SOURCE: Andy Bowdoin Was Head Of AdViewGlobal; Secret Service Seized Computer Used By Insider; Money Missing From Firm; Arizona Authorities Involved; Surf Immersed In Sea Of Uncertainty As Patriarch Deflects Blame

EDITOR’S NOTE: Information in this story was gleaned Tuesday and Wednesday from a source who spoke to the PatrickPretty.com Blog on the condition of anonymity. We interviewed the source Wednesday. The source said a large group of individuals once loyal to Andy Bowdoin no longer could stand in his corner. “We got mixed up in ASD and feel horrible about it,” the source said.

UPDATED 10:22 A.M. EDT (U.S.A.) Andy Bowdoin was the recognized head of AdViewGlobal among a core group of insiders and dispatched his stepson, George Harris, to Switzerland to establish bank accounts, according to information provided the PatrickPretty.com Blog.

In an email that circulated among ASD members — some of whom were described as sickened by Bowdoin’s gall — Bowdoin denied that Swiss accounts ever were opened. He acknowledged, though, that both George and Judy Harris trekked to Switzerland, accompanied by another individual.

His concession has led to questions about whether Bowdoin was telling the truth that no Swiss accounts were opened. The U.S. government is engaged in an active campaign to pierce Swiss banking secrecy and has scored landmark wins in recent months that have resulted in indictments against Americans who were using the banks to evade income taxes.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Secret Service has seized at least one computer used by an AVG insider and the Phoenix Police Department is investigating a purported theft of $2.7 million from AVG, according to the email.

“There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever” that remarks attributed to Bowdoin in the email were authored by Bowdoin, the source said.

Bowdoin told a person who questioned his business judgment that Harris was unable to open Swiss accounts because “the banks said they did not like accounts with a lot of out going transactions,” according to the email.

A person who participated in AVG took Bowdoin to task for laissez-faire management, a lack of follow-up controls and various business blunders — one of which purportedly was a deal assembled in November 2008 to acquire the Phoenix-based EWalletPlus payment processor for $75,000.

(NOTE: Even after reviewing the email, we could not determine who actually owns eWalletPlus. At least three companies or individuals have claimed to own the web-based payment processor, which is offline. The website now resolves to a parked page and appears to be for sale on sedo.com.)

Bowdoin performed virtually no due diligence before acquiring eWalletPlus, according to the email, but explained “[a] lot of business is conducted without ever meeting the owner because there are so many ways to perform due deligence [sic] in this high tech world.”

The purported deal, according to the email, involved a purchase contract and occurred the same month a federal judge ruled that ASD had not demonstrated it was a legal enterprise and not a Ponzi scheme at a Sept. 30-Oct. 1 evidentiary hearing ASD specifically requested.

Bowdoin’s purported actions lead to questions about whether he was prepared to remain in the illegal autosurf business no matter what a federal judge said. At the same time, the email leads to questions about why a group of AVG insiders ever would follow Bowdoin from ASD to the new company with serious legal business still on the table.

“It doesn’t make sense,” the source said. “These guys got greedy and thought by running things offshore,” they were . . . “[untouchable.]”

Plans to develop AVG were discussed at a private meeting on a cruise ship among 13 people, the source said.

Problems developed when AVG was unable to gain or maintain control over bank accounts — including one at First Caribbean Bank — needed to operate the business. One of the issues was who had signature authority over accounts, according to the email.

AVG blindly paid $20,000 to a formerly trusted person to set up a legal structure and bank account in Costa Rica — and George and Judy Harris “went down” to Costa Rica to get the lay of the legal landscape and review the corporate documentation, according to Bowdoin’s remarks in the email.

While in Costa Rica, George Harris was advised by a local attorney that the fee for setting up a corporation was only $1,200, which led to questions about whether the formerly trusted party had skimmed $18,800 in the purported $20,000 deal.

“[S]omeone made a lot of profit,” Bowdoin said, according to the email.

In any event, the bank account in Costa Rica was needed as a conduit to forward funds to Uruguay, according to Bowdoin, citing a claim made by the formerly trusted party.

