As Zeek-Related Fundraising Efforts Begin, ‘Andy’s Fundraising Army’ Down For The Final Count: AdSurfDaily Patriarch Andy Bowdoin Awaits Sentencing In Pre-Zeek, 1-Percent-A-Day Ponzi Scheme Case
UPDATED 11:31 P.M. EDT (AUG. 26, U.S.A.) After the collapse of AdSurfDaily in 2008, there were at least four efforts to raise funds to “defend” the Ponzi enterprise and/or its participants. The PP Blog has received reports that at least one such effort is under way in the aftermath of the collapse last week of Zeek Rewards, which the SEC called a $600 million Ponzi- and pyramid scheme that had affected more than 1 million people. Zeek also is under investigation by the U.S. Secret Service and the office of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper.
Zeek members who cling to a belief that the government somehow got it wrong perhaps can save themselves both money and heartache by looking at the history of the various ASD-related efforts to “defend” the multilevel marketing “program” after the U.S. Secret Service seized 15 bank accounts (and about $80 million) in ASD-related proceeds in August 2008.
Here are briefs on the various ASD-related “defense” efforts:
“Andy’s Fundraising Army”: This bizarre effort was the fourth and final of a series of failed ASD-related efforts. Started by accused ASD Ponzi schemer Thomas A. “Andy” Bowdoin himself last summer (with the purported help of ASD cheerleader Tari Steward), the effort immediately devolved into a symphony of the bizarre.
With Bowdoin effectively having been out of public view for nearly three years, the purported “army” teased potential contributors for days with a photo that showed Bowdoin smiling broadly and looking confident. Among other things, the teaser asserted there was “MORE GOOD NEWS” and plenty of reasons to help Bowdoin raise $500,000 to pay for his criminal defense.
It went on to assert that “A Recent Survey of ASD Members Proves that the Vast Majority of You Want to Join Andy’s Fundraising Army” and that “[P]er standard and accepted industry guidelines, public opinion surveying of 140 members of a large group of members that all share a common interest or purpose, of any size, even in the millions, will give an excellent cross section of the opinions and viewpoints of the entire group.”
But the “army” site did not describe the characteristics of the 140 ASD members purportedly sampled. Nor did it define what specific surveying “standard” it applied or define the source of the purported “industry guidelines.”
And what would a good, MLM-like approach to raise funds for an accused HYIP scammer (1 percent a day) be without a “prelaunch” phase? With the teaser in place, a placeholder website for “Andy’s Fundraising Army” promised a full launch to come, along with the exciting opportunity for ASD members to send funds to the man accused of defrauding them to the tune of $110 million.
But like a bad HYIP dream, the “army” website naturally missed its first advertised launch date. This was blamed on the need for more “testing,” reinforcing one of the HYIP world’s longstanding clichés. It then missed its second advertised launch date, explaining that “one last important system is being finalized.” With the first two launch dates missed, the site reported that it had set a “Final Revised Launch Date.”
During the evening of July 26, 2011, the launch finally occurred. Like many things ASD, it provided minute after minute of MLM infamy. Indeed, Bowdoin appeared in a fundraising video with symbols of American patriotism as the backdrop.
Among other things, Bowdoin — who in 2008 described himself as a Christian “money magnet” and advised ASD members after the Secret Service raid that “God” was on the company’s side and that “Satan” had infiltrated the government — claimed in the video that he’d been “crucified” by U.S. law enforcement.
He blamed the ASD-related losses in civil court on a federal judge, the prosecutors and his own former defense counsel. Bowdoin asked members to provide $500,000 to help him pay his new defense team.
It is believed he raised about $26,000 in the following weeks — but things continued to unfold like a bad HYIP dream. There was a report that a hurricane knocked the fundraising site offline, for instance. By January 2012, the site had lost its ability to collect money via PayPal. Federal prosecutors declined to comment on the development, which occurred after Bowdoin had become a pitchman for “OneX.”
In April 2012, prosecutors described OneX as a fraudulent scheme and pyramid. Bowdoin pleaded guilty to wire fraud the following month, admitting ASD was a Ponzi scheme. His fundraising website, which published purported “expert” opinions from attorney Gerald Nehra and consultant Keith Laggos that ASD was not a Ponzi scheme, remained online for weeks after the guilty plea.
The “Andy’s Army” site is now offline and is listed as an expired domain. In recent days, Bowdoin — as part of his plea agreement — has dropped his last remaining claim to cash seized in the ASD case. (A third ASD-related forfeiture complaint was filed by the government in December 2010. Bowdoin entered a claim.) He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 29.
Nehra’s law firm later became counsel for Zeek, according to Zeek. And Laggos became a purported “consultant.”
Todd Disner and Dwight Owen Schweitzer: Even as Bowdoin was rolling out his “army” website and repeatedly missing launch dates, ASD figures Todd Disner and Dwight Owen Schweitzer were advancing a plan to raise money to sue the government. An email attributed to Disner surfaced in July 2011 that introduced a pronoun mystery: “We plan to go after Akerman Senifit (sic) next,” the email read in part.
Akerman Senterfitt was the name of Bowdoin’s original defense law firm in the civil portion of the ASD case. In the earliest days of the case, ASD cheerleaders on the now-defunct “Surf’s Up” forum positioned the well-known firm as the “Perry Mason” firm; the government, meanwhile, was said to be represented by “Gomer Pyle.” A federal judge was described as “brain dead” if she ruled against ASD, and a federal prosecutor was described as an individual who deserved to be placed in a medieval torture rack.
Why Disner chose the pronoun “we” was never explained. The July 2011 email followed an April 2011 email attributed to Disner that included this declaration: “Let the games begin!”
