Zeek Rewards and Internet Censorship

"Buy 1 for yourself and get the chance to sell your friends and family 5 and get your downline started!" We examine the multi-level marketing industry, where only the people who come up with the ideas make any money, and everybody else is left unhappy, broke, and tired of reading scripts and selling overpriced vitamins and similarly worthless products. Includes Global Prosperity, Pinnacle Quest International, IRS Codebusters, Stratia, and other new Global Prosperity scams.

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notorial dissent
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Re: Zeek Rewards and Internet Censorship

Postby notorial dissent » Sun Dec 23, 2012 5:08 am

What I would really like to know is how Sorrells et al, the firm who generated this twaddle, can not be guilty of ethics violations for putting this forward?
Civil Action No. 3:12-cv-519
David Sorrells, David Kettner, and Mary Kettner (collectively “Movants”)

Further, the evidence available to the undersigned and to Movants leads them to believe that Rex Ventures, ZeekRewards.com and Zeekler.com operated as a unique, if highly profitable, business model and not a Ponzi scheme. One is illegal, one is not.

Among many other things, the Receiver should be required to establish that Rex Ventures, ZeekRewards.com and Zeekler.com actually operated as a Ponzi scheme or that there was some other securities law violation justifying the Receiver’s pursuit of innocent Affiliates.
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Re: Zeek Rewards and Internet Censorship

Postby Gregg » Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:35 am

It's late and I'm not gonna look up the real numbers, so bear with me.
I was talking with a friend who is a lawyer about this and came away with a few ideas. Not his specialty but one thing that developed in the conversation was the big winners who negotiate a settlement without even fighting it.

Say some big promoter was a net winner of $1.5 million and quickly negotiates with the receiver to give 90% back. He gets to keep $150,000 on an initial investment of $5000. (numbers in the ballpark of some already disclosed in court documents)

So this piece of trash is still making $150K which is a travesty but one we all have to live with.
A typical sucker in his downline dropped $10,000 in and following his sponsor's advice never took out a dime. Guessing from the amounts recovered or likely to be, he can expect to eventually get half back. He's out $5,000.

My question is this. Is the upline sponsor, after negotiating a settlement with the receivership, still possibly liable to his downline?

If he is, I am seriously interested in promoting that idea and encouraging the victims to pursue the winners, especially those who managed to keep large sums from the receivership estate.

So, am I thinking soundly here?
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Re: Zeek Rewards and Internet Censorship

Postby notorial dissent » Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:12 pm

Bearing in mind that I agree with you whole heartedly, I am betting that the downlines are SOL unless they want to sue their enabler(s) for fraud, and I have never heard of this happening. I would love to see something like this happen, but doubt it will ever happen.
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Re: Zeek Rewards and Internet Censorship

Postby ashlynne39 » Fri Dec 28, 2012 7:00 pm

notorial dissent wrote:Bearing in mind that I agree with you whole heartedly, I am betting that the downlines are SOL unless they want to sue their enabler(s) for fraud, and I have never heard of this happening. I would love to see something like this happen, but doubt it will ever happen.


When I was in private practice our firm represented 7 plaintiffs who were downline in a gifting club scheme. They were suing their upline person who got them involved. I don't remember all the causes of action but fraud was one of them. In our case there was no receiver. I left the firm before the case was resolved but I doubt the plaintiffs got much of anything from the lawsuit. The one bonus piece of fun I got out of this though was that one of the upline defendants refused to answer discovery or comply with a motion to compel. She was pro se. Anyway, after umpteen failures to respond she was show caused and didn't show for the hearing so the judge issued a bench warrant and she was arrested late in the afternoon so she had to spend the night in jail. The judge said she had to stay in jail until she answered discovery. So I went up to the jail conference room and she came in wearing her orange jumpsuit and shackles. They wouldn't take the handcuffs off even when she was filling in the discovery answer. When she was done she threw the papers across the table at me. All in all it was one of the most satisfying moments of my career.