No money made its way into the account in Costa Rica, even though the formerly trusted party was supposed to place $2.2 million in the account for later transfer to Uruguay, according to the email.

Bowdoin appointed Judy Harris an AVG trustee in a bid to get control of the money, according to the email.

“Yes, I asked Judy to be trustee to see if we could over come the money that had been stolen,” Bowdoin said, according to the email. “But when people started cashing out excessively it was soon apparant (sic) that it could not be overcome without some changes in page impressions. If the money had not been stolen all of the cash out requests could of been paid and there would of been plenty of operating capital. Hopefully some of the members will be able to come up with a solution.”

Infighting developed over whether AVG would be operated from the United States or Uruguay. Bowdoin groused that labor was less costly in Uruguay, but an AVG insider insisted the company operate from inside the United States, according to the email.

“I never had all of these problems with ASD,” Bowdoin said, according to the email. “It is evident now that I should of been more hands on in management.”

Bowdoin’s behavior cannot be reconciled, said the source, who acknowledged embarrassment for having participated in ASD after his instincts told him something was wrong.

At an ASD rally in Florida last year, the source said, he observed a man holding a briefcase. The man explained that the briefcase was “full of cashiers checks for $50,000 apiece,” the source said.

Later, members of his downline group shared reports that “people with piles and piles of cash” had attended ASD rallies.

“I don’t believe [Andy Bowdoin] for a second,” the source said. “He lost all credibility in our camp after firing his attorneys — and [filing] all those [pro se] motions.”

By the time the government seized Bowdoin’s assets last summer, the source said, a family member had lost tens of thousands of dollars consisting of an initial outlay and unredeemed paper profits that ASD displayed in the family member’s back office.

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32 Responses to “SOURCE: Andy Bowdoin Was Head Of AdViewGlobal; Secret Service Seized Computer Used By Insider; Money Missing From Firm; Arizona Authorities Involved; Surf Immersed In Sea Of Uncertainty As Patriarch Deflects Blame”

  1. Patrick, thanks for being a REAL investigative reporter, totally unlike this Mike Mason character. It’s nice to see new info being posted in lieu of old, recycled information. You are worth your weight in Ad-Packs!!!!!

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  2. Who needs Deep Throat and The Washington Post when we have Patrick Pretty! Congrats Patrick on a real newsbreaking story.

    We look forward to its inevitable sequel

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  3. Hi,Patrick, after reading this, two scenarios come to mind:

    1) If the information in this post is known by the US Attorney General, et al, it would seem to be sufficient to cause Mr. Bowdoin to someday be in the record books with Mr. Madoff as receiving what amounts to life sentences for people their ages.

    Or…

    2) The information is not known by the USAG, but may soon come to his attention because of this post. Might they call upon you for info about your source in that case? If so, how might you respond?

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  4. I am just amazed at how much crap andy bowdoin has been in and is still is able to walk free! The A/G accused him of running an illegal ponzi so bowdoin sends people to Switzerland to open bank accounts and talks about it in an e-mail? The A/G must be waiting for him to take more money from people so they can take the money from him….How bizarre this entire scenario is!!!!!!

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  5. Pat Dunn: Hi,Patrick, after reading this, two scenarios come to mind:1) If the information in this post is known by the US Attorney General, et al, it would seem to be sufficient to cause Mr. Bowdoin to someday be in the record books with Mr. Madoff as receiving what amounts to life sentences for people their ages. Or…2) The information is not known by the USAG, but may soon come to his attention because of this post. Might they call upon you for info about your source in that case? If so, how might you respond?

    I believe that authorities know this already, it comes as no surprise to me in that I had heard of it, but could not confirm it.

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  6. Absolutely an amazing read.

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  7. The first person to come to mind is Gary Talbert as being the person of trust that stole the money as well as the 20,000.00.

    Don:

    What Investigative reporter are you talking about? Not Mike Mason who was unwilling to find the true facts about the so called EXPERT Witness’s that Andy had hired to say that ASD was not a Ponzi.

