Bowdoin, Nadel Cases Have Striking Parallels

Some of the parallels between the alleged AdSurfDaily Ponzi scheme and the alleged financial misdeeds of Florida hedge-fund manager Arthur Nadel are striking.

Two obvious parallels are the common Florida venue and the ages of the principals. ASD operated out of Quincy; Nadel out of Sarasota. ASD President Andy Bowdoin is 74; Nadel is 76.

Beyond the obvious, though, other striking parallels exist.

Despite checkered pasts, both Bowdoin and Nadel became stars quickly, their ascent fueled by promoting consistent, strong investment returns. Neither man was well-heeled all that long ago, according to court records.

Bowdoin, prosecutors said, had made no significant money in the past 20 years — despite claims to the contray — and yet suddenly found himself in possession of tens of millions of dollars from his autosurf company. Prosecutors said Bowdoin claimed to sell “advertising,” but actually was selling unregistered securities that advertised a return of 1 percent a day.

In court filings, Nadel said he was broke in 1995. In the years that followed he claimed to be managing a $300 million portfolio.

Authorities said Nadel placed $1.25 million into a secret account just prior to his Jan. 14 vanishing act. Prosecutors said Bowdoin told members $1 million had been stolen from ASD by Russian hackers, but Bowdoin never filed a police report.

A bank closed a Bowdoin account last summer amid Ponzi concerns. Bowdoin told the bank he planned to buy a home in another country, prosecutors said. Members now are wondering if the money actually had been stolen by hackers or if the theft story was just a cover story.

Neither Bowdoin nor Nadel disclosed information many investors would have found crucial when making decisions to do business with the firms. Bowdoin had a previous run-in with securities regulators more than a decade ago and was charged with felonies.

Prosecutors said he never disclosed this to prospects, adding that he also didn’t mention he’d pleaded guilty to securities fraud and was sentenced to a year in prison. The sentence was suspended when Bowdoin agreed to make resitution.

Nadel didn’t disclose that he had been disbarred in New York in 1982, amid assertions he removed $50,000 from an escrow account to pay a client’s debt to a loan shark. One of Nadel’s companies also told investors that its accountant was a CPA. It turns out that the accountant had let his license lapse years before Nadel opened shop and was sanctioned by the state for continuing to claim a CPA credential.

Both Nadel and Bowdoin also had disputes with ex-wives, according to court documents and newspaper reports.

In 1995, for instance, Nadel was involved in a divorce dispute with one of four ex-wives and claimed abject poverty, according to the the St. Petersburg Times.

Less than a decade later, the Times reported, Nadel morphed into the role of philanthropist with hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend to help local charities and civic organizations.

Bowdoin also had a dispute with an ex-wife in the 1990s, during a period in which he was down and out, the Times reported.

Bowdoin still owed his ex-wife, JoAnn Kennedy, more than $162,000 in October, even though ASD funds were used for lavish purchases by Bowdoin’s current wife and her son.

In June, Edna Faye Bowdoin, Bowdoin’s current wife, and her son, George Harris, opened a bank account, funding it with more than $177,000 from an ASD account in a different bank. More than $152,000 of the money was used to retire the mortgage on a Tallahassee home Harris shared with his wife, prosecutors said.

ASD funds were used on various dates in June to purchase automobiles, a Triton Cabana boat, jet skis and other items. On June 10 and June 11 alone, prosecutors said, almost $240,000 in ASD funds were used to pay for personal items by Bowdoin family members or friends.

In late July, ASD funds were used to purchase a $50,000 Lincoln. A month later, Bowdoin sent a retitution check in the amount of $100 to victims of the Alabama scam a decade earlier, the Times reported. His ex-wife got nothing.

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7 Responses to “Bowdoin, Nadel Cases Have Striking Parallels”

  1. Patrick:

    There are none so blind…..right? I kept hearing how clean Andy’s record was, so I went to the Gadsden County Clerk of the Courts website (link below) and easily found, among other things, a $l4,000+ lawsuit filed against Andy Bowdoin (d/b/a Creative Retailing) in 2003 by a GPS tech firm. In 2004, a default judgment against Andy was issued for the full amount plus costs, since Andy never attended any of the court hearings. There are at least 2 other mall claims lawsuits showing; one in January of 2008 when Andy would have (or should have) had millions, and another filed in December 2008.

