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SOLO FINTECH - 8500 Cases of forgery

How law techs shouldn't work, with SOLO facing allegations with solid proof for forgery of signatures for both traditional and authentic documents.

Stefan-Lucian Deleanu

Official Publication: ENTRYRISE S.R.L
Scope: Public notification of continued acts that could constitute felonies in Romania.

REPORT Details:
- Over 7.000 cases of private individuals having their signature used, without being informed, to sign documents that produce legal liability to them, with the intent to provide PFA registration and headquarters hosting.

RISKS:
- Unknown document signatures forged by SOLO Fintech & Alexandra Chitan
- Misuse of credentials
- Forgery of signatures for unknown

Contact information & Press Relations:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/stefan-deleanu-94036417b/
https://www.facebook.com/stefatorus
MAIL: [email protected]
Conflict of interest declaration:

We are a platform that provides business registration services (for limited liability companies) to foreigners interested to establish a presence in the EU, in Romania.

While we don't directly compete with SOLO, we had plans to pivot to also serving Romanians, which would make us a direct competitor to SOLO.

We are clearly in a situation of a conflict of interest, and urge you to be skeptical with our opinions, and build your own conclusions.

This view is OUR VIEW, and a subjective analysis, even if we tried to make it as objective and nuanced as possible.

Everyone is innocent until found guilty, and we aren't a court to find them guilty.
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Right to rectification & reply:

Both us (and the romanian legislative) believes individuals or entities involved in a press article have the right to voice their opinions.

If you believe this article is wrong, or want to provide your side of the story, or have any other information that is relevant, please contact us via [email protected].

SOLO has received an email with my personal Phone NO for easier access to me. Annexes and files that are relevant are in the bottom of the article.
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The text was originally written in English, as part of our publicistic policy. Translations in other languages aren't guaranteed to be correct.

UPDATES:

Update #1 - SOLO's point of view:

We contacted SOLO to request them to provide a viewpoint, as well as provide information to us if any of the information in our article is wrong.

Their opinion is provided below, although it is not sent as a "Right to Reply", and as such, we reserved to discuss on our reply.

The translated version is provided for ease of access:

Mr. Deleanu,

I have noticed on your company's Facebook page, as well as on the website www.incorpo.ro, a series of false statements and untruths about SOLO, included in posts or public articles.

Even though you have introduced a supposed "disclaimer" by declaring that you are a competitor to SOLO and that this puts you in a conflict of interest, this does not give you the right to denigrate SOLO nor to present the public with false information. It also does not exempt you from liability for the damages you cause us through your behavior, both civil and criminal.

If you have any questions about the way SOLO operates, please carefully read the terms and conditions on our website. Up to this point, you have not done so, but have chosen to extract certain information from our website and present it in an untrue manner, with the sole purpose of denigrating SOLO's operations.

We assure you that the statements you make are not true, SOLO operates legally in all respects, confirmed by both the Trade Register, the Bucharest Bar, and ANAF. In fact, your behavior is illegal and harms the general public, to whom you present false information regarding the way our company conducts its business.

We request that you immediately cease this behavior and no later than 1 day from the receipt of this email (i.e., by no later than February 22, 2024), to completely delete the false posts and derogatory articles about SOLO.

Through this same means, I inform you that we have already begun legal proceedings to sanction your behavior and recover the damages created.

Hoping that we can amicably resolve this situation,

Bogdan Georgescu
Co-Founder SOLO

Our reply on this matter (translated):

Good evening,

I have attached your point of view to the article. In the context where you previously did NOT inform people that the documents were signed, I consider it worthy to inform the public.

In turn, you have the right to address the competent courts for measures. I have expressly communicated to you your right to correct / provide a point of view on the information published on the site, to respect your right of reply.

Although I am a competitor, I have acted in good faith, to respect your legitimate interests. I am waiting for an official point of view, until then I will publish the communication with you as representing that right of reply.

Kind regards,
Stefan-Lucian Deleanu
Director, ENTRYRISE S.R.L

Our second reply, requesting them to provide additional information:

Good evening,

I have also sent this to a legal advisor on the team to read your response, as I believe it would be relevant to the article, and an exculpatory factor that would nullify all the allegedly false accusations, if you could provide us with the following:

A point of view on why you corrected the method of operation, legally in all aspects. Here I refer to the fact that now you correctly clarify to customers the information, while previously you did not.
Addresses from the three entities, through which they have confirmed the legality of SOLO FINTECH S.R.L, as a means of operation. (ANAF / ONRC / Bucharest Bar Association)

I am particularly curious about the UNBR's interpretation in relation to point 41^1, by which both your platforms and ours, would not be allowed to work with lawyers in any way. Especially since it was clear that customers did not previously know what they were signing, plus the fact that they work with Mrs. Chitan.

