SEC Testifies Before Subcommittee

Testimony on “Oversight of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement”

Andrew Ceresney, Director Division of Enforcement

March 19, 2015

Chairman Garrett, Ranking Member Maloney, and Members of the Subcommittee:

Thank you for inviting me to testify on behalf of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or “Commission”) about the Division of Enforcement (“Enforcement” or “Division”).

The SEC’s mission is to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation.  The Division furthers this mission by, among other things, investigating and bringing charges against violators of the federal securities laws.  A strong enforcement program is at the heart of the Commission’s efforts to ensure investor trust and confidence in the nation’s securities markets, and the Division is committed to the swift and vigorous pursuit of those who have broken the securities laws.

In FY 2014, the Commission brought the highest number of enforcement actions to date, 755, and obtained monetary remedies at our highest level, totaling over $4.16 billion.  More importantly, these actions addressed significant issues, spanned the entire spectrum of the securities industry, and included numerous first-of-their kind actions.  We punished securities law violators, returned funds to injured investors, and sent important messages of deterrence.  Our investigative efforts have been assisted by industry experts and by new tools developed to harness data, including trading and financial data.  The Division also maintained its strong litigation record and implemented a new approach of requiring admissions in certain cases.

(continued)


 

Here’s the link to the full testimony

Zeek Rewards: Receiver’s Notice Of Class Certification

NOTICE OF CERTIFICATION OF DEFENDANT CLASS ACTION

On February 10, 2015, Judge Graham C. Mullen, United States Judge for the Western District of North Carolina issued an ORDER granting the motion of Kenneth D. Bell, the court-appointed Receiver for Rex Venture Group, LLC (“RVG”), to certify a Defendant Class (the “Net Winner Class”) in this action comprised of all persons and entities who were Net Winners of more than $1000 in ZeekRewards. A copy of this ORDER is attached. This notice is being provided to notify you that according to RVG’s records you are a member of the Net Winner Class and inform you about certain important information related to the Net Winner Class and the legal process going forward.

1. In this lawsuit against the named Defendants and the Net Winner Class, the Receiver alleges that because ZeekRewards’ Net Winners “won” (the victims) money in an unlawful Ponzi and/or pyramid scheme, the Net Winners are not permitted to keep their winnings and must return the fraudulently transferred winnings to the Receiver for distribution to the ZeekRewards’ victims. Specifically, the Receiver has asserted claims for relief for: (1) Fraudulent Transfer of RVG Funds in violation of the North Carolina Fraudulent Transfer Act; (2) Common Law Fraudulent Transfer; and (3) Constructive Trust.

2. Net Winners are defined in the Complaint as those who received more money from ZeekRewards than they paid in. Therefore, the Net Winner Class includes all persons and entities who participated in ZeekRewards and received at least $1000 more in money from ZeekRewards than they put into the program. RVG’s records show that you are a member of the Net Winner Class. Your membership in the Net Winner Class depends solely on the amount of your net winnings. It does not depend on whether or not you believed ZeekRewards was lawful, your level of knowledge concerning the program or whether you still have the money you received.

3. The Court has not yet ruled on the merits of the claims in this lawsuit; however, when it does so, its orders will be legally binding upon you and all other members of the Net Winner Class. The Court has noted that the common questions related to the Net Winner Class are “whether ZeekRewards operated as a Ponzi and/or pyramid scheme and whether net winnings received by the Defendants should be returned to the Receiver.” The Court has further held that the details of each class member’s participation in ZeekRewards do not need to be addressed in answering these common and controlling questions. The ongoing legal proceedings in the case will answer these common questions.

4. You are not required to and there should be no need for you to participate in the legal proceedings related to answering the common questions for the Net Winner Class. The Court has determined that the named Defendants, who the Court noted collectively won more than $11 million in profits from ZeekRewards, “inevitably share the same defenses against liability for repayment of the alleged fraudulent transfers made to the class, which does not depend on the personal circumstances of particular affiliates” and that those Defendants and their counsel “are able to fairly and adequately represent the interests of the defendant class.” Also, all pleadings and other papers filed in this action are available for your inspection in the office of the Clerk of Court for the Federal Court in the Western District of North Carolina in Charlotte, North Carolina, and on the Federal Court PACER electronic public access service that allows users to obtain case and docket information online at https://www.pacer.gov/.

