BULLETIN: Club Asteria Says Revenue Has Plunged ‘Dramatically’; Firm Blames Member Lies For Crisis, Compares Situation To Run On The Bank

BULLETIN: UPDATED 6:44 A.M. EDT (U.S.A.) Club Asteria, a Virginia-based company that claims to elevate people out of poverty globally by involving them in an MLM-like income and recruitment scheme, has acknowledged a revenue plunge and described it as dramatic.

In an audio recording posted online, the firm blamed its current state on lies from members and bad publicity. The audio is dated June 24.

“It’s taken our revenue, and it has hurt it dramatically,” the company said.

Club Asteria, which described itself as a ’cause’ marketing company concerned about the impoverished people of India and other countries across the world, conceded it has been swamped by “thousands” of support tickets from members.

Eight weeks ago, approximately a year after its launch, Club Asteria discovered that it had liars in its ranks, the company claimed in the recording. The liars created problems, according to the firm.

Among other places, Club Asteria is being promoted on forums linked to numerous Ponzi schemes. A Club Asteria thread on TalkGold, for example, has been active since April 5, 2010. Meanwhile, a Club Asteria thread on MoneyMakerGroup has been active since May 29, 2010. Both forums are referenced in federal court filings as places from which Ponzi schemes are promoted.

Club Asteria did not say in the recording precisely where it believed its problems with untruthful promoters had begun. Nor did the company say how much money it believed it had collected as a result of lies told by its freelance sales staff or what it planned to do with tainted proceeds.

“The challenge that occurred is that, all of a sudden, we found that our membership — many of our members — were presenting Club Asteria in an inaccurate, untruthful manner,” the company said.

False claims and “all kinds of distortions” were being made “all over the Internet” that Club Asteria provided “passive” income of $400 per week, the company said.

Members — and not the company itself — were responsible for the false claims, the revenue plunge and putting the firm at risk, the company suggested in the recording.

“It’s like a bank where somebody says, ‘They have no money left.’ And everybody runs to the bank and takes their money out,” the company said. “Of course, the bank is going to be in serious trouble . . .”

Many Club Asteria members have claimed preemptively in promos for the firm that Club Asteria was not operating a Ponzi scheme. Why the firm chose a bank-run analogy to describe its problems was not immediately clear.

Some Ponzi schemes topple — the Bernard Madoff scheme, for instance — when a company encounters cash-flow problems and cannot meet redemption requests, the Ponzi equivalent of a run on the bank. In a classic Ponzi scheme, no real business exists — and a firm takes money from “new” members to meet the payout expectations of “old” members.

Club Asteria said it hoped to reverse its financial course by inspiring members to sell more products and services to increase revenue. Meanwhile, the firm said it hoped to sell a tablet computer to members on time payments beginning on a date uncertain. Club Asteria did not identify a manufacturer for the computer, but said the device would help members become better equipped to run successful businesses.

Whether impoverished members of Club Asteria could afford a tablet computer or whether such a computer would be operable in all the countries of the world was not made clear in the recording.

Pricing for the tablet was not revealed. The firm also said it planned to offer apparel, vitamins and other products.

There have been claims in recent weeks that Club Asteria has slashed cashouts, which some members claimed provided a return of 10 percent a week. Other members said Club Asteria normally paid between 3 percent and 4 percent a week.  In recent days, there have been claims that the firm suspended cashouts altogether. These claims followed on the heels of claims that Club Asteria had offered bonuses convertible to cash to lure members to join.

Club Asteria did not say in the recording whether it believed its bonus program had contributed to its problems. Nor did the firm say why it had come to recognize only weeks ago that false claims about its business opportunity were appearing online.

In a strange turn-of-phrase, however, the company did say this: “We offer them products and services to purchase under the guise of ’cause’ marketing.”

The firm described “cause” marketing as an inspirational “concept” that targets people globally who may be enduring personal poverty and motivates them to climb the ladder of economic success by giving them something in which to believe.

Two of the problems the company is experiencing are that fewer people now believe in it because of the lies told by members and because members were complaining in public about the firm, Club Asteria said.

Listen to the recording.

