Saturday, December 28, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: Zeek Ponzi "Determination of Claim" letters going out now

Zeek Rewards Receiver Ken Bell has released a new letter on the official website dated 27-DEC-2013.

Determination of Claims basically confirms that you have a claim against Zeek Rewards (i.e. it owes you money). How much you will get back depends on how much he was able to claw back from the net winners... 15000 of them, 9000 of whom live in the US.

Even if you don't receive one (and as first batch is going out, and it'll take the remainder of the year just to finish the first batch)  that does not mean you don't have a claim. Some claims are harder than others to document and verify. If you have met the deadline to file your claim on the official website, you will eventually get a notice.

Here's some most interesting facts:

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Scam Post Mortem: How Long Had Zeek Been Investigated Before They Were Closed?

The United States Secret Service star logo.
When did US Secret Service start
investigating Zeek Rewards?
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
With clawback lawsuits about to start against the "net winners" in the Zeek Ponzi scheme (there's still time to settle, lest you enjoy being served with a lawsuit) one the the questions burning on the minds of the victims (besides "when do I get my money") is how could the Zeek ponzi scheme lasted as long as it did? When did they, the insiders (Paul Burks, Dawn Wright-Olivares, etc.), knew they were being investigated? Why did they continue to perpetrate the fraud rather than shutting the whole thing down?

Part of the answer on how long the insiders had known about the government investigation was hinted in the SEC press release on Dec 20, 2013 where they announced that SEC has brought charges of various securities law violations against Dawn Wright-Olivares and her stepson, Dan Olivares, respectively COO and CTO of ZeekRewards ponzi scheme, that they knew and covered up evidence of wrongdoing. The civil charges has been settled with both of them paying about 11.4 million dollars together, but the CRIMINAL charges being filed by the US Attorney's Office is still pending. 

Let us then put several more documented dates in a timeline so we can visualize it more clearly:
  • circa early April, 2012 -- Zeek Rewards suddenly cancelled all members from certain European countries with a bogus explanation and only offered original money back
  • April 18, 2012 -- Zeek Reward red carpet event in Lexington, NC
  • circa end of May, 2012 -- Zeek posted a profit share of 8.9%, then told everybody they had a manual decimal displacement, it's really 0.89%. This basically proved that the percentage was not calculated, but manually entered
  • May 28, 2012  -- over Memorial Day weekend, Zeek suddenly announced that all Zeek checks have to clear before June 1st or they are void. 
  • June 4th, 2012 -- in a "training call" hosted by Dawn, she announced that 700 Zeek members in Montana can no longer participate due to some legal problems. 
  • June 5th, 2012 -- in another "training call", Dawn announced eWallet through NxPay, then claimed that unless other affiliates put more money into Zeek's eWallet, Zeek cannot pay people. 
  • June 6th, 2012 -- Zeek announced they no longer accept personal checks 
  • June 6th, 2012 -- Dawn attempts to white-wash eWallet issues with now infamous "burger Analogy" (i.e. if you buy from BK you can't pick up your burgers at Wendy's, so if you buy bids with STP you can't get paid from NxPay)
  • June 8, 2012 -- Dawn Wright-Olivares appeared with Troy Dooly on ACES Radio hosted by Jim Gillhouse. Dawn claimed that Burks "manages all that" when asked how was daily profit share calculated. 
  • July 7th, 2012 -- North Carolina Office of Attorney General issued an information request to Zeek, but this was kept secret by both parties
  • July 24th, 2012 -- Keith Laggos, Zeek consultant, "fired" for promoting Lyoness, revealed to be receiving 40K a month through Zeek as a Zeek member.
  • July 30th, 2012 --  Darryl Douglas, major insider at Zeek, dropped out of sight
  • August 1, 2012 -- North Carolina OAG request of Zeek documents was made public
  • Circa August 6, 2012 -- training classes and red carpet event scheduled for August 22 cancelled
  • August 16, 2012 -- Secret Service agents closed the doors of Zeek Rewards and RVG. 
Now, when did the Feds start investigating, and when did RVG / Zeek became aware of the investigation? 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

MLM Absurdities: Why Do New MLM Businesses Just End Up Cloning Old Scams? (Is Lucrazon a scam?)

