UPDATE: Club Asteria Now Said To Have 230,000 Members; ‘I Got Paid’ Posts Appear On Ponzi Boards; Press Releases Picked Up By Google News; Web Promos Stress ‘Passive’ Earnings

“[I]f this company doesn’t have sales, it’s not a viable company. Every company has to have sales that’s what makes this company work because the great business model, not because it has a lot of outside resources, but with that said we have a lot of things planned in the next weeks and months ahead. This will create lots more wealth for you.” — Federal prosecutors, quoting Golden Panda Ad Builder President Clarence Busby in August 2008 forfeiture complaint that seized $80 million in the ASD/Golden Panda Ponzi case.

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“Our electronic wallet offered by our financial partners can make a great difference to you and your family. If you don’t utilize these programs and services and take advantage of everything that Club Asteria offers, you are not helping yourself. Our services are priceless — but only if you take advantage of them.

“We are privileged to work for you and we hope that you feel privileged to be part of our Club that is striving to make a real difference for you and the rest of the world. When the revenue sharing is announced each week, remember that we are doing our part to bring about the best services and products — you need to do your part as well to maintain the highest revenue sharing.” — Club Asteria announcement to members, April 2, 2011.

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Members of Club Asteria, an online “opportunity” that trades on the name of the World Bank, purportedly issues member payments from Hong Kong and is promoted on Ponzi scheme and criminals’ forums as a “revenue sharing” business, now say that the club’s worldwide membership roster has swelled to more than 230,000.

A new wave of “I got paid” posts appeared on TalkGold and MoneyMakerGroup over the weekend, and promoter “manolo” announced that a “matching bonus” program had been extended through April. Separately, other Club Asteria members are seeking to drive business to the firm, which touts its relationship with offshore payment processors, by issuing press releases in multiple languages.

Google News has picked up a number of the releases in recent days, including one dated March 28 that touts a Miami-based promoter and claims “Club Asteria is exploding in every corner of the world.”

When clicked, a URL in the press release takes visitors to a text and audio pitch for Club Asteria. “Some members are making in excess of $20,000 US Dollars per month,” the promo claims in bold. Prospects who pay Club Asteria a fee of $20 to join as a “GOLD Member” are offered a coaching program that promises the “best tips and tricks that you WILL need to succeed with Club-Asteria!” according to the promo.

Google rejected an application by the PP Blog in June 2010 to become part of its Google News service. The PP Blog covers online fraud schemes and is written by a journalist with more than 20 years’ experience.

“[W]e’re unable to include it in Google News at this time,” Google advised the Blog. “We don’t include sites that are written and maintained by one individual.”

Some Club Asteria members say the company is based in the United States. Why payments purportedly are issued from Hong Kong is unclear.

Forum posts that declare “I got paid” have been associated with Ponzi schemes that spread virally on the Internet. Such schemes have used press releases to sanitize the business “opportunities,” and also have made use of “matching bonus” programs and offshore processors.

A March 30 sales pitch from a Club Asteria promoter claims the program “ia (sic) a basically (sic) Human Development Program.”

The pitch continues with an all-caps paragraph that purportedly defines what the program is not and includes 15 exclamation points.

“A CHANCE TO CREATE INCOME FOR LIFE…!!! YES…!!! INCOME FOR LIFE FINANCIAL FREEDOM…!!! CLUB ASTERIA EARN AND SHARE, NO SCAM, NO HYIP, NO PONZI, NO GET RICH QUICK SCHEME. EARN $ 400 EVERY WEEK FOR LIFE LONG. JUST A TRUE INVESTMENT AND A GREAT WAY TO EARN AND SHARE THE WEALTH WITH ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD. RUN BY FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE WORLD BANK ANDREA LUCAS. NOW CLUB-ASTERIA IS PRELAUNCH PHASE. GET ON NOW TO GRAB PRELAUNCH OFFERS…!!! JOIN NOW…!!!”

Preemptive claims that emphasize what a program is not also have been associated with Ponzi schemes.

The World Bank said last month that it once employed a person named Andrea Lucas, but that she left her job as a department head in Washington, D.C., in December 1986, nearly 25 years ago. Lucas was not a member of the World Bank’s board of directors, as hundreds — and perhaps thousands — of promotions for Club Asteria have implied.

Some Club Asteria members have identified Lucas as a former World Bank “Vice president” and “Chairman.”

Although Club Asteria has been promoted as a “passive” investment opportunity in which customers would simply register, pay a fee and earn money from the efforts of others, Club Asteria now appears to be trying to distance itself from those claims — while keeping the “matching bonus” program intact.

Claims that members can make money passively by simply paying a fee and relying on Club Asteria to generate profits leads to questions about whether the company and its army of affiliates are selling unregistered securities as investment contracts. On March 17, the company said that members who registered for its program and paid a fee were in position to “help the people of Japan” after last month’s devastating earthquake.

