Is An ASD ‘Final Refund’ Scam Under Way?

UPDATED 3:18 P.M. EDT (U.S.A.) Some AdSurfDaily members have reported that they’ve received surprise, partial refunds through SolidTrustPay, the Canada-based payment processor, for money they spent in ASD.

A poster at the Pro-ASD Surf’s Up forum was first to report the news yesterday. She described the transaction as being labeled the “final refund” from ASD, and said she wasn’t sure about withdrawing it because the “final refund” represented only a fraction of what she had spent.

A short time later, a Surf’s Up poster advised her to withdraw it.

Other posters then reported they, too, had received money from SolidTrustPay labeled a “final refund” for ASD. The money originated with this email address:

oceannamusic@xplornet.com

It is not an address associated with ASD in records, which leads to questions about whether the money is being refunded by an ASD downline group or whether ASD actually had money in SolidTrustPay under the name of a different company or a user other than Andy Bowdoin.

Questions were raised anew about whether accepting the money would void other consumer remedies that could result in even higher refunds. The poster who advised the original poster to withdraw the money then seemed to hint that accepting the money would inure to ASD’s benefit because people could not pursue the company for higher amounts.

This could be a back-door attempt to force a contract on the recipients of the partial refunds. In other words, ASD or an upline group later could argue that, since the refund amounts were marked “final,” any person who accepted the sum no longer had a claim against the firm or an individual sponsor for a higher amount.

Some members of ASD also are members of a subculture that practices back-door legal approaches designed to force recipients of correspondence into contracts by default. Some ASD members, for example, sent certified letters to the prosecutors involved in the case, demanding that they take specific actions within a limited time frame.

Failing to take the actions or ignoring the demands then was cast as a contract “default.” The theory was advanced by some of the litigants who filed pro se pleadings in the August forfeiture case against ASD’s assets.

The ASD case still is in litigation. The U.S. government said it intends to implement a restitution program. The program’s final form likely won’t be determined until the litigation comes to an end, and one of the reasons it is still in the courts is the pro se filings by ASD members and Andy Bowdoin.

It might be a good idea for ASD members who receive refunds from SolidTrustPay marked “final” from ASD to consult with an attorney and weigh their options carefully.

The sudden appearance of the partial refunds — and the fact they are marked “final” — could be a back-door bid to minimize ASD’s final liabilities by duping members into a contract by default.

One obvious question is, “How big is the purported refund pool that is originating from the SolidTrustPay account?” A second question is, “Has the refunder — who is not using an email address associated with ASD — skimmed money for himself/herself prior to sending the “final” refunds, all of which so far have been described by ASD members as partial refunds?”

A final note: One of the issues in the ASD case is offshore money that never was repatriated. Why not repatriate the money for “final” refunds to the United States and make it part of a restitution pool for victims, instead of doling it out behind closed doors in Canada?

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47 Responses to “Is An ASD ‘Final Refund’ Scam Under Way?”

  1. Curious. Something similar happened here in relation with another obvious ponzi scheme:
    http://www.moneymakergroup.com/24over7-24over7com-t249182.html&st=3810
    Post #3819

    I have invested $100

    Got Refund from Stp

    From STPay member email: oceannamusic@xplornet.com

    From STPay username: SolidTrust Group

    Transaction Number:!!!!!!!!!!!

    Amount: USD 4.66

    Details (if provided): available refund from STPay

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  2. Patrick,

    Oceanna Music (with 2 n’s) does appear to be a real company. http://www.oceannamusic.com They are a Canadian company, like STP. The email link on the web site is in fact oceannamusic@xplornet.com Oceanna music’s business is selling/publishing educational music from female composers. Lots of possibilities here. My speculation is that someone has hacked STP (again) and is sending money from the Oceanna account illegally…..maybe Andy’s Russian hackers? Perhaps Oceanna deserves a closer look…..

    The ASD refunds are just too bizarre. If the $$ is from ASD, where did ASD get the money? In theory, it the money was all seized. Also, will others who didn’t use STP to fund their ASD account get refunds (those so far did)? We’ll see…..and then, why not have the refunds come from a real bank, in the form of a check, not a shady outfit like STP (don’t believe me? Go search on STP. It is not a real bank.) Then, the reported percentages refunded vary widely, including the $4.66 in the link Tony gives. Finally, why wasn’t the email address one that folks would recognize, such as from Bowdoin or from ASD, instead of the email address of a publisher of educational music written by women? Strange indeed…..

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  3. Entertained: My speculation is that someone has hacked STP (again) and is sending money from the Oceanna account illegally

    That was my immediate thought also. If this is the case then withdrawing funds may complicate matters.

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  4. Entertained,

    As I saw this last night it struck me as bizarre.

    ASD, according to prosecutors, did move several million dollars into Canada prior to the seizure — amid reports that Andy Bowdoin was buying a house in another country.

    The RICO plaintiffs say that money has not been repatriated, and there is no reason to believe the Antigua money has been repatriated. Heck, the Antigua money could be lost if it was in Stanford’s bank.

    But, back to the business at hand . . .

    The “final” refund emails as described by the recipients strike me as a bizarre bid to minimize liabilities by trapping people into a contract.

    I could be wrong, of course. But it seemed to me that a second poster in the thread had an agenda of persuading people to accept the partial refunds — sort of like, “You have a duty to take a haircut for the company” — or, put another way, “You’ll keep people out of trouble by accepting these partial refunds.”