    Search Resources:

    Here’s one site:
    http://69.21.116.234/unifiedcourtweb/Default.aspx

    Here’s another:
    http://69.21.116.234/chronicleweb/

    Take care — nose kisses for Maddie….

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  2. One thing that has surprised me, as the ASD saga unfolds, is the TENACITY of those in denial, to recognise the facts. There seems to be quite a number of people who either have no ethics, or are just plain dumb. I suspect the former prevails. But the degree to which they defend the undefendable is quite breathtaking.

    Opportunism seems to be the only moral value that stands up, in their circles. A sad feature of the internet as it is used today by a large and very unhealthy minority.

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  3. Hi Marci,

    Thanks for the search resources.

    Andy Bowdoin’s message is impossibly mixed: He wanted to be viewed by members as a supremely successful and wealthy businessman, and yet apparently didn’t want his ex-wife and scam victims in Alabama to know he was sitting on a pile of cash.

    Such revelations to them might have meant unwelcome scrutiny — something you don’t need when you’re running a Ponzi scheme.

    So, calls to the police don’t get made to report a $1 MILLION theft. You have to have a million to have a million stolen, and people with badges might just start asking questions about how the million was obtained and start to do some back-tracking.

    His pitch was filled with vagaries. Does anyone — to this day — know the name of the dry cleaning company that he guided to regional success? Where are the Bowdoin success profiles in regional and national business magazines? Where are the trade-journal stories in the GPS, dry-cleaning and other disciplines?

    People bought his story hook, line and sinker. They repeated it endlessly and even added to it — the White House story, the Google partnership story.

    It all amounted to nothing, and yet was presented as gospel.

    Patrick

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  4. Hi alasycia,

    alasycia: One thing that has surprised me, as the ASD saga unfolds, is the TENACITY of those in denial, to recognise the facts.

    They believe in the wholesomeness of the Ponzi scheme model and don’t want their own dreams of riches to vanish owing to what they see as only a minor inconvenience: the fact that it’s illegal.

    How does one pitch AVG these days? By pretending that what happened to ASD didn’t really happen or conflating a new reality that the new surf has all the bases covered.

    Remember, though, that ASD also conflated its own reality.

    Some of the early pitches for AVG have read like signed confessions. The purveyors don’t see it that way, though, because of their willingness to conflate a reality when Ponzi profits can be had.

    Patrick

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  5. So you go with the lack of ethics/opportunism hypothesis then?

    I am still amazed at the energy they put into it. With that kind of energy they could easily put it into a legitimate business, work and make money!

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  6. According to what I’ve read, people like Andy and the Advocates site “mods” think that jobs are for suckers and have a great deal of contempt for people who “work” for a living. If they aren’t the business owner then they aren’t interested. There are people posting on the Advocates site almost every day who express this same sentiment. When they speak of “getting a job” in the next sentence they’ll say “flipping hamburgers.” I think that speaks volumes about their personal qualifications for anything other than Surfing for a living. I doubt some of the people (you know who they are) are very well educated and have never had a career of any kind — only “jobs.” It’s great to work from home or have a small business — I’d like to do that one day. But some of these people don’t seem to understand (or pretend they don’t) that its absurd to expect to “earn” $l000 a day “surfing.”

    Having an eye for the main chance works for some people — they seem to make money without even trying. Not Andy. He’s wants what successful entrepreneurs have, but he is missing the key ingredient long-term successful entrepreneurs possess: Character. Andy is and always has been a “loser” and I think he feels that very keenly. He has been unsuccessful in business, in marriages, and (it seems) in friendships. He’s shallow and the Internet can be a perfect fit for a shallow man who wants to recreate himself. It was a good fit for 20 months. What can you expect from a man who claims to have been a visionary, totally ahead of his time in the business world. Whether it was one hour dry cleaning, cell phones, GPS technology, or autosurfs, he was the antithesis of a visionary. He was behind the curve, pushing outdated technology. He hit his peak when he, by his own omission, modeled ASD after a business that had just been shut down by the Federal government.

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