PP Blog Marks Milestone In A Year Filled With Ponzi Schemes And Nonfiction That Reads Like Fiction

EDITOR’S NOTE: We were going to publish this post to commemorate our 500th post since December 2008, but breaking news intervened. So, this is now Post No. 501.

milestoneThis is the PP Blog’s 500th post (actually it’s now No. 501) since December 2008, the month we switched to WordPress.

It has been a year filled with nonfiction that reads like fiction. Some of the Ponzi tales and allegations are so incredible they require readers to suspend their disbelief — and occasionally even to suspend their disbelief at multiple levels.

A year ago, most members of the reading public knew very little about Ponzi schemes. News junkies and television viewers alive during the 1980s perhaps had a fleeting memory of the “Billionaire Boy’s Club” (BBC) Ponzi scheme from that decade. Joseph Gamsky’s operation led to murders and a TV miniseries.

Ponzi schemes, though, generally were localized stories, and it was easy to miss news about them. Bernard Madoff changed that a year ago. Although authorities were well-acquainted with Ponzi schemes, the public at large was not. Since Madoff’s arrest, the seamy underbelly of one of the world’s hidden cultures of criminality has been exposed. Ponzi schemes now regulary lead to national and international headlines.

Just last week the FBI announced it was investigating at least 1,500 cases of securities fraud, including 314 HYIP schemes in which a Ponzi scheme appears to be an element. Prosecutors now are using racketeering laws to address some of the schemes, while continuing to use mail-fraud, wire-fraud, money-laundering and securities laws to combat the plague.

Some of the cases are just plain bizarre. Many mysteries and questions remain. Here are some of them.

Did Florida Ponzi suspect Scott Rothstein really attract investors by saying he employed former FBI and CIA operatives to dig up dirt on the sexual infidelities or workplace sexual misconduct of wealthy people so he could target them in lawsuits?

Did investors really throw hundreds of millions of dollars at such a business, viewing it as just another way to make money and not even questioning the moral, ethical or legal ramifications of such a bizarre marketplace approach — the packaging of sexual indiscretions as a security?

Did Minnesota Ponzi suspect Trevor Cook really buy a private island and a submarine to access it with part of his loot?

Did Mantria Corp. and Speed of Wealth LLC, now accused by the SEC of promoting a “green” Ponzi scheme, really believe that it was prudent to beam videos and trade off the reputations of a current President of the United States, a former President of the United States, a current U.S. Secretary of State and a former Secretary General of the United Nations?

And did a Ponzi defendant in the Mantria/Speed of Wealth case really try to recruit a reporter into an MLM by calling her a “fellow Wealthalete” and USING ALL CAPS in the sales pitch — after the SEC brought the charges in the Mantria/Speed of Wealth case?

Did members of the alleged AdSurfDaily Ponzi scheme in Florida really write to the Senate Judiciary Committee in the post-Madoff Ponzi era to elicit support for the Ponzi scheme business model — while fortunes were being destroyed by Ponzi schemes and people in their 80s and 90s were being dispossessed as a result of investing in Ponzi schemes?

Did ASD members really believe that one of the best ways to stay under the Feds’ radar when pitching a Ponzi scheme was to claim the President of the United States personally endorsed the business acumen of the man running the Ponzi scheme? (And did Mantria/Speed of Wealth not have any knowledge of the ASD case and how quickly the government reacted when it learned that institutions such as the Presidency were being used in advertising pitches?)

Did the Pro-ASD Surf’s Up forum and a forum some of its Mods established to promote the AdViewGlobal (AVG) autosurf really label Curtis Richmond a “hero” for his pro se legal efforts to derail the forfeiture aspect of the ASD Ponzi prosecution?

Did some ASD members really send President Andy Bowdoin brownies and delicious baked goods after federal prosecutors and the U.S. Secret Service said he was at the helm of an international wire-fraud and money-laundering scheme whose key component was a $100 million Ponzi scheme?

Think that’s weird? See this story on attempts by AVG to explain it had no ties to ASD.

Did the Noobing autosurf really think it prudent to pitch an autosurf to deaf people after the government seized tens of millions of dollars in the ASD case?

Is it really possible that thousands of people believe the answer to Ponzi schemes and the wealth they destroy is even more Ponzi schemes, including ones launched while Bowdoin was under investigation for serious crimes and already had been sued for racketeering?

Indeed, it has been an amazing year in the world of the Ponzi scheme.

You’ve heard about the convicted Ponzi schemer who declared himself a “sovereign” being, right?

About the Author

11 Responses to “PP Blog Marks Milestone In A Year Filled With Ponzi Schemes And Nonfiction That Reads Like Fiction”

  1. Patrick:

    CONGRATULATIONS on reaching 500 posts. OK, 501, but who’s counting?

    I just wanted to ‘Thank You’ for all the hard work you do in providing the articles/stories for this Blog, and your excellent reporting. You have aided thousands of people by educating them through your articles. It is an honor to be able to call you “friend.”

    Continue to keep up the good work and fight, and all the best to you in 2010.

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  2. Hi, Patrick;

    It’s amazing that you’ve BOTH researched, written and edited 500+ articles in this blog in just a year. You’ve brought much light to a dark corner of a criminal subculture – and have done so at your own expense for the costs involved.