    Patrick

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  5. Quick note: Now the advice has been given to accept the money and close the bank account into which it is deposited.

    One way to look at that advice is, if you close the bank account, there is nothing for the government to seize.

    This increasingly is looking like an agenda is in play, and only raises more troubling questions about ASD.

    Patrick

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  6. Hi Patrick

    I’ve been following you for quite a while but never commented.

    I did want to pass on that oceanna music is one of solid trust pay’s companies. Check their website and click on the shopping mall and you will find a link to the company.

    It is kind of puzzling that any refunds from ASD would come from that email. Hope this helps you and anyone else trying to figure out all the mysteries and intricacies of Bowdoin’s ASD scam.

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  7. The exact legal meaning of a check marked “final payment” can be complex just within the United States, even though the UCC gives guidance. Trying to determine the full legal impact across international borders wouldn’t be my idea of a good time. Typically both parties have to agree to a settlement for less than the contracted amount, but who do these people have contracts with? STP? ASD? Both? When you’re dealing with an illegal business from day one, figuring how to apply the laws after it goes bust is extremely problematic.

    Am I the only one who continues to be astounded at the sums people sent to ASD with no more knowledge of what it all about than what they heard from Andy himself (and his minions)? Reading where one person’s final payment was 3/4’s of one percent of what she put in reminded me of how ludicrous this whole business really was. I might be up for another round of discussions about how they did their due diligence and found nothing bad, but didn’t seem shocked that they couldn’t find anything AT ALL. (And the bad stuff was out there, on the Gadsden County, Florida Clerk of the Courts website, for starters.)

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  8. This is curious. The fax number for Oceanna Music is (705) 738-9068, which appears to be the same fax number for SolidTrust Pay.
    http://www.aboutus.org/SolidTrustPay.com

    SolidTrust Group
    +1 705 738 9402, Fax: +1 705 738 9068

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  9. STP, Solid Trust Pay, is a money exchanger operating in Canada. It is what we call the “scammers” favorite money transfer agent. You name the scam, and they used STP to handle the money. Now there are a whole host of others, but STP seemed to be their favorite.

    Since January of this year, however, the Canadian government required all the money exchangers operating in Canada to comply with FISA rules. This tightened down what they could and could not do, and required “detailed” records of all transactions that heretofore had not been required for a money exchanger. Thus making it a lot easier to “track” the money.

    Maybe it is time for the Secret Service to have a chat with STP officials.

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  10. OK. A company associated with SolidTrustPay appears to be providing the partial ASD refunds through STP, according to posters here and elsewhere.

    How did that happen?

    Moreoever, ASD is believed to have had several million dollars in STP. If so, is 100 percent of that money still available? ASD effectively ceased operations after the seizure. Why WOULDN’T 100 percent still be available if ASD couldn’t route the money back to U.S.-based bank accounts that were seized?

    Was ASD able to get money out of Canada and move it elsewhere offshore prior to the seizure or even after the seizure?

    Two things could be going on: The partial “final” refunds for ASD as distributed by the company associated with STP through STP are specifically for people who used STP to purchase ASD ads.

    And there could be other ASD money in STP in totally separate accounts funded by money Bowdoin moved from the United States to Canada and STP.

    This COULD mean the pool of ASD money to be repatriated could be larger than believed originally and may exist in multiple accounts in Canada.

    At this point, I’m still noodling the reason/rationale for issuing partial ASD refunds and labeling them “final” — and routing them through the music company associated with STP.

    Odd indeed.

    Patrick

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  11. Quick note: A readers passes along this URL:

    http://www.moneymakergroup.com/Solidtrustpay-wwwsolid-t85573.html&st=75

    Patrick

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  12. Patrick, that payment demand on MMG is from Feb 2008. I doubt that it is related to the current activity. Also, was egold active at that time? I think egold was suspended pending money laundering charges at that time.

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  13. Stella and Marc Hiemstra appear to “own” STP.
    Stella Hiemstra appears to “owns the Oceanna Music site.

    Even if STP was, in effect, repatriating funds to ASD investors, why would they go to the trouble of laundering the refunds, to make it appears they’re from a business, rather than STP itself? One possible answer would be to make the money movement not appear on the radar of the Canadian officials that have clamped down on payment processors in their country.

    If the Canadians use similar algorithms to our Treasury to look for suspect transactions, these payments are probably small enough to evade them; simply a business to business transaction.

    Jerry

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  14. Just based on what I’ve read and what readers have said, it’s not hard to view what’s going on as a cynical bid by SOMEONE to minimize liabilities in the ASD case.

    Dangle some money in front of the victims — who may be struggling — and rely on their desperation to accept something, anything, to make some of the pain go away.

    And, oh, by the way, if you accept it, it’s final — and don’t come knocking again.

    What’s intriguing is the advice to accept the money, get it out of the bank right away — and then close the account. What’s left unsaid is that doing so might subject the person to criminal charges for fraud and obstructing justice. The money is part of a wire-fraud and money-laundering investigation.

    And, as Marci points out, what country’s law is in play — the United States, Canada?

    There definitely is a strain of paranoia about the bank accounts of individual ASD members being seized, and it carries right over to AVG. It’s not a stretch to say that accepting the money, getting it out of the bank and then closing the account could be construed as criminal wrongdoing.

    There also is the separate issue of ASD members be treated unequally. Different members get different results because the money never works its way into a common pool. Some take greater haircuts; some take lesser.