Image representing Lucrazon as depicted in Cru...
 Lucrazon logo via CrunchBase
In studying network marketing and its illegal cousins, the pyramid schemes and the Ponzi schemes, it is sometimes rather disheartening to see that some people just end up reinventing old scams, or are treading so close they may as well as claimed to have reinvented the wheel. Here's one of those cliche quotes to throw around:
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. -- George Santayana
Perhaps in the modern times, it's necessary to add a corollary:
Those who cannot research the past are doomed to repeat it
And today, we shall examine one such biz... a seemingly very upright one... except it seem to be a business model that's a copy of a scam that was closed by the FTC 13 years ago.

That business is called Lucrazon.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Bad Arguments: Misrepresenting Pyramid Schemes, esp. by people who should know better

Some of the most persistent bad arguments presented by network marketers (not just noobs, but also many veterans) are various misconceptions about pyramid schemes, and using those misconceptions to explain how network marketing is NOT like that. However, that explained nothing since the rebuttal is based on a misunderstanding.

Today, we shall explore a website called "Engineered Lifestyles" by a guy named Jamie Messina, who claimed to be an automotive engineer before getting bitten by the network marketing bug. You'd think that an engineer would know about a bit of critical thinking... but let's look at the evidence, rather than presumptions.

Okay, what does Jamie Messina say about pyramid schemes? This can be found at:

For a page with the title "Recognizing Pyramid Schemes, and subtitle: Is MLM a Pyramid Scheme?", the page is surprising light on information, as there is not a proper definition of pyramid scheme on this page at all. Instead, the entire page is actually a sales pitch about network marketing in an attempt by pointing out the pyramid like structure is all around us therefore a pyramid shaped organization is nothing to be afraid of.

While technically correct, that pyramid shaped organization is all around us and nothing to be afraid of, it is IRRELEVANT as it has NOTHING to do with a "pyramid scheme". This is a very common obfuscation defense even by famous "advisors" such as Robert Kiyosaki. A pyramid scheme is a type of FINANCIAL FRAUD and nothing nothing to do with organizational shape of an organization.

Jamie has gotten off to a bad start. Let's see if he can redeem himself in the second half...

Scam Psychology: Why Do People Believe Celebrity Endorsement of Woo Products?

English: Jenny McCarthy
English: Jenny McCarthy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Celebrities pushing bad science and bad medicine is nothing new.

Jenny McCarthy -- Playboy model, actress, "celebrity", "former" anti-vaxxer, pusher of various bogus autism "treatments" (basically told parents "try anything (whatever it costs)")  [ see wikipedia entry ]

Suzanne Summers -- actress, singer, celebrity, and promoter of "Wiley Protocol", a hormonal replacement therapy that was NEVER proven with scientific study and may be dangerous, among other things. [ see wikipedia entry ]

English: Lisa Oz and Mehmet Oz at the 2010 Tim...
English: Lisa Oz and Mehmet Oz at the 2010 Time 100. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
And let's not forget the Oprah spawned... Mehmet Oz, i.e. "Doctor Oz"...  who seems to often fail basic grasp of science despite his medical training, as he had featured such pseudoscience on his show as homeopathy, Reiki (his wife's a Reiki master), bogus report of arsenic in apple juice, bogus "magic" ingredient of weight loss, and "curing homosexuality" among many others. [ see wikipedia entry ]

People who follow these and many other celebrities out there giving BAD ADVICE are very likely to take these people's BAD ADVICE seriously... JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE CELEBRITIES. 

And their reasoning process is virtually the SAME as people who got scammed out of money.