POLL: As 2009 Draws To A Close, Cast Your Vote For The Most Interesting Figure In The AdSurfDaily Story
EDITOR’S NOTE: Included in this post is a year-end poll to determine “The Most Interesting Figure” in the long-running AdSurfDaily story. Five of the seven choices are individuals who’ve been an intriguing part of the story. The remaining two choices are intriguing entities consisting of individuals.
The individuals include Andy Bowdoin (the only individual in our ASD poll against whom prosecutors have asserted allegations of wrongdoing — and so far just civil allegations); Curtis Richmond; “Professor” Patrick Moriarty; Bob Guenther; and Poster “joe,” also known as “little joe.” The entities are the Pro-ASD Surf’s Up forum and a less public group we’ve deemed the “Conspiracy Theorists.”
Brief memory-refreshers appear below the poll. Some readers perhaps will want to read the memory-refreshers before voting. You may make only one selection.
Here, now, the story and the poll . . .
From the date upon which federal prosecutors filed the first of two forfeiture complaints against Florida-based AdSurfDaily in August 2008, the ASD story and accompanying black comedy quickly became less about the Ponzi and more about the intriguing personalities.
ASD President Andy Bowdoin has had two birthdays since then; he’s now 75 — and one of several U.S. senior citizens implicated in Ponzi schemes of national and international significance. On Aug. 1, 2008, the U.S. Secret Service filed a 37-page affidavit under seal in the case. The affidavit was accompanied by 57 pages of evidence — enough to persuade a federal magistrate judge to order more than a dozen bank accounts to be frozen.
In its affidavit, the Secret Service said it feared Bowdoin had become aware of scrutiny into his business affairs and planned to flee the country.
â€œI have not included every detail of every aspect of the investigation for this affidavit,â€ the agent who prepared the affidavit said. â€œRather, it only includes the information necessary to prove that probable cause exists for a seizure warrant to be issued for property constituting proceeds of a wire fraud scheme.â€
U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Kay agreed the Secret Service had made a compelling argument. Kay issued 13 orders directing the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security â€œand any Authorized Officer of the United Statesâ€ to seize 10 Bowdoin bank accounts and three accounts tied to Golden Panda Ad Builder, a closely-connected autosurf purportedly born on a Georgia fishing lake in April 2008 after Bowdoin had spent the day casting lines with Rev. Walter “Clarence” Busby Jr., who would later emerge as GP’s president.
Aug. 1, 2008, was a Friday. Almost instantly ASD members spun the seizure of the bank accounts as a positive development, claiming the government would see the beauty of ASD’s business model after taking time to listen to the company’s story and that ASD would return quickly to the business of paying “advertisers” profits of 30 percent a month.
Agents were planning a friendly “visit” in the days ahead, members claimed, again positioning the purported “visit” as a net plus because ASD’s business model was legally sound.
What the vast, vast majority of the members making the initial claims did not know at the time was that the Secret Service had conducted surveillance in the case in multiple locations and gathered damning evidence from records and interviews with members.
No criminal charges have been filed to date against Bowdoin or ASD, although the prosecution asserts in civil filings that ASD operated as a criminal enterprise.
What had been positioned as a friendly “visit” in the earliest hours after the seizure proved to be the execution of search warrants at Bowdoin’s home and at ASD’s headquarters in a former floral shop in Quincy, Fla. The warrants were executed on Aug. 5, a Tuesday, four days after the Secret Service stopped the scheme from mushrooming any further by seizing the bank accounts.
By Aug. 12, according to members, Bowdoin was comparing the actions of the Secret Service to the actions of the 9/11 terrorists who killed nearly 3,000 people, with Bowdoin saying “Satan” was at work. The allegations contained in the August forfeiture complaint, which was a public filing with several evidence exhibits attached, created a significant PR problem for Bowdoin in addition to the legal problem.
The vast, vast majority of ASD members learned for the first time in the Aug. 5 civil filing by prosecutors that Bowdoin had been arrested in Alabama in the 1990s in a felony securities-fraud case and had entered guilty pleas. As a result of the filing, many members also learned for the first time that Rev. Busby had been implicated by the SEC in a prime-bank scheme in the 1990s and that Busby had declared bankruptcy.
This information had been shielded from ASD and Golden Panda members as they were throwing money at the surfs, the Secret Service said. Agents went on to seize two more GP accounts. After reconciliations, the 15 accounts linked to ASD and Golden Panda contained just shy of $80 million, according to records.
As strange as it sounds, a core group of ASD members pooh-poohed the allegations. Instead of considering that perhaps they had been conned by two individuals who previously had been central figures in serious securities litigation, the core group set out to demonize the government.