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Re: Zeek Rewards and Internet Censorship

Postby notorial dissent » Sat Dec 29, 2012 1:20 am

Sounds to me like you probably got more personal satisfaction out of the whole thing than anyone else did. I suspect you are right in that the downline didn't get anything out of it. I have never yet heard of anyone really prevailing in something like this, which is a sure and certain pity.
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Re: Zeek Rewards and Internet Censorship

Postby ashlynne39 » Sat Dec 29, 2012 7:19 am

notorial dissent wrote:Sounds to me like you probably got more personal satisfaction out of the whole thing than anyone else did. I suspect you are right in that the downline didn't get anything out of it. I have never yet heard of anyone really prevailing in something like this, which is a sure and certain pity.



There was definitely some personal satisfaction involved. I mean here I spent all that time preparing discovery requests and then a motion to compel and the defendant didn't have the courtesy to respond. Truthfully, the bitchy side of me really does gain some satisfaction in getting sleezey people thrown in jail. On another case I had the defendant tossed in jail 4 times for not responding to discovery. The downside on that one was that as soon as this guy was arrested, every time he would call his standby bankruptcy attorney who would immediately go file for bankruptcy which would stay our case and he would get out of jail. Then the bankruptcy case would be dismissed for some deficiency or another and then I would have to go through the whole routine again. I think I eventually got discovery responses and settled the case but it was a big pain.

But back to the gifting club case - the reason I don't think they got anything wasn't because they didn't have a legitimate case but because as I expect often happens, the defendants had spent most if not all the money they cheated the plaintiffs out of. These cases fascinate me though because it really is beyond me how or why the downline folks get themselves involved in these sorts of schemes and scams. As much info as has been in the media or online in the past 10 to 15 years there really is no excuse. Clearly greed is a big motivating factor but even still there is no excuse for getting involved in these things. What amazes me about the Zeek situation is that even after everything has gone down in the scam part 1, people still jumped on board for the scam part 2 and sent in money to pay for the scammers attorneys fees. You really have to be all kinds of stupid or deluded to keep going along and throwing more money at what is clearly a scam. I just can't feel sorry for these folks, no matter how much money they lost or what financial dire straits these people now find themselves in.

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Re: Zeek Rewards and Internet Censorship

Postby wserra » Sat Dec 29, 2012 1:24 pm

Gregg wrote:My question is this. Is the upline sponsor, after negotiating a settlement with the receivership, still possibly liable to his downline?


Once the receivership either closes down or settles with the individual upliner - remember Judge Mullen's order that renders any action before that subject to stay or dismissal - I don't see why not. I do, however, see several problems.

(1) You can't sue an upline, you have to sue individuals (or, of course, a company, but Zeek will be an empty shell when Bell is finished). What individual(s) will be liable? The only one that's clear is the person who recruited the plaintiff, as the others in the upline likely had no contact with him/her. Could one put together a complaint for a civil conspiracy, naming a bunch of the scammers? Yes but, from a lawyer's point of view, that's a lot of work for a small payday. You would have to collect quite a number of victims for this to make economic sense (remembering that the damages are only what the victims put in, not what they hoped to receive). I wouldn't even consider taking such a case on a contingency unless the total was well into six figures.

(2) You would have to prove the fraud (or at least the conspiracy to commit it) as to each defendant you name. Any settlement the receiver negotiates with individuals is virtually certain not to include an admission of it. Accordingly, you would not only have to prove that Zeek was a ponzi; you would also have to prove as to each defendant that s/he knew Zeek was a ponzi, and misrepresented that fact to each plaintiff intending to defraud. If Bell opened his records to the public once he closed up shop, this task would be significantly easier, but would still be a significant task.

