UNCONFIRMED: Club Asteria Suspends Member Cashouts; If Ponzi Forum Reports On Payout Halt Are True, Then Decision Was Made Virtually 2 Years To The Day After AdViewGlobal Autosurf Collapsed
A Virginia-based company that trades on the name of the World Bank and claims to help lift some of the poorest people on earth out of poverty by involving them in an income and MLM-like recruitment scheme has suspended member cashouts, according to posts on Ponzi scheme and criminals’ forums.
If the news about Club Asteria is true — and the company is not confirming it on its news webpage — then the firm may be following the AdViewGlobal (AVG) autosurf into the darkness virtually two years to the day after AVG suspended cashouts after collecting an unknown sum of money and declaring member payouts never were guaranteed.
Club Asteria, according to chatter on infamous Ponzi forums such as MoneyMakerGroup, did not call its decision not to pay members a suspension. Rather, the firm described it as a “decision to accumulate revenue share disbursements for the next 30 to 60 days.”
Members have claimed in promos for months that Club Asteria provided a “passive” investment opportunity and that earnings were guaranteed. The company itself has implied as much, according to promotional materials. Club Asteria is under investigation by Italian authorities, and confirmed in May that its PayPal account had been frozen.
After the PayPal freeze, which involved an unspecified sum of money, Club Asteria slashed its weekly payout rate to less than 1 percent and urged members to use offshore payment processors.
Like AVG, Club Asteria blamed negative developments on its own members. The firm does not publish verifiable financial data, and members say payments come via wire from an entity known as Asteria Holdings Limited in Hong Kong.
Why a Virginia-based company would route money through an apparent Hong Kong-based subsidiary to both U.S.-based members and international members never has been clear. Some members have published spreadsheets and ads that state plainly or imply that Club Asteria members can count on earning $400 a week for a payment of $19.95 a month, with earnings projected at a rate of 10 percent a week.
Other members have claimed Club Asteria pays 3 percent to 4 percent a week, numbers that project to a return of between 156 percent and 208 percent per year. References to a “passive” earnings opportunity with guaranteed payouts gave rise to questions about whether Club Asteria and its members were selling unregistered securities as investment contracts.
Meanwhile, the presence of promotions and “I got paid” posts on infamous Ponzi forums led to questions about whether Club Asteria had come into possession of funds tainted by one or more Ponzi or fraud schemes.
When AVG collapsed two years ago this week, the firm said it was retooling and would make an 80/20 program mandatory upon relaunch. Club Asteria, whose domain name appears to have been registered on June 25, 2009, reportedly incorporated an 80/20 program into its business model upon its launch in 2010.
Club Asteria’s domain, according to web records, was registered on the very same day news about the collapse of AVG surfaced. On June 30, 2009 — five days after its collapse — AVG’s name was referenced as an iteration of Florida-based AdSurfDaily in a racketeering lawsuit filed against ASD President Andy Bowdoin.
Bowdoin was arrested by the U.S. Secret Service for wire fraud, securities fraud and selling unregistered securities in December 2010. In August 2008, prior to the launches of both AVG and Club Asteria, tens of millions of dollars were seized from Bowdoin’s 10 personal bank accounts by the Secret Service.
It is believed that ASD, AVG and Club Asteria had promoters and members in common.
In the online Ponzi world, 80/20 programs are used to minimize cash outflow and disguise the nature of the programs. Club Asteria members preemptively have claimed the firm was not operating a Ponzi, a highly dubious claim given that the company does not publish audited financial information and that members — perhaps particularly members from Third World countries, countries ravaged by war or countries governed by dictators or strongmen — likely lacked the means or ability to visit Club Asteria’s U.S. headquarters to examine the books in person.