Surf’s Up Deletion Raises Quid Pro Quo Questions

Andy Bowdoin. Surf's Up quid pro quo?

Andy Bowdoin. Surf's Up quid pro quo?

UPDATED 1:22 P.M. EST (U.S.A.) Earlier this month a photo of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps holding a bong sparked a firestorm, which ultimately led to a public apology from the celebrated gold medalist. Phelps subsequently was fired by Kellogg Co. because it cherished its brand and didn’t want the cereal- and snack-eating children of America to believe it endorsed smoking marijuana.

Phelps is one of the most important athletes in the world. He can help companies sell products by the truckload and further instill their brands in the consciousness of buyers. Despite Phelps’ extraordinary accomplishments (eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympics), his apology, his youth (he’s 23) and his magnetic drawing power, Kellogg’s said goodbye, issuing a special statement to do so.

A photo of an Olympian smoking pot is “not consistent with the image of Kellogg,” the company said.

Phelps was not charged with a crime and will not be. USA Swimming, the governing body for the sport in the United States, however, suspended him for three months.

“This is not a situation where any anti-doping rule was violated, but we decided to send a strong message to Michael because he disappointed so many people, particularly the hundreds of thousands of USA Swimming member kids who look up to him as a role model and a hero,” the organization said. “Michael has voluntarily accepted this reprimand and has committed to earn back our trust.”

Some Phelps’ sponsors stood by his side, while not marginalizing his conduct or making excuses for it.  No company will risk its reputation by running interference for Phelps.

A Study In Contrast

Now, compare the actions of USA Swimming and Kellogg’s to the actions of the Pro-AdSurfDaily “Surf’s Up” forum. (It may seem like a stretch, but it’s not: The Surf’s Up forum says it is comprised of professional business people with professional advertising needs, and ASD says is is a professional advertising company.)

In August, ASD was accused of operating a wire-fraud and money-laundering operation whose central component was a $100 million Ponzi scheme that had money on deposit in at least three countries. Surf’s Up’s raison d’être — it’s reason for being — was to advocate for ASD and ASD President Andy Bowdoin, a convicted felon. Indeed, the site’s formal name is the ASD Member Advocates forum.

Rarely in U.S. business does a professional entity make unrestrained cheerleading for a convicted felon involved in possible new felonies its signature calling. Most entities would be afraid of the stain spilling over or perhaps being drawn into a criminal investigation themselves. As a practical matter, there is little upside for an entity that associates itself with felons.

Since its inception, Surf’s Up has been famous for deleting posts that painted ASD in an unflattering light. It also is famous for heckling and even banning posters who asked tough questions.

But the site’s strangest act to date was to accept ASD’s official endorsement, which the embattled company issued publicly Nov. 27 on its Breaking News site. While most entities on earth would repudiate  the endorsement of a felon who has other felony charges possibly waiting in the wings, Surf’s Up embraced it. The endorsement came only days after a federal judge ruled that ASD had not demonstrated at an evidentiary hearing last fall that it was a legal business and not a Ponzi scheme.

Unlike Kellogg’s and USA Swimming — both of which issued special statements to distance themselves from a bong — Surf’s Up issued no such statement to distance itself from an alleged $100 million Ponzi scheme.

Within a couple of weeks of the endorsement, some of the Surf’s Up Mods were promoting AdViewGlobal (AVG), a new surf that shares an executive with ASD and a customer-service employee who testified for ASD at the Sept. 30-Oct. 1 evidentiary hearing.

One of AVG’s first formal acts was to claim it had no ties to ASD, despite the executive it shared with ASD and despite the shared customer-service rep, who also doubled as a spokesman for AVG.

AdViewGlobal says Quincy is its home.

AdViewGlobal says Quincy is its home.

And AVG made the “no ties” claim despite the appearance of AVG graphics on an ASD-controlled webroom, including a graphic that listed AVG’s address as 13 S Calhoun Street, Quincy, FL 32351, which also happens to be the street address for ASD.

Most entities shy away even from the appearance of impropriety. Surf’s Up didn’t even do that. In fact, it cheered anew for another controversial surf: AVG.

Could ASD’s endorsement of Surf’s Up been quid pro quo for its months-long loyal cheerleading and a reward for helping build a customer base for AVG?

It sure looks that way, especially when Surf’s Up embraced the endorsement instead of repudiating it. And it really looks that way, considering the fact that some Surf’s Up Mods and members created a site to cheerlead for AVG shortly after receiving ASD’s endorsement.

