BULLETIN: General Counsel’s Office Of American Red Cross Investigating Potential Case Of Brand Leeching By Club Asteria After Red Cross Logo Appears On Purported ‘Philanthropic’ Site And Inside Club Asteria’s October House Organ

BULLETIN: The Office of the General Counsel of the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C., has opened a probe into the potential misuse of the Red Cross logo and name by Club Asteria and an entity known as the Asteria Philanthropic Foundation or the Asteria Foundation.

Depending on how the investigation evolves in the coming days, Club Asteria could be on the receiving end of a cease-and-desist order, said Red Cross spokeswoman Anne Marie Borrego.

“The case has been sent to the Office of General Counsel,” Borrego said.

The Red Cross logo appears on a domain known as Asteria-Foundation.org. Meanwhile, the Red Cross logo also appears on the inside front cover (Page 2) of Club Asteria’s October house organ, which the purported business “opportunity” uses as a recruitment tool.

“So far, no one has been able to confirm a [Club Asteria] link to the Red Cross,” Borrego said.

Club Asteria claims in the electronic publication that the Red Cross is a “partner.”

Last month, Club Asteria produced a story in the house organ that used an image of actor Will Smith. Club Asteria later removed both the image of Smith and a purported “interview” with him, reconfiguring the publication to remove any reference to the “Independence Day” star.

Prior to the removal, the image of Smith was directly above a Club Asteria “JOIN NOW” button.

There appears to be no entry for the Asteria Philanthropic Foundation in a database maintained by the IRS, even though the Asteria-Foundation.org domain makes this claim — using the copyright symbol as opposed to a lowercase “c.”

“The Asteria Foundation is a charitable, tax-exempt 501©(3) organization. Contributions are tax deductible in accordance with IRS rules and regulations.”

An undated “press release” on the site with a dateline of Reston, Va., claims the foundation “was launched today and signals a crucial step in the organization’s fight against poverty around the world.”

The undated release quotes Club Asteria’s Andrea Lucas. (Verbatim from release; indent added by PP Blog.)

“Funds raised by Club Asteria are donated by The Asteria Foundation to a variety of different organizations that have the same goal and vision as we do,” said Club Asteria Founder Andrea Lucas. “Basically, we want to eliminate poverty around the world by getting funds into the hands of those who need them the most.”

Separately, the Asteria-Foundation.org domain claims the foundation uses a Hong Kong address, but a fax number associated with the entity uses an area code in Virginia.

Earlier this year, Club Asteria encouraged members to spend money on the firm’s purported services and to work harder on recruiting as a means of helping earthquake victims in Japan.

Borrego said today that people who wanted to donate money to the Red Cross could do so directly at the Red Cross website.

Questionable entities trading on the name of the Red Cross “happens all the time” because of the power of the Red Cross name, Borrego said.

In May, CONSOB, the Italian securities regulator, opened a probe into claims made about Club Asteria. Club Asteria acknowledged that its PayPal account had been frozen, later saying the firm was experiencing a cash crunch.

Club Asteria blamed members for the developments. The purported “opportunity” was widely promoted on boards associated with Ponzi schemes.

Authorities in Virginia were checking this afternoon to determine if Club Asteria was registered to sell securities, the PP Blog has learned. Ponzi forum posters claimed Club Asteria paid out up to 10 percent a week before suspending cashouts earlier this year.

The Asteria-Foundation.org website was registered on May 19, 2011.

In the face of thousands of affiliate claims that Club Asteria was a “passive” investment program that provided a weekly payout, Club Asteria denied it was an issuer of securities.

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4 Responses to “BULLETIN: General Counsel’s Office Of American Red Cross Investigating Potential Case Of Brand Leeching By Club Asteria After Red Cross Logo Appears On Purported ‘Philanthropic’ Site And Inside Club Asteria’s October House Organ”

  1. OK, so why is “Asteria Foundation” not listed on the IRS exempt roster?I wonder when, (or maybe the better question is IF) they supposedly filed their Form 1023? Since the IRS is currently assigning applications received in March,claims of 501(c)(3) status may be fraudulent or at the very least premature.

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  2. laidback: claims of 501(c)(3) status may be fraudulent or at the very least premature.

    Why would that particular claim not be fraudulent ??

    It’s not like ANY of the other claims made by Club Asteria and its’ shills turned out to be true.

    “If” and I stress “if” Andrea Lucas and her cohorts are brought to justice, fraudulent 501(c) claims would likely be the least of their problems.

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  3. littleroundman:
    Why would that particular claim not be fraudulent ??It’s not like ANY of the other claims made by Club Asteria and its’ shills turned out to be true.“If” and I stress “if” Andrea Lucas and her cohorts are brought to justice, fraudulent 501(c) claims would likely be the least of their problems.

    Sorry, I’m being generous. I’m allowing for the extremely slim possibility that: a)Hasn’t been listed on the IRS additions list yet; b)They actually filed a 1023 that hasn’t been assigned yet; c) Their claim of 501(c)(3) status is BS along with the rest of their operation. Guess (hint:c) which way (hint:c) I’m leaning?

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  4. What I found interesting is that they did not give a date the foundation applied for their nonprofit status. From the article it appeared that they had just applied, and if this is the case they are NOT an approved 501(c)3 charitable foundation.

    When you file your 1023 application, the IRS tells you that they have 90 ‘working’ days from the date they “receive” your application to process it. That does not mean they will approve you within this 90-day period. They could request additional information from you during that 90-day period, which would delay the formal approval. With all the National Holidays between now and the early part of January, it means the earliest they could receive approval on their application would be the end of January. That will fluctuate with the actual date they filed, but my guess it was no more than 10 days or so ago.

    I can’t wait to see just “who” is on their Board of Directors, and who they listed as their process of service agent. Now that will be an interesting read for me.

    Until you receive your “approved” 1023 from the IRS, you CANNOT solicit donations. If you do before receiving your approved 1023 status, your application will be denied even if they were going to approve it.

    Now there are a couple of things interesting about their “claim” they have this foundation now. If they were this altruistic organziation as they have claimed from day one, this foundation would have been in place day one and an approved 501(c)3 organization. To just now be forming it is just another nail in their coffin they have been operating, in my opinion, illegally. It also means that any money they collected for the Japan relief efforts was not deductible by those who gave it to them thinking they were giving it to a charity. The fact that Club Asteria “may have” given the money to a legal charity only means that the money CA gave would be a corporate deduction for them, not the people who gave them the money to donate. Which means some people will be in for a rude surprise if they were deducting their gift to CA from their taxes, for those residing in the US, because they gave their money to a for-profit company.

    What is also very interesting to me is that CA has never acknowledged or commented on the action taken by the Italian authorities. Makes you wonder what they are hiding. While a public disclosure has not been made in English of the action taken by the Italian authorities, I guarantee you that CA knows the outcome of their action. If they are such a great, wonderful, humanitarian organization as they claim, you would think they would be forthcoming about this action, especially if it exonerated them. The mere fact they haven’t said a word about it leads one to think it was not good news. Any legal company would have issued a press release telling how they had been vindicated of all charges. Yet not a peep out of CA. Should make you go Hmmmmmm?

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