(3) You would have to prove not only that each plaintiff relied on the misrepresentation, but also that it was reasonable for him/her to do so. If a judge or juror believes that it is obvious that Zeek was a scam - and probably 95% of the folks reading this so believe - then a "victim"'s lawsuit won't find much sympathy. "So, Mr. Plaintiff, so long as you believed there was a chance that you could get rich quick, you were quite willing to ignore the things you now claim are obvious signs of fraud; but once you lost your shirt you come running to seek 'justice'. Do I have that about right?" I'd ask every potential client in this situation that very question, and listen closely to the answer.

(4) Last but hardly least, you gotta find the money. By the time Bell is done, these guys will have had a couple of years to squirrel away the ill-gotten gains. Every lawyer who does what I do has had a couple of very unpleasant experiences suing people who turn out to be uninsured. Good luck.
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Re: Zeek Rewards and Internet Censorship

Postby notorial dissent » Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:36 pm

My point, as backed up by WES here, is not that you couldn't sue them, but that you would have to prove that the uplines KNEW they were committing fraud, and I am willing to bet that they would all claim ignorance and stupidity first and that proving the fraud would be a massive job, thus making it a very unlikely proposition.
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Re: Zeek Rewards and Internet Censorship

Postby Gregg » Sat Dec 29, 2012 5:35 pm

A few thoughts....

Could not the receiver make it part of any settlement offer that the promoter admit to the fraud? I know you generally don't admit or deny anything in most SEC Consent Decrees, but these guys are in the end negotiating to potentially keep hundreds of thousands of dollars, if Mr. Bell were so inclined, couldn't he play a little hardball with them?


The case against "I didn't know it was a fraud" isn't that much of a stretch when your promoter has been involved in several of these scams, and in fact many of them have reached settlements in past schemes. I'm thinking of the Ken Russo, Shad Foss etc.. who don't mount the kind of crusade the Fun Club USA whackos do, they just quietly pay what they can get away as quietly as possible as a cost of doing business. And they post daily in the scam forums 'I got paid" with clips of the email from Payza, these guys are very active and some of them have personal downlines of thousands who follow them from scam to scam.

As to finding the money, I'm talking people who not only managed to hold onto big dollars, but they continue to promote the next big thing. From reading the boards, almost the entire list of defendants in the CEP clawback cases are still active in current schemes.

Ya know, writing this response I have come to see the futility of this. It would be a super gesture for some lawyer to try it, as a class action, but I realize that there's a big gap between "great concept" and committing the resources it would take to actually doing it. I'm just getting damn frustrated with seeing the same scam with a different name every week. The same top level promoters bragging on Talk Gold who many thousands they made this week in what program... and by the time Zeek goes down they're already firmly entrenched into the next big thing, and knowing that often the reason it is the next big thing is because a few of them picked it early and their influence in fact made it so.

The only way to even make a dent, it seems clear to me, is for prosecutors going after a few of them and dropping heavy criminal charges, perhaps RICO charges, against all of them. At the very least, I'd just love to see the SEC, after the receivership, go back and file civil charges against them for disgorgement of false profits to strip away the last dollars.

In the CEP case, reading the minutia you'll see that the trustee (not a receiver, they took that one through a bankruptcy) balanced out NOT bankrupting the people who had to pay the estate back and took into consideration loss of homes etc... I wish just once they'd leave these pimps homeless and standing in the cold wrapped in old drapes with all their possessions in a stolen shopping cart. I'm sure there are victims who ended up not much better than that.
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Re: Zeek Rewards and Internet Censorship

Postby Arthur Rubin » Sat Dec 29, 2012 7:23 pm

One of the problems with a class action suit is that the lawyer has to demonstrate that victims have to be enticed by (essentially) the same fraud, not just that each was defrauded.

At least, that's my view from a semester of law school.
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Re: Zeek Rewards and Internet Censorship

Postby wserra » Sat Dec 29, 2012 11:07 pm

Gregg wrote:Could not the receiver make it part of any settlement offer that the promoter admit to the fraud?