About two weeks later, Club Asteria suggested that members were overselling the earnings program and making false claims.

“The revenue will go up or down depending on how many members actively take advantage of utilizing and/or selling any one of our programs or services,” Club Asteria said in an April 2  note on its website. “If anybody has told you something different, they are mistaken and incorrect. We share our revenue that is earned by our membership. There is no guarantee. It would be impossible to guarantee this.”

Club Asteria members earned a payout of 4.01 percent last week, according to “akledba,” who was posting on the MoneyMakerGroup Ponzi forum in 36-point type.

“Wow, that is great,” replied MoneyMakerGroup member “strosdegoz.”

“I didn’t realize it was higher than last week,” strosdegoz noted. Below the post was a link for a program called “Exotic FX,” which bills itself a “PRIVATE ASSET HAVEN.”

MoneyMakerGroup is referenced in U.S. federal court filings as a place from which the alleged Pathway to Prosperity and Legisi Ponzi schemes were promoted. The schemes gathered more than $140 million, according to court filings.

Club Asteria did not say how much money it had collected as a result of purported misrepresentations by members or how members could be assured that the firm’s money stream was free of Ponzi and scam proceeds. The company does not publish verifiable financial data. Because the “opportunity” is being promoted on well-known Ponzi forums, it is possible that serial fraudsters have polluted Club Asteria’s revenue stream with proceeds from autosurf fraud schemes, HYIP fraud schemes, MLM fraud schemes, Forex fraud schemes, “arbitrage” fraud schemes and other forms of online fraud.

“Matching bonus” programs have been one of the hallmarks of online Ponzi schemes, some of which swelled to victimize tens of thousands of participants. AdSurfDaily, an “autosurf” firm that also was promoted on the Ponzi boards, routinely used matching bonuses to attract prospects. ASD’s membership ranks swelled to 120,000, according to promos for the firm, which now is accused of operating an international Ponzi scheme that gathered at least $110 million.

In 2009, a firm known as AdViewGlobal (AVG), which is said to have recruited 20,000 members in only weeks after the seizure of ASD-related assets, also used matching bonuses. One promoter claimed that $5,000 sent to AVG turned into $15,000 “instantly.” AVG also was promoted on the Ponzi boards.

AVG collapsed in June 2009. Private attorneys suing ASD President Andy Bowdoin in a racketeering case have referenced AVG in court filings. Federal prosecutors who brought both civil and criminal charges against ASD have made veiled references to AVG in court filings.

Recent promos for Club Asteria have made claims such as these (below): (NOTE: These are verbatim and are from multipe websites, all of which could be driving money to Club Asteria.)

  • “Earn a realistic $400 a week… PASSIVELY!”
  • “Discover How You Can Earn $400 Per Week Passively With No Sponsoring Requirement And How To Make Money Starting Now!”
  • “We help you become financially secure, YOU help others become financially free. We are restoring balance of financial equality.”
  • “Join Our TEAM and Earn $400 weekly for $20”
  • “Club Asteria” A site of “World Bank’s former Vice president Andrea Lucas”
  • “We all can be millionaires in 2 years if we can afford to invest N15,300 ($100). Thanks to ANDREA LUCAS, a former World Bank Director who established the investment outfit, CLUB ASTERIA.” (Continued below graphic.)

This Club Asteria promo, which trades on the names of Google, Yahoo, MSN and America Online, claims Club Asteria members earn $400 a week "passively." Such claims lead to questions about whether Club Asteria members are selling unregistered securities as investment contracts.

  • “Be 100% passive and still earn $400 weekly from Real/Legal/Safe Co.”
  • “Hi, club Asteria is founded by former world bank Chairman. running in 141 countries worldwide,21 years experience,its main aim is to eradicate poverty by giving micro-loans.If u pays $20 monthly for life-long by taking gold membership,you earn weakly $400 for lifelong from 19 th Month.No-referrals.But,If u refer one member, U get $9 monthly for lifelong.”

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23 Responses to “UPDATE: Club Asteria Now Said To Have 230,000 Members; ‘I Got Paid’ Posts Appear On Ponzi Boards; Press Releases Picked Up By Google News; Web Promos Stress ‘Passive’ Earnings”

  1. Well, Andrea did get one comment in her update correct when she said, “Our services are priceless.” Almost all of them are available “free” on the Internet. If you are a gold member, they are free to you as well. So where’s that outside revenue stream coming from?

    The matching bonus extended through April is a clear sign this is in financial trouble. They have way too many “free” members for this to sustain itself much longer. A previous update Andrea used the words “forced” and “mandated” to move people from being fee-loaders to paid members. Guess that didn’t set too well with the members, so this time she has toned it down; but the message is clear….you must pay to play.