I will always expose responses to messages, and I have taken responsibility for this. I believe that in relation to the previous message, it would be worthy to provide those proofs, which otherwise would defeat any argument of ours, as well as Mr. Iotov's arguments.

We also requested information on those 3 requests from the government authorities themselves:

What is "Solo Fintech S.R.L" - Solo.ro:

SOLO FINTECH S.R.L is a platform that provides PFA registration services in Romania, allowing freelancers to work effectively.

They streamlined the process of registering with the registry of commerce, and managed to get significant funding in expanding their operations.

They're extremely popular, and we believe they hold a significant market share in this area.

They've been featured in several Romanian entrepreneurship publications, have an active presence on TikTok, and according to Annemarie Fabian (For start-up.ro), they registered 8.500 PFAs, all which we assume included forged documents:

Annemarie Fabian, SOLO: Contabilul PFA-urilor a ajuns la 8.500 de utilizatori
Antreprenorii mici care au PFA-uri sau microîntreprinderi au trecut prin multe schimbări la finalul lui 2023. De la schimbări legislative până la implementarea

They've had several appearances in the press. They've proved competence in business and are one of the few "true" startups in Romania, with exponential growth each year:

SOLO Fintech lansează primul serviciu digital de contabilitate pentru PFA-uri. Investiție de 300.000 de euro - Forbes.ro
Citeste despre ➜ SOLO Fintech lansează primul serviciu digital de contabilitate pentru PFA-uri. Investiție de 300.000 de euro in Forbes Romania ✅ Afla cele mai noi informatii din sfera ✅ Stiri si evenimente de interes national si international
Fintech-urile SOLO şi Filbo au încheiat un parteneriat şi au dezvoltat produsul FilboTax, prin care PFA-urile cu venituri de cel puţin 100.000 lei îşi pot eşalona taxele către stat în 3 sau 6 rate
Start-up-ul SOLO Fintech, care a dezvoltat o aplicaţie digitală de contabilitate adresată PFA-urilor, a încheiat un parteneriat cu Filbo, fintech care…

Release details

Throughout the activity of SOLO FINTECH S.R.L, a platform that provides quick PFA registration in Romania, they, together with the lawyer they work with, Alexandra Chitan, have, in on our opinion, proceeded to forge signatures for over 7.000 customers.

Note:

We believe the intent was not malicious, but instead negligent. Neither SOLO nor Ms. Chitan has had, in our opinion, the intent to forge documents for their benefit, but instead, to simplify procedures for the PFA opening in Romania.

With the authorities at the Registry of Commerce being extremely slow, unaware of the validity of foreign-qualified signatures, and often denying legitimate registration requests, the wish to automate signing through a simple, mouse-drawn signature is justified.

We have attempted to do so in the past too, with "biometric signatures" provided by Namirial Sp. A, with eSignAnywhere, which we integrated via API.

We got denied because they considered that AdES Biometric signatures (hand-drawn on your phone or tablet) were not QES signatures, and the registry opined that they aren't valid and equivalent to hand-written signatures due to the fact they're hand-drawn.

We proceeded to switch to qualified electronic signatures, via Dokobit. Other platforms, such as EvroTrust, would've allowed SOLO to run legally, and to inform users of the documents they signed, with a minor change in the onboarding flow, something they only recently did, after having received a criminal complaint from Alexandru Iotov, the victim that informed publically on the existence of the forgeries.

The concern, and the reason for forgery, is NOT THE AUTOMATIC APPLICATION of signatures on documents, NOR THE FACT THAT THEY WERE SIGNED VIA MOUSE, but the fact that SIGNATORS DIDN'T KNOW WHAT DOCUMENTS THEIR SIGNATURE WAS USED ON.

We believe that if SOLO wants to continue running, they must inform the users of what they sign. We don't believe UNBR's opinion on platforms like Incorpo.ro, Solo, Startco, Avocatoo, etc are valid (we are not allowed platforms), but the customer should also be protected when working with any entity that has the power to cause damage through negligence.

