ANOTHER MLM PR TRAIN WRECK: Receiver Alleges Clawback Defendants May Be ‘Serial’ Participants In Zeek-Like ‘Revenue Sharing’ Schemes, Asks Court To Take ‘Judicial Notice’ Of T. LeMont Silver Videos
MLM, witness your latest PR train wreck — as voiced by alleged Zeek “winner” and purported “revenue sharing” consultant/trainer and Florida “Expat” T. LeMont Silver. (Video below.)
In a consolidated motion in response to motions by various alleged Zeek “winners” to dismiss the clawback lawsuits against them, the court-appointed receiver in the Zeek Rewards Ponzi- and pyramid case has asked the court to take “judicial notice” of two YouTube videos featuring Silver, a veteran HYIP huckster.
In typical HYIP fashion that marries the merely imponderable to the truly bizarre, one of them painfully is titled, “(T. Le Mont Silver, Sr.), (7 Figure Producer) shares about Plan B part #2.” (Bold emphasis added by PP Blog.)
The HYIP sphere, the staging waters for boat sharks who throw purported rescue jackets to victims bloodied in the water from earlier scams and desperately struggling to stay afloat, is infamous for Plans B.
Although the “program” isn’t identified in the video, Silver’s Plan B appears to be the ill-fated JubiRev/JubiMax. (See June 18, 2013, BehindMLM.com story.)
MLM may have a problem with “serial participants” in Zeek-like schemes to defraud, Zeek receiver Kenneth D. Bell suggests in the motion asking the court to take judicial notice of the Silver videos.
The language chosen by the receiver is similar to language the SEC used in 2013 to describe MLM HYIP huckster Matthew John Gagnon. Gagnon, the SEC said at the time, was a “serial fraudster.”
Earlier, in 2010, the SEC described Gagnon as a “danger to the investing public.”
The context of the SEC’s Gagnon prosecution may be important. Indeed, one of the “programs” he was accused of promoting was the infamous Legisi scheme, a semi-offshore debacle the SEC took down in 2008. Like Zeek, the Legisi case started with asset freezes and the appointment of a receiver.
Time slowly marched on. But in 2009, the receiver sued Gagnon. In 2010, the SEC filed civil charges against him. He was charged criminally in 2011.
Legisi, the SEC said, operated a “classic pooled investment vehicle.” In one of the Silver videos cited by the receiver, Silver describes his “Plan B” program as the operator of a “pot.”
Women between the ages of 30 and 55 were the financial targets of the “opportunity,” according to one of the videos referenced by Bell.
The video tends to suggest that Silver understood how Zeek got caught by using highly questionable “bids” as its “product” and that the MLM’s trade’s serial fraud wing immediately sought more clever disguises — hiding an HYIP scam behind the purported sale of ostensibly legitimate products such as cosmetics and diet shakes, for instance.
Silver has appeared in “many” online videos and has promoted “several ‘revenue sharing’ schemes in addition to Zeek,” receiver Kenneth D. Bell advised Senior U.S. District Judge Graham C. Mullen.
Bell supplied the court links to the videos.
In the HYIP sphere, the term “revenue sharing” is used to make schemes appear to be innocuous.
As noted above, the HYIP sphere is infamous for purported Plans B, which typically are cosmetically tweaked reload schemes designed to fleece an initial group of marks for a second time.
Here, it’s appropriate to revisit HYIP history for a second time. If you believe AdSurfDaily Ponzi schemer Andy Bowdoin caused an almost inconceivable amount of PR damage to the MLM trade by comparing the U.S. Secret Service to “Satan” and the 9/11 terrorists, wait until you get a load of what T. LeMont Silver does in one of his videos cited by the receiver. (Video appears at bottom of this column.)
By way of background, the HYIP sphere is infamous for dropping the names of famous entities and people, even if they have no ties whatsoever to the “opportunity” being presented.
Although Silver apparently isn’t selling Avon or Amway or Mary Kay or Herbalife or ViSalus in the video, he drops the names of all of them (and more). Along the way he drops in a veiled reference to Zeek, describing it as a penny auction “program” in which affiliates would “make large purchases of . . . let’s say ‘bids’,” with Zeek’s product creating a “big issue” with regulators.
Silver notes that he’ll provide “training” for the upstart “program,” positioning it as a way for average MLMers to make money without having to recruit or to orchestrate “dog and pony” presentations. Regardless, Silver assures the audience that he’s a master of the MLM dog and pony. He further suggests that, because Zeek’s “bids” had caught the attention of regulators, the trade’s braintrust now is turning toward “more traditional MLM-type products and services.”
Putting lipstick on brand-new HYIP pigs or evolving ones is part and parcel to the HYIP sphere. Silver’s video suggests that the HYIP trade has learned that sketchy products such as Zeek’s bids might not fly and now was concentrating on attracting women between the ages of 30 and 55 by wrapping cosmetics, weight-loss shakes, home products and travel into a purported “revenue sharing” model in which participants who bought in would receive “pro rata” shares from a giant revenue pot.
After suggesting he has inside information about the new HYIP regime, Silver curiously observes that he is “very, very key on genealogical integrity.” We interpret this to mean that he’d be exceptionally pleased if people with existing MLM organizations within traditional companies would port them into his next scam.
Even though he’s apparently not selling Amway in the video, he bizarrely also prompts viewers not to dare “call Amway Scamway.” Equally bizarrely, Silver congratulates the company for “legitimizing this industry” back in the 1970s by purportedly “kick[ing] the backside” of the U.S. government and the government’s “[p]atootie.”
