PALM BEACH GARDENS — Not content with simply raking in the big bucks for beating the likes of Connor McGregor, Floyd Mayweather is also helping others get rich, namely two guys from Miami and one from Palm Beach Gardens.
The star boxer used social media in September to advertise Centra token, a new virtual currency created by 26-year-old bros from southern Florida, Sam Sharma and Raymond Trapani. Palm Beach Gardens’ Robert Farkas was also recently listed as a co-founder as well.
“Get yours before they sell out,” Mayweather wrote on Facebook. “I got mine and as usual I’m going to win big with this one!”
With 13.5 million followers, Mayweather’s reach is significant. With his endorsement, Centra raised more than $30 million in just a few weeks. Investors have been encouraged by the success of BitCoin, which has seen its value skyrocket in recent months.
Celebrities have been key players in the virtual currency boom. Jamie Foxx, Paris Hilton and soccer star Luis Suarez have all supported different virtual currencies on social media recently, lending credibility to a previously suspect investment.
Mr. Mayweather, whose nickname is fittingly Money Mayweather, has also championed Stox and Hubiits, two other virtual tokens.
“It’s undeniable that a celebrity endorsement brings a new audience into the world of crypto currencies,” said Peter Van Valkenburgh, the Research Director at Coin Center, a nonprofit that supports virtual currency. “But I’m not certain that celebrity endorsements are doing a good job of bringing attention to the legitimate projects.”
Though Sharma and Trapani had no prior experience in the virtual currency market, their belief in their product is paying off.
“Centra Tech has a brilliant solution, the world’s first Debit Card that is designed for use with compatibility on 8+ major cryptocurrencies blockchain assets,” Centra’s ads say.
I just received my titanium centra debit card. The Centra Card & Centra Wallet app is the ultimate winner in Cryptocurrency debit cards powered by CTR tokens! Use your bitcoins, ethereum, and more cryptocurrencies in real time across the globe. This is a Game changer here. Get your CTR tokens now! #CryptoBilli #Bitcoin #Ethereum #Digitalcurrency
Centra’s luxury offices are located in Miami Beach. From there, the owners hope to begin issuing virtual currency debit cards for customers. Though Sharma’s past, which includes allegations of outstanding debts and problematic evictions, is complicated, he assures investors that he has grown up.
His Boca Raton landlord, Steven Fern, who evicted him just a few years ago, would beg to differ.
Apparently, Sharma just stopped paying rent on his condo, but made lots of promises that he’d make it up the next month.
“He stayed the entire time, literally until the day the police came,” Fern told The New York Times. “It was a strange scenario, and we lost a lot of money.”
And last year, Sharma was arrested in Manhattan on suspicion of driving under the influence. He denied the charges, which led to a perjury indictment after investigators verified that he had in fact consumed large quantities of alcohol.
“As defendant Sharma and defendant Trapani knew, the testimony that defendant Trapani gave was false, and the truth was that on March 24, 2016, there were alcoholic beverages other than pinot grigio on the table and the defendant did not order Sprite,” the indictment said.
The pair insist that the case is unrelated to Centra and plan on going forward with their business. For now, they have Mayweather in their corner. No small feat considering the boxer’s wealth is estimated at more than $340 million.
“He’ll do anything we ask,” Trapani said of Mayweather. “He’ll go shopping around Beverly Hills if we ask him to do it with this card.”
The boxing champ’s representative disputes this account though, saying that he’s been paid for his endorsement and has no ongoing relationship with the Florida start-up.
Sharma, however, argues that his deal with the boxer was negotiated directly.
“We dealt with Floyd directly through my guy,” Sharma said. “It was a very direct, individual deal.”
Regardless of what the truth might be, the $30 million investment is very real, thanks to Mayweather.
“I see us taking over as being the No. 1 company that people will use to use their crypto assets,” Sharma said. “Once our proof of concept goes from beta to live, I think that we are going to take market dominance in the full aspect.”