    Who knows what kind of haircut the Canadian sender is taking — if any? If a person decides not to accept the “final” refund, what happens to the money? Does the person/company who offered it get to keep it?

    Nothing is surprising, of course. One person already has said he’s found a great program into which to dump his partial “final” ASD refund — a refund that came from Canada through SolidTrustPay, apparently from the account of a business associated with SolidTrustPay.

    Patrick

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  15. Thanks Lisa,

    It still seems odd, since Oceanna Music “appears” to be legit, but one must suspect anyone associated with STP.

    Lisa: Hi PatrickI’ve been following you for quite a while but never commented.I did want to pass on that oceanna music is one of solid trust pay’s companies. Check their website and click on the shopping mall and you will find a link to the company.It is kind of puzzling that any refunds from ASD would come from that email. Hope this helps you and anyone else trying to figure out all the mysteries and intricacies of Bowdoin’s ASD scam.

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  16. Another thought: These partial refunds are being positioned as “final” — but the consumer has no real choice to accept it or not if the money is being sent to his or her STP account.

    In other words, the person gets an email that says the money already is in their STP account. What’s their choice? Keep it? Send it back? And what happens if they send it back?

    Does the refund-sender then say, “Oh, well, I tried, but you didn’t want the money, so I get to keep it now?”

    And if the transaction is marked “final” — but the money already is in recipient’s STP account with the recipient not having asked for it to be placed there — how does that amount to a real choice?

    Along those lines, what authority is the refund-sender acting under? Was there a court order of some type he or she could point to that authorized partial refunds to be disbursed? It is a money-laundering case, involving vast sums of money gathered largely from U.S. customers.

    Did a judicial authority or other government authority in Canada authorize this partial “final” refund program — or is this occurring extrajudicially?

    There are many, many questions. The Oceanna Music tie-in only leads to more.

    Patrick

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  17. Taking a look at http://web.archive.org/web/20080202213748/http://www.oceannamusic.com/Investments.htm , I would hardly call Oceanna Music “legitimate”, with their endorsements of “My Cash Doubler” and “Reality Millions”, not to mention the repeated evidence in various HYIP forums of ties the Hiemstras have to Pathway-2-Prosperity.

    There also appears to be a tie to icfworldhomes, cited on worldlawdirect.

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  18. This “refund” action smacks of Arby’s Indians logic in play.

    The only problem is that someone is likely just adding to the list of crimes committed. The only authority, at least in the U.S. that is entitled to issue refunds is the Court. The best advice is to speak with a lawyer (hardly worth it for 4.66) and they would likely tell you to report it to the Court or investigators as soon as possible.

    This case takes the cake as far as number of loonies I have experienced.

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  19. Paranoia at its best, this refund is a pro rata refund to anyone who bought ad packs in asd using stp. The balance that was frozen in asd’s stp account has been refunded at 37 cents in the dollar, the other 63% of funds had been removed along the way by asd prior to their stp account being frozen. This has nothing to do with funds frozen in bank accounts which will hopefully be refunded at pro rata cents in the dollar after legal action ceases and the us govt commence the process of refunding. Hopefully some of the winners in asd get raided further adding to the pool. Stp refunded the funds as the us govt couldnt. Enough time elapsed for them to be able to do it, via their terms and conditions. I got 1130 from 3069 sent to asd, thats 37% approx refunded from what was frozen by stp in the asd stp acount. Simple. I am taking the refund and anticipate a similar refund at cents in the dollar from the 10,000 i paid asd in a check deposited into their boa bank account. THEN I CAN F… THIS WHOLE DISGUSTING MESS OFF AND STICK TO REAL BUSINESS ENDEAVOURS.

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  20. David:

    Thanks for the information. But don’t you think that STP could have provided the people getting these notices of this fact, instead of the manor in which it seems they were sent? It sure would have stopped a lot of confusion on behalf of the ASD members.

    While I do not have anything to disprove your statement of what this represents, please forgive me for thinking that something still doesn’t sound kosher here. As Ronald Reagan would say, Trust but Verify.

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  21. David,

    David: Paranoia at its best, this refund is a pro rata refund to anyone who bought ad packs in asd using stp.

    Paranoia does seem to be in play. At Surf’s Up the advice immediately was given to withdraw the money before any facts were known, and then close the bank account so the evil government couldn’t seize it.

    David: The balance that was frozen in asd’s stp account has been refunded at 37 cents in the dollar, the other 63% of funds had been removed along the way by asd prior to their stp account being frozen.

    This money may have been refunded by a music company owned by STP, through STP. The money was labeled “final” refund for ASD and there were no supporting details or authorities cited. People are now asking reasonable questions about whether they are giving up consumer rights by accepting it.

    And how could they not accept it? It’s already in their STP accounts?

    You said 63 percent of the money had been removed by ASD prior to its STP account being frozen. How do you know it was removed “prior” to the account being frozen and not “after?”

    Let’s say what you said above is true; it very well could be. It could mean ASD paid people through STP prior to the STP account being frozen but after ASD’s U.S. assets were frozen. It also could mean, for example, that favored money-laundering partners of ASD got their money back at 100 cents on the dollar and the rank-and-file did not.

    It also could mean that ASD moved money from Canada and parked it elsewhere, which means ASD has an account elsewhere that could be used for victim compensation.

