EDITORIAL: Andy Bowdoin’s ‘Caddyshack’ Problem

Andy Bowdoin: Be the ball.

Andy Bowdoin: Be the ball.

The AdSurfDaily case began in the strangest of ways: Within hours of being notified in August 2008 that his bank accounts would be seized, ASD President Andy Bowdoin recorded a message advising callers to the purported advertising firm that God was on its side.

Two months earlier, Bowdoin had exhorted an ASD crowd in Las Vegas to imagine becoming wealthy. He used God in his sales pitch. He also urged attendees to plunk down $50,000 to purchase ad-packs because the ceiling on purchases soon would be lowered.

Thanks to the Chevy Chase movie “Caddyshack” in which the star’s character, Ty Webb, exhorted a charge to “be the ball,” the line had become a metaphor for hucksterism long before Bowdoin took the stage in Las Vegas. Bowdoin reminded the crowd — without telling members he had pleaded guilty a decade prior to felonies in Alabama for fleecing investors — that he had become a “money magnet.”

Be a money magnet, Bowdoin told the Las Vegas crowd. Be like me.

Eleven days later, prosecutors said, being a money magnet like Bowdoin resulted in a transaction in which more than $177,000 was removed from AdSurfDaily accounts at Bank of America and placed in a freshly opened account at Capital City Bank in the name of another company. Shortly after that, more than $157,000 of the opening deposit was moved by wire to Citi Mortgage Inc. to retire the mortgage on the home of Bowdoin’s stepson and his wife.

Prosecutors have not detailed what happened to the remaining balance of nearly $20,000 in the Capital City Bank account. They did, however, outline a string of purchases with other ASD money that resulted in the acquisition of three automobiles, including a $50,000 Lincoln, a Cabana boat, jet skis and marine equipment.

That’s what being a money magnet meant to Andy Bowdoin.

It also meant, prosecutors said, that Bowdoin had cheated his own members by placing an ad for a failed, dissolved business in his own advertising rotator so he could collect “rebates” at their expense. It also meant that Bowdoin had paid an employee to surf for his son so the son could profit at the expense of the membership — and that other favored individuals were gifted into the program so they could profit at the expense of the membership.

We doubt that Chevy Chase would have found Bowdoin’s acts funny. But he might have seized upon them as fodder for the brand of comedy that serves a higher purpose, a purpose of enlightenment.

“I’m going to give you a little advice,” Ty Webb said in Caddyshack. “There’s a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball.”

Bowdoin, whom prosecutors said was at the helm of a $100 million wire-fraud, money-laundering and Ponzi scheme operation, later compared the government’s actions to the 9/11 terrorist attacks that had killed nearly 3,000 people.

Prosecutors described Bowdoin as the head of a flock who had “followers.” No one was quite sure of what that meant. All of that changed, however, when some ASD members painted the prosecution as “Nazis” and engaged in various petition drives and letter-writing campaigns aimed at providing cover for Bowdoin and destroying the careers of career civil servants — people whose job descriptions include bringing criminals to justice, protecting the U.S. financial infrastructure and safeguarding the life of the President of the United States, the life of the Vice President of the United States, the lives of their families and the lives of former Presidents and visiting heads of state and dignitaries.

The public at large applauds law enforcement for stopping Ponzi schemes in their tracks before they can mushroom and consume any more wealth. They’ve seen how various men on the stage over the years had exhorted the audience to be a money magnet — and they know how a comedian such as Chevy Chase can reduce hucksterism to its essence:

“You’re not being the ball, Danny.”

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5 Responses to “EDITORIAL: Andy Bowdoin’s ‘Caddyshack’ Problem”

  1. My favorite was “An attitude with gratitude”

    What a schmuck.

    Where is Ryan Wade and Phil McHenry at?

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  2. Hi Sicilian,

    sicilian: My favorite was “An attitude with gratitude”

    Here is the call to action in Las Vegas:

    “We need to have an attitude of gratitude with God,” Bowdoin told an ASD gathering in Las Vegas last year. “And I always say, ‘Thank you, God, for developing me into a money magnet.’ And I see myself as a money magnet in attracting money and, I say, attracting large sums of money.”

    “Thank you, God, for destining me to great wealth,” he exhorted the Las Vegas crowd to internalize and recite during the day.

    And he exhorted members to picture themselves wealthy.

    “See a big check coming in from AdSurfDaily,” he urged. “I signed a check the other day, about $22,000. See those checks like that coming for you constantly, just flowing to you.”

    More details here:

    http://patrickpretty.com/2009/05/07/special-report-the-largely-unknown-bowdoin-surf/

    Screen shot of court document that describes how Bowdoin explained surfing accounts would be transferred from one site to another after a version of ASD had collapsed here:

    http://patrickpretty.com/2009/04/04/why-the-government-is-right-about-adsurfdaily-and-why-the-december-forfeiture-complaint-may-help-fill-in-the-missing-adviewglobal-links/

    Outtakes:

    “In discussing the transferring of such account balances, Mr. Bowdoin explained:

    ‘You have heard us talk about not overwhelming the system by not transferring all of the ad packages from the old site at one time. If we did that it would never get off the ground. To avoid that from happening, we must transfer the balances in increments.

    ‘Here is the plan our Accountant suggested. Based on the sales that we now have, transfer over 150,000 ad packages which will be about 5%. Based on $3,000 per day in sales we can pay 1%. 50% of $3,000 is $1,500 which is 1% of the 150,000.

    ‘We have enough sales now to start at $3,000 per day for the first 5 days and the $1,500 on Sat. And [sic] Sun.

    ‘As our sales increase in increments of $3,000 per day we will transfer another 150,000 ad purchases.

    ‘In other words, when sales reach $6,000 per day we will transfer another 150,00 [sic] ad purchases [strike out “ad purchases”], when they reach $9,000 per day we will transfer over [strike out “over”] another 150,000. Then when they start expiring we will transfer more and we will continue this until we get all of the balances transferred.

    ‘All credits for surfing will be transferred. All pending cash outs will be paid from profits from the new cash generator site and then all cash balances on the old site will also be paid from profits. The time for paying pending cash outs and cash balances will be determined by Sales.’

    Patrick

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  3. Patrick,

    This is an outstanding article and you are such a talented writer! How long does it take you to compose an article like this? I can (and often do) write most of my work-day, but it’s usually some form of legal or business analysis, where pithy trumps prose every time.

    Writing a lot doesn’t mean I don’t recognize the difficulty I would have trying to write like you do; it flows so well and all ties up so neatly, so that at the end of the article I get a mental picture of exactly what you were wanting to convey, in its entirety. If it were me the phone would probably ring in the middle of a thought, and with that any chance of a cogent, unified message would be gone forever.

    I’ve got to watch Caddyshack one day — I’ve never seen it!

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  4. This movie contains one of my favorite lines.

    Ted Knight is a wealthy club member and is asked for a college loan or some sort of financial help by one of his caddies. He responds “the world still needs ditch diggers” which describes the attitude of the “winners” in these schemes to a ‘t’, pardon the pun.

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  5. Hi Marci,

    Marci: I’ve got to watch Caddyshack one day — I’ve never seen it!

    Tiger Woods like Caddyshack so much he did a take-off of it in a commercial:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hA3_rihmcg

    And thank you, Marci, for complimenting my writing.

    Patrick

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