UPDATE, AUG. 31, 5:14 P.M.: A Weekly examination of court records in Riverside
County related to a lawsuit brought by a competitor in the sales lead generation business exposes more about how Edward Younghoon Shin met the future business partner he is now accused of killing, Christopher Ryan Smith.
Meanwhile, an expert who followed that case closely discovered chilling emails Smith supposedly sent after being murdered.
And the 33-year-old's hometown newspaper has provided more biographical details about the Laguna Beach resident whose body has yet to be found.
A few years ago, Smith was working at LeadPoint Inc., a Delaware corporation whose principal
place of business was Los Angeles. LeadPoint generated sales leads, as did Lead Generation
Technologies (or LG Technologies) of Encino, which sued Shin, Smith and others, according to Riverside County court documents dated Feb. 22, 2010.
Shin was named vice president of business development at LG on Feb. 19,
2008. On July 3, 2008, he secretly formed a competing lead-generation
business, LPS, whose first address was Shin's home in Temecula before he
moved to San Clemente, where his new home was the second address for
LPS. He never informed his LG overlords that he had formed LPS.
On Sept. 1, 2008, Shin was named LG's president. Seven days later, LG, through Shin, hired Smith as a full-time, independent
contractor consultant, according to the suit. The same day, Smith was terminated at LeadPoint.
The complaint alleged Shin illegally
funneled $1 million from LG to LPS, and that he and his co-horts did the
same with LG sales leads. Smith was accused in the complaint of having
secretly worked for competitor LPS at the same time he was consulting
for LG, “drawing business opportunities away from LG.”
contract with LG ended on Dec. 31, 2008. Shin was out of there on March 13,
2009. On April 3, 2009, the same day LG went after LPS and Shin and his
wife's joint bank accounts, 800xchange was formed. It initially shared
the same address as Shin's home.
Shin and Smith identified themselves as the managing partners and co-founders of 800xchange, yet another lead generation business. It was operating out of an office in San Juan Capistrano where Orange County Sheriff's homicide investigators allege Shin killed Smith before disposing of the body.
The lawsuit was later settled after Shin pleaded guilty, charges against Smith and others were
dismissed and all that was publicized about the terms of the agreement
was that Shin had to pay restitution and serve three years probation to avoid jail time.
The amount $1 million pops up frequently in the complaint. That's also how much Shin owed Smith to buy him out of the 800xchange partnership–before allegedly killing him.
Now comes the creepy part: Orange County Sheriff's homicide investigators and the district attorney's office claim Shin murdered Smith on June 4, 2010. But Michael
UPDATE, AUG. 30, 12:30 P.M.: A second suspect has been arrested in the murder of 33-year-old Christopher Ryan Smith of Laguna Beach, the Orange County Sheriff's Department announced this morning.
The same sheriff's statement on Kenny Roy Craft, 34, of Laguna Niguel, confessing and being charged as an accessory to Smith's murder claims that Edward Younghoon Shin also admitted to carrying out the killing of his former partner at 800xchange, a sales lead generation firm in San Juan Capistrano.
Kraft is now being held at Orange County Jail in lieu of $250,000.00 bail.
He was scheduled to be arraigned today in Santa Ana.
“Kraft admitted to assisting Shin in the disposal of personal belongings of victim Smith,” reads the statement. “These items included clothing and a 2009 white Range Rover recovered by OCSD Homicide
Investigators in San Jose.”
Homicide investigators are also reaching out to the public for information on Kraft, Shin or the late Smith's property.
Call OCSD Homicide at 714.647.7048 or leave a message on the sheriff's 24-hour hotline at 714.628.7170.
ORIGINAL POST, AUG. 30, 8:07 A.M.: In May 2010, Edward Younghoon Shin pleaded guilty in Riverside Superior Court to stealing sales leads as well as colleague Christopher Ryan Smith from LG Technologies, a company that generated sales leads before they formed a new concern, 800xchange.
Today, 33-year-old Irvine father of two Shin is being arraigned on charges of murdering Smith in their San Juan Capistrano offices to avoid paying $1 million he owed to buy Smith out of 800xchange.