    ASD asked the court for emergency relief, saying it had no money to pay expenses. That doesn’t appear to be the case, not with the Antigua money (at least $1 million) and money that could have been moved from Canada and placed elsewhere.

    Patrick

    P.S. There also is a possibility that the 37-cents-on-the-dollar figure you cited did not apply across the board.

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  22. According to the comments made in the Surf’s Up forum the 37% did NOT apply accross the board. The sums quoted seem to be artitrary percentages.

    In addition, if these payments have been done on the authority of anyone within ASD, they must surely understand that ALL funds belonging to ASD should now form part of the monies to be collected by the US government. They have gone on record to say that they will redistribute this to the members. So anyone accepting these funds will surely be involved in intefering with the course of the legal proceedings against ASD and Bowdoin & Co.

    It appears from the present “refunds” that ASD has a vey large sum of money stashed away offshore in Canada – especially if “63%” was removed before their STP account was frozen. As Patrick rightly says, this then implicates them in more money laundering charges.

    I am also curious to know where David gets his statistics.

    Equally, on whose authority is the money being sent to SOME members and what is the total available to be sent? If the STP account is frozen – how can this happen? This money belongs with the rest of the ASD funds.

    It certain appears to be a “back door” attempt by ASD/AVGA to get some money to certain members and evade the government forfeiture proceedures, as this money shoudl have been repatriated to the US.

    The convoluted story of ASD and AVGA continues and until we have an idea of WHO is behind these transfer instructions, we wont be able to solve this one. Lets hope that more information comes to light shortly.

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  23. alasycia,

    It’s worth pointing out that STP also is doing business with AVG, which has known ties to ASD.

    For the sake of discussion, let’s say the U.S. government takes some sort of action against AVG. Money could remain in suspended animation in Canada, as is the current case with ASD.

    A year could go by, and then AVG members who funded through STP could start getting surprise “final” refunds for AVG, possibly sent through a music company owned by STP. They could be 37 percent in some cases, and less than 1 percent in others.

    Of course, AVG also could get all its money out of Canada and park it elsewhere, leaving members holding the bag. A couple of weeks ago, AVG was recommending that members stop transactions-in-progress through SolidTrustPay, and run them through StrictPay of Panama.

    That was before AVG suspended payouts across the board, made 80/20 mandatory and exercised the rebates-aren’t-guaranteed clause, thus giving a Bowdoin/Harris family member the right to keep all of the money.

    Patrick

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  24. I am wondering if the owners of STP were also promoters of ASD. They obviously are ponzi players due to their involvement in the previous ponzi scams as shown by Prof. Henry Higgins above.

    I am wondering if the “refunds” are in fact a return of the referral fees they got from their down line. It would explain why some people are getting different refunds – people at different levels of the pyramid may get a different refund.

    I am wondering if they are refunding the referral fees so that they can show that they didn’t profit from ASD.

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  25. Hi Tony,

    Tony H: I am wondering if the owners of STP were also promoters of ASD.

    I’ve wondered about this, too, based on the strange way the partial “final” refunds are being doled out. The presentation — the language, the use of the word “final,” the email adddress of the music company — leads to questions about motive.

    Patrick

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  26. Who is David? To lend credibility he needs to identify himself (not his identity but his relationship to STP). I’ve been posting here for months and don’t expect anything I say to be taken at face value. But someone ought to cash one of the smaller checks but not spend the money for at least 30 days, just to see if the check is any good. Since it’s an international banking scenario, maybe 90 days would be better. For STP to be sending checks sans explanation of any kind, through a subsidiary company, doesn’t make sense at all.

    Jenny, great point about STP and AVG….. it speaks volumes about the both companies, doesn’t it?
    For all the AVG people sending funds through STP, you can see what percent you’re likely to get back, can’t you??

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  27. I believe that it’s a refund from STP, and an attempt by STP to limit their liability before anyone brings it up. The Canadian processors are subject to very light regulation and STP has a record of giving arbitrary refunds when ponzi schemes ***POOF*** with the funds remaining in the schemes’s STP account. In the US, say with PayPal, the money would be pooled with other seized assets in a recovery estate and distributed to all members in any restitution pan, irregardless of it’s source. As the Canadians are fairly new at regulating money transmitters, their laws are at best unclear.. STP is at the very best a shady company, it did in fact grow out of a ponzi scheme itself and in the US the operators would never qualify to be in the business of handling other people’s money.
    As it is, the Canadian processors are in a situation where they’re trying to head off any official attention by any means they can, which means that when a program does disappear they want to get rid of the money as soon as they can. Or at least appear to have gotten rid of the money, as no one knows how much any single program ran through the account, or what the remaining balance is. A crooked processor could refund a few hundred thousand of a hypothetical million dollars left, keep the rest while publicly saying they had disgorged themselves of any money from the scam. As the only person left to complain to any authority is the scammer themselves, and they either have little chance of doing it or have bigger problems at the time, they could see this as a chance to pocket a bit of money on the side, money that in other more honest processors was left setting there, forgotten, for who knows how long.
    The problem I have with processors being able to give refunds to anyone is that they have no way of knowing if the refunds they are giving are equitable, “this is a refund based on your contribution of X, and your withdrawals of Y during the program” they say, but who is to say that the person getting the refund has made extensive withdrawals from another processor? Why wouldn’t a smart ponzi player forever use one processor to deposit and another to withdraw as a strategy to maximize future refunds? As I said, in the USA, this is why a processor is mostly forbidden from doing unilateral refunds of assets that are in accounts of fraudulent businesses. Another thing, STP makes these refunds from time to time and discoses that they take a fee for doing so, but no where is the amount of the fee disclosed. They take it from the master account before doing refunds, a practice that invites abuse. STP’s entire refund history is a series of practices that look to benefit STP and absolve STP of any further blame in the ponzi that they more than any other class of institutions facilitate.