They already made changes to their terms of service and appended a footer mentioning the documents users are getting their signatures used on. The solution seems to be partly fair, although imperfect (users know the types of forms they complete, but not the contents of what they ensure is valid, with the risk of legal liability if they are wrong):

TOS Copies - Old and new (Sites)

Termeni și condiții | SOLO
Termeni și condiții solo.ro
Termeni și condiții | SOLO
Termeni și condiții solo.ro

TOS Copies - Old and new (PDF Format copies)

Explanation of why this matters

The purpose of signing is to ensure that the signator is aware of the contents of the documents he signs, and the responsibility he takes through that document.

For some documents, such as fiscal declarations, activity declarations at ONRC, etc, providing false information, either by malice or by negligence, is criminally prosecuted and punished.

Making false statements

The misrepresentation of the truth, made to a person among those provided for in Article 175 or to a unit in which this person carries out their activity for the purpose of producing a legal consequence, for oneself or for another, when, according to the law or the circumstances, the statement made serves to produce that consequence, is punished with imprisonment from 3 months to 2 years or with a fine.

Not only that but with a Lawyer's written power of attorney, the lawyer gets the right to represent you in acts that would otherwise require notarized mandates.

This is problematic since the law requires notarized mandates specifically to prevent individuals from abusing that power. It is considered that lawyers are trustworthy individuals who will not use that power maliciously.

How SOLO's onboarding flow worked.

The flow that SOLO uses for onboarding customers is simplified, which is a natural way to ensure good conversion rates. However, it is relevant the change they made to the signature step.

AND the signature matter is the whole reason the discussion persists, and the forgery existed.

1: Select what kind of onboarding type you want

2: Create an account

4: Qualifying step (Deny PFAs that you don't support):

5: Ask them to validate their identity electronically:

6: And take the front for proof to attach to the registration request:

7: Then, select what activity you're going to run

8: Proof of having studies in the field you're going to work:

9: This is where the infraction is done.

In the past, the signature was applied, without you knowing what you're going to sign. Now, that is known and is clearly shown on their site.

Before:

After:

Now, you know what documents you sign, although some info is unclear (such as the contents that were completed, that may generate legal liability). BETTER BUT NOT PERFECT, BUT A GOOD STEP FORWARD

Before, you didn't know what you signed. The responsibilities you take on or the documents that would be signed, along with the fact that a lawyer would be the intermediary of the process.

Now, you do know what you sign, so it's fair and correct. Users who registered after the update didn't have their signatures forged.

We believe it's a good step that they started informing users, however, users should've been informed of what was done retroactively.

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If SOLO FINTECH took measures to inform their own customers, and clear a mistake made out of omission, not malice, no post like ours would exist, nor a criminal complaint that will most likely lead to prosecution of SOLO for several crimes

I doubt they'd file complaints.

10: You select where your correspondence will be sent:

11: You select your CAEN codes, and if you want to be headquartered "at SOLO":

Fun fact is that even if you headquarter at SOLO, in fact SOLO isn't the proprietor you're signing in. In fact, it's a person named "Braescu Floarea". We'll talk about that later.

12 (Didn't exist before): You approve the payment info

Before, you were not notified that some of the money was going to miss Chitan. However, now they improved and clarified their relationship.

Good job on the improvement, but still not enough (in my opinion), since old users that didn't see this should've been informed, and a public statement should've been released.

This page didn't seem to exist earlier, and we can't find photos of when we checked for the problem earlier.

13: You are asked to pay

14: They start?

Then, you receive access to their panel and you begin doing work on your platform. Before, you didn't receive all relevant documents, but I do believe that now, you do.

Why was this illegal before the changes?

The whole argument and the reason this is problematic is the modus operandi of SOLO and the fact that what they did is considered criminal.

This is why:

  1. You were hiring a lawyer but didn't know who. The lawyer should have direct contact with the customer, and be independent in a form. A correct way of doing it would be what we try to do at Incorpo.ro, in order to work legally. They can pivot to that.

    They didn't in the past, although they do now.
  2. They applied your signature everywhere, but , the fact that you had a commodate contract that could force you to leave their premises in 30 days, or more terms you agreed to (but didn't ever read or was able to read)

    You also didn't know what you could face legal liability for (the declarations), nor what they meant.

    You had no way of knowing, and they refused providing you with that information.
  3. They took steps to hide the fact that the signatures were forged, by altering the level of brightness and color on the signatures. Taking measures to hide a forgery demonstrates clearly that you were aware.

