RECOMMENDED READING: ‘Speed Of Wealth’ Defendant In Ponzi Scheme Case Pounds Denver Reporter With Offers To Join Trump Network, Other Opportunities

EDITOR’S NOTE: The story below references a column by Renee McGaw in the Denver Business Journal. Make sure you read the column. The link is at the bottom of this story.

The column reminded us of what occurred in the opening hours of the prosecution against the assets of Florida-based AdSurfDaily Inc., accused in August 2008 of operating a $100 million Ponzi scheme. Reporters who called ASD got a recording featuring the voice of ASD President Andy Bowdoin and intoning that God was on the company’s side.

Within hours, Bowdoin’s supporters were complaining on Internet forums that the media refused to take ASD’s side of the story seriously.  Rather than questioning why the media might find such a recording important enough to mention in stories, Bowdoin’s apologists then sought to discredit reporters by casting them as conspirators in a plot to defame Bowdoin and to discredit members of law enforcment by painting the government as “evil.” The attack even featured a campaign to have a Florida television station and Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum charged with Deceptive Trade Practices for daring to raise the issue of the legitimacy of ASD.

McGaw’s column on a Colorado company, Speed of Wealth LLC, is remarkable in a number of ways, perhaps principally in the sense that it shines a light on relentless email pitches to join online money-making “opportunities.” Not even serious Ponzi scheme allegations against Speed of Wealth principal Wayde McKelvy prevented McGaw from receiving pitches for other programs from him. The column leaves us with this question: Is it any wonder that much of America and the world views Internet Marketing as a vast wasteland filled with fraudsters and schemers?

On a side note, readers of the PatrickPretty.com Blog occasionally have chided us about our view that exclamation points should be used like garlic — sparingly. We’ve enjoyed the banter on the topic. McGaw’s column also raises the issue of exclamation points in marketing pitches.

Here, now, the story . . .

Denver Business Journal reporter Renee McGaw says she is being pounded with offers from Wayde McKelvy, a defendant in a Ponzi scheme lawsuit filed by the SEC last month.

McKelvy’s Colorado firm, Speed of Wealth LLC, was accused by the SEC of pitching a “green” Ponzi scheme for Mantria Corp. of Pennsylvania. The names of President Obama, former President Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were prominently featured in a Mantria video that played on the Speed of Wealth website. The video, now missing from the site, was based on events that occurred in September at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), one of President Clinton’s signature undertakings after he left the White House in January 2001.

McKelvy describes himself as a wealth coach — and not even the assertion he was part of a $30 million fraud has slowed him down, McGaw reports.

In a column yesterday, McGaw said she sent McKelvy an email Nov. 16 to inquire about the SEC allegations. (The SEC had brought the allegations earlier on the same day.) McGaw’s email to McKelvy triggered what she described as automated pitches describing her as a “fellow Wealthalete” and urging her to join money-making programs.

“I am totally focused on one thing right now which I believe will be very, very fun and the opportunity to put money in your pocket by owning you’re own business with the help of ‘The Donald’,” McGaw quoted McKelvy as writing in an email Nov. 18, two days after the SEC filed civil charges against McKelvy, his former wife, and Mantria officers Troy Wragg and Amanda Knorr.

The columnist noted she did not correct McKelvy’s spelling or punctuation when reproducing the email for readers of the Denver Business Journal.

“Yes, I am talking about the ‘Trump Network,’” McKelvy stressed to McGaw.

McGaw reported that McKelvy’s pitches often featured subject lines consisting of all capital letters and ending with exclamation points.

“YOU MUST START YOUR OWN BUSINESS Renee!” McKelvy advised McGaw in one email. “What You Have Been Taught About Building Wealth is DEAD WRONG!”

Through the Mantria video, Speed of Wealth also dropped the names of former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, President Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast, Mike Duke, CEO of Wal-Mart, Muhtar Kent, CEO of the Coca-Cola Co. and actor Matt Damon.

All of the individuals were among the prominent attendees of President Clinton’s CGI function. The video featured footage of Wragg appearing on stage next to Clinton.

Mantria was a “supposed ‘carbon negative’ housing community in rural Tennessee,” the SEC said.

Screen shot: Troy Wragg, whom the SEC said today was a manager at a janitorial company before becoming CEO of Mantria Corp., next to President Clinton at the annual meeting on the Clinton Global Initiative in New York on Sept. 25.

Screen shot: Troy Wragg, whom the SEC said was a manager at a janitorial company before becoming CEO of Mantria Corp., next to President Clinton at the annual meeting on the Clinton Global Initiative in New York on Sept. 25.

But the “green” representations “were laced with bogus claims, and investors were falsely promised enormous returns on their investments ranging from 17 percent to ‘hundreds of percent’ annually,” the SEC said.

The agency charged that “Mantria’s environmental initiatives have not generated any significant cash, and any returns paid to investors have been funded almost exclusively from other investors’ contributions.”

“These promoters fraudulently exaggerated Mantria’s green initiatives and used high-pressure tactics to convince investors to chase the promise of lucrative returns,” said Don Hoerl, director of the SEC’s Denver Regional Office. “In reality, the only green these promoters seemed interested in was investors’ money.”

Read McGaw’s column in the Denver Business Journal.

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