UPDATE: As Proposed Money-Saving Measure, Zeek Receiver Asks Judge To Treat Oct. 8 Preliminary Liquidation Plan As Status Report; Meanwhile, Yet Another Zeek Member Declares Herself A Fraud Victim
UPDATED 8:26 A.M. EDT (OCT. 31, U.S.A.) Saying it would save money, the court-appointed receiver in the Zeek Rewards Ponzi scheme case has asked a federal judge to treat the receiver’s Oct. 8 preliminary liquidation plan as a status report. (See Oct. 9 PP Blog story.)
Separately, yet another Zeek member has declared herself a victim of the alleged $600 million Zeek fraud scheme operated by Paul R. Burks and Rex Venture Group LLC. Two other Zeek members effectively did the same thing earlier this month. On Aug. 17, the SEC alleged that Zeek was a massive Ponzi- and pyramid scheme that potentially fleeced more than 1 million people.
In August, Senior U.S. District Judge Graham C. Mullen of the Western District of North Carolina ordered receiver Kenneth D. Bell to file the first status report in the case by Oct. 30. Among other things, status reports inform judges about the efforts under way to recover proceeds linked to alleged fraud schemes and return them to victims.
In the Zeek case, status reports are due within 30 days of the end of a quarter — for example, the third quarter of the calendar year ended Sept. 30, making the first Zeek status report due Oct. 30. The second is due Jan. 31, 2013, a month after the end of the fourth quarter of the calendar year on Dec. 31, 2012.
Bell said in court filings today that the information in the Oct. 8 report included “the same information” due today.
“Given that a separate Quarterly Status Report would be redundant, and in the interest of preserving Receivership assets, the Receiver respectfully requests that the Court order that the Preliminary Liquidation Plan be treated as the Receiver’s First Quarterly Status Report,” Bell petitioned Mullen.
Mullen had not acted on the request by late this afternoon, according to the docket of the case.
How Zeek enthusiasts on Ponzi-scheme boards such as TalkGold and MoneyMakerGroup will react to Bell’s request was not immediately clear. One-percent-a-day (or more) schemes such as Zeek gain a head of steam in part because willfully blind scammers who populate the Ponzi cesspits position the “programs” as legitimate.
The demonization of Bell on the Ponzi boards and elsewhere began shortly after the SEC brought the Zeek case. As was the case in the AdSurfDaily prosecution brought by the U.S. Secret Service in 2008, some Zeek members have claimed that the government is manufacturing victims where none exist. The ASD and Zeek Ponzi schemes fetched a combined sum of at least $719 million, nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars, according to court filings.
Both frauds operated as classic Ponzi schemes that recycled money from members to create the illusion of sustainability and profitability, according to investigators.
Both Zeek and ASD were promoted on forums listed in federal court filings as places from which Ponzi schemes are promoted. Earlier schemes promoted on the forums include Legisi and Pathway To Prosperity, which gathered a combined sum of more than $140 million and affected tens of thousands of people, according to court filings.
Legisi operator Gregory McKnight faces sentencing next month in his Ponzi scheme case. Alleged Pathway To Prosperity operator Nicholas Smirnow, meanwhile, is listed by INTERPOL as a wanted fugitive. As was the case with Zeek, the SEC and Secret Service led the Legisi probe. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service brought the Smirnow/Pathway to prosperity case, saying the scam affected individuals in 120 countries.
ASD operator Thomas A. “Andy” Bowdoin is serving a 78-month prison sentence. He was sentenced in August 2012.
Despite claims that Zeek created no victims, at least three individuals already have claimed in court filings to have been scammed by Zeek.
In a filing docketed today, Maria Aide Gomez claimed she sent North Carolina-based Zeek parent Rex Venture Group five postal money orders for $1,000 each in May and paid an additional $300 to maintain her Zeek membership.
Gomez described herself as a “Victim of fraud and deception” on the part of Zeek, Rex Venture Group and Paul R. Burks, the operator of Zeek and Rex Venture. The money orders Gomez sent to Zeek were purchased at a post office in Washington state, according to exhibits that accompanied the filing.
Bell, the receiver, is experienced as both a defense attorney and a prosecutor. The U.S. Department of Justice lauded Bell a decade ago for his successful prosecution of a Hezbollah terrorist cell operating in the United States.