    We know that Gerry Nehra received $25,000.00 to testify and Mr Laggos usually charges as much to give false statements and I would assume that the Professor at FSU would likely not sell his reputation for anything less.

    According to the SEC Mr. Laggos is in violation of the terms of his sentence for the 2005 case that he was found guilty of.

    You would think that our other Great Investigator Robert Lee Guenther would have been all over this story since he claims to have such a good working relationship with the authorities in Phoenix.

    Where is Boobie Bob when you need him?

    Great story Patrick!

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  8. Hi Pat,

    Pat Dunn: 1) If the information in this post is known by the US Attorney General, et al, it would seem to be sufficient to cause Mr. Bowdoin to someday be in the record books with Mr. Madoff as receiving what amounts to life sentences for people their ages.

    A review of facts may be in order.

    Andy Bowdoin signed a proffer letter in the ASD case and has acknowledged multiple times that ASD was operating illegally. What’s not known publicly beyond that was the date the letter was signed and how much information the government culled from Bowdoin.

    What is known is that the government filed a second forfeiture case in December against ASD-connected assets, and that the complaint named George and Judy Harris as beneficiaries of ASD’s illegal conduct. This complaint was filed as buzz was building for AVG, but does not name AVG.

    In mid-January, Bowdoin submitted to the forfeiture of tens of millions of dollars seized in the August complaint, and the judge granted his forfeiture request Jan. 22. In late February (Feb. 25), Bowdoin signed the first of his pro se pleadings that he had changed his mind about the forfeiture.

    This occurred one day after reports circulated that some banks accounts held by ASD members had been seized, and one day before AVG announced that it it switched to an “association” structure (Feb. 26) after consulting with Pro Advocate Group.

    In March, in a letter on Surf’s Up, Bowdoin said he decided to fire his paid attorneys and go pro se after consulting with a “group.” He chided the prosecutors in the letter, saying they “should really get their attention: and “Watch for the filings.”

    It was an unsual amount of confidence from a man who had signed a proffer letter but, of course, the ASD rank-and-file didn’t learn about the letter for another month — until the prosecutors revealed its existence in their final response to Bowdoin’s various pro se pleadings.

    The reason I’m reciting these facts is that the Secret Service plainly has talked to many people, including Bowdoin, and that an active investigation is ongoing. At some point, Bowdoin clearly was influenced to change his mind about the forfeiture and try to reverse it by relying on input from nonattorneys.

    Prosecutors have the advantage of having actively investigated the case to establish the identities of insiders. They have wedges they can use to gain the cooperation of witnesses, some of whom may have civil and criminal liability.

    And they have Bowdoin’s own proffer letter and statements.

    I doubt that anything that appears in the story above is news to the Secret Service. There is little reason to believe they had not penetrated AVG. After all, it took them about 30 seconds to penetrate ASD, and they attended and observed things at the Miami rally — and also made undercover contact with several members of ASD prior to filing the August seizure complaint.

    Pat Dunn: 2) The information is not known by the USAG, but may soon come to his attention because of this post. Might they call upon you for info about your source in that case? If so, how might you respond?

    I do not write stories and forward them to investigative agencies or provide documents or source material to the government.

    This Blog is equally available to readers, whether they belong to ASD or AVG, simply have an interest in the case or are employed by the government.

    Patrick

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  9. I was told early last Nov. by my immediate upline person that I did not have to worry about all the $$ I had lost in ASD (lots), because Andy was starting a new offshore company, where over time, our ad pacs would be transferred and we would have a chance to recoup any losses incurred when the seizure occured. Andy was the only one talked about as the new company’s head. My upline guy had a close relationship with Gary Talbert ( according to him), and received his info. from Gary T. through frequent phone conversations.
    I signed up as a member of AVG as I was encouraged to do, with Gary T. as my 2nd upline person. Thanks God I never put any $$ into it!

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  10. admin: I do not write stories and forward them to investigative agencies or provide documents or source material to the government.

