Forex Ponzi Schemers Who Targeted Deaf Investors Hit With $6.2 Million In Sanctions; ‘Billion Coupons’ Case Drew Comparisons To Defunct Noobing Autosurf
Both the SEC and the CFTC filed actions against Marvin Cooper and his Honolulu-based firm, Billion Coupons Inc. (BCI). The CFTC announced the judgment against Cooper and the company.
Investigators said Cooper and BCI “solicited funds from deaf American and Japanese individuals for the sole purported purpose of trading forex,” luring them with payout promises of up to 25 percent per month.
For his part, Cooper took “more than $1.4 million of customer funds for personal use, including for flying lessons and to purchase a $1 million home,” investigators said.
He was ordered to pay $3.9 million in restitution to customers and more than $2.3 million in penalties. The company is liable for the same amounts.
The “Billion Coupons” case drew comparisons to the now-defunct Noobing autosurf, which also targeted the deaf. Noobing became popular in the aftermath of the August 2008 federal seizure of tens of millions of dollars in the AdSurfDaily Ponzi scheme case.
Despite the federal seizure, some ASD members promoted Noobing. Noobing effectively went bust in July 2009, when the FTC charged its parent company — Affiliate Strategies Inc. — with pushing a scheme that promised “guaranteed” government grants of $25,000 from economic stimulus funds.
Noobing later was named a receivership defendant in the case. Receiver Larry Cook sold the company’s assets lock, stock and barrel — right down to a lavatory wastebasket. Like ASD, Noobing’s parent firm also owned a jet ski. Cook sold that, too.
Despite dramatic asset seizures and the federal actions against ASD and Noobing’s parent — and despite previous actions against autosurfs, including 12DailyPro, PhoenixSurf and CEP — some ASD members have continued to promote autosurfs.
This has occurred against the backdrop of a racketeering lawsuit against ASD President Andy Bowdoin and public filings in which prosecutors claimed Bowdoin had signed a “proffer” letter in the case and met with members of law enforcement over a period of four days in December 2008 and January 2009.
It also is known that Interpol is seeking the arrest of Robert Hodgins, whose Dallas-based debit-card company, Virtual Money Inc., is alleged to have agreed to launder drug money in the Dominican Republic and assist a Colombian drug operation launder money at ATMs in Medellin.
ASD members said Hodgins’ company supplied debit cards to AdSurfDaily, and web records suggest that Hodgins or a Virtual Money designate attended an ASD function in the Orlando area in late 2006.
Even though Bowdoin acknowledged in court filings that he had given information against his interests to the government, some ASD members continue to promote autosurfs and HYIPs. After signing the proffer letter and surrendering his claims to more than $65.8 million seized from his personal bank accounts, Bowdoin later reentered the case as his own attorney.
One of Bowdoin’s 10 personal bank accounts contained more than $31 million, according to court filings. Another contained more than $23 million. Three other bank accounts contained the exact same amount — a little over $1 million.
After submitting to the forfeiture in January 2009, Bowdoin fired his attorneys without notice and attempted to reenter the case weeks later as his own attorney. This set in motion a series of bizarre pleadings from Bowdoin, including one in which he claimed he had not been provided “fair notice” of his illegal conduct by the government. ASD members by the dozens then filed their own bizarre, pro se pleadings. U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled against each of the filers, saying they had no standing in the case.
Collyer since has ruled against Bowdoin, awarding title to more than $80 million seized in the case to the government, which said it intends to implement a restitution program. Bowdoin is appealing Collyer’s forfeiture decisions.
Court filings show that Bowdoin told Collyer the seized money belonged to him. In September 2009, the U.S. Secret Service presented Collyer a transcript of a conference-call recording in which Bowdoin told members the money belonged to them. Although Bowdoin insisted he had big plans for ASD, records show that he let the firm’s registration lapse in the state of Florida — even as he was telling members they should be excited about the company’s future.
In the recording, Bowdoin claimed his fight against the government was inspired by the compelling personal story of a former Miss America.