The receiver can make anything he wishes part of the offer to settle. The scammers would likely refuse, not least because any admissions could be used against them criminally as well as civilly. The practice is so much not to admit fault in a settlement/consent that the court might well be on their side. Then the receiver would have to prove a case against each scammer. It's not likely to happen that way.

if Mr. Bell were so inclined, couldn't he play a little hardball with them?


Sure, he could.

The case against "I didn't know it was a fraud" isn't that much of a stretch when your promoter has been involved in several of these scams,


Each of which would have to be proven if the promoter doesn't settle, and would have to be proven sufficiently close to Zeek as to be relevant. The receiver's mandate is not to extract what amount to guilty pleas from each scammer, but rather to get as much back for the victims as possible. This means extracting as much money as possible while keeping his costs as low as possible. It doesn't mean litigating a full-blown trial against each scammer.

As to finding the money, I'm talking people who not only managed to hold onto big dollars, but they continue to promote the next big thing. From reading the boards, almost the entire list of defendants in the CEP clawback cases are still active in current schemes.


From which they've made how much? And how do we know that? MLM scammers frequently make up their income, photograph themselves in front of someone else's mansion and Silver Wraith, and so forth.

The same top level promoters bragging on Talk Gold who many thousands they made this week in what program


Which brags are likely lies. Every now and them - such as with Zeek - some of these guys will hit it big. On those occasions, I too would like to see them be forced to disgorge every dime. But what percentage of MLMs do you believe find Zeek's "success"?

The only way to even make a dent, it seems clear to me, is for prosecutors going after a few of them


Bingo. Unfortunately, it's not a law enforcement priority. Boiler rooms (I've represented a couple of people charged with operating them) target the vulnerable, especially the elderly. MLMs and HYIPs just target the greedy, who are as a group not as sympathetic.
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Re: Zeek Rewards and Internet Censorship

Postby Lambkin » Sat Feb 02, 2013 1:58 am

http://www.digtriad.com/news/local/arti ... wards-Case
This week, Zeek Rewards Receiver, Ken Bell, filed two documents in federal court in Charlotte that give us more insight into the extent of the Zeek Rewards Ponzi Scheme.

http://www.the-dispatch.com/article/201 ... /301319970
Case receiver Kenneth Bell said he intends to file a motion approving the claims process by the end of the first quarter of 2013, according to a final liquidation filed in federal court in Charlotte on Thursday.

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Re: Zeek Rewards and Internet Censorship

Postby wserra » Sat Feb 02, 2013 12:40 pm

Receiver Kenneth Bell has filed his "Final Liquidation Plan". Although "Final" is here a term of art - as the reader can see, much is still up in the air - there is a good deal of interesting stuff.

(1) Zeek was, indeed, a large ponzi:
There are approximately 2.2 million unique users (“Affiliates” or “usernames”) in ZeekRewards. The number of Affiliates does not reflect the number of unique individuals who participated in ZeekRewards, as it is likely that some individuals had more than one username. Approximately 1 million Affiliates paid money into the ZeekRewards Program (“Affiliate-Investors”).


(2) The Receiver has already collected a good deal of money, with more already identified:
As of January 31, 2013, available Receivership Assets totaled $312.1 million. As outlined in the Receiver’s Status Report for the Fourth Quarter 2012, the Receiver is also investigating additional potential Receivership Assets including approximately $4.0 million to $7.0 million in funds held by e-wallets, and funds held in foreign accounts, including one account that holds or held approximately $12 million.


(3) There is a lot subject to clawback:
To date, the Receiver estimates approximately $295.5 million of Receivership Assets may have been fraudulently transferred to net-winners and potentially subject to fraudulent transfer claims (“clawback” claims).