    Just like ASD, there are no outside revenue streams to continue to pay the members. Payments come only from new members paying to participate. My guess is they have only about 85,000 paying members, and the rest are all counting on the “passive income” promised; which spells doom for this shortly. Also, the number of people reporting “I got paid” have slowed down and reduced in number in the past few days as well. They even took down their private forum for members. Another ominous sign this is in trouble. This is running out of gas, and it won’t be long now until the tank is empty and they run with the money.

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  2. Opps, meant to say “free-loaders” instead of “fee-loaders.”

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  3. So where’s that outside revenue stream coming from?

    I thought the ponzi scammer was claiming no outside income? From their ponzi punt:

    Our revenue is determined by the support and participation of each of our 220,000+ members.

    So the only income is from the “members”. I was trying to work out what it was they were trying to see to the punters.

    Each member has the opportunity to take advantage of gaining knowledge and skills through our entrepreneurial education

    That’s the usual e-books pdfs that are either available free or of no use, I guess.

    Each member can make money through our e-commerce program

    What is that? Any ideas?

    Each member can manage his/her finances through saving, managing and transferring their funds globally through our e-wallet

    Got that one – that’s money transmitting. The sort of thing most US states require a licence for. Like PayPal has and E-Gold didn’t. Also known a wire fraud.

    Each member can purchase or sell any of the products and services we have made available

    Are any of those “products” the usual MLM “health” drinks, by any chance?

    Each member can share all of this with someone they believe would benefit from all of the above

    I knew there was a reason why Ken Russo was promoting this obvious ponzi scheme on the ponzi boards. Who would have guessed he was in it for the referral commission?

    —-

    My guess is they have only about 85,000 paying members

    That many? I suspect it’s much less. 20K at most putting in a significant sum, the majority of paying punters just putting in the minimum.

    the number of people reporting “I got paid” have slowed down

    Perhaps the ponzi operator has no money to pay for any more “got paid” posts?

    P.S. Patrick, maybe it’s just me, but the “Quote” link seems to be broken. It could be my version of firefox that is breaking it.

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  4. Tony H: P.S. Patrick, maybe it’s just me, but the “Quote” link seems to be broken. It could be my version of firefox that is breaking it.

    Admin test.

    Patrick

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  5. Seems to be working here, Tony.

    Patrick

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  6. Well, something I know is lost on the Talkgold crowd is how disturbing the membership total is. A few weeks ago it was crossing the 200,000 member milestone, now it’s only 230,000. Or more plainly, one in 30 members managed to find a new sucker. It’s hard to maintain a ponzi scheme that depends on gemetric progression when your recruitment is that bad.

    Of course, that’s assuming the brag about number has any basis in reality, and in 9 years of watching this channel, I have yet to see one set of verified numbers that matched, hell, that were even half of, the number of members the pumpers were bragging about. And that only makes it worse, if true. That would mean that not only are they lying to you, they’re not even lying with good news.

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  7. My last post has a boo boo in it, it shold be one in 15 members managed to find the next sucker for their downline, not one in 30. Still not a very encouraging number.

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  8. Gregg Evans: not only are they lying to you, they’re not even lying with good news.

    A memorable line indeed, Gregg. It says a lot — with great economy.

    Patrick

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  9. Gregg Evans: in 9 years of watching this channel, I have yet to see one set of verified numbers that matched, hell, that were even half of, the number of members the pumpers were bragging about.

    Back in 2009, when AVG was reimagining itself as a new company after its bank account purportedly was suspended, its CEO purportedly quit to take a job in the “accounting” department and the ASD grand jury was meeting in D.C., I saw three different claims about the size of AVG’s membership roster: 15,000, 17,000 and 20,000+.

    The source for all three claims was AVG itself. In short, AVG could not even agree on its own website how many members it had.

    After AVG declared itself a U.S. satellite in Uruguay and divined U.S. Constitutional protections to itself from its purported overseas venue, it issued a new release with a dateline of Tallahassee. Those were some mighty strange days.

    Patrick

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  10. Patrick,

    your headline is now inaccurate.

    Well, according to Manolo/Strozdegos, that is.

    He’s currently trumpeting “Insane growth in Club-Asteria. My latest member ID is 269637”

    He is partially correct, he has the “insane” part right.

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  11. littleroundman: your headline is now inaccurate.

    Well, according to Manolo/Strozdegos, that is.

    He’s currently trumpeting “Insane growth in Club-Asteria. My latest member ID is 269637?

    Hi LRM,

    Hey, maybe CORRECTION will chime in about that headline?

    Memory Lane:

    http://patrickpretty.com/2009/06/03/adviewglobal-promoter-says-prospects-can-bypass-company-and-purchase-ad-packs-directly-from-sponsors-to-ensure-they-get-credited-with-200-percent-match-before-deadline/

    Patrick

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  12. Got to wonder how much more it will take till Andrea Lucas and co are indicted for running this scam??….