In the months after the federal seizure — and in the months after Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum filed a fraud lawsuit against ASD — federal prosecutors released more information drip-by-drip. The information was part of follow-up filings in the August 2008 case. By December 2008, prosecutors had filed a second forfeiture complaint against ASD-connected assets.
Several intriguing personalities have emerged since the initial filing in August 2008. Bowdoin, for example, initially contested the forfeiture. In January 2009, however, he submitted to it after meeting with prosecutors over a period of at least four days.
But before February 2009 had come to a close, Bowdoin reentered the case — this time as a pro se litigant who’d purportedly fired his paid attorneys.
Curtis Richmond, an ASD member, also emerged as a pro se litigant. He accused the prosecutors of crimes, suggesting a federal judge was operating a “Kangaroo Court” and was guilty of treason. For good measure, he accused a second federal judge of operating a “Kangaroo Court.” Dozens of pro se litigants would follow, some using a Richmond litigation blueprint and others using a blueprint that had been provided by an ASD upline.
“Professor” Patrick Moriarty, who advanced Richmond’s theories of the case, embarked on a certified-mail campaign to discredit the prosecution. He also wrote a letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy, asserting that Leahy, the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, should set the committee’s investigative sights on the prosecutors who brought the ASD case, not the alleged wrongdoers who operated ASD.
Bob Guenther, de facto head of the ASD Members Business Association (ASDMBA), also emerged as an intriguing personality. Guenther led a campaign to raise money so ASD members could hire an attorney to protect their legal interests in the case, and was criticized for not providing transparent accounting of how the money was spent and for bullying members verbally.
Among other things, Guenther also was criticized for not revealing he had pleaded guility to a felony count of bank fraud in the 1990s and for responding to his critics by asserting they were “wusses” or “liberals.” Some ASDMBA members now say they see the organization as an entity that collected money and dissipated it while taking no effective action.
Poster “joe,” meanwhile, emerged as an intriguing personality when he rationalized the so-called autosurf “industry” as just another business pursuit akin to gambling. He blasted autosurf opponents, saying he did not care if autosurf Ponzi schemes were illegal as long as they paid.
“joe,” who described himself as a former Vietnam Prisoner of War, apparently decided eventually that the best way to express his point of view was to become chronically disruptive and abusive. He then morphed from Ponzi promoter to cyberstalker, threatening to set “fires” to disrupt the PP Blog’s operations.
Since the fall of 2008, Surf’s Up has been a constant presence — and an intriguing personality — in the ASD story. Among the forum’s notable contributions was an assertion that Bowdoin, despite his felonious history, was “too honest” to testify at a hearing ASD asked a federal judge to conduct. The “too honest” explanation came in response to Bowdoin’s decision to take the 5th Amendment at a proceeding his company specifically requested.
Surf’s Up also has urged members to take part in various letter-writing campaigns in support of Bowdoin, including Moriarty’s campaign. Moriarty was indicted on federal tax charges about a month after his February 2009 campaign to Leahy had begun, although the Moriarty prosecution and the ASD prosecution do not appear to be related.
Research showed, however, that Moriarty, who started a nonprofit company to advocate for ASD, also had started a nonprofit company in the name of a Missouri man who had been accused of murdering a woman in cold blood and shooting a police officer four times.
Federal prosecutors alleged that Moriarty, who at one time advertised tax expertise, had under-reported his income by an unspecified amount for the tax year 2002; claimed a false deduction of $30,000 for â€œlegal feesâ€ for the tax year 2003; and claimed a false amount of $23,533 withheld for the tax year 2004 and a false amount of $23,433 withheld for the tax year 2005.
No poll that did not include the ASD conspiracy theorists as a choice for the most interesting figure would be complete. We’re aware, of course, that there may be some crossover, as some of the other poll choices have shared one conspiracy theory after another and conflated one new reality after another in their zeal to lend support to Bowdoin.
Readers inclined to select the “Conspiracy Theorists” option, however, should make an effort to divorce the other nominees from the theories. For the purpose of this poll, the “Conspiracy Theorists” are those intriguing ASD members who purport to believe that paper currency is a government plot, that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated because he was about to expose the overall government conspiracy pertaining to money and that U.S. lawmakers passed secret legislation in the 1990s in anticipation of a visit by reptilian aliens.
The ASD Ponzi story is like none other. Will Bowdoin emerge as the most interesting personality? Will Moriarty, “joe,” Richmond, Surf’s Up or Guenther?
Or will it be the “Conspiracy Theorists?”