But it especially looks that way when Surf’s Up deletes posts such as this one (below) that appeared yesterday. The post was on the topic of a second forfeiture complaint that had been filed against assets tied to ASD (December) and Bowdoin’s decision (January) to give up his fight for assets seized in the first complaint in August (italics added):

Anyone else think the “kids” Barb believes Andy may have been nobly protecting when he gave the members money to the government refers to the adult son and daughter-in-law of Faye Bowdoin? The government “went after” the property (homes and cars) of Mrs. Bowdoin’s adult son and daughter-in-law because the Harris’ home mortgage was paid off, and a car and boat were purchased, with ASD funds and funds withdrawn from AdSurfDaily’s Bank of America accounts and deposited into newly established accounts at Capital City National Bank in the name of a business named Bowdoin/Harris Enterprises. Bowdoin/Harris Enterprises was incorporated in Florida in June of 2008.

Just in case Barb’s right, and she seems to have a close connection to the Bowdoin’s, if Andy was motivated to give up all claims to the members funds in order to protect George and Judy Harris, let’s see what the kids were up to, that caught the eye of the government:

June l0, 2008
George Harris and Faye Bowdoin opened a Bowdoin/Harris Enterprises bank account at Capital City National Bank (CCNB) using $l77,900.l2 withdrawn from AdSurfDaily’s Bank of America accounts.

June ll, 2008
Judy and George Harris purchase new car for $28,607.67 with funds in an ASD bank account at BOA; the vehicle owners are the Harris’s.

June 23, 2008
George Harris transferred $l57,2l6.79 from CCNB account to Citi Mortgage, to pay off the mortgage on the home he and Judy were buying.

“Kids” George and Judy took money that had been “paid to the order of AdSurfDaily” by the members and used it as if it was their own. They didn’t have to use what was left of their personal income after they paid federal income taxes and FICA, like you and I would have to do.

Andy may have been worried about those kids, but I’m saving my sympathy for the kids whose college funds were raided, or whose homes were foreclosed on.

None of these actions — the establishment of an ASD cheerleading site, the acceptance of ASD’s endorsement, the establishment of a cheerleading site for AVG — is consistent with the actions of a professional business entity.

All of the actions, however, are consistent with a pattern of misinforming and deceiving — of running interference for a criminal enterprise.

It is beyond loathsome, but it’s business-as-usual at Surf’s Up.

About the Author

8 Responses to “Surf’s Up Deletion Raises Quid Pro Quo Questions”

  1. right after the goverment closed ASD. people went looking for answers. I don’t remember the forum name that was used but it was, just like surf-up, and it turned out to be a huge capture page for a Ryan wade (who by the way promoted noobing very hard)anyway. Then ‘surf-up was started, supposidly to just talk about ASD. yes it was very pro-asd, but we all were, at that time. As the truth came out the mods, would still defend Andy’s action even with all the evidence to support the goverment. Right after Andy threw in the towel the mods allowed some good debate, but started around the 23rd of januray to delete the Anti-ASD and anti AVG threads, infact on the 23rd of january I started a thread about cenorship. On Feburary 1st the thread started “we have had enough” which basicly said if you don’t have anything nice to say “get out” Many threads question this by saying your the offical forum of ASD, but again it was the mods bat and the mods ball. I wrriten some thread since then, but I don’t waste my time anymore. I think when the fede go after AVG that these Mods might not like what happens to them. just my opinion

  2. Arghhhh

    The thing that jumps out at me about the posts quatoed above is the “Andy was motivated to give up all claims to the members funds ” Kids, it wasn’t the members funds, the Judge has empahatically ruled on that, and except when you’re trying to get your hands on it, so have you, every time you talk about the TOS not promising anything, every time you brag how good the “advetising value” was ad infinitum. It was Andy’s money, he stole it from the members, and the government moving in didn’t change any of that, it just froze it in time so everyone could see how much was stolen. A ponzi scheme, in order to succeed needs for the money to be constantly in motion, attaching the money to one place will always make it plain to see it’s a scam, or it does to most people.

  3. Gregg,

    Of course it wasn’t the members money, but some of the members still think it is. For the members to understand the true significance behind the speculation that Andy, like Busby, agreed to the forfeiture only after the DOJ went after the “kids” (i.e. filed the December l9 lawsuit) the members need to think of it as “their money” that Andy was willing to forfeit, in order to protect the adult son (and wife) of his (at least) third wife. Andy sacrificing Andy’s money for “the kids” might sound noble. Andy sacrificing the members money for “Faye’s Kids” might give them something to think about. Probably not, though. I’ve never seen such a besotted amalgamation of mental midgets collected under a single banner in my entire life. Personally, I don’t think Andy has a generous cell in his entire body, and all his actions are calculated save his own *&@.

  4. Marci: I’ve never seen such a besotted amalgamation of mental midgets collected under a single banner in my entire life.

    To use the words of many a great comedian: “Stick around, you ain’t seen nuttin, yet”

    Like many things in nature, the ASD fraud is just “another” scam in a long line of similar online and offline scams. And the reaction/s of the scam targets are comparitively mild, compared to some of HYIP ponzis which have gone before.

    The Wellspring Capital/Blake Prater ponzi was shut down by SEC action in 2003, with Prater finally admitting guilt in 2006 and being gaoled in 2008.