5. You will, however, have an opportunity to participate in the process if the Net Winner Class is found to be required to repay their net winnings. If liability is found, the Receiver intends to seek a court Judgment against each class member in the amount of their individualized net winnings plus interest at least from August 17, 2012, when ZeekRewards was shut down and the Receiver appointed. The final amount of each Net Winner Class member’s net winnings and any Judgment against them will be set later in the proceedings after the liability of the class has been established. While the specifics of the process for determining those amounts has not yet been decided, the Receiver intends

to seek a process that will notify you of the amount of your net winnings according to the RVG records, allow you a reasonable opportunity to provide a response (supported by relevant documentation if you disagree with the calculation) and then either reach an agreement on the amount or have the amount determined by a judicial process. It is likely to be several months or longer before this process begins so you do not need to take any action at this time either with the Receiver or counsel for the named Defendants related to determining the amount of your net winnings. This is true even if you believe that you are not a member of the Net Winner Class because you did not receive more than $1000 more from ZeekRewards than you put in (you will have an opportunity to make that argument at the appropriate time). However, if you have not already done so, you are advised to gather and preserve any documents or information (including electronic files) related to the amount you paid into and received from ZeekRewards so those documents and that information can be used in the later process to determine the amount of your net winnings.

6. CONTACT INFORMATION REQUIRED – This notice has been sent to the last known electronic address for each member of the Net Winner Class and published on the Receivership website, the Court’s docket and other forums. For purposes of future communications to the Net Winner Class it is important that the Court have updated contact information for all class members. Therefore, please provide your Name, Residential Street Address (or Business address for an entity), Email Address and Phone Number to:

Kenneth D. Bell
McGuireWoods LLP
ATTN: ZeekRewards Class Action
201 North Tryon Street, Suite 3000
Charlotte, North Carolina 28202
Or

zeekrewardsclassaction@mcguirewoods.com

Please be advised that the failure to provide current contact information will not allow you to avoid any liability or obligation related to this matter.

7. Since early in the Receivership, the Receiver has expressed a willingness to consider voluntary settlements on the Receiver’s claims with ZeekRewards’ net winners and others against whom the Receiver has claims. To date, there have been numerous settlements approved by the Court in which net winners and the Receiver agreed on an amount to be repaid, often with payment terms that allowed the net winner to repay the agreed amount over a number of months. Net Winners are still permitted to discuss a potential settlement of the Receiver’s claims against them even though they have become members of the Net Winner Class. If you desire to discuss a settlement of the Receiver’s claims against you, please communicate with the Receiver at zeeksettlement@mcguirewoods.com.

8. This notice is intended to inform you about the Net Winner Class and answer basic questions regarding the Receiver’s claims and the legal process.

PLEASE CONSIDER THIS NOTICE CAREFULLY BECAUSE YOU WILL BE LEGALLY BOUND BY FUTURE ORDERS OF THE COURT IN THIS ACTION. IF YOU ARE UNSURE OF WHAT COURSE TO FOLLOW OR IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR SPECIFIC CIRCUMSTANCES, YOU MAY WISH TO CONTACT YOUR OWN ATTORNEY. PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE RECEIVER, THE COURT OR COUNSEL FOR THE NAMED DEFENDANTS WITH GENERAL QUESTIONS ABOUT THE NET WINNER CLASS OR YOUR PARTICULAR SITUATION OTHER THAN IF YOU WANT TO DISCUSS A POTENTIAL SETTLEMENT WITH THE RECEIVER AS DESCRIBED ABOVE.

Zeek Rewards: Robert Craddock, Zeek Figure, Indicted For Wire Fraud in BP Oil Spill Scam

Robert Craddock indicted for wire fraud

Before he became one of the prominent faces of the Zeek Rewards Ponzi scheme, before he solicited thousands of dollars from victims and then disappeared with the money, before he attempted to profit zeekrewards
further by writing a book about his Ponzi scamming, before he attempted to sell those who invested under him in Zeek to the highest bidder, before he ran campaigns of untruths and vicious accusations against those who called him out…

Before all of this… who was Robert Craddock?

Turns out he was a fraudster who attempted to fleece over $100,000 from a disaster relief fund.

