Analysis: The U.S. Secret Service has identified and frozen additional funds from AdSurfDaily, Inc (ASD) raising the total from approximately $53 to $93.5 million, but the worldwide investigation first reported on Tulsa Today continues. Other similar Internet frauds are being reported to law enforcement as the definition, constitution and value of Internet traffic within the world of advertising comes into question.
ASD founder Andy Bowdoin filed pleas for dismissal of the charges and return of seized funds, but his positions were severely ridiculed in the government response and deemed legally incoherent to the point of being, “a bootless quibble over indistinguishable wordings – arguments `full of sound and fury, [but] signifying nothing.’”
ASD admitted in those documents, “In a matter of a few days, ASD has gone from a vibrant internet advertising business with approximately 100,000 members to a hollow shell without a working office and without the means to resume its business.”
In a telephone call to supporters August 26 Bowdoin responded to ridicule by the Justice Department calling them liars. He said he did not expect them to “lie and use half-truths to try to make their case.” Without a prayer of success, Bowdoin continues a heartless attempt to rally the faithful – the needy – the desperate who can not afford to lose money Bowdoin has taken.
In point of fact, Bowdin is a previously convicted fraudster. From the Tulsa Today investigation it seems clear that if his mouth is moving, he’s lying. From the beginning, we doubted Bowdin was smart enough to design ASD’s business model nor write the computer programs nor manage the enterprise. In our review of the facts, Bowdin is the front-man, the sincere sounding stooge, and he most certinely appears on track to take the fall for fraud.
Justice Department attorneys wrote, “Bowdoin’s Emergency motion is not just irrelevant to the emergency relief he requests, but utter nonsense. Bowdoin says that he has hired a lawyer named Gerald Nehra, who fashions himself as the country’s foremost expert in refuting Ponzi schemes, to prove that ASD was not one. Remarkably, Bowdoin attaches an affidavit from this lawyer to the very same pleading in which Bowdoin says that his customers will evaporate unless he is permitted to pay them with the funds they supposedly paid him for advertising!” Thus Bowdoin’s own pleadings make the case against him.
Tulsa Today’s second story is the most extensive describing ASD as a Ponzie scheme (click here for more) and the press release from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, United States Secret Service states, ”Ponzi schemes promote allegedly lucrative business opportunities, when in reality there is in fact no underlying profitable business to support the payments promoters say they will make to the investors/participants … The version of the Ponzi scheme Secret Service investigators uncovered in the [ASD] investigation is referred to as an ‘auto-surf’ program, a form of online advertising that claims to generate revenue from so-called ‘advertisers’ who pay fees to have their websites displayed to other viewers through the ‘hosts’ web-based operation.
”In this Ponzi model, the host generates most, if not all, of its funding from membership fees, and therefore must use money received from later advertisers to pay rebates and referral fees to earlier advertisers. These programs collapse when new membership fees fail to cover the payouts promised to existing members,” the government wrote in the press release.
As Tulsa Today has previously published, there is no advertising value in a paid view within a closed system – that’s not advertising.
What is sad is the number of people who have contacted Tulsa Today that have lost more than they could afford to lose. One wrote he supported a family with $23,000 a year (which included much overtime) and he had invested $8,000 he could not afford to lose in ASD.
Many others wrote to support ASD apparently in response to pleas from Bowdoin to do so. In a conference call to members August 12, Bowdin said, “Faye and I receive letters every day from all the members, or a lot of the members, telling what ASD has done for them. Now they don’t know what they’ll do. They say they don’t have any other avenues. Today we had one from someone in a wheelchair and they were making about $50 a day. It was keeping them in their apartment; it was helping them to purchase the prescription drugs that they needed. And now, it looks like they may be put out on the street. So folks, it has hurt a lot of people.”
Bowdin continued, “This is an attack of Satan because we were helping tens of thousands of people around the world. But we are more than [sic] overcomers, and we get our strength from God. And with God all things are possible. And we’re on our way to a miracle folks. I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that we’ll be back in business, stronger than ever. It’ll take all the doubts away from all these people about being a Ponzi, because it’ll be proven that we are NOT a Ponzi.”
God doesn’t approve fraud, but apparently his name is often used by fraudsters. Our favorite of these e-mails is being framed for display in our office. Sent by Ronald who claims to be a pastor he manages to mention God, Satan, the U.S. Attorney, “ASD’s lawyer pool” and this writer in the same sentence. Impressive company for sure, but after a page of damnation, Ronald ended his missive with, “What is at stake here is your Eternal Soul. This is my concern. The Holy Spirit of God has sent me to tell you; even if you are right … you are still wrong. Repent and come home, I love you…my prodigal son!”
I wrote back, “God and I are fine, but frankly we are both worried a bit about you.”
Tulsa Today has also been the target of repeated harassing telephone calls threatening lawsuits from $13 to $30 million – we saved some of the audio files to better train new reporters. Some reporters in Florida believe organized crime is involved in ASD and suggested we watch our backs. We assured them there is no visible mafia presence in Oklahoma – our cowboys have more guns, our oilmen have more money, and the Indians will fight for the fun of it so we don’t really have any function not fulfilled outside of government and, for that, we grow our own criminals. (See Democrats Gene Stipe, Steve Phipps, Jason and Jeff McMahan for more detail.)
One reason we began a review of ASD was a scheduled meeting of the group in Tulsa August 23. That event didn’t happen. We went to the Tulsa Convention Center and the selected hotel and found no one knowledgeable or willing to admit an affiliation with ASD. We were ready to invite ASD officials, supporters, and Secret Service agents back to our offices only blocks away from the scheduled meeting. It could have been a great party – we had a live band and plenty of refreshments. I even worked up a new comedy routine called, “Teach a chicken to click.”
Time tells all truth and as events proceed we wonder if we should respond to a letter from a personal injury attorney who claimed he was retained by ASD to bring a defamation lawsuit against Tulsa Today and this writer. The letter was dated July 21, but we did not respond because no serious legal activity is conducted by mail without being sent certified. Apparently Ronald I. Meshbesher of Meshbesher and Spence, Ltd., 1616 Park Avenue Minneapolis, Minnesota did not believe in his client enough to spend $10 for a certified letter. We wondered why a company apparently incorporated in Nevada operating in Florida that at one time claimed to be operating under the laws of Panama would use a Minnesota law firm with no Tulsa connection to take a case against Tulsa Today.
We would rather talk with Mr. Meshbesher about how Adrian Peterson, Garrett Mills, and Gus Frerotte are doing for the Minnesota Vikings. In regard to his inquiry, we retract nothing and more stories may well be forthcoming. We repeat our suggestion for any considering an investment in ASD – stay financially ahead by keeping your money in your pocket and run like hell.
Further, we invite all who believe that auto-surf programs are legitimate advertising to supply what documentation they may be able to provide to support their case. We believe each and every one of those auto-surf programs should be reviewed by Federal authorities as we dispute the value of such programs.
Tulsa Today has always held the ability to tweak our site to generate great volumes of numbers, but we are growing something far more valuable – a vibrant intelligent community of real people from Brooklyn to Beijing who have some interest in Tulsa and who read and think and buy when advertisers provide messages that move them. We will stack our 100,000 unique readers per month against any group of paid chicken clickers – any day, any time.