“My goodness,” he says. “Thank you, Amway.”
Yes. T. LeMont Silver has now publicly thanked Amway for kicking the government’s ass 35 years ago and, under his interpretation of In the Matter of Amway Corporation, Inc., et al., paving the way for people to send tremendous sums of money to companies with presumptively better disguises than Zeek.
Amway is a lot of things — good and bad — to a lot of people. Unlike Zeek, however, it is not an HYIP that offered “passive” investors who sent in $10,000 or smaller sums a laugh-out-loud, average daily return of 1.5 percent, basically in perpetuity.
Our take on Silver’s take of the 1979 non-HYIP Amway decision is that it somehow made preposterous “revenue sharing programs” as seen in the HYIP sphere lawful or that all HYIP schemes are lawful if they have product such as those offered by Avon, Amway, Herbalife and the others. But the pyramid analysis, of course, does not exclusively hinge on whether a company has a “product.” If it did, Zeek (“bids”) and BurnLounge (“music”) would still be in business. Moreover, there would be no Bill Ackman/Herbalife dichotomy, no question about whether Herbalife was Jurassic Park or Disneyland. In short, MLM heaven on earth would not be a rumor, it would be a reality.
“Plan B,” meanwhile, is a virtual calling card of HYIP swindles, with prospects typically given instructions to join at least two “programs” in case one of them fails or to quickly join another “program” when a favored one collapses or encounters regulatory scrutiny.
Silver is a longtime pusher of “Plan B” MLM HYIPs, which, as noted above, typically call themselves “revenue sharing programs.” He’s hardly alone. Zeek figure and purported MLM expert Keith Laggos pushed the Lyoness “program” to Zeekers as a “Plan B” just prior to the Aug. 17, 2012, collapse of Zeek. (See Aug. 12, 2012, PP Blog editorial: “Karl Wallenda Wouldn’t Do Zeek.”)
Lyoness, among other things, dropped the name of Nelson Mandela in sales promos.
Among the tips Laggos provided to listeners of a Lyoness conference call was this: “Don’t put no more than 70 percent back in [Zeek]. Take out 20 or 30 percent [on] a daily basis. [Unintelligible.] This would be a good place. But, by the same token, if you put $10,000 in Zeekler, if nothing happens over the next year, you’ll probably make $30,000 or $40,000, if that’s all you do without building the front end, the matrix . . . The same amount of money in Lyoness, you’re looking . . . and not doing anything else, without single sponsoring . . . you can probably make a quarter-million dollars.”
One of the problems with HYIP schemes is that they cause polluted money to flow between and among scams, in part because the scams have serial promoters in common. The inevitable result is that payment vendors become warehouses for fraud proceeds, prompting the government to apply for asset freezes and account seizures to stop the flow of tainted cash.
Receiver Cites Second Silver Video
The second video featuring Silver — an alleged winner of more than $1.71 million in Zeek — is titled “Internet Entreprenuer Family Chooses Cabrera [Dominican Republic] For Their New Expat Lifestyle.” It shows Silver and his wife — another alleged Zeek winner — lounging in the Dominican Republic after the collapse of the Zeek scheme.
As the PP Blog reported on April 26, 2014 (italics added):
Prior to relocating to the Dominican Republic, Silver told his downline in a failed MLM “program” known as GoFunPlaces to take advantage of “low-hanging fruit” (other disaffected GoFunPlaces members) and become recruiters for a “program” known as Jubimax. The “programs” ultimately accused each other of fraud.
Silver also promoted “OneX,” which federal prosecutors in the District of Columbia described as an AdSurfDaily-like, money-circulating scheme. ASD operator Andy Bowdoin, now jailed after the collapse of the ASD fraud in 2008, also promoted OneX, explaining to prospects that they’d earn $99,000 very quickly and that he’d use the money he’d earned to pay for his criminal defense in the ASD case.
Bowdoin asserted OneX was great for college students. Silver asserted that positions being given away were worth $5,000.
Prosecutors also linked Bowdoin to AdViewGlobal, an ASD reload scam that operated as a “Plan B.” AdViewGlobal, which purported to operate offshore but actually was operating from Florida and Arizona, mysteriously vanished in the summer of 2009.
Zeek receiver Bell, who connected alleged Zeek winner Todd Disner to the ASD Ponzi scheme in court filings this week, now says in court filings that certain Zeek clawback defendants “may well be serial participants in these types of schemes.”
Well-known HYIP huckster Faith Sloan has been charged by the SEC with securities fraud in the April 2014 TelexFree case. Sloan also promoted Zeek and Profitable Sunrise, which cratered after an SEC action in April 2013.
One of the things that makes Zeek-related litigation unique in the history of actions flowing from HYIP schemes is that Bell is not limiting his lawsuits to a relatively small universe of alleged major winners such as Silver. In a proposed class action, he’s also pursuing more than 9,000 alleged winners of smaller sums (more than $1,000 but less than $900,000), something that could have a long-needed chilling effect on serial promoters who may enter an HYIP Ponzi knowingly but less publicly.
Some early HYIP Ponzi entrants may recruit heavily at first and be satisfied with smaller sums, because the larger plan is to get out quickly on the theory smaller winners won’t be pursued.
Regulators have warned for years about the online phenomenon of “riding the Ponzi.”
Our thanks to the ASD Updates Blog. (See Page 32 of Doc. 67 for reference to Silver videos and “serial” participants.)