And you thought the taxi cab business was cutthroat!
Orange County Sheriff's Department investigators arrested Shin around 11 a.m. Sunday as he was sitting aboard a plane at Los Angeles International Airport bound for Canada. Currently being held without bail, he is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder for financial gain and faces a sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.
Smith, also 33, had been in business with Shin at 800xchange for about two years before they had a falling out. A year ago, they reached a deal where Shin would pay $1 million for Smith's half of the company. Orange County Sheriff's homicide investigators say Shin killed Smith instead on June 4, 2010, and disposed of the body. Shin is also accused of going to great lengths to cover-up the crime, including painting over the spot in their San Juan Capistrano office where Smith was murdered to cover up blood stains. Shin is also alleged to have used a phony email account to delude Smith's family into thinking he was on an extended vacation.
The lies ran out of steam, and Smith's family in Laguna Beach hired a private investigator to find him. The city police department launched a missing persons investigation this past April. When “a significant amount of blood evidence” was found in San Juan Capistrano, Laguna Beach Police asked the Sheriff's Department to take over the investigation, according to the sheriff's department.
That probe produced allegations that Shin produced documents containing a false signature from Smith signing over his rights to the business. Smith's car was discovered at some point in San Jose. His body has not been recovered. However, the investigation is ongoing, and anyone with information is urged to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Randy Litwin at 714.347.8492 or the OCSD Homicide Unit at 714.647.7048.
It's easier to find Shin's business bio online than Steven Jobs'. He claims to have “co-founded The 800 Exchange in order to provide clients with highly
effective and inexpensive radio advertising. Working with clients in
many diverse industries, Edward Shin and his colleagues at The 800
Exchange generate thousands of leads each day. Since its inception, The
800 Exchange has grown more than 1,000 percent, in part due to the
expert leadership of Edward Shin.”
It continues that before founding 800xchange,
he worked at Cambridge Funding, LLC, Merrill Lynch, and Morgan
Stanley. He was publisher of Legends Sports Magazine, a “small boutique sports collectors
magazine focused on highlighting careers of past legends and up and
coming legendary athletes,” from October 2005 until selling the Hall of Fame Publishing Co. in February 2008.
He graduated from El Toro High School and then attended UC San Diego, where he studied
political science and music performance. Shin's MySpace page, which hadn't been active for about three years, indicated he was married with two young children, a boy and a girl. In fact, the title of the page is not his name but Sophia & Adam's Daddy.
He lists his occupation as “Media Monster” and favorite television show as Entourage, noting “I have my own Drama and Turtle but no E, I guess b/c that's me.”
The lawsuit filed in Riverside accused Shin of fraud, stealing and diverting of leads. LeadCritic.com called it “the largest lead generation scandal in history.” Not only did LG Technologies name Shin and Smith as defendants, but the company also went after Shin's wife, Karen Shin, as well as Iris Sunwoo of competitor
LeadPoint Inc. LPS and Marc Diana
of Breakwater Ventures and Breakwater Ventures II.
Edward Shin was hired as vice president of Business Development at LG Technologies and then forming competitor
LeadPoint LPS, which would secretly receive sales leads diverted from LG and sell them back to LG clients. Shin hired Smith at LG as a consultant and got him hired at LeadPoint, had him secretly working at LPS. So, his future 800xchange partner was working for one company and its competitor at the same time. According to the complaint, Shin paid Smith $13,000 to
$14,000 per month at
Shin originally pleaded not guilty to embezzlement, claiming he did nothing wrong and there was no conflict of interest, but then he suddenly changed his plea to guilty. He was ordered to pay back LG Technologies for everything he stole and serve three years probation. Charges against the other defendants, including Smith, were later dropped after an undisclosed settlement was reached.
Of course, it's a huge leap from lead-generation theft to murder. But if Shin's planning a defense based on this all being a misunderstanding,
he drew the wrong prosecutor. Veteran Homicide Unit Senior Deputy
District Attorney Matt Murphy never loses a case.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.