Monday, August 10, 2009
Feds seize internet firm's assets and investors say they've lost millions with little explanation
The US and Florida Attorney General's office recently seized millions of dollars from investors of a marketing firm that sold ad space on the internet.
The Attorney General (AG) is investigating 'Ad Surf Daily', a Quincy, Florida based corporation founded by Thomas Bowdoin in 2006. Bowdoin stated the purpose of the corporation was to 'provide advertising space for websites on the internet' but the USAG says the company is nothing more than an elaborate ponzi scheme.
Ad Surf Daily (ASD) is designed to pay members dividends by surfing various business websites.The AG states the company "members were entitled to earn “credits” by viewing other members’ advertising websites. One credit was received for each viewing of another member’s website advertising."
The Florida AG says ASD is only able to pay members a profit when new members pay to join the company. In a complaint filed by Florida AG's special counsel Keith Vanden Dooren he states "Defendants have engaged in a sales or marketing plan or operation to induce and cause persons to pay consideration, or to make an investment, in excess of $100 and acquire an opportunity to receive a benefit or thing which is
not primarily contingent on the volume or quantity of goods, services or other property sold in bona fide sales to consumers and which is related to the inducement of additional persons to participate in the same sales or marketing plan or operation."
The company's members are said to total upwards of 100,000 and they've invested millions. They accuse the AG of holding their money hostage for nothing that they did wrong.
Marcia Breitenbach says she invested most of her savings in the company and is worried she has lost it all. "I'm trying to save my house, scraping by and others are much worse off than me."
Even though the AG accuses the internet firm of running a 'pyramid sales scheme', it has not yet provided evidence to support those charges. The second judicial circuit court in Leon County, Florida has given the Florida AG until next week to provide proof of wrongdoing.
Breitenbach is anxious for answers, "I've been patient and have contacted the Attorney General's office many times and have gotten nowhere."
Many ASD investors say they have no idea what's happening with their money and fear they could lose their life savings. The government has frozen assets totalling tens of millions of dollars but has not said how that money will be distributed.
The Florida AG has agreed to respond to my inquiries by tomorrow and as I investigative this further I will deliver a detailed account of how this happened and what the next steps will be. You can subscribe to my blog for updates as soon as they are posted.
Mike Mason - Investigative Reporter
Investigative Reporting Video Resume: http://bit.ly/Z512e