    I applaud you, sir! May the reward for your efforts someday be beyond your wildest imagination!

    -PWD

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  3. Hi Pat,

    Pat Dunn: I applaud you, sir! May the reward for your efforts someday be beyond your wildest imagination!

    Thank you for your kind words. Let me applaud you in return.

    Your “gallons of milk” analogy with respect to your analysis of the ASD business model helped put readers “right there.” It was magnificently simple and powerful and helped readers shape their thinking.

    You have helped many, many readers understand the issues.

    Thank you, Pat.

    Patrick

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  4. Hi Lynn,

    You wrote: I just wanted to ‘Thank You’ for all the hard work you do in providing the articles/stories for this Blog, and your excellent reporting. You have aided thousands of people by educating them through your articles. It is an honor to be able to call you “friend.”

    I reply: Thank you, Lynn. Eagle has a lot of which to be proud, and I wish you all the best in your continuing efforts to educate and inform the public about Ponzi and other forms of fraud.

    It is good to know you are out there fighting the good fight.

    Patrick

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  5. Wow, I read that Many? lol :-)

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  6. Patrick,

    It’s been a bumpy ride, but the saving grace is that Ponzi promoters and their kind are finding out that there are consequences for their action. Serious consequences. Yet people still start them and run them for the “quick buck”. I hope they enjoy their cellmates.

    Well done, Patrick, well done….

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  7. Hi Wizzard7,

    Your note is much appreciated.

    Thank you.

    Patrick

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  8. Patrick

    Thank You. As an ex member of ASD, I can assure you that the reporting in your Blog has been a fundamental factor in the road to discovery of what ASD really was. Had it not been for you and others, most of us would still be in the dark about what a ponzi is and that ASD was in fact a ponzi.

    The extraordinary high level of reporting you have offered us, together with your unique insight, has created a platform for informed and courteous discussion of both the ASD and other ponzi issues, which has been and continues to be of great service to all those interested in the realities of the online “businesses”

    It is impossible to improve on Pat Dunn’s comment, so here it is again, this time from me, with thanks

    “I applaud you, sir! May the reward for your efforts someday be beyond your wildest imagination!”

    And may that day be soon.

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  9. Hello alasycia,

    I am grateful for your words. Thank you.

    In the early days of the ASD case, I was struck by the fervor with which members defended the company. Much of it was rampant emotionalism that either had no factual foundation or made tremendous leaps of logic by distorting or misinterpreting the actual fact set.

    EXAMPLE: ASD could not be a Ponzi because people got paid.

    EXAMPLE: Even $1 in external revenue means ASD was not a Ponzi.

    EXAMPLE: ASD was not an “autosurf” because people had to click on a prompt to make the next ad load, making it a “manual surf” and thus “legal.”

    In the early days, I concentrated on refuting those assertions and similar ones. The Blog began to build readership, with the “naysayer” autosurf critics and the “leaders” of the Ponzi advocates locking horns from time to time.

    It always struck me that the best thing the “leaders” could come up with to stifle the “naysayers” was the ad hominem attack. A “naysayer” could explain the math, refute the “leaders'” emotional arguments with cold, hard facts and data — and the “leaders” always defaulted to “defending” their favorite Ponzi by calling the “naysayers” names.

    The prosecution filing that described Andy Bowdoin as a person who had “followers” was an important one. I believe, for example, that it forced some people who’d been reflexively cheerleading because that’s what the upline script called for to take some time to think things through.

    Did they really want to suspend their intellect for Andy Bowdoin? Did they really want to come off as “Kool Aid” drinkers and become associated with cult-like behavior?

    I always thought that most people eventually would see the madness for what it was and disassociate themselves from it after they honestly answered a simple question: “Is this really me? Do I really think the U.S. Secret Service is comprised of Nazis and people interested in maximizing the pain of Grandma?”

    When I wrote, I tried to imagine that I could make a difference one person at a time. Some of the people who once condemned this Blog now value it. Many of them, I believe, were never all that comfortable with ASD or Bowdoin to begin with, but the enormity of it all was too overwhelming at first and they reflexively tried to defend what was indefensible.

    In other words, they were being human. They instinctively tried to make things fit because that’s what humans do. After a while, when they were less emotional, had the benefit of time and distance, they saw that things could not fit.

    It was a joy to see them transition from “leader” to “naysayer.”

    Thank you for your kind words, alasycia.

    Patrick

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  10. When I wrote, I tried to imagine that I could make a difference one person at a time.

    I would say that you have reached a great number of people and possibly far more than you realise. The blog contains so much valuable information.

    and on a lighter note

    It always struck me that the best thing the “leaders” could come up with to stifle the “naysayers” was the ad hominem attack.

    They’ve done quite a good job on the ad feminam attacks too. lol

    And Folks – I recommend Patrick’s eBook “Rebates are not Guaranteed” as an excellent Christmas Gift.

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  11. Well Patrick, between you and Bernard Maddoff, the expression “ponzi” is now so well known that there is a Facebook game full of business skullduggery called……….

    PONZI, INC.

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