On Aug. 17, the SEC filed spectacular allegations of Ponzi- and pyramid-scheme fraud against Zeek Rewards, which claimed it was not selling securities and members were not making an investment. Zeek operator Paul R. Burks was charged with selling unregistered securities as investment contracts.
Zeek abused the power of the Internet and raised $600 million from more than 1 million participants, the SEC charged
In August 2008, the U.S. Secret Service filed similar allegations against AdSurfDaily, a company with a 1-percent-a-day “program” similar to Zeek. Like Zeek, ASD claimed it was not selling securities and members were not making an investment. ASD operator Andy Bowdoin was indicted in November 2010 on charges of selling unregistered securities, securities fraud and wire fraud.
Bowdoin later acknowledged he was presiding over a Ponzi scheme that had gathered at least $110 million.
On Aug. 16 — just one day before the SEC went to court to halt the operations of Zeek — a “program” known as JSS Tripler/JustBeenPaid was clinging to its Zeek- and ASD-like cover story that it was not selling securities and members were not making an investment. JSS/JBP effectively has advertised a return of 2 percent a day: 730 percent a year.
“I just want to know — in the amount of money that I do invest . . . use to buy positions, is that . . . the investment that I’m doing?” a caller quizzed Frederick Mann, JSS/JBP’s purported operator.
“Dale,” JSS/JBP’s female conference-call host, then sought to set the caller straight on the wordplay of JSS/JBP.
“Well, first of all, we’re not investing here. We’re purchasing and we’re repurchasing. So, you need to get that verbiage clear.”
The SEC moved against Zeek the very next day. The U.S. Secret Service also is investigating Zeek.
Mann was a former pitchman for ASD’s scheme. Any number of Zeek members also promoted JSS/JBP.
Bowdoin pleaded guilty to wire fraud in May 2012. He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 29.
Like Zeek, JSS/JBP says it has more than 1 million members. Like Legisi, another HYIP scam broken up by the SEC and the Secret Service, JSS/JBP makes members affirm they are not with the government.
Legisi operator Gregory McKnight pleaded guilty to wire fraud earlier this year. He faces sentencing Sept. 11.