URGENT >> BULLETIN >> MOVING: (7th Update 8:33 p.m. EDT U.S.A.) The court-appointed receiver in the Zeek Rewards Ponzi- and pyramid-scheme case has sued MLM attorney Gerald Nehra and his law firm and law partner.
Named defendants are Nehra as an individual and as a member of the Nehra and Waak law firm of Michigan, and Richard W. Waak. Like Nehra, Waak is named as an individual and as a member of the firm. The two lawyers’ individual professional LLCs also are named.
The 21-page complaint by Zeek receiver Kenneth D. Bell is dated Sept. 21 and alleges damages of at least $100 million. A section of the complaint quotes a July 22, 2012, email from Waak that reads, “I have primary responsibility for the Zeek Rewards account with our law firm.”
The SEC moved against Zeek a month later, in August 2012, alleging a massive Ponzi- and pyramid scheme. At least three Zeek executives, including alleged operator Paul R. Burks of North Carolina, later were charged criminally. Two of the executives — Dawn Wright-Olivares and her stepson Daniel Olivares — have pleaded guilty.
From the receiver’s complaint (italics added):
By virtue of their knowledge of [Zeek operator Rex Venture Group] and ZeekRewards and their legal expertise, Nehra and Waak knew or should have known that RVG was perpetrating an unlawful scheme which involved a pyramid scheme, an unregistered investment contract and a Ponzi scheme. Despite this knowledge, Nehra and Waak encouraged investors to participate in the scheme by knowingly allowing their names to be used in providing a false façade of legality and legitimacy and gave improper legal advice that allowed the scheme to continue far longer than it would have without the Defendants’ support. Nehra and Waak’s improper and negligent actions, which breached their fiduciary duties to RVG and assisted RVG’s Insiders to breach their fiduciary duties, caused significant damage to RVG.
Nehra and Waak also face the prospect of private litigation flowing from the alleged TelexFree Ponzi- and pyramid scheme.
In a complaint filed May 3, 2014, plaintiffs accused Nehra of counseling TelexFree “on methods to evade United States securities laws that were intended to offer, in part, protection from pyramid Ponzi schemes; all to enrich himself financially and serve his own selfish interests.”
He further was accused of encouraging unknowing TelexFree members to “participate in the evasion of federal and state securities laws.”
The Zeek receiver made similar claims against the lawyers.
“With their inside knowledge of multi-level marketing schemes and access to RVG’s Insiders, Nehra and Waak knew or should have known that insufficient income from the penny auction business was being made to pay the daily ‘profit share’ promised by ZeekRewards,” Bell alleged.
“The Defendants knew or should have known that the money used to fund ZeekRewards’ distributions to Affiliates came almost entirely from new participants rather than income from the Zeekler penny auctions. Further, based on their inside knowledge and access, Nehra and Waak knew or should have known that the alleged ‘profit percentage’ was nothing more than a number made up by Burks or one of the other Insiders. Rather than reflecting the typical variances that might be expected in a company’s profits, the alleged profits paid in ZeekRewards were remarkably consistent, falling nearly always between 1% and 2% on Monday through Thursday and between .5% and 1% on the weekends, Friday through Sunday.”
Nehra also was a figure in the 2008 AdSurfDaily Ponzi scheme story, opining that ASD was not a Ponzi scheme despite remarkably consistent returns. ASD operator Andy Bowdoin later pleaded guilty to wire fraud and acknowledged his company was a Ponzi scheme and never operated lawfully from its inception in 2006.
Like Bowdoin, Zeek’s Burks is accused of making up numbers to dupe participants. In TelexFree-related matters, class-action lawyers argued that “Attorney Nehra’s extensive experience in multi-level marketing, and particularly his involvement with the Ponzi schemes involving Ad SurfDaily and Zeek Rewards, armed him with the knowledge of what constitutes violations of United States securities law. Indeed, Attorney Nehra was well aware that the use of semantics and obscured phraseology to obfuscate securities laws fails to legitimize TelexFree’s illegal Pyramid Ponzi Scheme.”
Zeek receiver Bell accused Nehra and Waak of turning a “blind eye” to incredible claims by Zeek and of suggesting cosmetic changes to language instead of “recommending substantive changes that would make the program lawful.”
At least one alleged TelexFree promoter accused by the SEC last year of securities fraud has alleged she was duped by both the company and Nehra. That claim was made by veteran HYIP Ponzi pitchwoman Faith Sloan.
NOTE: Our thanks to the ASD Updates Blog.