Better Business Bureau Revokes Accreditation Of Speed Of Wealth After SEC ‘Green’ Ponzi Action; Firm Experiences ASD-Like PR Disaster In Wake Of Allegations

The accreditation of a Colorado company implicated in an alleged $30 million “green” Ponzi scheme by the SEC has been revoked by the Denver/Boulder branch of the Better Business Bureau.

BBB now gives Speed of Wealth a rating of “F” — the worst possible score on a scale of “A+” to “F” — and says the accreditation was revoked because the company did not comply with BBB standards.

Speed of Wealth’s BBB accreditation was revoked on Dec. 16, precisely one month after the SEC accused the firm of selling a Ponzi scheme for Philadelphia-based Mantria Corp. A rating for Mantria was not immediately available. The BBB of the Mid-Atlantic region, Metro Washington, D.C., and Eastern Pennsylvania says on its website that the organization is in the process of updating its report on Mantria.

Under “Government Actions” in Speed of Wealth’s BBB listing, the organization summarizes the SEC allegations against Speed of Wealth and Mantria and provides links to the SEC’s charging document and news release in the case (emphasis added):

On November 16, 2009 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission “SEC” filed a complaint with charges against Mantria Corporation, Troy B. Wragg, Amanda Knorr, Speed of Wealth LLC, Wayde M. McKelvy, and Donna M. McKelvy alleging that they are involved in perpetrating a $30 million Ponzi Scheme, which they persuaded more than 300 investors nationwide to participate in purported environmentally- friend[ly] investment opportunities.

Click below view the entire press release and the complaint from the “SEC”:

http://denver.bbb.org/Storage/33/Documents/9-16-09%20SEC_Complaint_Speed%20of%20Wealth.pdf

http://www.sec.gov/news/press/2009/2009-247.htm

PR Disasters Mark Speed Of Wealth, AdSurfDaily Cases

Speed of Wealth’s website now throws a server error and appears to have been disabled. In a column in the Denver Business Journal last month, reporter Renee McGaw said she attempted to email Wayde McKelvy, a Speed of Wealth principal, to get his comments on the SEC action.

McGaw reported that her email to McKelvy resulted in a steady stream of pitches to join wealth-building programs.

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

The Denver Post also wrote about the Trump Network emails from McKelvy in the wake of the SEC action. A college professor interviewed by the newspaper said words such as “amazing,” “unbelievable” and “phenomenal” used by McKelvy to describe the Trump Network should be considered red flags.

The emails demonstrated that a crisis affecting one company can bring an unwanted spotlight on wholly separate brands. Indeed, the Denver Post reported that it contacted the Trump Network for comment on McKelvy’s emails. The calls were not returned.

Even the names of President Obama, former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton became part of the Mantria/Speed of Wealth story. The companies used a video that included images of Obama, the Clintons and other politicians and media figures in promotional materials.

Meanwhile, the McKelvy emails were reminiscent of the experiences reporters had when they tried to contact Florida-based AdSurfDaily for comment after federal prosecutors seized tens of millions of dollars from the firm amid Ponzi allegations in August 2008.

Like Speed of Wealth, ASD also has a rating of “F” from the BBB, which cites government actions against the autosurf firm. Unlike Speed of Wealth, ASD has unresolved consumer complaints, according to the BBB.

Reporters who called ASD got a recording featuring the voice of ASD President Andy Bowdoin. Bowdoin, whom prosecutors later said had “followers,” intoned in the recording that that God was on the company’s side.

Thirteen months later, Bowdoin told an audience listening to a conference call that his ongoing legal fight against the government was inspired by the story of a former Miss America who now operates a Christian organization. The PP Blog contacted both the Miss America Organization and the Christian organization for comment.

The Miss America Organization did not return the call; the Christian organization, Salem Family Ministries, responded by saying it had no comment, except to say it did not recognize Bowdoin’s name. The Secret Service transcribed Bowdoin’s remarks in the conference call and presented them to the federal judge hearing the forfeiture cases against the firm.

Companies in legal crisis can lose the PR war quickly if their initial actions lead to more questions than answers. Within days of the federal action against ASD, Bowdoin invoked “Satan,” comparing the U.S. Secret Service to the 9/11 terrorists who killed nearly 3,000 people.

In a Nov. 19 conference call with participants, McKelvy described the SEC allegations as “ridiculous,” but at the same time acknowledged he possibly sold securities without a license, according to the Denver Business Journal.

But in the same conference call — just days after the SEC action — McKelvy also said he was turning his attention to the Trump Network, an MLM opportunity. The comment — and the emails Speed of Wealth sent out to promote the Trump Network — led to more headlines in newspapers, forums and Blogs.

Read Speed of Wealth’s BBB report.

Read ASD’s BBB Report.

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