[Continue reading…]

Zeek Rewards: Judge Approves Class Certification Notice

Below is the text of this Order:

ORDER

THIS MATTER comes before the Court upon the Receiver’s Motion to Approve Notice of Class Certification (Doc. No. 103). For the reasons set forth in the Receiver’s Motion, the Court finds that in the interests of keeping the defendant class members apprised of the certification and definition of the class, the nature of the action and claims against them, and preemptively and efficiently answering common questions that the class members may have about the litigation, the Court will approve the proposed Notice of Class Certification attached as Exhibit A to the Receiver’s Motion.

IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that the Receiver’s Motion to Approve Notice of Class Certification is hereby GRANTED and the proposed Notice of Class Certification attached as Exhibit A to the Receiver’s Motion (Doc. No. 103-1) is approved by the Court. It is further ORDERED that the Receiver shall send the Notice to the class members using their email addresses registered with ZeekRewards or the Receivership and that he shall also post the Notice of Class Certification on the Receivership website at http://www.zeekrewardsreceivership.com.

Signed: March 11, 2015

Zeek Rewards: Receiver Files Suit Against UK “Net Winners”

Hot off the presses, we have this new claw back litigation aimed at UK participants in the Zeek Rewards saga just filed today in the Western District of North Carolina, 3:15-cv-108.  Zeek

Named in this suit are a number of UK residents believed to be “Net Winners”:

12. Shaun Smith is, upon information and belief, a resident of Bridgnorth, United Kingdom. Smith is a former ZeekRewards “affiliate” and was a “net winner” of $262,900.31 under one or more usernames, including “topincometeam.”
13. Peter William Bennett is, upon information and belief, a resident of Wokingham, United Kingdom. Bennett is a former ZeekRewards “affiliate” and was a “net winner” of $257,573.30 under one or more usernames, including “orchard.”
14. Mark Anthony Ferrie is, upon information and belief, a resident of Abergavenny, United Kingdom. Ferrie is a former ZeekRewards “affiliate” and was a “net winner” of $212,072.60 under one or more usernames, including “maferrie.”

15. Gary Bryan Morris is, upon information and belief, a resident of Abergavenny, United Kingdom. Morris is a former ZeekRewards “affiliate” and was a “net winner” of $342,405.01 under one or more usernames, including “everychance.”
16. Kalpesh Patel is, upon information and belief, a resident of Newham, London, United Kingdom. Patel is a former ZeekRewards “affiliate” and was a “net winner” of $140,842.47 under one or more usernames, including “international.”
17. Parvis Parvizi is, upon information and belief, a resident of Macclesfield, United Kingdom. Parvizi is a former ZeekRewards “affiliate” and was a “net winner” of $90,518.83 under one or more usernames, including “globalpartners.”
18. Cathal Lambe is, upon information and belief, a resident of Omagh, United Kingdom. Lambe is a former ZeekRewards “affiliate” and was a “net winner” of $90,311.21 under one or more usernames, including “luckoftheirish.”
19. Adrian John Hibbert is, upon information and belief, a resident of Sully, United Kingdom. Hibbert is a former ZeekRewards “affiliate” and was a “net winner” of $82,103.51 under one or more usernames, including “ade.”
20. John Noakes is, upon information and belief, a resident of Croydon, London, United Kingdon. Noakes is a former ZeekRewards “affiliate” and was a “net winner” of $59,850.62 under one or more usernames, including “syfgroup.”

Zeek Rewards: T. Lemont Silver’s Lawyer Requests Removal for Non-Payment

Say it isn’t so!!  T. Lemont Silver, Ponzi Pimp/Profiteer and Serial Promoter, has just lost legal representation for not paying the $5,000 retainer his attorney required. It would seem that Mr. Silver, his spouse and the entity he operates had agreed to pay $5,000 plus all related expenses and legal fees at normal hourly rates.

The attorney, James Jonas, had started working, garnered some expenses, but Mr. and Mrs. Silver reneged on repeated promises to pay. Not only that, but the Silvers have made themselves “unavailable” and were not even bothering to cooperate with their attorney, and the attorney believes he cannot properly or reasonably represent clients who fail to pay, reply, or provide information to further their case.

Adding insult to financial injury, the Silvers would not even reply to the request to be removed as Counsel of Record.

According to the receiver’s information found in the original Complaint in this case, the Silvers collected the following personally or by entity:

  • more than $773,000
  • more than $943,000
  • more than $600,000

That’s over $2.3 Million, folks…. and they cannot pay their attorneys??

