Noobing, Surf Site That Pitched Itself To Deaf Community, Goes Missing; Purported President Was Named In FTC Complaint Against Separate Firm Last Month That Alleged ‘Guaranteed’ Government ‘Stimulus’ Grants Of $25,000
UPDATED 10:48 A.M. EDT (U.S.A.) The Noobing surf site is throwing a server error and will not resolve. The development came in the aftermath of a Federal Trade Commission complaint filed late last month against Brett Blackman and others, although Noobing was not named in the FTC complaint.
On July 24, a federal judge froze Blackman’s assets and the assets of other defendants in the case.
Attorneys general from Kansas, Minnesota and North Carolina joined the FTC in the action. One of the claims in the case is that Blackman was part of a scheme to make customers believe they would receive a “guaranteed” $25,000 grant from the government from economic-stimulus funds.
Web records identified Blackman as Noobing’s president. The precise time the Noobing site vanished is unclear.
Noobing had a considerable presence in the deaf community, and at least 15 YouTube videos featured sign language.
Members complained publicly about “bait and switch” in February, saying they were attracted to the program by suggestions of returns of up to 3 percent a day.
Returns, however, plunged to only a fraction of 1 percent. A Noobing staffer explained at the time that Noobing learned from the AdSurfDaily case that â€œit became clear that any system that is not SEC registered as an investment that returns more than 100% risks getting shut down and everyone loses everything.â€
What he did not explain is why Noobing chose even to operate in the post-ASD environment.
The staffer went on to blame the government for the decision to slash the payout rate.
â€œThe SEC did not contact us,â€ explained the employee in February, on the ASA Monitor forum. â€œWe are simply being smart and not putting ourselves in a bad position to risk losing everything. Once ASD gave up, and we stood without a firm ruling from the courts, the risk was too high. Weâ€™d have preferred that ASD won, or that at least we got a clear ruling, as it is now, cautious action is best.â€
Noobing was popular among some some members of ASD. After the seizure of tens of millions of dollars from ASD President Andy Bowdoin a year ago this month, some promoters turned to Noobing in the fall.
In the FTC complaint, the agency and the attorneys general seek “a court order permanently stopping the defendantsâ€™ illegal conduct and forcing them to return money to consumers injured by the scheme,” the FTC said.
Named defendants were:
- Affiliate Strategies, Inc.
- Landmark Publishing Group, LLC (d/b/a G.F. Institute and Grant Funding Institute)
- Grant Writers Institute, LLC
- Answer Customers, LLC
- Apex Holdings International LLC
- Brett Blackman, individually and as an officer, manager, and/or member of Affiliate Strategies, Inc., Landmark Publishing Group, LLC, Grant Writers Institute, LLC, Answer Customers, LLC, and Apex Holdings International, LLC
- Jordan Sevy, individually and as a manager of Landmark Publishing Group
- James Rulison, individually and as president of Answer Customers, LLC
In addition, the complaint names the following North Carolina entities as defendants: Real Estate Buyers Financial Network LLC (d/b/a Grant Writers Research Network); Martin Nossov, individually and as a manager and member of Real Estate Buyers Financial Network LLC; Alicia Nossov, individually and as a manager and member of Real Estate Buyers Financial Network LLC.
“Since at least 2007, GWI has mass mailed postcards to consumers across the country falsely claiming that the consumers â€œare Guaranteed a $25,000 Grant from the U.S. Government,â€ the FTC said. “Consumers who call the number are pitched a $59 book titled ‘Professional Grant Writer[:] The Definitive Guide to Grant Writing Success.â€™â€
“The companyâ€™s telemarketers falsely claim that the book will explain how to get government grants — including the ‘guaranteed’ $25,000 grant,” the FTC continued. “GWI and its North Carolina-based telemarketers, also named as defendants in the complaint, then call consumers who have bought the book, trying to get them to pay hundreds of dollars or more for grant research, writing, or coaching services, falsely claiming a 70 percent success rate in securing grant funding. In reality, few, if any consumers ever receive any grant money.”
Meanwhile, the FTC said, “GWI used the current government stimulus package to make its pitch. For example, when consumers called the number on the mass-mailed postcard, they heard a recording that said, ‘If youâ€™ve been reading the papers you know that recently our government released $700 billion into the private sector. What you probably donâ€™t know is that there is another $300 billion that must be given away this year to people just like you.'”
It did not end there, the FTC said.
“The recording continues, ‘And if youâ€™re one of the lucky few who knows how to find and apply for these grants, you will receive a check for $25,000 or more, and we guarantee it . . . If you donâ€™t get a check for $25,000 or more, you pay nothing.’â€