    So, that’s what I think. STP is the one trying to at very least limit their future liability, and could quite easily be pocketing the lion’s share of the money they were holding.

    Side note, in the USA, banks must hold funds in “Abandoned Accounts” for 7 years before they can do anything with it. STP’s current policy is 6 months from the date they determine the account holder is running a scam, a determination they also make independent of any outside or official input.

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  28. What could the US government do if they were to find out that this ‘company’ is allegedly giving refunds of money that should be in the hands of said the US government to begin with? I’m sure they know about the government’s page where victims are suppose to file their claim.

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  29. Gregg,

    The DOJ has bank records showing ASD wired “several million dollars” to SolidTrustPay within two weeks of the seizure:

    From Paragraph 64 of the August forfeiture complaint:

    “Within the past two weeks, ASD has wired several million dollars to Solid Trust Pay from its BOA Accounts. A TFA also learned that earlier in July 2008, a bank other than BOA closed the last account that was controlled by Bowdoin or family members after that bank determined, and explained to them, that an investigation by the bank determined that Bowdoin appeared to be operating a Ponzi scheme. Bowdoin indicated that he purchased, or was seeking to purchase, a home in another country.”

    On another note, thanks for your very compelling post above.

    Patrick

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  30. Whip: What could the US government do if they were to find out that this ‘company’ is allegedly giving refunds of money that should be in the hands of said the US government to begin with? I’m sure they know about the government’s page where victims are suppose to file their claim.

    Strangely, the money in the foreign accounts is not mentioned as property charged in the in rem proceedings, and logically it’s still Andy’s (not ASD’s, it was never in the companies name) money to do with as he pleases. Not so the money that Golden Panda returned to friends of Bob Guenther. The US Government could have gone after that money, but the legal process to do it usually ends up with the money going to the government of the host country, not brought back to the US. The fact that Canada didn’t seize the money themselves is an indication of how inadequate their money transmitting business laws are. In the US, you have to apply, pass background checks and be approved by the treasury, and this only gives you the right to duplicate the process in the 46 states that have state level regulation that you must meet to do business with residents of those states. Also, each state that requires license also requires a payment processor to post a bond that would protect 100% depositors funds in case of insolvency. Another safeguard in the US is that payment processors cannot be paid interest on money they are holding for their customers UNLESS they are a federally chartered bank. In many of the STP cases, victims are making much about how much interest STP earns by just sitting on the money, in the US they can’t do that.

    Somehow in the first post I didn’t mention that even after the 7 years a bank can hold the funds in abandoned accounts, after the 7 years they don’t just get to keep it, they turn it over to the states, which maintain “unclaimed funds” accounts and have various other deadlines years later up until which the rightful owner can claim them.

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  31. The confusion as to who authorised these “refunds” and how much money was in the STP aacount (that should, of course, have been repatriated to the US to form part of the ASD “pot”) is just another anecdote to the ASD/AVAG saga.

    The AMORALITY of the people who run these schemes is the biggest argument that I know for the various governments – and in particular the US and Canadian governments to pass some serious legislation against this kind of scheme that is clear and simple. The law seems to be several light years behind the reality of these so called businesses and they need to catch up.

    The current trend of people trying to make more money than is possible or realistic from various so called businesses online is unhealthy in the extreme and one that cannot help our real economic recovery

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  32. Yes, I had seen that. And as ASD was dragging their feet on payouts in July, it’s likely that most of that money, and maybe more was still there. So, tell me, with no oversight, and fearing that they might get dragged into a RICO suit much like Bank of America, why not take 10% of that and divvy it up among the people who deposited through STP, announce you had refunded all that you held in ASD funds (minus normal fees of course) and keep the other 90%, and of course, be able to say that they no longer have any ASD tainted funds? And the really astonishing thing is, if they did that, under current Canadian Law, it would be perfectly legal. There is no limit on fees they can charge, no regulation of when they can declare an account abandoned, no regulation on what to do with abandoned funds….that’s the only genuinely viable business model I’ve seen in the autosurf industry. Well, that and Noobing….he he he

    admin: Gregg,The DOJ has bank records showing ASD wired “several million dollars” to SolidTrustPay within two weeks of the seizure:From Paragraph 64 of the August forfeiture complaint:“Within the past two weeks, ASD has wired several million dollars to Solid Trust Pay from its BOA Accounts. A TFA also learned that earlier in July 2008, a bank other than BOA closed the last account that was controlled by Bowdoin or family members after that bank determined, and explained to them, that an investigation by the bank determined that Bowdoin appeared to be operating a Ponzi scheme. Bowdoin indicated that he purchased, or was seeking to purchase, a home in another country.”On another note, thanks for your very compelling post above.
    Patrick

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  33. SolidTrust Pay would like to make an official statement on the recent refunds received.