    Hi, Patrick;

    I apologize, for my question wasn’t well-phrased. I didn’t mean to imply that you’d voluntarily send info to anyone. What I was wondering was whether you have any legal “shield” if you are called upon by authorities to reveal your source(s).

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  11. Jack Arons: The first person to come to mind is Gary Talbert as being the person of trust that stole the money as well as the 20,000.00.

    How about the Mr Creosote look-a-like lawyer? Maybe that was why Uncle Andy & that lawyer were so hard to get served in the RICO suit – they were jetting off to Switzerland or Costa Rica?

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  12. Hi Pat,

    Pat Dunn: What I was wondering was whether you have any legal “shield” if you are called upon by authorities to reveal your source(s).

    Yes.

    Patrick

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  13. It seems like you’re hanging this whole article on one email and one source. I would be very careful of doing this. At least Mike Mason has quoted his sources and seems to have the info to back up his reports,

    Gunner

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  14. At least Andy has one faithful member left, eh, Gunner??

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  15. Hmm. Even if it didn’t go through Costa Rica, a lot of money certainly arrived in Uruguay.

    The Zona Franca (The Free Trade Zone) in Montevideo is not an market for all comers. You have to have to demonstrate considerable solvency – a healthy bank balance and good guarantees – to be allowed in.

    There are many reputable companies there and AVGA looks quite out of place amongst them. lol

    http://www.zonamerica.com/web/

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  16. Yeah, it would really be a pity to see the headline: “Bowdoin NOT In Charge of Multimillion Dollar Ponzi Scheme,” son-in-law says, “I Am!”

    Forest for the trees Gunner, Forest for the trees…..

    Gunner Hanson: It seems like you’re hanging this whole article on one email and one source. I would be very careful of doing this. At least Mike Mason has quoted his sources and seems to have the info to back up his reports,Gunner

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  17. admin: Hi Pat,

    Pat Dunn: What I was wondering was whether you have any legal “shield” if you are called upon by authorities to reveal your source(s).

    Yes.
    Patrick

    I think it’s called the US Constitution.

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  18. Mike Mason could not find his way out of a wet paper bag without some one first making a hole for him to see the way out. I can well see why he is looking for a job as a reporter. I imagine the reason he is not doing investigative reporting full time is because he has failed in the past to verify his facts before he wrote the story. The same holds for his latest posting of so called facts and that he failed to also tell everyone that one of the so called Experts had been convicted for posting non-facts and that the so called expert requires 25,000.00 for his false opinions. Gerry Nehra admitted on the witness stand at the hearing that he only talked with Andy and had been hired just days before the hearing. He also received compensation of 25,000.00 for his testimony which helped the prosecution more than it helped Andy.

    The Professor has never spoken with Andy nor anyone else involved and has based his findings on conversations he has had with Keith Laggos. Just like the other two he received a large compensation package for giving his opinion.

    Mike Mason needs to stick to selling real estate and leave the reporting to real reporters like Patrick.

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  19. Gunner Hanson: It seems like you’re hanging this whole article on one email and one source. I would be very careful of doing this. At least Mike Mason has quoted his sources and seems to have the info to back up his reports,Gunner

    You’re right Gunner, not very smart. But what should we expect from “ASD Business Information Zone – The Sequel”.

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  20. Jeff, did you forget how to spell your own last name?

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  21. Sorry, my mistake. Guess I should have checked my sources, eh Jeff? I mistook you for your buddy Vendetta/24/Le.

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  22. If they do not agree with Patrick’s article, the obvious line of posting for ASD/AVGA posters to take would be to refute the comments made with facts.

    Anyone can say that a report is inaccurate, but they need to back it up with facts. It has long been a rumour that Andy Bowdoin is in fact the owner of AVGA. It has been confirmed privately to many people by ASD/AVGA insiders. The only difference here is that Patrick’s source has given him permission to print his confirmation.

