MORE MLM WHACK-A-MOLE: (1) Quebec Securities Regulator Issues Warning On Karatbars International; (2) Cross-Border Colleagues Follow Suit; (3) Former Zeek Ponzi Scheme Pitchman Defends ‘Program’ As Others Push It Alongside TelexFree
UPDATED 12:21 P.M. EDT (MARCH 28, U.S.A.) Whack-A-Mole. Here’s the latest disturbing incarnation: On March 20, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) published a warning on a gold “program” known as Karatbars International GmbH. BehindMLM.com spotlighted the warning yesterday.
From the AMF warning (bolding added): “With the company’s ‘Affiliates’ program, investors can make Internet-based purchases through Karatbars plans and they are encouraged to recruit two other Affiliates. These Affiliates are in turn encouraged to recruit two other Affiliates each, and so on. Affiliates are lured by the possibility of earning large payouts, in particular through a percentage of amounts collected from the Karatbars plans and gold products purchased by referrals.”
After AMF published its warning, the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) republished it. So did the Financial Markets Authority of New Zealand (FMA).
These things apparently meant little to former Zeek Rewards’ pitchman Lloyd Merrifield, who “defended” Karatbars International on BehindMLM. Zeek was an international Ponzi scheme that gathered at least $850 million, according to court records.
You’ll see a reference to Merrifield in the Comments thread below this Dec. 17, 2010, PP Blog story: “URGENT >> BULLETIN >> MOVING: Secret Service Has Seized More ASD Cash; Forfeiture Complaint Filed Today Against Bank Accounts Controlled By Erma ‘Web Room Lady’ Seabaugh And Robyn Lynn Stevenson.”
ASD (AdSurfDaily) was an international Ponzi scheme that gathered at least $119 million, according to court records. Meanwhile, you’ll also see a reference to Merrifield below this June 25, 2009, PP Blog story about AdViewGlobal, an ASD reload scam: “AdViewGlobal ‘Surf’ Firm Suspends Member Cash-Outs, Threatens Media With Copyright-Infringement Lawsuits.”
AdViewGlobal was an international Ponzi scheme that gathered an unknown sum before vanishing mysteriously in 2009. U.S. federal prosecutors linked it to ASD in April 2012.
Merrifield also was a pitchman for Ad-Ventures4u (ADV4U), an ASD-like HYIP scam tied to shiny-object scam known as “TradingGold4Cash.” And why not Tazoodle, a search-engine “program” whose “board” consisted of former ASD members who had the big idea they were going to unseat Google? Yep. Merrifield was there, too.
Along with ADV4U and Tazoodle, Merrifield pitched something called “20Clicks” as part of an overall package known as “The Golden Eggs.” (In 2009, the 20 Clicks website said it was “Powered by USHBB.com.” USHBB later was associated with the Zeek Rewards Ponzi scheme and is listed as a “winner” in a document assembled by the court-appointed receiver in the Zeek Ponzi/pyramid case.)
At least one HYIP pitchfest site that describes Merrifield as a “featured speaker” for Karatbars International has led cheers for “programs” such as AdHitProfits and MyFunLife and BannersBroker — and an emerging darling known as FlexKom. The site also has pushed “ProfitClicking,” one of the JSSTripler/JustBeenPaid reload scams linked to former ASD pitchman Frederick Mann.
Mann, among other things, may have ties to the “sovereign citizens” movement.
Merrifield, perhaps ignoring this 2010 FINRA warning on HYIP schemes and social media, pitches Karatbars International on YouTube and coaches viewers to line up recruits via craigslist.
On BehindMLM, Merrifield says he’s been “in the Investment Banking industry for over 35 years.”
As always, HYIP “programs” and similar ventures that may lack licensing in individual jurisdictions across the world raise the prospect that banks and payment processors are coming into possession of funds tainted by fraud. In some cases, those funds have circulated between and among various schemes.
A quick Google search shows that some pitchmen are promoting Karatbars International alongside TelexFree, a “program” under investigation in North America, South America and Africa. TelexFree also has been promoted in concert with the WCM777 MLM scam.