    COMMENT: Vice President of SolidTrust, Stella Hiemstra, is responsible issuing any refunds from dormant merchant accounts. The funds did NOT come from Oceanna Music Publishing (a company also owned/operated by Ms. Hiemstra). The “oceannamusic” email was simply the email attached to the account, and Ms. Hiemstra uses that address in order to keep notifications emanating from it separate from other solidtrustpay based emails. The username and registered account was SolidTrust Group – the main merchant account of STPay. There was no hack, no scam, no conspiracy, no other company, no funneling of funds, no haircuts…it was just a plain refund process.

    COMMENT: The ASD account in SolidTrust has now been dormant for over 6 months. It has actually been dormant for 11 months and, as is our policy, dormant merchant accounts with remaining funds are refunded back to the original senders of the funds. SolidTrust has never been contacted by any legitimate US or Canadian authority regarding the ASD situation. The funds in SolidTrust were never considered part of the total liability, and there was a relatively small balance remaining in the ASD account.

    COMMENT – 2 million dollars was wired into SolidTrust early last summer, and these funds were immediately used for payments to ASD members who were SolidTrust Pay clients. This is perfectly normal activity for merchants who pay commissions/bonuses to their clients. They obviously have to fund their accounts at periodic intervals in order to honour their commitments.

    COMMENT: due to the length of time and dormant state of the account, SolidTrust was acting on its own policies to return funds to clients. There was no interaction in these refunds by any ASD individual or Andy Bowdoin. SolidTrust has done many such refunds in the past. SolidTrust has developed its own software that calculates the value of funds sent, deducts any transfers received, and creates a resulting refund amount.

    COMMENT: the wording on the refund was “final refund for AdsSurf Daily from STPay” which is exactly what it was – a final refund for that program, and coming from STPay.

    CONCLUSION: SolidTrust prides itself on vigilantly monitoring all account activity and acting on its own policies fairly and equitably for all. It is shocked at the above comments, statements and accusations. There was not one single phone call or support ticket asking the questions posted in this blog, and the blog owner has not contacted us to find out the real, very simple, answers.

    In light of this situation, SolidTrust may have to rethink its refund policy if any attempt by STPay to return funds to legitimate users is going to be construed as a suspicious act of some kind. We welcome our members comments on our refund policies – you can submit your opinions to: priority@solidtrustpay.com

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  34. Stellz, I think it was more me making insinuations than Patrick, but under what right do you just go and declare an account dormant in 6 months, when the rest of the industry considers 7 years a minimum, in some countries it’s 26 years, and under certain provisions, some countries have a 75 year limit? As a payment processor, you do not own that money, and as much as I hate to say, the people who sent it in don’t either. If the money is from illegal activity, it may belong to an estate consisting of all the victims, and should you really want to do the right thing, why not contact the authorities and ask them to take custody of it?
    Your methods of refunds, even giving you the benefit of the doubt, can lead to grossly inequitable treatment, as I posed earlier, how are you to know whether a member used your company for all deposits, but another for all withdrawals? If so, you could be issuing refunds to people who make large profits already, and surely some of the professional scam participants will figure this out eventually. That is why, in every other instance I am aware of, all funds from all sources in situation of fraud are turned over to one single source to refund everyone at the same rate. I know that your typical customer is a player in the HYIP industry and they tend to make the decision that something is a scam when payments are held up for a few days, weeks, etc, and by the time it’s a few months, you’re getting I bet hundreds of e-mails asking you for refunds. If you want to be a legitimate business, you’re going to have to start acting like one, which means you need to go see a lawyer and find out about fiduciary responsibility. I know it’s terribly unlikely to happen, but if ASD files suit against you now for it’s funds, just exactly what kind of defense are you going to have? What may be more likely, what if the US Justice Department shows up on Wednesday asking where the funds are? We all know it’s a scam, we all know it’s money that rightfully belongs in one way or another to the victims, but your LEGAL responsibility is to the registered owner of the account, and if his activities lead to the money being seized, so be it. But just deciding on your own to take it, and distribute it as YOU see fit smacks of vigilante justice, to appease the mob of your customers.
    I also notice you defended almost everything I posted earlier, but I didn’t see any defense of the fees you earned. Care to explain how much you kept for yourself in the transaction?

    I feel for the position your in, or I want to, but the fact is, you chose to be an integral part of an industry that is grounded in illegal money transactions, your central customers are crooks and your periphery customers are people who are trying to participate in cheap ponzi schemes. That in itself makes me not very fond of your business model.
    You run your business out of Canada party because Canada has very lax regulation of the industry. I know, you are a native Canadian, but the fact is, as a person you and I both know you could never do what your your doing in the US, you don’t have the capital to even get permits, you certainly would have a rough time explaining your past businesses to the Treasury and a lot of your customers would shun you just because you were in this country, were ironically the laws are set up to protect them from the likes of you. But let me tell you thing I know for certain, unless and until you alter your business practices your business is doomed and it may even be pretty ugly for you. As long as you allow scams to use your service to launder money, you’re just begging various regulatory agencies to come looking and eventually the shady things you do that are technically legal will cause them to change the laws. And of course, some day in some hearing somewhere, some politician is going to raise a righteous sermon and demand to know how in the hell businesses like yours were allowed to run a central hub for stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from tens of thousands of people right out in the open.

