Is Ponzi Legend ‘Ken Russo,’ AKA ‘DRdave,’ Now Performing PR Work For Club Asteria In Wake Of Negative Findings By Italian Regulator? Infamous Forum Pitchman Who Claims To Have Received Thousands Of Dollars Via Wire From Firm Posts 854-Word Club Asteria Puff Piece On TalkGold
Club Asteria updated its news website yesterday for the first time since July 21, a period of more than a month. But the Virginia-based company did not address a new order issued Monday by the Italian regulator CONSOB in its three-month-long investigation into how Club Asteria was promoted in Italy.
And neither did Club Asteria promoter “Ken Russo,” who simply copied the entire 854-word puff piece Club Asteria posted on its news website yesterday and pasted it into the Club Asteria thread at the TalkGold Ponzi scheme and criminals’ forum.
Whether “Ken Russo” understands that legitimate companies would be aghast if their affiliates trolled for business and performed PR outreach on known Ponzi forums linked to international fraud schemes that have gathered huge sums of money is unclear. What is clear is that “Ken Russo” is using TalkGold as a cheerleading outlet for Club Asteria — even as he uses it to cheer for other schemes.
Whether Club Asteria will take any sort of action against “Ken Russo” for trolling for business on TalkGold or reproducing 854-word Club Asteria PR pieces verbatim on a known Ponzi forum is not known. “Ken Russo” is hardly the only known Ponzi pimp who has led cheers for Club Asteria on the Ponzi boards, and Club Asteria has benefited from the Ponzi board cheerleading though a series of “I got paid” posts and reports that the firm’s membership roster had swelled into the hundreds of thousands.
Club Asteria now is conceding that it is having trouble launching a suite of new products — and that the delay in launching the suite could extend for another 60 days. Club Asteria buried the news about the specific length of the delay in the fourth paragraph of the puff piece “Ken Russo” regurgitated on TalkGold, after congratulating itself in the first paragraph for its diligence in implementing a new scheme and assuring members “how anxious and excited we all are to see all these new items being produced, tested and the logistics worked out so they can be introduced to our members.”
“Ken Russo” posts as “DRdave” at TalkGold, which is referenced in U.S. court filings as a place from which Ponzi schemes are promoted. He is a figure who elicits nearly constant criticism from the antiscam community for turning a blind eye to fraud schemes while seeking to create plausible deniability of any personal responsibility for permitting fraud to mushroom globally by accepting claims made by “opportunity” sponsors at face value and not questioning obvious incongruities.
If an “opportunity” claims a unique ability to pay spectacular, higher-than-market returns with an accompanying, unverifiable claim that external income streams enable the returns — often in the mind-blowing region of hundreds of percent on an annual basis — “Ken Russo” accepts the claim at face value and parrots it.
On Talk Gold, “Ken Russo” made a claim about Club Asteria that projects to an annual payout of more than 200 percent. Other promoters have claimed Club Asteria had the capacity to pay out more than 500 percent annually — all while claiming Club Asteria also paid affiliate commissions to recruiters. The confluence of payout schemes — combined with the lack of any verifiable information on Club Asteria’s sales figures and income streams and the highly public presence of known Ponzi scheme promoters — strongly suggest that Club Asteria was conducting a global Ponzi scheme
“Ken Russo” previously has claimed on TalkGold to have received thousands of dollars in compensation via wire from Club Asteria, including payments received after Club Asteria’s PayPal account was frozen in May and after CONSOB opened its probe during the same month. Some Club Asteria members, including “Ken Russo,” have claimed they were paid through AlertPay, a payment processor based in Canada.
The full effect of Monday’s order by CONSOB remains unclear because a reliable English translation was not immediately available. The PP Blog has asked both CONSOB and Italy’s Embassy to the United States to provide one, owing to the virality Club Asteria achieved worldwide and the presence of thousands of Club Asteria promos in English. TalkGold features a 137-page thread in English on Club Asteria.
Neither CONSOB nor the Embassy has declined the Blog’s request, which may signal that an official translation could be released in the coming days. CONSOB raised concerns in May that Club Asteria was being promoted illegally in Italy on websites, forums and social-media outlets such as Facebook.
Club Asteria said in June that it was experiencing a cash crunch and that its revenue had plunged “dramatically,” blaming members for events and comparing the situation to a bank run. Club Asteria first slashed members’ weekly cashouts from an apparent norm of between 3 percent and 4 percent a week, and then suspended cashouts altogether.
Some Club Asteria members claimed that the company paid out up to 10 percent a week, and scores of promoters globally are believed to have offered prospects inducements to join, including the partial reimbursement of sign-up fees. Many — if not most — of those members likely locked in losses for both themselves and their downlines by offering the inducements because their costs could not be retired after Club Asteria itself suspended cashouts.
It is common on the Ponzi boards for posters to offer inducements as a lure to attract prospects to join schemes of all stripes. When “Ken Russo” was promoting the purported MPB Today “grocery” program on the Ponzi boards last year, he advertised that one of his downline members was offering prospects cash rebates of $50 to join MPB Today.
An untold number of Club Asteria promoters offered similar inducements to their prospects while encouraging new enrollees to do the same, a situation that could have caused Club Asteria’s coffers to fill with cash. It is not known if Club Asteria affiliates who pledged to partially reimburse their recruits sign-up fees have honored their pledges in the aftermath of the firm’s decision to suspend weekly cashouts.
What is known is that the Club Asteria offer was targeted at the world’s poor — and that the firm may have gained penetration in 150 or more nations. Italy is believed to be the first nation to publicly ban Club Asteria promoters.
When not regurgitating Club Asteria fluff on TalkGold, “Ken Russo” is helping an “opportunity” known as AutoXTen gain a head of steam on TalkGold. On July 13, “Ken Russo” claimed on TalkGold to have received a payment of “$5462.80″ via AlertPay for “AutoXTen.”
“Thanks AutoXTen!” “Ken Russo wrote, posting as “DRdave.” Join us today! Just $10 to get started!!”
AutoXTen has been linked to Jeff Long, a pitchman for both the Data Network Affiliates (DNA) and Narc That Car MLM schemes last year. DNA, in turn, was linked to serial MLM pitchman Phil Piccolo, known online as the “one-man Internet crime wave.”
Both DNA and Narc That Car carded an “F” grade from the Better Business Bureau, the BBB’s lowest score. Some promoters then attacked the BBB.
Long now says the AutoXTen scheme is appropriate for churches — a claim DNA made about its scheme.
“Ken Russo” also is promoting Centurion Wealth Circle, an AlertPay-enabled scheme whose earlier cycler scheme collapsed. Centurion, which also was widely promoted on Ponzi boards such as TalkGold, now is attempting to revive itself by incorporating a new cycler known as “The Tornado.”
On July 11, two days before he reported a payment of “$5462.80″ from Long’s AutoXTen scheme, “Ken Russo” reported on TalkGold (as “DRdave”) that he had received three Centurion payments totaling $276.
This claim followed on the heels of claims by “Ken Russo” (as “DRdave”) that he had received $2,032 from Club Asteria between late May and late June.
The claims raise the prospect that multiple schemes, including Club Asteria, AutoXTen and Centurion, have come into possession and redistributed money from other fraud schemes promoted on the Ponzi boards.
And because “Ken Russo” is hardly alone in his Ponzi forum efforts to promote Club Asteria and any number of schemes in addition to Club Asteria, it raises the prospect that every single one of the schemes is shuffling fraud proceeds back and forth.
“Ken Russo,” for example, could have used proceeds from any number of schemes to join Club Asteria and any number of emerging schemes — with his downline members doing the same thing.