THE PONZI CHILL: In Weeks Prior To Exposure Of $1.2 Billion Scheme, Scott Rothstein Threatened Journalist With Lawsuit, Newspaper Says
In what is becoming a familiar refrain in the Ponzi universe, former Fort Lauderdale attorney Scott Rothstein threatened a Florida newspaper and one of its reporters in the weeks prior to the exposure of his $1.2 billion fraud, the Sun Sentinel reported.
The Sun Sentinel identified the reporter as Brittany Wallman.
“Am I not making myself clear?” Rothstein railed in a June 29 email to the newspaper’s attorney. “I just arrived home only to receive another message from another business associate advising that a representative of your client is asking questions about me and my business in a manner clearly intended to cast me and my business interests in a negative light . . . Your client’s representative is a renegade that stands for everything that your client should never tolerate, and guaranteed to result in your client being sued if their reporter continues on her current path.”
Rothstein, now charged with racketeering and other offenses, also tried to muzzle the newspaper in an earlier email that threatened legal action, according to the Sun Sentinel. On June 26, Rothstein railed against Wallman for asking questions that led to a July 11 story in which the Sun Sentinel reported Rothstein was paying Fort Lauderdale city police $1,080 a day to guard his home 24 hours a day — a cost of nearly $400,000 per year.
Another email threat — this one smarmy and passive-aggressive — was sent Aug. 4.
“Hey David . . . hope all is well. We are getting ready to file and serve our action against Brittany and the paper and wanted to give you a heads up. Do you want to accept service or should we just serve Brittany directly and the paper through its registered agent. Let me knowâ€¦ Be well, Scott.”
No lawsuit ever was served, the Sun Sentinel reported. By late October, Rothstein was fleeing to Morocco, his alleged giant Ponzi scheme involving fraudulent legal settlements about to be exposed.
In 2008, the Moultrie Observer, a Georgia newspaper, posted a note on its website that it planned to publish an editorial warning against Ponzi and pyramid schemes. The simple act of posting the note sparked a series of emailed threats against the newspaper.
The threats coincided with the exposure of the alleged AdSurfDaily and Golden Panda Ad Builder Ponzi scheme in Florida and Georgia.
â€œCuriously, the e-mails appeared to be a form letter with different names attached. And ironically, the only people who named any companies were those making the lawsuit threats,â€ the newspaper reported.
Throughout July 2008, various members of ASD used online forums to threaten the company’s critics with lawsuits. The threats continued even after the U.S. Secret Service seized tens of millions of dollars from the bank accounts of ASD President Andy Bowdoin.
Earlier this year, supporters of AdViewGlobal, an autosurf firm with close ties to ASD, took a page from the ASD playbook and threatened to sue critics. The threats were made despite the fact Bowdoin had been named a defendant in a federal lawsuit filed under RICO statutes.