    You want my suggestion? Before you allow some new program to get an account with you, say one Jake Amedee referred in the Dominican Republic, tell them that before you let them accept funds you want to see that they’re a legal business. And then, don’t just take an “Articles of Incorporation” as proof of it, I’ll bet anyone here that I can get said certificate in US States with any number of fake or illegal statements in it. The only thing that proves is the name wasn’t previously registered and the check cleared. Tell them you want to see an SEC Filing, or you won’t let US account holders send them funds. Tell them you want to see their Series & permit if they are advertising that they are a legal investment or private retirement club. And if they’re an autosurf, demand they show you CPA Certified financial statements on a regular basis showing outside revenue in excess of their membership revenue.
    I know you won’t listen to me, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. You, and the other payment processors are the enablers of the whole rotten industry, and just because you made minimal efforts to be psuedo-legal don’t for a minute think that will protect you for very long. People learn, some people complain, and when enough of them do, things get bad for people who stole from them and people who helped the thieves.

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  35. Hello Gregg – We appreciate your very candid post. Allow us to respond and then move forward. Yes, we do have a 6 month policy. We have been criticized for that on all sides – it’s too long, it’s too short, members don’t need us as an arbitrator, they “spend at their own risk”, we don’t arbitrate enough, we interfere too much, we are not a bank, etc. We DO make every effort to allow legitimate business models and our policies get stricter all the time. We do regularly ask for proof of outside revenue depending on the business model, incorporation documents (legitimate ones), source of original funding, etc. There is a well documented case of one company using STPay that refused to divulge it’s outside revenue source claiming that it was none of our business. We then asked their membership to vote on whether STPay should refund all payments. I literally received death threats as a result – how dare I play the Mother Superior and interfere with this business? Thousands of hate emails were hurled my way and the membership voted overwhelmingly in favour of allowing the program to continue.

    SolidTrust regularly refunds members at a loss from a failed online program, at least so far as their transaction history dictates. We are reviewing this policy, however, as it appears to generate more negative response than positive. When we discussed our refund policy with our lawyers, they advised us that 6 months was sufficient.

    Regarding jurisdictions: we are in Canada, and do business in Canada and service clients around the world. We are actively seeking a jurisdiction in Europe which DOES regulate and monitor e-wallets as we are well aware of the fact that in Canada no licensing exists. Regulation exists, but not specific licensing. It is our intention to provide the best processing possible and to treat merchants and clients fairly (innocent until proven guilty). We even have a Beneficiary Policy for clients so that they can be assured that funds present, or expected, become part of their estate and are disseminated according to their wishes. Whoever owns the funds – member, merchant, organization or authority – is entitled to them and will receive them. Your point is well taken as to the ownership of the funds. If it can be proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that someone other than the original sender of the funds has entitlement (due to extenuating and unusual circumstances) SolidTrust has the responsibility to determine that entitlement.

    In short…the best of intentions have to be followed up with the best business practices. Such are our intentions – today and into the future.

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  36. Stella Hiemstra: We do regularly ask for proof of outside revenue depending on the business model, incorporation documents (legitimate ones), source of original funding, etc.

    Did you ask this of ASD? If so what was the answer? If you didn’t ask, why not?

    Stella Hiemstra: We then asked their membership to vote on whether STPay should refund all payments.

    A curious way to run a business. Ask ponzi players if you should refund payments effectively closing a ponzi scheme.

    Stella Hiemstra: Thousands of hate emails were hurled my way and the membership voted overwhelmingly in favour of allowing the program to continue.

    What happened to the “program”? Let me guess, it turned out to be a ponzi scheme after all.

    Stella Hiemstra: SolidTrust regularly refunds members at a loss from a failed online program, at least so far as their transaction history dictates.

    By “failed online program” are you referring to a typical HYIP/AutoSurf?

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  37. Tony,

    You picked up on some things I notcied as well. STP apparently (according to Eagle and Gregg) have a long history of facilitating scams through their payment processor. It is disturbing to say the least that Ms. Hiemstra chooses to state in her letter how aqctive they really are in promoting and facilitating these online programs/scams/Ponzi schemes. of course, given her history and that of her husband’s in actively promoting such scams (see Prof. Higgins post above), it is not surprising that they would have perhaps figured out another angle for benefitting from the various scams. So much of her letter would come across as believable, if it weren’t for the niggling details of their scam involvement, promotion, and facilitation (and Tony, I agree — they should have seen the ASD Ponzi from miles away, yet agreed to facilitate it — perhaps casting doubt on Stella’s due diligence claim…..).

    Tony H:

    Stella Hiemstra: We do regularly ask for proof of outside revenue depending on the business model, incorporation documents (legitimate ones), source of original funding, etc.

    Did you ask this of ASD? If so what was the answer? If you didn’t ask, why not?

    Stella Hiemstra: We then asked their membership to vote on whether STPay should refund all payments.

    A curious way to run a business. Ask ponzi players if you should refund payments effectively closing a ponzi scheme.

    Stella Hiemstra: Thousands of hate emails were hurled my way and the membership voted overwhelmingly in favour of allowing the program to continue.

    What happened to the “program”? Let me guess, it turned out to be a ponzi scheme after all.

    Stella Hiemstra: SolidTrust regularly refunds members at a loss from a failed online program, at least so far as their transaction history dictates.

    By “failed online program” are you referring to a typical HYIP/AutoSurf?

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  38. “But just deciding on your own to take it, and distribute it as YOU see fit smacks of vigilante justice, to appease the mob of your customers.”