    Our friend Gunner seems to think that Mike Mason has sources to back up his comments. What on earth makes anyone think that Patrick doesn’t. In fact I would hazard a guess that he probably has several sources to back up everything he says. But there again, the most important part of an investigative journalist’s work is research and verification of their statements. It saves a lot of libel suits later. lol

    Mason has indeed faithfully printed what he has been told. What he has omittted to mention is that, with further research, it will be seen that one of Andy Bowdoin’s witnesses has as many detractors as he has fans (Gerry Nehra) and one of the others (Laggos) has a very dodgy background. Whether the claim that the third was or wasnt a member of ASD is unconfirmed and is therefore a moot point.

    Judging from his reporting, he may have an agenda that goes beyond a strict reporting of the facts, but that has yet to be clarified. Either way it is not going to have any effect on the outcome of the Judge’s final judgement, apart from demonstrating that Andy Bowdoin and his attorney have produced no further evidence to suggest that his acquiescence to the forfeiture should not stand. It is, however, a further demonstration of the company he keeps!

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  23. Jeff Vavra’s post on Mike Mason’s site:

    Mike, thanks for looking into this unusual case before the courts. I have believed very strongly in the business plan of ASD from the day I joined (after 17 days of researching the feasibility of the model). My opinion of Jack Arons is not so favorable. He is a very bitter old man who is incapable of understanding the scope of internet advertising and the money that can be made in advertising. The shift from traditional advertising (TV, newspapers, etc.) to the internet has not only begun but is putting down it’s roots and establishing itself as THE primary advertising media. New technology often meets with incredible resistance, and ASD is no exception.

    Mr. Vavra:

    I do understand scams and people like you who continue to support and profit at the expense of hard working people. Bitter is not the correct word to describe me or my actions. Upset, angry and mad would be a better description of me and my actions. Con artists and the crooks that follow them are the scum of the earth and Andy is no different.

    Let me ask you this as I am curious as to the answer. As admitted by Andy that he had transferred large sums of money offshore prior to the raid and since the Government had given him back the computers, the database, and he still had an office to operate out of.

    My question to you is:

    If the company was legit then why did he not continue to run it? Would that have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that ASD was not a Ponzi or was a really about the money?

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  24. It’s ironic to see people in support of these ponzi’s attacking Patrick for quoting an unnamed source. Ironic in that much of what can be called “good news” about ASD has been not only from unnamed sources, but also in the end untrue. It’s perfectly acceptable in responsible journalism (which does have standards, such as the New York Times Style Guidelines etc…) to use an unnamed source but the conditions are
    A) you believe it to be true and
    B) you have to live with it in public if it’s not

    This second standard is the one that keeps a responsible journalsit honest, with a good reputation you can use anonymous sources, but if you burn your readers more than once, you’ll never be taken seriously again. Like Mike Mason.

    Good story Patrick!

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  25. Great Response Greg!

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  26. Jack, great response to Gregg’s response!

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  27. Here is a post Mr. Mason made concerning Patrick and this article.

    Facts can be reported and opinions can be stated as long as they don’t construe the facts or are presented as though they are facts. There is also a false light charge which is relatively new – you can be sued for printing negative facts even though those facts are true if the subject of the story believes those facts are grossly gratuitous and misrepresent who they are now. It’s a fine line. I would never have printed what Patrick Pretty did – he is not exposing his source or producing the email. Way too shaky. I have had hundreds of people telling me what they ‘believe’ and providing conspiracy theories. The bottom line is that things are very litigious and I have to be careful. If anyone has any new facts in this case I will surely look into them.

    Patrick can we get a response?

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  28. I think the above post is more likely to be a reflection on Mr. Mason’s lack of experience on the investigative part of his reporting work to date, rather than on Patrick’s article. (Mr. Mason worked as part of a TV team which won awards)

    Every professional in this field has to make considered decisions on what and what not to print. The Washington Post Journalists were able to protect Deep Throat, but it did not stop them from breaking the news on Watergate. The majority of the work behind an investigative article is long and arduous and rarely receives the recognition it deserves. In fact, if it wasnt for the book the WP journalists produced afterwards, we would never have known how much work went into that first newbreaking article in the Washington Post.