(4) The clawback process won't be quick or easy:
The Receiver’s litigation team is still evaluating the most efficient and cost-effective method for pursuing fraudulent transfer claims. Ultimately, the Receiver’s clawback litigation is likely to be a combination of individual actions, group actions, defendant class actions, and other alternative dispute resolutions as approved by the Court. Such proceedings will establish the key findings applicable to most, if not all, recipients of fraudulently transferred funds (findings such as the existence of a Ponzi and/or pyramid scheme). They will also separately provide a forum for the efficient determination of the proper amount of each net-winner’s repayment obligation.


(5) Finally, dum-da-DUM-DUM:
The Receiver is also considering potential claims against Receivership Defendant insiders including employees, contractors, or other RVG agents who played an active role in furthering the Scheme. The forensic resources needed for these claims will be similar to those needed for fraudulent transfer claims. Potential claims against insiders include fraudulent transfer, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, conversion, negligence, and other common law claims. The approximate value of these claims is unknown at this time. The anticipated methods of enforcing these claims are through an action or actions against these insiders, either collectively or as individuals.
...
The Receiver is also considering potential claims against third-party advisors of the Receivership Defendant, and vendors or other service providers that knew or should have known of the inappropriate nature of RVG’s activities and yet facilitated those activities for their own gain. The forensic accounting resources needed to prosecute these claims will be similar to those needed for fraudulent transfer claims. Potential claims include breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, professional negligence, and breach of contract, among other common law claims. The approximate value of these claims is unknown at this time.


Go get 'em, Ken.
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Re: Zeek Rewards and Internet Censorship

Postby notorial dissent » Sat Feb 02, 2013 3:46 pm

It sounds like Bell is really going after them, if the screaming and whining is any indication. Any way you look at it ~$350 M is not chump change.

In my experience, the majority of the money will have gone to insiders, both official and not, and of the 2.2M "users" I would be seriously surprised if a goodly number of them will be effectively to the same people, using multiple addys, to make it look like the winnings were spread out between many people.

This has all kinds of possibilities for getting interesting as it goes further along.
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Re: Zeek Rewards and Internet Censorship

Postby Lambkin » Mon Feb 11, 2013 2:42 pm

The article is a little confusion but apparently these refunds are not related to any action by the receiver. They are related to payments which Zeek never deposited.
http://www.thetimesnews.com/news/region ... ed-1.91880
At least eight affiliates in western Davidson County received a refunded check from NewBridge Bank last month, said Robert Beckom, a Churchland resident who received his money back.

Beckom, 69, said he bought into Zeek Rewards with two $500 cashier's checks in July 2012, about a month before the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission froze Zeek's assets and filed securities fraud charges. Beckom said the NewBridge branch in Tyro wrote him a $1,000 check Jan. 28.

NewBridge isn't the only bank repaying its customers. To date, the State Employees' Credit Union has provided about 153 members with refunds, totaling nearly $213,000, said Leigh Brady, SECU spokeswoman.

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Re: Zeek Rewards and Internet Censorship

Postby wserra » Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:22 pm

Alright, this will be an immodest post.

Judge Mullen has just denied the winners' motion for appointment of an examiner. We nailed the reasons (although, admittedly, they were pretty obvious). I'd say this is not a good sign for any legal arguments these guys might make to avoid clawbacks.

wserra wrote:First of all, in this situation the receiver's mandate includes the functions of an "examiner". It's Bell's job to canvas who owes and who is owed, report it to the Court, and as best as possible to collect and disburse. There is no need for an examiner here,


Judge Mullen wrote:The receiver is working diligently to maximize and protect the assets and the Court has utmost confidence in the receiver’s efforts


wserra wrote:and (since s/he would be paid from what is left of Zeek funds) one's appointment would further diminish the amount recouped.


Judge Mullen wrote:the Court is of the opinion that appointing an examiner would cause unnecessary and significant depletion of the assets of the receivership.


wserra wrote:the large issue of the conflicts between the ripping-off and ripped-off affiliates is completely unaddressed.


Judge Mullen wrote:it is readily apparent to the Court that such an examiner would be unable represent the interests of both the net winner and net loser affiliates, two groups with inherently adverse interests.


wserra wrote:when a court appoints an examiner, the court chooses who it will be.