    Stella, Greggs post contains many valid and important observations including the above comment. I have read your User Agreement, and frankly it is clear that STP is very much aware of the nature of many of the businesses who use your services and are relatively unconcerned whether they are genuine businesses or simply internet scams. The STP disclaimers are extraordinarily wide and customer protection appears to be minimal. In this regard, the statement made that payment processors of the STP mould are in fact the enablers of the ponzi and money laundering “industry” is defensible.

    Paypal wont touch a lot of the “internet marketing industry” businesses and neither do most banks and other registered, licensed financial institutions. It is also not reassuring to customers that they are all “offshore” from the US where the regulations offer some customer protection from legal abuses by these companies.

    It is beyond imagination that STP are not aware that funds belong to ASD, are funds which belong to a business that is the subject of a civil forfeiture prosecution in the US on charges of wire fraud and money laundering, amongst others. And STP must also be aware that these civil proceedings will almost certainly be followed by criminal proceedings. The description of the ASD account as an abandoned account is not accurate in any way and treating it as such does not reflect well on the ethics or accuracy of STP. This view is further supported by the fact that you are also dealing with accounts for AVGA, which is one of the ASD’s latest incarnations.

    The operation of a reputable payment processor does not depend on it operating in a way that it can legally “get away with”, but also on its its commercial ethics and conduct.

    Your reference to “merchant paying commission”, is a strange way to refer to the account of a client who you KNOW is the subject of a US forfeiture prosecution on the grounds of illegal operations, wire fraud and money laundering.

    I was not aware that your terms and conditions permitted clients with illegal or fraudulent activities, however broad and all encompassing the disclaimers in your User Agreement, but the return of monies that belonged to a company under a major civil and possible criminal investigation is commercially, morally, if maybe legally reprehensible.

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  39. Stella,

    Too little too late. First, if your lawyer told you 6 months was enough time to take an account over as abandoned, and also went along with you just devising your own refund formula, get a new lawyer, look for one who went to law school this time. Just about half an hour’s research provided me with Canada’s law on unclaimed balances, which applies to banks and all other merchants holding funds in balance for their customers, so you don’t even get to evade it by saying you’re not as bank (which in a few states in the USA you can)

    Up until the end of 2007 the Bank Act authorized the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions to publish (in the Canada Gazette, available at most libraries) information about all unclaimed balances of $100 or more, once they have been inactive for nine years. This information includes the creditor’s name, last known address, and balance amount. The purpose is to help people locate balances that may be owed them.

    If still unclaimed by the end of the tenth year, these balances are then given to the custody of the Bank of Canada, which in turn assumes responsibility for publishing the above information.

    So, as we can see, you have to hold that money nine years and then publish the information, then after another year, you have to turn it over to the Central Bank. By refunding anyone with out a court order, you’re breaking hte law and could be said to be stealing from the account holder (however much we may both agree that he deserves it)

    This is just one other problem with under regulation in Canada, and frankly, under policing in all jurisdictions. STP looks to me like it’s run from the spare bedroom of your house, I can say I’m darn apprehensive about the prospects of you actually being in business in 9 years, and I’m flat out curious about your refund policy because I know from personal (yes I have an account) that it’s not uniformly applied.

    I’m kind of stressed for time just now, I’ll come back and reply a bit more later.

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  40. From the Bank of Canada website

    The Bank of Canada maintains custody of all balances of $1,000 or more for 100 years, until they are claimed. Unclaimed balances under $1,000 are retained for forty years (ten years from the date of the last owner transaction at the Canadian bank, plus an additional thirty years at the Bank of Canada). Consequently, in the case of balances under $1,000, a written claim must be received by the Bank of Canada no later than December 31 of an account’s last year (that is, the year of the last transaction date + forty years).

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  41. but hey, in your case, six months is fine….

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  42. Seems like Stella has disappeared and doesnt want to comment on the rest of the posts about STP and payment processors and Canadian legislation.

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  43. Just curious what you know about the process of the litagation? How long does it usually take and what should victim expect in the long run? You state above that “The ASD case still is in litigation. The U.S. government said it intends to implement a restitution program. The program’s final form likely won’t be determined until the litigation comes to an end, and one of the reasons it is still in the courts is the pro se filings by ASD members and Andy Bowdoin.”
    We used a credit card check to get the money to put into ad packages with ASD and we are wondering how that works if we can prove we used a credit card check to get the funds to send to ASD can’t the credit card company cancel the amount on our credit card because we did not receive a service or good for the money sent to them??? Considering it is a BOA credit card and the seized funds were in BOA accounts???

    How does all this work and how long does it usually take?

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  44. Kelly: if we can prove we used a credit card check to get the funds to send to ASD can’t the credit card company cancel the amount on our credit card because we did not receive a service or good for the money sent to them??? Considering it is a BOA credit card and the seized funds were in BOA accounts???

    How does all this work and how long does it usually take?

    This type of chargeback is generally classified as “billing errors” under Federal Legislation.

    “billing errors” complaints must normally be filed within 60 days of the date of the statement on which the disputed charge appears (not the date of transaction) This 60 day limit, however, varies from issuer to issuer, so check with BoA.

    You can read more on your rights here: http://ag.ca.gov/consumers/general/credit_card_chargeback_rights.php

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  45. WE WANT OUR HARD EARNED MONEY BACK YOU STOLE FROM US

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  46. Is Oceanna Music Publications in fact still operating as a publishing company. Their website appears to be dormant. They stopped answering my emails and my letters. I have music published by them and I cannot track the status of my stuff.

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