied and harassed her, among other allegations. (Martel has yet to respond to Wild’s claims, which haven’t been tested or proven in court. Wild didn’t respond to interview requests.)

CarSHAiR was founded in 2018. Although Turo created a car-sharing app back in 2009, carSHAiR was poised to become a more premium company that had aspirations of adding planes and yachts to its fleet, according to Parikh.

In an interview with L.A. Style Magazine, Martel described carSHAiR as a “financial literacy company” that taught people how to turn liabilities into assets. The original app had been outsourced to companies in China and California. Though Martel estimated it would eventually be worth billions, only a few vehicles were booked each week. Martel said the company was spending $450,000 a month.

One former employee told Capital Daily that Martel didn’t want customers to know he was renting out his vehicles. In one of the recorded meetings, Martel said the “highest level of priority” was to have his personal fleet rise to the top of carSHAiR’s search results. If that could be accomplished, it would bring in upwards of $80,000 a month instead of four or five thousand. “If we can’t get my fleet to show up, we have no chance,” he said. 

According to PwC, Martel used disbursements from MMAC to fund carSHAiR. Between September 2021 and September 2022, a total of more than $4 million had been transferred.

In the recordings, Martel seemed to acknowledge that he had overspent and under-delivered on an app that still needed work. “If I had a board of directors, I’d be fired by now,” he said.  

In December 2022, Martel met Houston Crosta, a YouTuber and owner of a successful car rental business in Las Vegas. Crosta was interested in having a mobile app but thought poorly of Martel’s business savvy. According to Crosta, Martel wanted a company that was profitable. 

Eventually, the two struck a royalty-for-technology deal. “I get to basically use his technology to grow my business,” Crosta said. “And Greg gets to look like a hero and share everybody’s winnings.”

The deal fell through in the spring of 2023 when Martel told Crosta he couldn’t make the down payment. Crosta said he now suspected Martel was using investor money to fund carSHAiR, and in hindsight wondered if Martel viewed the merger as a last-ditch effort to become profitable. “Greg wanted to buy my business because he kept losing money with carSHAiR,” he said.

Parikh said he wasn’t sure what became of the $295 million owed to investors, but knew Martel lived an extravagant lifestyle and owned luxury vehicles and several homes. “I am assuming half of it is already blown,” he said. 

Parikh is still jobless since being laid off from carSHAiR almost a year ago. “The market has been really tough,” he said, adding that he felt bad for Martel’s investors. “There are people who are going back to their work after five years of retirement, hoping those investments would have got them a chunk of money.”

Have information about this story? Email zander@capnews.ca.

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