    Also worth noting that Ken Russo has gone quiet on this one….He must now realize the end is not far away….

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  13. I keep waiting for Daniel to show up. Wonder where he went to all of a sudden? It seems he disappeared after I exposed Andrea’s background in another thread of yours Patrick about CA. Maybe the information was too much for him to handle. LOL! Also notice that Stros/manolo won’t come here and post either. They only like to post on forums where the mods protect them because they have nothing factual to present.

    This last number count tells me they are inflating the numbers trying to convince people they are still growing. I think they peaked about 3 weeks ago and are now limping along. Just not enough people posting on TG and MMG claiming “I got paid” posts. The pimps only form of due diligence. Even Ken, the pimp, Russo has disappeared, which is a sure sign this is about to collapse.

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  14. admin: Hey, maybe CORRECTION will chime in about that headline?

    Ah,

    for some strange reason I now have the words of Barbra Streisand running ’round inside my head:

    “Mem’ries,
    Light the corners of my mind
    Misty water-colored memories
    Of the way we were”

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  15. “Discover how to earn $400 a week PASSIVELY.”

    That was the original pitch and was “true” if you had a maxed out “Asterio balance”(20,000) AND the weekly payout was 10%. As noted above the weekly payout recently climbed to 4.1% which means your passive income from a maxed balance is only $164.

    “I didn’t realize it was higher than last week,” strosdegoz noted.

    That’s because his weekly passive ponzi profits are the smallest portion of the money he makes off the program. Club Asteria is a recruiting pyramid built on top of a ponzi scheme with payments to recruiters starting with almost an even split of monthly fees from the people you bring into the program and it only increases from there.

    At a sustained 4.1% payout it would take a passive gold member 82 weeks to break even in the program but when you factor in the bonuses paid to the people who recruited that member the program starts losing money on that member before week 55.

    At this point it’s overwhelmingly safe to say that no one joining C-A today as a passive member will ever make an “income” from the program. The only way to take out more money than you put in is to get enough other people to put in their money too. The only thing I can hope for is that some day Adrea and Hank will pass Andy Bowdoin in a hallway heading to their respective court appointments.

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  16. The only thing I can hope for is that some day Adrea and Hank will pass Andy Bowdoin in a hallway heading to their respective court appointments.

    You mean on their way to their respective Cells!

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  17. admin:
    Admin test.Patrick

    The quote works fine on this article but on another article when I tried to use the quote link it did not work. I am not sure why?? :{

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  18. Seems one of the posters “praising” CA at MMG took offense at someone referring to the major promoters as pimps. This from the guy who loves to dish it out, just can’t take it. I guess he didn’t like people being reminded that a lot of people are going to get “screwed.” It’s why they are called pimps.

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  19. Lynn wrote: Seems one of the posters “praising” CA at MMG took offense at someone referring to the major promoters as pimps.

    I replied: Lynn, the MMG complaint from “10BucksUp” sounds like the type of complaint “Daniel” or “Pokwang” might have — you know, when they’re using the same IP to call the naysayers “ambulance-chasing lawyers” and “extortionists” and “blackmailers” who should go “f*” themselves.

    Wonder if they know each other?

    Nah. Probably not. “10BucksUp” probably has been far too successful in the ad2million “advertising” program that promises “a wonderful opportunity to turn your $10 into 4 million” to give even the time of day to “Daniel” and “Pokwang.”

    Patrick

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  20. The latest news…

    Dear Members,

    Our IT Department is working on a few issues with the new environment and you will see a few downtimes over the next day or two.
    We are working to resolve this ASAP.

    We will keep you informed if there are any changes. Once again, thank you for your patience.

    Andrea Lucas
    Managing Director

    What is it about generating fantastic returns, using expensive but irreversible funding options and advertising on ponzi discussion forums that makes a company’s website unreliable?

    I’m shocked I tell you.

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  21. NOT IT issues! OMG. This is unthinkable. Andrea, please tell me it’s not true. I dont want to have to go up to Mom’s attic to look for the big red flag again. There’s spiders up there!

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  22. OK now for the ugly truth. These IT Issues are nothing more than their hamsters going on strike. They are demanding better and shorter working hours, more food, bigger cages, a bigger tread wheel, more relief help, maternitiy leave, sick pay, holiday pay, and a guaranteed pension plan or they will strike and unionize. If their demands are not met, they will import hamsters from around the country to stage a sit-in of CA’s Headquarters. That is if they can figure out which mailbox drop they are using this week, or if it too has been moved to Hong Kong.

    The good news is that Andrea and Hank believe they have a workable compromise plan so this threatened shut-down is not permanent, and they won’t have to contend with imported hamster protesters.

    This will not have any effect on the upcoming payment processor issues that will happen next.

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