CFN Media Gets PPP Loan, But Stiffs Workers

CFN Enterprises Inc.  (OTC:CNFN) also known as CFN Media may have gotten a generous PPP loan, but the company isn’t sharing its largesse with its contract labor. Two people who both worked for the company for years have been left unpaid and the company has turned to ghosting them.

CFN Media received $263,000 in COVID-19 disaster recovery money known as the Payroll Protection loan. The idea is that the money is to be used to pay employees. It seems the only employees getting paid are the CEO Brian Ross and the President Frank Lane. The company was asked for a comment and didn’t respond.

Greg Hasty had worked with CFN Media for five years and was largely responsible for the professional-looking video interviews. He even built a small studio in Los Angeles to elevate the experience and improve the quality of the product. He estimates the company owes him between $90,000 to $100,000 and expects he’ll have to take them to court to be paid.

“They never actually let us go,” said Hasty. “We just had to stop working for them. They hadn’t paid their bills in six months.” Hasty said that President Frank Lane had even suggested that the company was working on getting the PPP loan and that CFN Media could pay him when the money showed up. “I’ve had zero contact for two months now,” he said. The last event his crew taped for CFN was the MJ Biz conference in Las Vegas this past December.

He was also upset that the company avoided signing contracts. “I kept pushing for it, but there was always a reason the contract was delayed or put off,’ said Hasty. “I’m easy going and I think the best of people, but now I’m left high and dry,” he said. Luckily there are numerous emails that Hasty hopes will help him in court despite not having a contract.

A similar story was relayed by Rachelle Gordon who is owed $4,000. Many people in the industry know her as a producer for CFN Media and a fixture at the cannabis conferences. She began working for the company 2016 as a contributor and over the years her responsibilities increased. She also worked without a contract. “They kept promising it would come, but it never did,” she said. “It was just empty promises.”

Gordon said at the beginning of 2020 her first invoice went unpaid. She contacted the company’s Chief Financial Officer who had resigned and was no help. She approached Lane, whom she worked as an executive assistant for and even the CEO Ross. They blamed the delay on the former CFO. “They kept promising different dates they would pay,” she said. Gordon even worked an event for the company in February as she still believed the company would come through with the payment.

“I trusted they would do the right thing,” she said. Gordon says the company then turned on her, accusing her of bothering them for money and being annoying. “I finally quit doing work for them. This is how they treat someone who worked for them for four years.”

CFN Media was charging cannabis clients approximately $30,000 for a three-month multi-media plan that included stories and videos. However as the industry began to face headwinds in 2019, cannabis companies were less inclined to spend the money for what was considered soft promotional news. The cannabis clients were also probably not aware that Ross and Lane reportedly disparaged cannabis consumers behind their backs. While it certainly isn’t a requirement to consume cannabis to work in the industry, most companies would be dismayed to learn they were disrespected.

Young America Capital analyst Shajan Ninan initiated coverage on the company with a speculative buy rating and a 23 cent price target in November.  CFN has not filed financial statements since September 2019.  The company filed for a delay in earnings citing the pandemic, but it was already months late when it filed for the delay. According to those documents, the company had $975,000 in cash and cash equivalents at the end of the third quarter of 2019.

The company is now pivoting towards a CBD e-commerce business and is paying its vendor in stock as opposed to cash. The stock was lately trading at four cents a share. The website mostly republishes press releases as opposed to original news content.

One full-time employee Mark Collins was paid in full and said that while he was terminated on his birthday, he received the money he was owed. He was able to confirm that Hasty and Gordon were not paid and that both worked very hard for the company. “Everyone was hoping for a turnaround,” he said.

Both Hasty and Gordon were dismayed to learn of the executive’s inflated salaries and that the PPP loan money that had finally come through would not make it to their wallets.

Debra Borchardt

Debra Borchardt is the Co-Founder, and Executive Editor of GMR. She has covered the cannabis industry for several years at Forbes, Seeking Alpha and TheStreet. Prior to becoming a financial journalist, Debra was a Vice President at Bear Stearns where she held a Series 7 and Registered Investment Advisor license. Debra has a Master's degree in Business Journalism from New York University.

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