. . . which point the Court never reaches, because it refused to appoint an examiner at all.

I wonder how much Quilling et al charged for this motion. A lot, I hope. 'Course, we predicted the outcome for nothing.
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Re: Zeek Rewards and Internet Censorship

Postby notorial dissent » Tue Feb 12, 2013 4:41 pm

wserra wrote:First of all, in this situation the receiver's mandate includes the functions of an "examiner". It's Bell's job to canvas who owes and who is owed, report it to the Court, and as best as possible to collect and disburse. There is no need for an examiner here,

This, as you so rightly point out, is exactly what the receiver is supposed to be doing, he is the examiner/auditor/advocate for the victims of the company, not the company, and/or its officers and main benefitors. Which is of course why the Fun Club bunch are complaining, as they were the ones really benefiting from what Zeek was doing, not the little fish who were actually providing the profit they were taking.

Of course, the main point of the pretense and gross hypocrisy in the entire scenario, is as the judge points out, the absolute inability of the representative of the "net winners" having anything but an adverse position to the "net losers" in all this. The plain fact of the matter is that Quilling could not, and can not represent two adverse parties in the same action. And actually to even give the impression that that was what was happening or intended, strikes me as being dangerously close to, at the very least, misconduct on the part of Quilling et al. I know the Fun Club crowd are actively misrepresenting what is going on and happening, particularly with regards to Quilling, and what they are doing, and can do, but I am not sure just how far over the line Quilling is stepping at this point by doing what they have been doing and by allowing their client to make the statements they have so far.

As you point out, if this is the level of legal approach being applied here, it doesn't look good for Fun Clubs future efforts, not that they ever looked good to begin with.
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Re: Zeek Rewards and Internet Censorship

Postby igorhorst » Sat Mar 30, 2013 5:44 pm

I haven't paid much attention to Zeek Rewards, but this article seemed somewhat relevant. Paul Burks has not been charged, but has paid up a $4 million dollar penalty and is cooperating with the receivership. Burks also has some harsh words for those that he scammed.

In his first public comments, Burks told The Associated Press he couldn't discuss details because of lawsuits by victims trying to recoup money.

"Everything will come out in time," said Burks, 66, standing in the doorway of his home.
Asked if he had anything to say to victims, he shook his head.

"I never told anyone to invest more money than they could afford," Burks snapped. "I didn't tell them to do that. Never."

He said if they lost money, "it's their fault. Not mine. Don't blame me."

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Re: Zeek Rewards and Internet Censorship

Postby notorial dissent » Sun Mar 31, 2013 3:06 am

igorhorst welcome to Quatloos.

Of course Burke said "...it's their fault. Not mine. Don't blame me." It's never someone like Burke's fault, the fact that not only was the deck stacked against the "investors", it was intentionally stacked heavily in favor of the house, and not only the house, but very specific people in the house, Burkes et al, so of course it couldn't be his fault and his hands are lily white and pure, and if he keeps saying that often enough and long enough maybe someone will actually believe him, but not the prosecutors, the SEC, and not the people he scammed. The judge obviously didn't believe it when he shut it down as a ponzi and scam and put it in receivership.

The fact that you sincerely and wholeheartedly believe that the “Law of Gravity” is unconstitutional and a violation of your sovereign rights, does not absolve you of adherence to it.

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Re: Zeek Rewards and Internet Censorship

Postby Lambkin » Sat May 11, 2013 11:52 pm

http://www.the-dispatch.com/article/201 ... ms-process
Those who lost money through the alleged Ponzi scheme, Zeek Rewards, have about four months to file their claim with the court-appointed receiver, according to a federal judge's order entered Wednesday.

Senior U.S. District Judge Graham Mullen granted a motion to approve the receiver's proposed claims process, which will be accessed online at www.zeekrewardsreceivership.com.


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