DEVELOPING STORY: Are AdSurfDaily Pitchmen Who Also Joined AdViewGlobal And Recruited Members For Collapsed ASD Knockoff Confused — Or Are They Trying To Scam Downline Members And Claims Administrator?
This post begins with background because the autosurf world, which is dominated by serial scammers, financial fraudsters and shadowy criminals, is about as murky as it gets.
On Aug. 1, 2008, tens of millions of dollars in the bank accounts of AdSurfDaily President Andy Bowdoin were seized. Federal prosecutors went on to say that Bowdoin, a recidivist swindler in his seventies, was conducting an international Ponzi scheme involving at least $110 million from the small town of Quincy, Fla.
ASD allegedly had more than 100,000 members.
Bowdoin was running the massive scheme through his 10 personal bank accounts and trading on the name of the President of the United States to sanitize the fraud, prosecutors said in a forfeiture complaint.
A federal magistrate judge in the District of Columbia, the nation’s capital and center of power, ordered the money seized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security after reviewing a 37-page affidavit by the U.S. Secret Service and a 57-page evidence exhibit. Incredibly, though, some ASD members didn’t take the strong clues that the U.S. government had come to view ASD and others like it as a threat to to the nation.
The government made sure that the allegations and certain information about Bowdoin, including the fact that ASD was not his first brush with securities felonies and that he was partnered with a man implicated by the SEC in the 1990s in three prime-bank schemes, were available for wide distribution. The forfeiture complaint was published on the Internet in multiple places and was made available at no charge by the government.
Bowdoin reacted to the seizure by describing it as an act of “Satan” and comparing it to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A message from Bowdoin on ASD’s answering machine claimed God was on the company’s side. Within days of the breathtaking seizure and a follow-up raid of company headquarters caught on camera by a local TV station, ASD members started pitching other fraud schemes, positioning them as ways to make up for ASD losses. The disconnect of ASD members was stunning.
They hawked cash-gifting schemes, HYIP schemes, cycler matrices and other autosurf schemes — often using an appeal to religion in their pitches and claiming the “programs,” unlike ASD, operated outside U.S. jurisdiction and thus insulated the players from prosecution. They made the claims despite the fact the “programs” were targeted at U.S. citizens and players were paid in U.S. dollars after using U.S. dollars to join the “programs.”
On Nov. 19, 2008, ASD lost a key court battle. A federal judge ruled that ASD, which had requested an evidentiary hearing, had not demonstrated it was a lawful business and not a Ponzi scheme. Instead of exiting the autosurf Ponzi “industy,” some ASD members next turned their attentions to an upstart “offshore” surf known as AdViewGlobal.
Which brings us to the reason for this post . . .
A woman who said she believed she was an AdSurfDaily investor entitled to restitution through the government remissions program administered by Rust Consulting Inc. told the PP Blog yesterday that she gave $5,000 to her sponsor, who converted the sum to cashiers’ checks made payable to a murky enterprise known as TMS Association.
The PP Blog referred the woman to the office of U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. in the District of Columbia.
But her transaction, according to the woman, occurred in April 2009 — eight months after the August 2008 seizure of tens of millions of dollars by the Secret Service in the ASD Ponzi case. ASD ceased operations after the seizure.
Although the woman apparently believed she was investing in ASD, her story strongly suggests that she actually was investing in AdViewGlobal (AVG), one of the so-called ASD “clones” that launched in the aftermath of the ASD seizure. TMS Association was a murky Arizona business linked to eWalletPlus, which reportedly was the in-house payment processor for AVG.
The woman, saying she believed she was an ASD victim, also said she believed she was entitled to restitution through the remissions program set up for ASD victims through Rust. Her remissions claim, however, appears to have been rejected because the program is for victims of ASD, LaFuenteDinero and Golden Panda Ad Builder, not victims of AVG.
“I am having troubles with the Ad Surf Daily Remission Administrator on getting the information that my checks I sent in that were endorsed to TMS Association were ‘linked’ to the Ad Surf fraud suit that is going on,” the woman asserted.
Facts surrounding TMS, eWallet Plus and AVG are exceptionally murky, and there is no remissions program for victims. It is believed that the U.S. government has opened a probe into the companies, and AVG was referenced as an extension of ASD in a 2009 racketeering lawsuit filed against Bowdoin by a group of ASD members seeking class-action certification.
At least three companies, including a penny-stock firm known as Vana Blue, have claimed to own eWallet Plus, which AVG also claimed to own. Also adding confusion are the presence of company names such as TMS Corp. USA LLC, TMS Corp., Karveck International and Karveck Corp. — all of which haven been referenced in the context of AVG.
The woman said she contacted the PP Blog because of its reporting on TMS Association.
AVG, which had close ASD ties, announced it was suspending cashouts two years ago this month. The surf was positioned as a remedy for ASD losses, amid claims it operated in Uruguay outside of U.S. jurisdiction. Its servers resolved to Panama, as did the servers for eWallet Plus.
One promo for AVG claimed that $5,000 turned into $15,000 “instantly.” Some ASD members have claimed Bowdoin was a silent partner in AVG and fronted the money to purchase eWallet Plus.
Although AVG purported to have no ties to ASD, it listed George and Judy Harris as its owners. George Harris is Bowdoin’s stepson. The AVG incongruities did not end there. Indeed, AVG’s graphics once appeared on an ASD-controlled website, an event that was bizarrely explained away as an “operational coincidence.”
Even as AVG was disclaiming ASD ties in early 2009, the person disclaiming the ties was a former ASD employee, Chuck Osmin, who testified on ASD’s behalf at an evidentiary hearing in 2008. Despite the claims, AVG listed its first chief executive officer as Gary Talbert, a former ASD executive who filed a sworn court affidavit on ASD’s behalf in 2008.
The woman’s claims, however, lead to questions about whether some AVG members are trying to use the ASD remissions program to cover losses in AVG, perhaps with encouragement of their upline sponsors
Among other questions raised by the woman’s claims is whether ASD sponsors who promoted for AVG despite the ASD seizure told the truth about ASD to their recruits or shielded them from the news, thus denying recruits information they needed to make an informed decision about joining AVG.
At the same time, the woman’s story leads to questions about whether AVG recruits denied the facts by their sponsors about the ASD prosecution tried to pressure their AVG sponsors for refunds when the truth became known — and whether the AVG sponsors are trying to cover their tracks by pointing their recruits to the ASD remissions program without disclosing that it is reserved for ASD, LaFuenteDinero and GoldenPandaAdBuilder victims only.
It is likely that any bids to mask AVG losses as ASD losses will fail because the government requires ASD members to certify themselves as crime victims and provide paperwork as proof of investment.
Based on the woman’s claims, it also seems possible that some AVG members may have been serving as unlicensed brokers and investment advisers by collecting cash or negotiable instruments from recruits, converting the money to cashiers’ checks and then sending the money to AVG.
If transactions such as that occurred, it leads to questions about whether AVG investors ever could prove they’d actually joined the program. If the accounts were not opened in their names and instead were opened in the names of sponsors who collected their money, there may be no proof at all that the recruit was the source of the funding.
Even if the AVG accounts were opened in the names of the recruits, it may be hard for a recruit to prove they provided the funds if the money was converted to cashiers’ checks and submitted to AVG by the sponsors
The extent to which AVG sponsors may be trying to game the remissions system is unclear. What is clear is that the woman’s story is yet another reminder that the universe in which ASD and other autosurfs operated was dark and dangerous to the purse strings.