ZEEK: Now, A Problem With ‘Mislabeled’ Purchases, MLM ‘Opportunity’ Married To Penny-Auction Site Says
After wrapping itself in the American flag on Memorial Day and authoring a vague announcement that it “will be closing our old accounts” at two named U.S. banks and transitioning to an unnamed bank “that can handle our growing needs,” the Zeek Rewards MLM “program” now says it experienced a problem with “mislabeled” credit-card purchases.
Zeek blamed a vendor for the problem, which resulted in Zeek purchases being mislabeled as purchases from a company named “Zonalibre1,” Zeek said.
“We have just been informed that our credit card processing mis labeled [sic] zeek purchases with the company name Zonalibre1 for the past 15 hours,” Zeek said on its news Blog last night. “This is currently being corrected on all billing statements. If you have purchased anything from zeek in the past 15 to 20 hours and have a ‘Zonalibre1′ charge for the same dollar amount as your zeek purchase, please do not dispute the charge.”
“Zona Libre” is a Spanish phrase that means “free zone.” Zeek did not say who informed it about the problem. Nor did it identify the vendor or say whether it was using a U.S. domestic or offshore processor to handle credit card transactions.
Zeek announced Monday that it was dumping two U.S. banks, adding a layer of mystery by saying it “is currently in the process of moving to a bank” — but not saying whether its new bank was U.S. domestic or offshore.
A Zeek-related business known as Zeekler is a penny-auction site. Among other things, Zeekler puts up for bid sums of U.S. currency, saying successful bidders can receive their winnings via the payment processors AlertPay (now Payza) and SolidTrustPay. Both firms are offshore from a U.S. perspective and have gained reputations as enablers of fraud schemes.
Among the many other Ponzi-forum promoted “programs” that use AlertPay and SolidTrustPay is JSS Tripler/JustBeenPaid, which purportedly is operated by Frederick Mann and may have ties to the so-called “sovereign citizens” movement. JSS/JBP purports to pay 2 percent a day. “Sovereign citizens” have an irrational belief that laws do not apply to them.
Promos in 2008 identified Mann as a pitchman for AdSurfDaily, which the U.S. Secret Service described as a “criminal enterprise” and Ponzi scheme that had gathered at least $110 million online. ASD is known to have had “sovereign citizens” in its ranks. ASD President Andy Bowdoin pleaded guilty to wire fraud last month, acknowledging that ASD was a Ponzi scheme that had defrauded participants from Day One of its operation, beginning in late 2006.
Some former ASD affiliates also are known to be promoting Zeek. Included among them are Todd Disner and Dwight Owen Schweitzer, who sued the United States last year for alleged misdeeds in bringing the ASD Ponzi case. One text ad for Zeek that includes a photo of Schweitzer includes this phrase (italics added):
“I earn 1%+ a day compounded & you can too!”
Schweitzer is a former attorney whose license was suspended in Connecticut. Disner is a co-founder of the Quiznos sandwich franchise.
Both Zeek Rewards and Zeekler say they are part of an entity known as Rex Venture Group. Rex operates in North Carolina, the same state in which the banks it announced it was dumping operate. On Monday, Zeek instructed customers to “Please be sure to deposit or cash any commission checks immediately so they clear before June 1st, 2012 or they will be returned to you with ‘account closed’ and will need to be reissued.”
Two days later — on Wednesday, during evening hours in the United States — Zeek issued a strange announcement that used the term “claw-back.” “Clawback” is a word often associated with Ponzi schemes. For instance, if investors in Ponzi schemes emerge as winners among a pool of losers, the government or court-appointed receivers may file clawback lawsuits that demand the return of funds from winners as a means of ensuring that all victims of a fraud scheme are treated equally.
Here, in one instance, is how Zeek used the term (italics added):
“As you know, we are currently in the process of transferring accounts to our new banks. While we will be able to resume check runs when the transfers are finalized, we do not want to cause any additional delay to our affiliates who are waiting for their May 21st or 28th commission checks. Therefore we are going to be issuing a claw-back of all requested checks into a special Zeek portal where any affiliate who is awaiting a physical check can instead choose their preferred eWallet for their commission payment. All three fully integrated eWallets (below) will be made available for this and future paydays.
- SolidTrust Pay
Although Zeek initially said on Wednesday it had three eWallet providers, it now appears to be referencing only two — apparently editing its original news-Blog post. (In the original announcement Wednesday, Zeek also listed NXPay.)
Adding another layer of mystery to Wednesday’s announcement was Zeek’s use of the plural “banks” in the context of its transition to new service-providers. On Monday, Zeek used the singular “bank,” implying that it was selecting a single new bank to handle its needs.
Zeek affiliates have a presence on well-known Ponzi scheme forums such as TalkGold and MoneyMakerGroup, forums whose members promote “programs” that purportedly offer returns that are both unusually consistent and outsize — typically at preposterous ROIs that exceed 1 percent a day.
Affiliates of Zeek say the Zeek “program” pays out between 1 percent and 2 percent a day, although Zeek claims it is not an investment program and has preemptively denied it is a pyramid scheme.
Among Zeek’s claimed consultants are the MLM law firm of Gerald Nehra, and purported MLM expert Keith Laggos. Both Nehra and Laggos ventured opinions that ASD was not a Ponzi scheme. Disner and Schweitzer pointed to those opinions when suing the United States in November 2011.
The government has moved for dismissal of the lawsuit, pointing to Bowdoin’s guilty plea and acknowledgement that ASD was a Ponzi scheme. Among other things, Disner and Schweitzer argued that undercover agents who joined ASD prior to the seizure of $65.8 million in the personal bank accounts of Bowdoin violated ASDs Terms of Service and had a duty to report their alleged violations to ASD.
Disner and Schweitzer also sued Rust Consulting Inc., the government-approved claims administrator in the ASD case. A federal judge dismissed Rust as a defendant weeks ago.