    And it wasn't intended only to convince ONRC, but also to hide the fact that the signatures were forged if a complaint would be filed.

And here's how it matters to the average consumer:

Ok, but this might have not yet had effects on you, as a PFA holder with SOLO. However, there's some things to take into account.

  1. Forged documents are null when found forged. If one customer proves forgeries, your PFA may cease to exist, unless you approve in court that you intended to have your PFA and approve what they signed for you.

    This means extra work for you that could've been prevented.
  2. It means that some documents OR declarations were signed and generated legal liability for you, without you knowing.
  3. It means that government entities can start asking around, and in any case, that you might've had documents signed on your behalf without you knowing.

How SOLO "legally" works:

Registering a PFA is a bureaucratic process, we agree with that. So here is how SOLO FINTECH has removed that bureaucracy.

For registering a P.F.A, the law requires several documents to be completed, and several requirements to be ticked off:

  1. Complete the P.F.A registration forms.
  2. Submit a declaration detailing the planned business activities.
  3. Provide evidence of rental agreement or ownership for business premises.
  4. File tax declarations to obtain a Fiscal Identification Code (CIF).
  5. Provide proof of availability and reservation of the business name.
  6. Submit a copy of the proprietor's identity document, certified as a true copy.
  7. And optionally (Depending on your situation):
    1. Obtain approval from the Association of Owners for any change in the use of collective residential properties, as required by law.
    2. If applicable, submit a declaration of spouse's regular participation in business activities.
    3. Provide a declaration regarding affected assets, if applicable.
    4. Present authenticated copies of professional qualifications if legally required.
    5. Provide proof of authorization for any designated individual handling legal formalities.
    6. If the registration request is signed by a designated person, include a self-declaration signed privately by the proprietor confirming legal compliance.

And how SOLO handles it:

We've went forward and summarized the steps SOLO takes to automate. We believe most are done correctly, but with some errors.

PFA registration forms:

They use the OCR information from your scanned ID, in order to file the registration form, and mentions the relevant documents so SOLO can represent you, to prove your address, etc.

No issues in our opinion, here.

Professional experience / studies proof:

They request you to attach it either on the registration form, or later.

No issues in our opinion, here either.

Proof of headquarters:

What they do is they sign a contract between you, and Miss "Braescu Floarea", the holder of the headquarters where your business runs.

They have the right to close down your lending contract unilaterally, in 30 days. You don't know the contents of that lending contract, when you decide to contract.

This is a big issue and how Alexandru Iotov, the victim that notified us of the issue, was forced to find a new headquarters in 30 days.

He didn't know what he "signed", when they applied a PNG of his signature on the contract. So he had to comply. And guess what. They were entitled, according to a contract that he never even saw yet signed.

The request also included a copy of the purchase contract, from "BEDAMIRO HOLDING PARCARI CONSTRUCT S.A".

In addition, you declare that you won't do activities at the headquarters provided by SOLO, under penalty of Art. 326 Penal code. They knew what it meant for customers:

Through the above, and the registration document they also sign on your behalf, they commit the crime mentioned by Art. 322 of the penal code:

**Forgery in Documents under Private Signature**

1. Falsifying a document under private signature by any of the means provided in Article 320 or Article 321, if the perpetrator uses the falsified document or entrusts it to another person for use, with the intention of producing a legal consequence, is punishable by imprisonment from 6 months to 3 years or by fine.

2. Attempted forgery is punishable.

And by providing it to the registry + kicking Alex in 30 days:

**Abuse of Forgery**

Using an official or privately signed document, knowing it is false, with the intention of producing a legal consequence, is punishable by imprisonment from 3 months to 3 years or by fine, when the document is official, and by imprisonment from 3 months to 2 years or by fine, when the document is under private signature.

How they handle proving your identity:

This is another issue and an integral part on why what they did is indeed forging signatures. Without the customers knowing, they entered into a contract together with Miss Chitan, in which she receives the right to represent customers for almost anything ANAF/ORC related.

I'm unsure if this is related to the reason our request was not quickly delivered and stuck at ONRC.

Through this document, the Lawyer guarantees your identity is the one you declared, which is subsequently used at the registry of commerce.

This document is an authentic act, and as such, forging it is punished more harshly by the penal code:

**Material Falsehood in Official Documents**

1. Falsifying an official document by counterfeiting the writing or subscription or by altering it in any way that could have legal consequences is punishable by imprisonment from 6 months to 3 years.

