SPECIAL REPORT: PROSECUTION: More Than 11,000 Remissions Claims And 150,000 Pages Of Documentation Received In AdSurfDaily Case; Number Of Claims Greatly Exceeds Population Of ASD’s Home Base Of Quincy, Fla.
UPDATED 12:09 P.M. EDT (U.S.A.) Federal prosecutors effectively advised U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer last month that enough people to fill a small city had filed remissions claims in the AdSurfDaily autosurf Ponzi case.
Although prosecutors did not reveal a precise number, they said in court filings that more than 11,000 people had filed claims and provided more than 150,000 pages of documentation. ASD was based in Quincy, Fla.
Remissions is a form of restitution. Prosecutors have said for more than two years that the government intends to compensate ASD victims from funds seized by the U.S. Secret Service in civil-forfeiture actions against ASD-related assets in 2008. Collyer issued civil judgments in the government’s favor totaling about $80 million in 2009 and 2010. Bowdoin was charged criminally with wire fraud, securities fraud and selling unregistered securities in December 2010.
ASD created Ponzi victims all over the world, prosecutors have said. The claims number alone greatly exceeds the Gadsden County community of Quincy’s population of roughly 7,000. It also greatly exceeds the population of Perry, the 7,000-inhabitant Florida town in Taylor County Bowdoin once represented as a council member and mayor.
The claims number would consume nearly 80 percent of combined populations of Perry and Quincy. Looking at the number a different way, had ASD’s membership consisted only of residents of those two communities in separate counties, only one in five inhabitants — 20 percent — would be left untouched by the scheme. Had the 80 percent of residents who filed claims lost significant sums in ASD, the economies of both cities could have been brought to their knees.
Among the core dangers of autosurf schemes is that criminals — domestic and international — establish means by which they can tap into bank accounts, payment processing accounts and credit accounts at the local level. When a scheme collapses, it may affect commerce far and wide while also putting banks in multiple communities in possession of tainted cash. By some accounts, large numbers of members of individual churches became ASD members.
A collapsed autosurf scheme not only may affect individual churches, it may affect the finances of the church itself and the commerce stream in reach of the church and its members. One 2008 promo for ASD and a purported “millionaire” advertising co-op viewed by the PP Blog as part of its reporting encouraged members (verbatim, text coloring added by PP Blog) to:
Go to your nearest ATM machine
Use your Debit card to withdraw the necessary cash for your payment OR
Use your Credit card to make a “cash advance” of the necessary funds for your payment. Note: there is usually a much higher Annual Percentage Rate for a credit card cash advance. Take the cash to your nearest branch of Bank of America and deposit the cash amount in the AdSurfDaily, Inc. account, using the following information:
The promo appeared on a website linked to Tari Steward, whom Bowdoin has identified as a potential defense witness and the Internet Marketer behind an effort by Bowdoin to raise funds to pay for his criminal defense.
The U.S. government warned in December 2010 that securities schemes such as AdSurfDaily and Imperia Invest IBC that spread virally on the Internet were creating tens of thousands of victims at a time. Imperia, which was smashed by the SEC in October 2010, was targeted at people with hearing impairments and gathered millions of dollars.
Noobing, an autosurf that became popular after the ASD-related bank-account seizures in 2008 and collapsed in 2009 after the FTC took action against its parent company, also was targeted at the deaf community. Internet-based crimes and scams are creating victims in numbers America’s largest sports stadiums cannot accommodate, according to records.
ASD gathered at least $110 million in its scheme and may have created 40,000 or more victims, prosecutors have said, asserting in January 2011 that “as far as the Government is aware, there is no available accurate compilation” of all individuals or entities that lost money in the scheme.
“It appears from the investigation that there may be members who provided funds to ASD but whose information ASD did not enter into its database,” prosecutors said in January.
Bowdoin, with Steward’s reported assistance, has busied himself since June to raise funds online for his criminal defense from the members he is accused of defrauding. A web entity known as “Andy’s Fundraising Army” has been sending “blast” emails for weeks to a list of ASD members that purportedly contains 77,000 names.
Bowdoin also announced plans to complement his “Andy’s Army” fundraising efforts with a Facebook site, but no such site appears to have launched on the popular social network. At least three advertised launch dates for the Facebook site were missed.
Meanwhile, the “Andy’s Army” bid appears to have fallen flat, with Bowdoin stuck more than 95 percent short of his $500,000 goal after five continuous weeks of formal fundraising. Some ASD members have said they had received multiple fundraising appeals from Bowdoin in a single week.