RECEIVER: Firm Associated With Noobing Autosurf Charged Senior Citizen In Search Of Housing Grant $995 For Three Names And Addresses Of Providers; One Of The Addresses Proved To Be Regional HUD Office

UPDATED 2:11 P.M. EDT (U.S.A.) A company associated with the Noobing autosurf charged a 70-year-old Philadelphia man on Social Security $995 for the names and addresses of three entities that possibly could help him secure a grant to repair his rapidly deteriorating home, according to the receiver in the fraud case against Affiliate Strategies Inc., Brett Blackman and other defendants.

Noobing pitches itself to the deaf on YouTube.

Noobing pitches itself to the deaf on YouTube.

Noobing itself targeted people with hearing impairments, according to web records and YouTube videos. The Kansas-based surf came to life after the U.S. Secret Service seized tens of millions of dollars last year from Florida-based AdSurfDaily Inc., amid allegations of wire fraud, money-laundering, selling unregistered securities and operating a Ponzi scheme.

Noobing was promoted by some ASD members after the government filed a forfeiture complaint against ASD in August 2008.

Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission now says Blackman received more than $1.37 million from various entities under the ASI umbrella in 2008 and 2009 and also benefited from perks.

“ASI paid personal expenses for cleaning services, landscaping services, and moving services,” the FTC claimed in court filings this week. “Plaintiffs believe, based on interviews with former employees, that these expenses were paid on behalf of Brett Blackman, and categorized as ‘executive expenses.'”

Blackman and the other defendants said in court filings that the various business enterprises named in the complaint filed last month by the FTC and attorneys general from three states provided legitimate products and services and that no consumers were harmed.

But the Philadelphia man said otherwise, providing the receiver three letters he had written to entities whose names and addresses were provided by the Grant Writer’s Institute for a fee of $995 as benevolent entities that could help him repair the home he shares with his wife.

One of the addresses proved to be the address of the Philadelphia Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which had been misidentified by the Grant Writer’s Institute as a benevolent organization known as “World Changers,” according to court filings.

Brenda M. Laroche, HUD’s deputy regional director, wrote a personal letter back to the man, explaining that HUD did not provide individual grants and pointing out where he could get free information on housing-assistance programs in Philadelphia and free information on a provider of weatherization assistance.

Laroche, for free, even researched World Changers after receiving the letter from the man, who described himself as a recipient of only $185 a month in Social Security benefits and driving a cab at age 70 to make ends meet. In her letter to the man, Laroche provided the phone number and website address of World Changers, an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention.

A second entity identified by the Grant Writer’s Institute — United Methodist Action Reach-out Mission by Youth (U.M. ARMY) — proved to be an organization that seeks grants, but does not provide them, according to court filings.

Like Laroche at HUD, the executive director of the Christian organization wrote a personal letter back to the Philadelphia man, expressing concern that he had been duped and asking the man for the name of the company that duped him.

“You are not alone,” said Brian Smith, executive director of the United Methodist mission, in the letter to the Philadelphia man. “[W]e would love to find out where you have learned this false information so that we can put away any artificial hope of funding from our organization to other individuals such as yourself.”

At the same time, a third name provided to the Philadelphia man proved to be a website — netwish.org — which says it underwrites grants up to a maximum of $500 after people in need submit an essay that is compared to essays from other people in need to establish whose needs are most critical and can be funded. The maximum grant is $500, or $495 less than the amount the Grant Writer’s Institute charged the man.

The Grant Writer’s Institute is one of the co-defendants in the case, which alleges that Blackman and others were part of a scheme to make customers believe they would receive a “guaranteed” $25,000 grant from the government from economic-stimulus funds.

Larry Cook, the receiver, also determined that chargebacks attributed to another company named a defendant in the case actually were Noobing chargebacks and that a customer complained in July that Noobing had drafted an unauthorized payment, according to court filings.

The chargebacks were confusing even to the bank because of the interrelationships of the defendants’ companies, the FTC said. Cook previously said that the “ASI defendants have formed and operated eighteen additional Kansas LLCs as subsidiaries of Defendant Apex Holdings International LLC.”

It had been difficult to get an early fix on finances because because “several thousand intercompany transfers” occurred and because other entities recently had been registered offshore, Cook said.

Read the Receiver’s declaration.

Read FTC Supplemental filing.

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6 Responses to “RECEIVER: Firm Associated With Noobing Autosurf Charged Senior Citizen In Search Of Housing Grant $995 For Three Names And Addresses Of Providers; One Of The Addresses Proved To Be Regional HUD Office”

  1. Blackman, Bowdoin and their ilk who trade on human misery need to be treated with the contempt they deserve.

    Blackman’s promises of grants, Bowdoin’s promises of money to buy medication..There seems no limit to the depth to which these people are willing to sink to line their pockets.

    I hope (though doubt) that the ASD members who sponsored Noobing are thoroughly ashamed on themselves.

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  2. Hey Patrick,

    Do you have a link to the documents? They are not linked on the receiver’s site yet.

    TIA.

    dB

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  3. Hi dirty_bird,

    dirty_bird: Do you have a link to the documents?

    Links are at bottom of story now.

    Patrick

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  4. The fact that there are individuals who knowingly take advantage of the elderly speaks volumes about what is wrong with people these days. I hope these people spend many unhappy years behind bars for what they have done. we may need to invent a new swear word to describe them, all that now come to mind are insufficient.

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  5. You can certainly hold a contest. May I suggest the first prize should be a free subscription to PatrickPretty.com

    Don: The fact that there are individuals who knowingly take advantage of the elderly speaks volumes about what is wrong with people these days. I hope these people spend many unhappy years behind bars for what they have done. we may need to invent a new swear word to describe them, all that now come to mind are insufficient.

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  6. What an interesting case to follow. Having read the documents on the Cooke receivership site and knowing the Blackmans have returned from a December trip to Mexico is puzzling. I feel sorry for the people who did not read between the lines of the grant writer service and hate that men like Blackman exist to manipulate regular people. Shame on him.

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