2. Falsehood as described in paragraph (1), committed by a public official in the exercise of their duties, is punishable by imprisonment from one to 5 years and the prohibition of exercising certain rights.

3. Tickets, vouchers, or any other imprints that have legal consequences are assimilated to official documents.

4. Attempted falsification is punishable.

**Intellectual Forgery**

1. Falsifying an official document during its preparation by a public official in the exercise of their duties, by attesting to facts or circumstances that do not correspond to the truth or by knowingly omitting to insert certain data or circumstances, is punishable by imprisonment from one to 5 years.

2. Attempted forgery is punishable.

And through using it to submit documents to the registry on the customers' behalf:

**Abuse of Forgery**

Using an official or privately signed document, knowing it is false, with the intention of producing a legal consequence, is punishable by imprisonment from 3 months to 3 years or by fine, when the document is official, and by imprisonment from 3 months to 2 years or by fine, when the document is under private signature.

Tax Declaration & Other Documents:

They also file it on your behalf, by forging your signature. But it would've been reasonable if they informed you beforehand.

Idem for other documents.

Alexandru Iotov & His Role:

Alexandru Iotov was the first customer of SOLO we identified of finding this, and taking measures against it.

I (Stefan Deleanu) tried to help him the best I can to provide him a nuanced view of what happened, what was necessary vs suspicious, and helped him with completing the document request forms.

I told him explicitly I was not a lawyer, and he knew full well I could be wrong.

Our opinion on him

Since the beginning, Alexandru showed a good character, albeit his reaction was extreme.

He was indeed a victim of the forgeries, and he tried, through good faith, to get information and resolve it amicably with SOLO.

While we believe that his reactions in public were extreme (Blaming alleged conspiracies and political backing by SRI, among other things), we believe that it's rational to see that from somebody who is truly (and rightly so!) affected by this, and is trying to get justice for it.

On some facts, we don't agree with Alex. For example, we don't believe the material prejudices he suffered are major.

While he was emotionally distraught by the fact his signatures were faked and he was blocked in Bureaucracy from trying to find his justice, we don't believe he lost anything material directly.

Obviously, the stress he incurred does justify some reparations, and we've told him that, but we don't believe they're going to be major, knowing Romanian courts.

It is difficult to fight entities backed with millions of dollars in investment, and even more so with a government bogged down in bureaucracy and corruption.

He did his best, and our view of him, along with the proof we received, demonstrated:

  1. He was right all along:
    1. SOLO.RO did forge his documents.
    2. Did lie to him, avoided giving him documentation, and didn't treat him with decency.
    3. Only took action when criminal liability was impending, and only because of that.
  2. He was a good-faith individual:
    1. His main motivation wasn't money, although he did say that if he's paid for the stress incurred, and the time he spent fighting (which is reasonable).
    2. His intention wasn't to get SOLO criminally punished, but to resolve the issue. He didn't know what the legal repercussions of his reports would be, before we informed him the best we could.
  3. This was worth joining the fight on:
    1. Alexandru is a simple person. He's not educated in Law, doesn't know his way around bureaucracy, and doesn't have to fight the constant abuses by the government.

      The current legal system is expensive to navigate and is something that not everyone affords. IT is however unfair that victims don't get the benefit of the doubt while criminals have years to defend themselves, get a lawyer assigned to them for free, and often leave scot free.
    2. He fought for a principle, and not for money. A vision he shares with us and a reason we spent time to help him.
    3. He truly needed help and wasn't able to afford a lawyer. We initially wanted to pay a lawyer to take his case, but we faced reluctance from the lawyers we talked to. It's difficult to justify attacking another peer in court.

      While lawyers are against corruption, there's an old adage in Romanian:
      "Ne spalam rufele intre noi". So they wouldn't help with filing claims against a colleague of theirs.

Documentation & Other remarks:

We will attach all documentation, including additional proof, PDFs, etc, if you send it to us, in order to justify our claims:

Old and New Terms of Service:

ONRC's opinion on Alexandru's original claims:

List of identified victims

We identified the following victims, based on an excerpt from the registry of commerce.

Our contact with SOLO (to notify them on the article):

Again, we tried to be as honest and transparent as possible with SOLO and their Lawyer, Alexandra Chitan.

Here's a PDF of us notifying them on the article: