The Secret Service claims AdSurfDaily is a massive Internet-based wire fraud scheme. The alleged scam entices investors by promising huge returns if they invest and enroll in a paid autosurf program. Bloggers rally and rip into the government action.
The online pitch goes something like this: Invest in our paid autosurf
program and earn a 125-150 percent return for every dollar invested. All the investor
has to do is surf a few Web sites each day. At least that's what Thomas A.
Bowdoin and his AdSurfDaily.com
Sound too good to be true? That's exactly what the U.S. Secret Service
thinks, and on Aug. 1 the agency seized approximately $53 million in
funds and two homes as part of an investigation into what federal authorities
claim is a "massive Internet-based wire fraud scheme."
According to a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District
of Columbia, the scheme involves ASD
(AdSurfDaily.com) generating advertising revenue by automatically rotating
advertised Web sites into its investors' Internet browsers.
Since ASD creates no significant new
wealth by selling advertising to purchasers outside of its investor-members,
authorities claim ASD is a classic Ponzi
scheme, using money from new investors to pay off earlier investors before the
whole thing collapses.
Federal prosecutors and the Secret Service raided ASD's
headquarters Aug. 1, seizing the $53 million. In court documents filed Aug. 4,
the Secret Service claims that the money and Bowdoin's homes in Quincy
and Myrtle Beach, S.C.,
are forfeitable to the United States government.
Neither Bowdoin nor anyone else connected to ASD
has been criminally charged in the investigation, although the seizure of
Bowdoin's funds makes it difficult for ASD
to do business for the time being.
The court complaint says ASD masked its
Ponzi scheme ambitions by calling its investors "advertisers," their
investments "ad purchases" and the ASD
payments to investors "rebates." However, according to the complaint,
ASD did not operate as a seller of
advertising services and there was no legitimate product being sold to support
the profits ASD promised to pay its
investors for relinquishing their funds.
While the Secret Service was mum on the investigation, bloggers were not.
"I truly believe Andy set this company up to be legal. He is a proven
ethical businessman," wrote Ginger from Tennessee
on Tallahassee's WCTV
Web site. Quincy is located
just outside Tallahassee, and the
station covered the raids on Bowdoin's home and office.
Another post to the site claimed, "Just because the feds take civil action
against someone does not mean the allegations are true, and this is one ... such
case. This company had only the best intentions, shared the wealth with all
involved, and were working with their legal team to ensure government
compliance on all laws."
But the Internet
& Affiliate Marketing News blog carried this post: "First of all,
they are a classic Ponzi scheme because money is being paid out from new
members investing to the old members who already earned their credits and are
ready to cash out. This scam is growing fast and there are more and more people
cashing out, so they need more new members to cover all the payouts."