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10 Responses to “BULLETIN: Club Asteria Says Revenue Has Plunged ‘Dramatically’; Firm Blames Member Lies For Crisis, Compares Situation To Run On The Bank”

  1. Difficult to belive how someone can lie so blatantly as this guy on recording. Not a one word of truth in ten minutes of talking.

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  2. Looks like Ken Russo is to blame and singlehandedly sinking the ‘company’. LOL.

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  3. Stroes/Manolo is right beside Russo/DrDave in the blame game. Hopefully there will be jail time for some of these people.

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  4. Based on the claims of how many members Club Asteria had, and then figuring out paying versus non-paying members, it is hard to get a real fix on just how much money they have taken in, as well as the various level of monthly payments. A very rough estimate is they should be sitting on around $50 Million in cash. It coulde be much higher, or much lower, but it should still be at a minimum in the $20 Million dollar range. Not exactly what I would call poor or in dire financial straights. This caclulation is based on the number of ND’s they claim at each level, gold and silver levels, and then using a modest 40% of members as paying members.

    So it is surprising to hear their claim of a cash crisis. They had plenty of funds to go to Florida for a strategic planning meeting of all the players, and I am sure they didn’t stay at Motel 6.

    But they are right, their members are dropping like flies, and these are the “Paying” members they can ill afford to lose. It is going to be interesting to see just how this all plays out in the coming weeks. For if they cannot stem the tide of people jumping ship, this is done by the end of July, if not before.

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  5. This one is now at the point where all the arguments and protestations of the HYIP ponzi “game” players fall into a black hole.

    Supporters of these abominations like to pretend things were different “back in the day” and these things are no more than a form of “gambling” albeit an illegal form.

    While it may be somewhat funny for observers of the “scene” watching as Club Asteria and its’ pimps struggle to come up new variations of the usual excuses as yet ANOTHER HYIP game bites the dust, it should be remembered what’s happening here is no less than fraud on a large scale being carried out under the noses of those who are charged with upholding the law/s and protecting citizens, whether or not said citizens are naive, gullible and/or plain silly.

    It’s all too easy to accept this one is “relatively small in the grand scheme of things” or “it’s only 20 million” or “it serves the losers right for being so stupid”

    This is bloody fraud, taxes are being avoided, goodness knows where those “$20 million” have ended up and, worst of all, people are being hurt.

    No amount of rationalizing, justifying or laying blame can alter those truths.

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  6. From the recording:

    “But the people that are doing nothing — and complaining — are hurting us very badly.

    “The revenue share has gone down and down and down — not because of anything that Mark Kaplan, Hank Needham, Andrea Lucas or the policy or the whole vision and mission of Club Asteria has done to change.

    “It’s happened because of this terrible, terrible complaining — and bad publicity that we’ve received.”

    Patrick

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  7. ‘It’s our members who have lied, not us,’is the classic scripted-lie told by ‘business opportunity’ racketeers. Indeed, this familiar fairytale, is itself illustrative of an established pattern of ongoing, major racketeering activity; for, self-evidently, it has been maliciously designed to prevent, and/or divert, investigation of fraud and to isolate the beneficiaries of this fraud from liability.

    Interestingly, when the British government filed a public interest, civil bankruptcy petition against ‘Amway UK Ltd.’in 2007, accusing ‘Amway’ of ‘dream selling’, the company’s officers escaped compulsory closure and a probable criminal investigation, by claiming that neither they, nor their company, had ever made exaggerated earnings claims: it was a few rogue ‘Amway’ distributors who had told these dreadful lies. Yet between 1973 and 2006, at least one million UK and Irish citizens were churned through the so-called ‘Amway business opportunity.’Sadly, this is just one small part of a secret financial holocaust (with a small ‘h’) which has consumed, and continues to consume, tens of millions of ill-informed individuals around the globe; for (since its instigation in 1959) the so-called ‘Amway business opportunity’ is known to have had an overall, failure/drop-out rate of effectively 100% – a key-fact which has always been deliberately hidden from the public.

    The recent, reality-inverting, audio recording posted on line by the bosses of the pernicious ‘business opportunity’fraud known as ‘Club Asteria’, should, therefore, be seen as being part of an established pattern of ongoing, major racketeering activity (as defined by RICO – the US federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act 1970 – and clarified by subsequent US Supreme Court judgements).

    David Brear (copyright 2011)

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