    Anyone writing knowledgeably on ASD has to wade through hundreds of pages of legal documents and reports, in addition to doing their homework on the whole autosurf “industry”, the mlm or direct selling industry plus blogs and forums from before and after the raid, before they can even start to form an intelligent opinion on the state of play on that particular issue. It is quite a story, as it not only involves the autosurf “industry, but felons from previous security frauds (several), affinity fraud, tax deniers, connections with payment processors tied up with drug traffickers, fake red indian tribes, nuts from both sides of the political spectrum, and all this in an international arena.

    It is not a case for the timid or inexperienced! lol

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  29. you can be sued for printing negative facts even though those facts are true if the subject of the story believes those facts are grossly gratuitous and misrepresent who they are now.

    Umm, thats not true. Or, it’s not practically true. Of course, anyone can sue you at any time. In theory you can sue me because I have blue eyes. But anyone suing you for publishing a fact that happens to be true, won’t get very far, not many judges issue rulings in direct contridiction with the Supreme Court of the United States.
    Truth, in any action for libel, is an absolute defense. And the term “absolute defense” is a defined legal term,

    From Wiki…

    Absolute defense is a legal concept for a factual circumstance or argument that, if proven, will end the litigation in favor of the defendant. The concept is not a rigid one. Statutes frequently use the term merely as a synonym to “full” or “complete”. It is more often used, however, as a term of art in both criminal and civil law to refer to an underlying set of facts and laws, not raised by the complaint or indictment, which will require the defendant’s dismissal even if the factual allegations of the complaining pleading are true.

    Another characteristic of an absolute defense is that, once it is pled and proven, it is not subject to mitigation or collateral attack.

    Examples of absolute defenses include

    Truth of an allegedly libelous statement (in modern defamation): a person cannot be made to pay damages for a defamatory statement, if the person can show that the statement is true (even if the statement is damaging, and the person said it in bad faith). This is the case in some juridictions, including the United States, but not in others, including England and Wales.

    The more I read from this Mike Mason guy, the more I think he’s a hack or on someone’s payroll. (and he can’t sue me for that either!)

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  30. In my opinion, Mike Mason is not an “investigative journalist”, he is just a reporter. His posts so far are do not appear to be the result of investigation, but as a result of what he has been told. Therefore he is merely reporting what he has been presented.

    Lets take the article about Jack. The title indicated that ASD was a media or internet giant – it wasn’t. It has at best 120K members. Google adsense has many more members. I don’t know what google charges per-click, but I suspect it was very much less that what ASD charged, even with the so-called “rebates”. By some remarkable turn of chance, google adsense seems to require a business to offer a product or service, and yet ASD did not. “Investigative journalist” Mike Mason doesn’t seem to have noticed this fact amongst many others.

    I wonder if Jeff Vavra is the same person who was writing letters to Senator Patrick Leahy of the proposed a “Truth Commission” for the Department of Justice. In that letter he said “I can assure you, Mr. Leahy, that it has absolutely nothing to do with drug trafficking or terrorism and everything to do with creating wealth through advertising for ordinary citizens and business owners within these great United States.”

    I wonder if he still feels the same way after the revelations about Virtual Money Inc payment cards, as posted here recently?

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  31. GREAT point, Tony..Mike is a reporter NOT an “investigative” reporter. I have had to laugh every time read his post stating ASD an internet marketing giant! That would have been a STRETCH for even the most everlasting faithful ASD member! A true investigative reporter would have checked the Alexa rating for ASD before publishing in a BOLD heading something it most certainly never ever came close to being..An INTERNET MARKETING GIANT..too funny!

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  32. The more I read from this Mike Mason guy, the more I think he’s a hack or on someone’s payroll. (and he can’t sue me for that either).

    Greg it is my feelings as well that he is on some ones payroll. His last job as a investigative reporter was in 2004 and I noticed that the station he worked for in Tampa just hired a new investigative reporter from another state who also has the same credentials as Mr. Mason. One would come to the conclusion based on those facts that Mr. Mason is not as great as he would like people to believe.

    Now the question is why was he let go in the first place or better yet why did they hire some one else?

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