Today in Truly Incredible Blind Items Come to Life, a West Hollywood man has been convicted of defrauding two of North Carolina’s biggest ad agencies in a complex scheme that raises more questions than it answers. Big hat tip to Michael Hewlett of the Winston-Salem Journal on the full report linked above.
Back in 2012, Bill Grizack was working as a top strategist at Winston-Salem’s Pave, which is now known as The Variable. But he badly wanted to be a partner–and in order to get that bump, he needed to invest six figures in the agency or bring in half a million dollars’ worth of new business.
Instead, he chose to fake it.
Grizack somehow convinced executives that he had won the business of Coca-Cola, Brown-Forman and other clients to the tune of more than $269 million via fake emails, faked phone calls, and contracts that he drew up himself.
Pave was so psyched about all this new business that it contracted McKinney to help because it didn’t have enough staff to handle all the nonexistent work. The two then “hired 40 employees from around the country” to work on these fake accounts as Grizack became an employee of both agencies.
According to the prosecutor on the case, the fraud somehow went undiscovered for at least six months until February 2013. Grizack then fled to Colorado and California, where his LinkedIn profile claims that he managed to become employed at both Egg Strategy and Dailey Advertising as an executive director and chief strategy officer, respectively.
Here’s a screenshot from the profile, which still includes the fake accounts he didn’t win(!).
The profile claims that Grizack left Dailey last September, and as recently as January he was sharing links via his Twitter account, @wgrizack (which coincidentally follows AgencySpy). Here’s a tweet from around the time he departed Dailey:
Absolutely loved seeing @RealTracyMorgan last night on the @TheEmmys The world is a funnier place with you in it. Go get someone pregnant
— William G. (@wgrizack) September 21, 2015
According to the prosecutor, Grizack was also fired from Egg for falsifying a contract (Dailey declined to comment). Various reports from today and yesterday regarding the case do not make clear when the charges were filed or when Grizack was presumably extradited from California to North Carolina, but on Thursday he pled guilty to “one count of attempting to obtain property by false pretenses and two counts of obtaining property by false pretenses.” His sentencing is scheduled for June as per the plea agreement.
The three charges are class C felonies, with sentencing for each ranging from 44 months to 117 months. In other words, Grizack will spend the next several years in prison.
His complete LinkedIn bio:
“Bill is a bundle of frenetic ideas stuffed into a cannon and shot through a particle accelerator. If you can pin him down long enough to hear about his past, it’s pretty interesting.
Bill started working on the client side for large corporations (Ingersoll-Rand, Embraco, etc.), but quickly realized that entrepreneurialism was his thing. He has started several companies including SimpliFi and ReadyBike. One was even named to Fast Company’s list of the most innovative companies in the world and won Finovate Best in Show.
His endless curiosity and entrepreneurial instinct continually push our clients to consider different methods. He isn’t “put” on your business, he is “unleashed.”
Specialties: Planning, Creative Strategy, Team Leadership, Business Strategy, Brand Development, Front-End Innovation Development, Back-End Innovation Measurement, Advertising Strategy, Product Development, Consumer Insight Development.”
We’re left with a whole lot of questions about this case, but the very first might be, “What is so interesting about Grizack’s past?”
UPDATE: Looks like someone is paying attention to us.