    Yet, I have seen Prater supporters claiming his legitimacy and innocence as recently as 4 months ago on several forums.

    The P.I.P.S. ponzi was shutdown in 2005/6 and its’ operators charged in Malaysia in 2007. Yet, there still exists a P.I.P.S. supporters forum which continues to promote similar HYIP ponzi scams.

    The often mentioned 12 Daily Pro/Charis Johnson/Lifeclicks LLC “autosurf” ponzi was shutdown by an SEC initiated permanent order of injunction in 2006 and a receiver appointed. The fact that criminal charges have still not been preferred is STILL used by “autosurf business model” supporters to justify their particular fraud.

    Long term observers of the HYIP ponzi “scene” can fill in many hours comparing the names, lies, characters, techniques and events between the scams “back in the day” and now.

    Sadly, although the “games” may change, many of the names remain the same.

  5. Marci: besotted amalgamation

    These two words alone were worth links and a comment, Marci.

    “Besotted amalgamation” says a lot in only two words.


  6. LRM,

    People were flooding banks in Antigua today to get their money out. The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank issued a statement to try to calm fears:

    People also were flooding banks in Panama.

    In other news, BizAdSplash, whose servers resolve to Panama, announced a 100 percent matching bonus program today for customers AND their upline sponsors.

    Ponzi schemes are breaking out all over the place. People are getting charged. People are getting arrested. Lives are being ruined. Fortunes are being drained. Charities are going bust. Sporting events are losing their sponsors. Universities are losing endowment money. Kids with cancer at St. Jude’s are being affected by financial skullduggery in the Caribbean.

    But BizAdSplash, AdGateWord and AdViewGlobal are still out there flogging.


  7. LRM,

    I’m sure you’re right about the Ghost of Scams Past and the Ghost of Scams Future, it’s just that I didn’t know this type of “business” existed until ASD blew up on my doorstep (perhaps back porch would be more accurate). I knew, subliminally, that absent a fairly significant supply gullible supply there wouldn’t be so many infomercials, but that was an abstraction. I go to work every day in a job I’m lucky enough to love, but love it or not, I sort of assumed most others did the same, especially if they valued sleeping indoors.

    When I read in the local paper that l00,000 people from around the world were planning on getting rich by buying advertising from a local company I found the concept absolutely fascinating. I haven’t followed a news story this closely since the ignominious downfall of Gary Condit. With Condit, I so wanted to understand the mental processes of a man smart enough (or at least clever enough) to be elected to Congress, who would stare into the lens of a camera and say “Chandra Levy and I were never more than friends.” Was he that dumb? Did he think he think WE were that dumb? And like ASD, it just got better and better. AFTER the Levy investigation was in full swing and Condit couldn’t pick his newspaper up off the stoop without someone shoving a camera or a microphone in his face, fearing his apartment was about to be searched, he had an aide pick him up late at night and drive him 20 miles from his apartment so he could bury an empty watch box in a curbside garbage can, then back home again. Pictures of him up to his armpit in the garbage can had been around the world twice before he got home. Did he think he was INVISIBLE? Had he slept through the entire Gary Hart debacle? Had the aide even tried to dissuade him from this suicide mission? What was so incriminating about an empty watch box? (Being no fool, he kept the watch.)

    Condit’s thought process were incomprehensible to me back then, just as Andy’s are now. What is it in their make-up that allows them to tell one whopper after another, knowing there are people who GET PAID to catch them engaging in nefarious behavior, not to mention those who do it just for the fun of it. Getting caught doesn’t seem to embarrass them, nor slow them down.

    I never listened to Andy on a conference call but I read transcripts of what he said and was mesmerized by the drivel and by its reception in the member community. Andy and reality had clearly parted company many years ago, and reality wasn’t coming back. And so I’ve been hanging on for the very reasons you state — I can’t wait for the next chapter to unfold.

  8. Ya know, I have no children, so I really don’t know, but honestly, any kid of mine who got in so much trouble that it was gonna run me $93 Million to get them out, well, ain’t gettin out. I’ve already had a long and serious talk with Chili Dog, who comes as close as I have to family, and she is under notice that anything of $70 Million and she’s on her own…you gotta set boundaries ya know.


    Marci: Gregg,Of course it wasn’t the members money, but some of the members still think it is.For the members to understand the true significance behind the speculation that Andy, like Busby, agreed to the forfeiture only after the DOJ went after the “kids” (i.e. filed the December l9 lawsuit) the members need to think of it as “their money” that Andy was willing to forfeit, in order to protect the adult son (and wife) of his (at least) third wife.Andy sacrificing Andy’s money for “the kids” might sound noble.Andy sacrificing the members money for “Faye’s Kids” might give them something to think about.Probably not, though.I’ve never seen such a besotted amalgamation of mental midgets collected under a single banner in my entire life.Personally, I don’t think Andy has a generous cell in his entire body, and all his actions are calculated save his own *&@.