DISTURBING: Email Received By Some ASD Members Suggests They Could Be Sued For Participating In Refund Program; Records Suggest ‘Legal Opinion’ Was Offered By Man Named In Complaints For ‘Unauthorized Practice Of Law’ And Linked To ‘Extremist Group’ By Anti-Defamation League
In a bizarre and unsettling development, some members of AdSurfDaily who may be planning to file for restitution through the official claims administrator have received a confusing and threatening email from a “group” of ASD members.
The email, which appears to be a compendium that cobbles together communications from the group and asks ASD members to pass along the information, implies that ASD members who file for restitution through the government-approved process may face legal action from the group, which has or will file claims against the “illicit UNITED STATED (sic) OF AMERICA INC. et al” for its prosecution of the ASD Ponzi scheme case brought by the U.S. Secret Service in August 2008.
The lawsuit threat appears to be targeted at ASD members who are planning to file a restitution claim through Rust Consulting Inc. of Minneapolis. Rust Consulting is under contract with the government to administer the restitution program through a process known as remission in which ASD members must certify they are crime victims.
Pasted into the email is a purported “legal opinion” by a person described as “Keny” of “AMERICAN-International Business Law inc. (sic).”
“Keny” does not appear to be the source of the lawsuit threat. Rather, the email quotes a purported “legal opinion” by “Keny” — and then implies members who file through Rust Consulting may be sued by members of the group. The email asks members not to file for a refund through the official process.
“Please send me your response(s) and I will manage the feedback timely,” says an email signed “MYHUB.” “Again, we are asking that our Claimants do not engage in the DOJ’s Remission Process, as long you want to maintain being part of our Group Claims whatsoever. If you are indeed wanting to eat on the other side of the fence, you must let us know before you submit anything to the DOJ, without causing us potential harm and further damages. In case you were to fail to notify us, we would have a possible claim against you, and that’s not what you want us to do in the first place.
“We very much appreciate your understanding in this rather sensitive time of legal dealings,” the email continues. “No worries, we are just getting started to fight for and along with you. If you feel that this email could help some of your friends in ASD that are not part of our Group Claims, we are allowing you to share and forward this email as long it doesn’t end up in Blogs et al., but then again, people need to be informed since they can’t read and or understand the legal language or the meaning of words any longer.”
Google search results include multiple references to “AMERICAN-INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS LAW INC” and a person referenced as “Keny.”
One of the references appears on a website operated by Cornell University Law School under a heading of “Legal Services & Lawyers.” The Cornell reference identifies a person named Kenneth Wayne Leaming of AMERICAN-INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS LAW INC. of Spanaway, Wash. The Cornell site notes that correspondence should be sent to the attention of “Keny” and that Kenneth Wayne Leaming practices “Admiralty/Maritime, Business Law, Estate Planning and Native American Law.”
Records at the Practice of Law Board at the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) say that Kenneth Wayne Leaming, also known as Kenneth Wayne, was accused of the unauthorized practice of law by clients in 2005.
One client accused Leaming of “actively market[ing] legal services via seminars and the internet” and of providing “legal advice” and preparing “pleadings for many clients,” according to WSBA.
Another client accused Leaming of contracting with him “to assist him in avoiding an IRS lien on his home” and failing to provide the services.
On Dec. 20, 2005, WSBA said in a letter to Leaming that his “conduct constitutes the unauthorized practice of law.” The final disposition of the matter was not immediately clear. Also unclear is whether Leaming ever was a licensed attorney or authorized to practice law in any state.
Separately, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) lists Leaming as a member of an “extremist group” known as “Little Shell Pembina Band of North America.”
Leaming, according to ADL, is a “self-described ‘recognized international lawyer’ who once served as a deputy sheriff and member of the Civil Rights Task Force, a “sovereign citizen group that has used badges and raid jackets to resemble law enforcement officers.”
“His CRTF partner, David Carroll Stephenson, was ordered by a federal court in March 2004 to stop promoting an alleged tax scam that allowed people to avoid an estimated $43 million in federal income taxes,” according to ADL.
The identity of “MYHUB” was unclear in the email received by ASD members. Portions of the email were pieced together by a sender known as “Sara.” A person named Sara Mattoon once served as ASD’s official spokeswoman and is referenced in a court filing by the Secret Service in 2009.
In the email, “Sara” referenced remarks attributed to “Keny” as a “legal opinion about why it may be unwise for you to fill out the [Rust Consulting] form, aside from it working against ASD.”
