Sunday News And Notes: ASD Anniversary Passes Without Mention On Surf’s Up; Would-Be eBay Competitor Used Same Phoenix Address As Vana Blue Inc.’s eWalletPlus Subsidiary

Andy Bowdoin

Andy Bowdoin

The one-year anniversary of the seizure of AdSurfDaily’s bank accounts and tens of millions of dollars occurred yesterday, but there was no discussion about it on the Pro-ASD Surf’s Up forum. No one appears to have started a thread to commemorate the anniversary.

ASD’s Breaking News site, which recently went offline and now resolves to a parked page that beams ads, gave Surf’s Up its official endorsement Nov. 27. The endorsement occurred eight days after a federal judge ruled ASD had not demonstrated at an evidentiary hearing that it was a legal business and not a Ponzi scheme.

ASD asked for the hearing. The government did not object. ASD President Andy Bowdoin took the 5th Amendment, advising the court through his attorneys that he would not testify at a proceeding his own company requested.

Although some Surf’s Up members continue to blame the government for events and criticize the prosecutors for being slow to issue refunds from seized funds, the ASD side is responsible for slowing the case to a crawl. At the same time, Bowdoin always has claimed in court filings that the money belonged to him and not the members. It’s one of the few areas in which both Bowdoin and the prosecutors are in agreement.

Bowdoin submitted to the forfeiture in January, meaning the case nearly was litigated to conclusion. His forfeiture decision  put the government in position to begin an orderly process to implement a restitution program for participants who certified they were crime victims. The first step, according to the government, was to liquidate ASD’s assets. The government advised victims that patience would be required because it would take time to liquidate real estate and other seized assets and to carry out other administrative functions. (See story.)

ASD’s motion to submit to the forfeiture was filed Jan. 13; it was the 39th entry on the case docket, and the judge’s order (Jan. 22) granting Bowdoin’s request to forfeit the money was the 41st. The docket now has 80 entries, meaning it effectively has doubled in size despite the fact the case nearly was litigated to conclusion in January.

Less than two weeks after the judge granted Bowdoin’s forfeiture motion, pleadings by pro se litigants who opposed the government’s point of view and sought to intervene in the case began to appear on the docket. The docket has been dominated since January by pro se litigants, including Andy Bowdoin, who fired his paid attorneys and said he changed his mind about submitting to the forfeiture after consulting with a “group” of members.

As of today, various pro se pleadings  have resulted in delays of at least seven months in implementing the orderly restitution process the government said it contemplates for crime victims. ASD has been ordered to show cause by Aug. 7 why Bowdoin’s motions — and why motions filed by a new Bowdoin attorney — should not be denied. The judge said she had heard neither from Bowdoin nor his attorney since May.

Timeline

Judge Rosemary Collyer issued the ruling that ASD had not demonstrated it was a legal business and not a Ponzi scheme Nov. 19. On the same date, ASD said on its Breaking News site that it was “Shaken but Not Stirred!” by the ruling, punctuating its comment with an exclamation point. ASD gave Surf’s Up its official endorsement on the Breaking News site Nov. 27, eight days after Collyer’s ruling.

References to a new surf with ties to ASD — AdViewGlobal (AVG) — began to appear online by mid-December. On Dec. 19, federal prosecutors filed a second forfeiture complaint tied to assets allegedly paid for with money that originated with ASD, including automobiles, a boat, jet skis and marine equipment, and a mortgage on the Tallahassee home of George and Judy Harris. George Harris, whom Bowdoin identified as head of ASD’s real-estate division, is Bowdoin’s stepson.

On June 10 and June 11 alone, prosecutors said, almost $240,000 in ASD funds were used for personal purchases by Bowdoin family members or friends. The purchases were made less than two weeks after ASD concluded a rally in Las Vegas in which Bowdoin told participants that he thanked God for making him a “money magnet.” He implored attendees to visualize themselves wealthy, to “have an attitude of gratitude with God” and to imagine lots of big checks coming in from AdSurfDaily.

By the end of July — after more ASD rallies — Bowdoin plunked down nearly $50,000 to purchase a new Lincoln. His assets were seized days after the purchase.

On a date uncertain in either December or January, some of the Mods and members of Surf’s Up started a forum to promote AVG. Reports suggested that as many as 30 former ASD members were “founders” of AVG.

On Jan. 15, two days after Bowdoin advised the court that he intended to submit to the forfeiture and never reintroduce his claims to tens of millions of dollars and other seized property, three ASD members sued Bowdoin for racketeering. Bowdoin has not responded to the complaint. No attorney has entered an appearance notice for him.

AVG’s graphics were seen on an ASD-controlled website Jan. 31, just hours before AVG’s official launch after operating in prelaunch phase in January — and after AVG had specifically disclaimed any affiliation with Bowdoin or ASD. Pro se filings in the ASD case began to appear within days of AVG’s formal launch.

On Feb. 24, reports surfaced that the U.S. Secret Service had seized the bank accounts of at least four additional participants in ASD, including at least one participant who had joined AVG. On Feb. 25, Bowdoin signed the first of his pro se pleadings. As February drew to a close — and before the world knew about Bowdoin’s shift in strategy to pro se — a Surf’s up Mod implored members to be patient, hinting the case soon would take a turn for the better from ASD’s point of view.

“[J]ust hold on — a little bit longer now baby,” the Mod implored.

On March 20, less than two months after its formal launch, AVG announced that Chief Executive Officer Gary Talbert had resigned but would continue to working in “accounting.” Talbert was an ASD executive who signed a sworn affidavit in the ASD case. In an Aug. 18 docket entry, Talbert identified himself as “Human Resource Manager, Assistant CFO and Website Editor.”