During this period, Disner and Schweitzer were soliciting funds to sue the government. This effort began at an unclear point of time after November 2008, the month a federal judge issued a key court ruling against ASD while saying Nehra’s opinion could not be relied upon in part because it “relied solely on the written words contained in the Terms of Service without independent investigation or review of ASD’s business records to ascertain how ASD operates in fact before opining.” (Bolding added.)
If the judge’s ruling could be reduced to two words, it might read, “Gomer won.”
At an unclear point in time, both Disner and Schweitzer became reps for Zeek. They filed their ASD-related lawsuit in November 2011, claiming, among other things, that the government had presented a “tissue of lies” when bringing the August 2008 forfeiture case. As part of their apparent strategy, Disner and Schweitzer pointed to purported expert opinions of Nehra and Laggos. Disner and Schweitzer produced those opinions months after ASD had lost two civil-forfeiture cases in both U.S. District Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Months later, Bowdoin himself put both Disner and Schweitzer in a box. In May 2012 — after Nehra and Laggos both had opined ASD was not a Ponzi scheme and after Disner and Schweitzer had sued the government — Bowdoin admitted that ASD was a Ponzi scheme.
Bob Guenther and ASDMBA: In 2008, ASD member Bob Guenther became the de facto head of an entity known as the ASD Members Business Association. The stated goal of ASDMBA was to raise funds to hire Dallas attorney Larry Friedman to represent ASD members’ interests in the case.
ASDMBA soon devolved into a circus, with Guenther using its website to promote a company that was developing an online game. Along the way, Friedman sued ASD critic Jack Arons, triggering a side drama that lasted for weeks and burying Arons in an avalanche of paperwork. (As a matter of pure PR, high-powered Friedman came out the loser for bringing out nukes against a web critic armed with a fly-swatter. The avalanche finally ended, with Arons, a Florida retiree who lives in a manufactured home, largely unscathed.) Guenther, meanwhile, refused to provide a reliable accounting of how the tens of thousands of dollars raised by ASDMBA was spent, according to members.
Guenther bizarrely dismissed his critics as “left wing liberal no balled people,” calling one an “ignorant mouthy broad.” He also claimed ASDMBA was instrumental in returning money to ASD victims, saying the group retrieved funds for retired and active-duty police officers in Texas and California, and for a high profile Dallas Cowboy’s executive.
Nothing in the public record suggests Guenther had any standing to perform any services on behalf of ASD members. It later emerged that Guenther was a convicted felon. Months after the 2008 formation of ASDMBA, in March 2009, Guenther was charged with two felony counts of aggravated harassment. Mesa, Arizona, police said Guenther repeatedly violated a court injunction for workplace harassment that prohibited him from nuisancing Cheyenne Mountain and Affiliates, the Arizona business that was developing the online game promoted on ASDMBA’s website.
Guenther later accepted a plea agreement in the harassment case. No jail time was ordered.
ASD Members International: This one was hatched by members of the pro-ASD “Surf’s Up” forum, which became Bowdoin’s official mouthpiece after the key court ruling went against ASD in November 2008. ASDMI was a purported nonprofit entity formed in Missouri. Its bizarre mission was to raise funds to litigate against the government even if the government was proceeding lawfully. In short, ASDMI planted the seed that prosecutors and investigators would be sued and/or charged with crimes.
It is believed that at least 168 people contributed money to ASDMI.
Included in the ASDMI braintrust was former Surf’s Up moderator Barb McIntyre, who enforced a “Poof Penalty” when ASD members left links on Surf’s Up to stories on the PP Blog.
But if there was an ASDMI “star,” it was “Professor” Patrick Moriarty, one of the most unusual characters in the entire ASD drama. Moriarty was an early advocate for Curtis Richmond, a purported “sovereign” being who advanced a theory that all commerce was lawful as long as the buyer and seller agreed to a contract. Among other things, it was a position that would have legalized slavery and human trafficking. Richmond went on to accuse a federal judge of “TREASON” and to accuse investigators of theft.
Richmond was hailed a “hero” on Surf’s Up, which never revealed that Richmond had been found in contempt of court for threatening federal judges and was part of a Utah “Indian” tribe a federal judge ruled a “complete sham.” (This is the “tribe” known derisively as the “Arby’s Indians” because it once held a meeting in an Arby’s restaurant in Utah. The purported “tribe” also had a purported “Supreme Court.” The address for the “Supreme Court” was the address of a doughnut shop. Richmond was sued successfully under the federal racketeering statute (RICO) by public officials in Utah targeted in a vexatious legal campaign by Richmond and other “tribe” members.)
With Surf’s Up fanning the flames that federal prosecutors and a U.S. Secret Service agent needed to be investigated and prosecuted for their roles in the ASD Ponzi case, it emerged that Moriarty — who once sold fake academic degrees on eBay, claiming they were gag gifts — once had started a purported nonprofit in the name of a man accused of killing a woman in cold blood and ambushing two Missouri police officers and another man.
Moriarty later was indicted on charges of tax evasion. He pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to federal prison.
NOTE TO ZEEK READERS: This document, which was filed by federal prosecutors in December 2008, is the second of three known forfeiture complaints filed against ASD-related assets. It is highly recommended reading.
The document was filed about four months after the original — and best-known ASD forfeiture complaint — was filed.
The ASD case started as a civil case with a parallel criminal investigation. Zeek-related litigation may follow the same track. Ponzi investigations take time. The December 2008 ASD forfeiture complaint shows that investigators continued to “follow the money” and to destroy ASD’s cover story after the original forfeiture complaint was filed.
It likely is true that the August 2008 complaint has received the most attention — no doubt because it laid out the core elements of the government’s case. But the December 2008 filing was tremendously damaging because it provided the first real inside glimpse into how ASD truly was operating.