The “Sara” email then reproduces the “MYHUB” email and the purported “legal opinion” by “Keny.”
The purported legal opinion describes the Rust Consulting website, which is listed in court documents as the official site for ASD victims, as “almost exclusively a propaganda site to get the viewer to ‘believe’ the gov’t LIE that advertising via network marketing on the internet is somehow bad business and fraudulent, and solicit false testimony from the viewer based on the false information!”
In yet-another email received by ASD members, a fellow member referenced as “Robert” also referred to the claims program administered by Rust Consulting. The email from “Robert” includes an unattributed opinion, meaning the identity of the person who offered the opinion is unclear.
“If members feel it absolutely necessary to complete the remission form now instead of waiting a little longer for the legal process to be completed then they may want to write on a separate piece of paper and have it notarized saying that they were not an investor,” according to the opinion contained within the email from “Robert.”
Members also should swear that “they purchased advertising for their website and that they were happy with their purchase,” according to the unattributed opinion circulated by “Robert.”
“The govt is trying to trick people into saying it was an investment,” the opinion claimed.
Separately, an apparent ASD member known as MMG7 who posts on the MoneyMakerGroup Ponzi forum left a scathing missive yesterday in an ASD thread at the forum.
“The same people who abused their power, under the color of law, back in August of 2008 and basically *shut down* the company without due process are up to yet additional tactics to *CREATE VICTIMS* out of thin air,” the post read in part.
“The general consensus is that once they can *create victims* they can then turn around and use it against ASD or even YOU.
“It is VERY HEALTHY to question their motives. Remember, these are the same people that ruined the lives of 100,000+ people in the blink of an eye without so much as having to provide an explanation for their actions.
“Could it be they thought ASD would roll over and play dead so they could put a feather in their cap and claim victory? Not to mention being able to keep a hefty sum of members monetary property.”
The MoneyMakerGroup forum is referenced in a May filing by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service as a place from which Ponzi schemes are promoted. The filing accused an entity known as Pathway To Prosperity of conducting an international Ponzi scheme that defrauded more than 40,000 investors across the globe.
MMG7 did not explain in his post how he arrived at the conclusion that ASD was denied due process in a court case that has featured more than 175 filings and a hearing called at ASD’s request to free seized money.
ASD’s request was denied in November 2008 because it did not demonstrate at the hearing it requested to prove its legitimacy that it was operating lawfully and was not a Ponzi scheme, according to court records.
ASD President Andy Bowdoin later met with federal prosecutors over a period of at least four days. Bowdoin, according to court filings, signed a proffer letter and acknowledged the government’s material allegations in the case were all true.
Although Bowdoin initially contested the forfeiture of tens of millions of dollars seized in the case, he submitted to it in January 2009. By the end of February 2009, however, Bowdoin reentered the case, acting as his own attorney and seeking to reassert his claims to the money. Months of legal wrangling followed, and Bowdoin was forced to hire new attorneys. A federal judge ruled last fall that Bowdoin would not be permitted to reenter the case, and an order of forfeiture was signed in January 2010.
Nor did MMG7 explain how he had arrived at his conclusion that the government “ruined the lives of 100,000+ people in the blink of an eye without so much as having to provide an explanation for their actions.”
Court records plainly show that that the government explained in considerable detail to at least two federal judges why it sought the authority to seize tens of millions of dollars contained in the personal bank accounts of Bowdoin, who was accused of swindling investors in an Alabama securities caper in the 1990s. Moroever, the government has said all along that it intended to establish a restitution pool from the assets seized in the case.
The implementation of both the pool and the restitution/remission process were delayed by appeals filed by Bowdoin.
Bowdoin was sentenced to prison in the Alabama case, but avoided jail time by agreeing to make restitution, according to records.
Clarence Busby, his business partner in the AdSurfDaily/Golden Panda Ad Builder venture, also swindled investors in a separate securities scheme in the 1990s, according to the SEC.
At the same time, MMG7 did not explain how he arrived at his conclusion that the government “shut down” ASD. Records show that ASD was permitted to continue to display advertising after the seizure, but that Bowdoin chose not to do so.
Prosecutors say that, despite ASD’s claims to a federal judge that it had no money to operate, the company had $1 million in an account under a “different name” on the island nation of Antigua.
Records show that Bowdoin did not reveal the existence of the Antigua money to members until after ASD had asked the court for emergency cash to pay its rent and webhosting bill.
U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer, whom Bowdoin and another member later tried to have removed from hearing the case, refused to release funds to ASD.