US Department of Justice Senior Trial Attorney William R. Cowden spearheaded the investigation into internet marketing firm 'ASD' and its president, Andy Bowdoin, after feds seized the company's assets in August, 2008.
Department officials have stated:
"Bill Cowden has left the Department of Justice for private practice. DOJ related inquiries to the Asset Forfeiture & Money Laundering Section at 202-514-1263. AdSurfDaily inquiries may be directed to the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia at 202-514-7700."
It is not clear exactly why Cowden left the DOJ but officials say the case will now be prosecuted by the Chief of Asset Forfeiture Division for the District of Columbia.
ASD's problems began last fall when Feds raided ASD's headquarters in Quincy, Florida. Cowden then filed charges against Bowdoin after determining he was operating an elaborate ponzi scheme. Federal officials contend the internet company’s business model required its ‘members’ to purchase what are termed as ’ad packs’ in order to participate in the online marketing program. Members then received a profit each time they clicked on websites of cooperating members who also paid a nominal fee to advertise their businesses with ASD. Cowden claims the company was a ‘ponzi’ because many members did not have legitimate businesses and ASD was only able to generate revenue by having new members pay to participate in the program. ASD is estimated to have upwards of 125,000 paying members nationwide.
In total the federal government seized $53M (fifty three million dollars) of assets from 'Ad Surf Daily' (ASD) and $14M from Golden Panda (GP), another similar internet company they say was controlled by Bowdoin. In late July, 2009 the US Attorney General’s office completed its investigation and officials say they were able to convince Bowdoin to release Golden Panda’s assets to the government. Cowden maintains that Bowdoin voluntarily ‘walked away’ from his claim on the GP money after reviewing the Government’s evidence against him. Cowden asserts Bowdoin was never offered any deals and is still subject to criminal charges.
On September 21st, 2009 Bowdoin announced he is going to fight the federal charges against him and ASD by taking his case to trial. He hopes to convince jurors that ASD was a legitimate business and did nothing illegal. Bowdoin's decision to go to trial has sparked mixed reactions from ASD members. Many have expressed their opinions on various online forums dedicated to discussing problems surrounding the company. Bowdoin admits to having already spent more than a million dollars in legal fees and those costs will certainly skyrocket if and when the case goes to trial. Many members support Bowdoin and his fight against the federal government while others are outraged and feel he should be imprisoned for the questionable methods he used to operate the company. Still others remain hopeful they will retrieve money they've invested in ASD.
Government officials say they are already prepared to distribute the $14M seized from Bowdoin's other company, Golden Panda. Officials say anyone who lost money while doing business with GP is urged to contact the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia at 202-514-7700.
The United States Department of Justice has posted an online form for ASD members who wish to recoup any money they lost while doing business with ASD. Members can fill out the form by going to the government's website:
or contact the DOJ by emailing information to the Department at 'firstname.lastname@example.org'.
There are some 'Ad Surf Daily' members who refuse to submit their information to the government. They fear that in doing so they may also be investigated for conducting business with ASD and could subsequently face federal charges.
Many still support Bowdoin and believe the company is a legitimate business. Cowden says it has been difficult for ASD's members to face the facts, "Every time there's one of these cases the victims and people are disappointed to find out it's a fraud."