Although AVG identified Gary Talbert as the CEO of AdSurfDaily, Talbert did not say the same thing about himself in court filings.

Although AVG identified Gary Talbert as the CEO of AdSurfDaily, Talbert did not say the same thing about himself in court filings.

On Feb. 3, AVG identified Talbert as ASD’s chief executive officer, despite Talbert’s own court filings in which he noted his titles and never claimed to be ASD’s CEO. AVG continued to insist there was no affiliation with ASD.

On March 23, AVG announced its bank account had been suspended. Members also reported glitches with eWalletPlus, a money-exchange business associated with AVG. On March 26, three days after the announcement of the account suspension, an AVG promoter sent out an email that said $5,000 spent with AVG turned into $15,000 “instantly!” because of a matching-bonus program AVG was running. The promoter was identified as a participant in the CEP Ponzi scheme.

ASD once advertised it accepted CEP Trust as a payment method. CEP Trust was the failed payment processor associated with the CEP Ponzi scheme. AVG advertised huge matching bonus programs for weeks in what some people saw as a bid to collect large sums of cash as quickly as possible. eWalletPlus eventually went offline.

ASD once advertised it accepted CEP Trust, the failed payment processor associated with the CEP Ponzi scheme. A CEP promoter named in court filings sent out a promotion for AVG in March, claiming $5,000 spent with AVG turned into $15,000 'instantly!' The promotion was emailed three days after AVG announced its bank account had been suspended because too many members had wired transactions in excess of $9,500.

ASD once advertised it accepted CEP Trust, the failed payment processor associated with the CEP Ponzi scheme. A CEP promoter named in court filings sent out a promotion for AVG in March, claiming $5,000 spent with AVG turned into $15,000 'instantly!' The promotion was emailed three days after AVG announced its bank account had been suspended because too many members had wired transactions in excess of $9,500.

On or around May 23, AVG announced the launch of a new website. The launch failed, and members grumbled. On June 1, AVG announced the launch of yet another new website. By June 25, AVG announced that it was suspending member cashouts, making an 80/20 program mandatory and exercising its version of a “rebates aren’t guaranteed” clause that permitted it to keep members’ money.

Thicket Gets Thicker

The AVG site operated by some of the Surf’s Up Mods and members went offline after AVG made the June 25 announcement about suspended payouts. On the same date, AVG threatened members and media outlets with copyright-infringement lawsuits for sharing news about the suspended cashouts.

Four days later — on June 29 — Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison for operating a massive Ponzi scheme.

On June 30, AVG’s name was mentioned in documents filed in the racketeering lawsuit that had been filed against Bowdoin in January. The documents listed the names of some employees or members AVG and ASD had in common, but AVG has not been named a defendant in the RICO case.

July opened in unkind fashion for AVG. On July 1, just days after it announced the suspension of cashouts, AVG announced a new payment plan. Members said the plan was baffling because it appeared not to take into account matching bonuses the company had advertised and also increased the window for earning back money directed at the firm from 150 days to 180 days to 210 days, while at the same time suggesting it might take forever for members to get a return.

AVG identified George and Judy Harris as its owners on July 1. In the hours that followed, it closed its forum, reopened it, and closed it again. The actions occurred over a period of three days — and in the wake of complaints from members who had been pleading with the company to provide understandable explanations and to stop blaming participants for AVG’s seeming inability to explain itself.

In a bizarre communication, AVG advised members that the initial forum closure had occurred because posts by some members were contributing to the confusion of other members. Nearly 50 posts were deleted, members said.

Within days the situation grew murkier. By the end of the month, new questions about AVG were raised after the company was tied to a firm known as Karveck International, a subsidiary of Vana Blue Inc., a Pinksheet stock.

Vana Blue is registered as a corporation in Nevada. The company uses an address in Las Vegas that resolves to a mailing service, and an address in Phoenix that also resolves to a mailing service. VanaBlue says it owns the eWalletPlus payment service, whose website now resolves to a page that beams ads, as does Vana Blue’s own website.

One of the officers of Vana Blue is named a defendant in a counterclaim by the U.S. government that alleges more than $252,000 in federal income tax remains unpaid. The same individual — Donald Rex Gay — is listed in Louisiana records as a person who has been involved in a number of businesses.

Gay denied in pro se court filings that he owed the taxes.

Taking On eBay?

In April 2008, Vana Blue announced that it had “signed an exclusive agreement with Net Auction Plus (an alternative to eBay with lower fees and other eBay processes) to provide online, affordable, and flexible payment services.

“The start-up auction site has already over 200 power sellers from eBay committed to the new site when the site goes live in May,” Vana Blue said.  “The fees generated by the new site should tremendously increase monthly revenue based on the business from the power sellers.”

Vana Blue’s TMS Corp. subsidiary — the owner of eWalletPlus — would be a pivotal player in helping Net Auction Plus compete against eBay.

The domain NetAuctionPlus.com throws a server error. But the address listed in the registration data is the same address of the Phoenix mail service Vana Blue used: 4757 E Greenway Rd. Suite 107B-105 Phoenix, Arizona 85032.

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One Response to “Sunday News And Notes: ASD Anniversary Passes Without Mention On Surf’s Up; Would-Be eBay Competitor Used Same Phoenix Address As Vana Blue Inc.’s eWalletPlus Subsidiary”

  1. Patrick:

    Great recap as always. I was just surprised you left out Donna joining to save the day for AVGA. Then leaving abruptly and Judy and George blaming her for not providing the services they contracted for from her and her company.

    Makes me wonder if there will be any lawsuits filed by either party for breach of contract?

      (Quote)

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