Nicholas A. Smirnow, Pathway To Prosperity (P2P) Operator, A ‘Convicted Burglar, Robber And Drug Dealer’ Who Fleeced At Least 40,000 People In International Ponzi Scheme
“Just talked with Nick today on the phone,” one member said. “I always enjoy talking with him — honest and straightforward.”
“This one is a WINNER,” another crowed. “People, you don’t know what you are missing if you aren’t in this program.”
Here is how a member of TalkGold, another Ponzi-pushing site, described P2P:
“[T]his program will go a long way to bringing back stability to investment sites,” he wrote. “[T]his one you can trust 100% and also the admin Nick . . . come and join our happy group.”
Here is how P2P was described by a member of MoneyMakerGroup, yet another Ponzi-pushing site:
“[T]his is the kind of program that is needed,” the poster wrote. “p-2-p gives the little man a chance to invest and relax knowing your money will be safe at the end of the investment.”
And here, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is how the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and federal prosecutors described Smirnow after charging him yesterday with operating an international Ponzi scheme that gathered more than $70 million and fleeced more than 40,000 people:
“convicted burglar, robber and drug dealer who told a former employee that he was involved in a double homicide.”
Smirnow, believed to be on the lam in the Philippines, used aliases such as Nicolay Smirnow, Alexander Judizcev, Nicholas Kachura and Jeff Prozorowiczm. The scam spread across the world, and P2P shielded itself by using a website in the Netherlands and a company incorporated in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Although the program pitched interest rates of up to 17,000 percent, a poster on ASA Monitor incongruously said, “This is not a HYIP — Nick does not believe in them.” Regardless, the same poster — despite his cheerleading — acknowledged he was worried “about the authorities getting in and shutting things down . . . but since it is not a site being heavily promoted like CEP and not so open, it may keep under the radar . . .”
CEP was yet another Ponzi scheme.
It has been an electrifying week for opponents of HYIP and autosurf frauds, who routinely are derided as “naysayers” by commission-grubbing pitchmen who spread Ponzi pain across the planet for a share of illegal profits.
On Tuesday, the SEC announced it had charged Mazu.com operator Matthew J. Gagnon, 41, of Weslaco, Texas, and Portland, Ore., with helping “orchestrate a massive Ponzi scheme conducted by Gregory N. McKnight . . . and his company, Legisi Holdings, LLC.â€
The Legisi scheme raised about $72.6 million from more than 3,000 investors â€œby promising returns of upwards of 15% a month,â€ the SEC said.
Like Pathway to Prosperity, Legisi also was promoted on ASA Monitor, TalkGold, MoneyMakerGroup and other forums criminals and their shills frequent to separate people from their money.
A U.S. warrant for Smirnow’s arrest was issued yesterday — although Smirnow is believed to have been ducking Canadian authorities for months because of an investigation into his business practices.
Smirnow now joins Robert Hodgins — yet another international fugitive allegedly associated with the drug and HYIP trades — on the lam.
Hodgins, who provided debit cards for the alleged AdSurfDaily Ponzi scheme and is believed also to have a tie to the PhoenixSurf autosurf Ponzi scheme and other autosurf and HYIP schemes, is wanted for helping a Colombian narco business launder money at ATM machines in Medellin and also for accepting $100,000 in purported drug proceeds for laundering money in the Dominican Republic.
INTERPOL is searching for Hodgins.