Achieve Community: Sealed Filings From Kristine Johnson

Recently, Kristine Johnson filed a Joint Motion with the Court to restrict access to her filings so that Troy Barnes cannot see them. In addition, there is a Motion to allow the Depositing Funds with the Court, funds which are subject to the Preliminary Injunction and/or Asset Freeze.

On the docket, Documents 30 and 31 are restricted, but Document 32 does reveal a few things, which are: [emphasis added]

Because of the nature of the proceedings referenced in the parties Joint Motion for Authority [#28] and the Court’s Order granting that Motion [#30], the Parties’ interests at this time substantially outweigh the public’s interest in open proceedings. If not sealed, it is possible that the relief sought by the parties’ Joint Motion could be hindered or prevented altogether.

The purpose of Documents 28, 29, and 30, as well as the Parties’ Joint Motion, Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 67, For Leave to Deposit Funds with the Court, is to achieve one goal—to transfer certain funds into a secure account in the United States so that they can become part of the larger collection of funds subject to the asset freeze that this Court first entered as a Temporary Restraining Order [#10] and which was subsequently converted into Preliminary Injunctions.

Accordingly, Johnson and the SEC respectfully request that the Joint Motion and any subsequent order be restricted only to the filing parties—Johnson and the SEC—and the Court. Specifically, the Parties request that Defendants Troy Barnes and Work With Troy Barnes, Inc. not have access.

As a reminder, here’s part of Doc 28, asking to move funds:

The account is believed to be located in Hong Kong and, as such, creates obstacles for reach by authorities with search and seizure powers. As of February 26, 2015, this account was believed to have funds in amounts in excess of $800,000 in United States currency.

Sadly, we will not be seeing any further filings from Ms. Johnson unless the items become unsealed later in the case.

SEC Files Suit Against ‘Wings Network’ as “International Ponzi Scheme”

sec-logoU.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Litigation Release No. 23209 / February 27, 2015

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Tropikgadget FZE, et al., Civil Action No. 1:15 cv 10543-IT (United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts)

SEC Charges Operators of International Pyramid Scheme Targeting Latino Communities

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that it filed charges against three company officers and 12 promoters behind an international pyramid scheme targeting Latino communities in the U.S. The agency also obtained a court order to freeze the assets of the company officers, promoters, and related parties.

In a complaint filed February 25, 2015 in federal court in Boston that was unsealed yesterday, the SEC alleges that the Portuguese companies – operating under the name Wings Network – claimed to run a multi-level marketing company that offered digital and mobile solutions to customers, including apps and cloud storage. However, Wings Network’s revenues actually came solely from selling memberships to investors, not from the sale of any products. The company relied upon the recruitment of new members, and commissions were paid to earlier investors with money received from later investors. The scheme raised at least $23.5 million from thousands of investors, including many in Brazilian and Dominican immigrant communities in Massachusetts.

According to the SEC’s complaint, the scheme was orchestrated by Wings Network officers Sergio Henrique Tanaka of São Paulo, Brazil and Davie, Fla., Carlos Luis da Silveira Barbosa of Lisbon, Portugal, and Claudio de Oliveira Pereira Campos of Lisbon, Portugal. After establishing a network of lead promoters, recruitment of new members surged through the use of social media such as Facebook and YouTube. The promoters used Facebook to publicize “business meetings” that took place at hotels and other locations in Connecticut, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Texas, Georgia, and Utah. The promoters also set up storefronts or “training centers” to lure investors into attending Wings Network presentations. For example, one promoter used a storefront in downtown Philadelphia to make presentations to prospective investors, and another promoter rented office space in Pompano Beach, Fla., and spread the word in the local Latino community to attract prospective investors to come in and hear presentations.

Several of the scheme’s promoters charged in the SEC’s complaint live in Marlborough, Mass., while others reside in Clinton, Mass., Sandy, Utah, Duluth, Ga., and Waco, Texas.

The SEC’s complaint alleges that the Portuguese entities and principals Tanaka, Barbosa and Campos violated antifraud provisions Section 17(a) of the Securities Act and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act and Rule 10-b-5 thereunder, and registration provisions Section 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act, and that the promoter defendants violated Section 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Scott R. Stanley, Dawn Edick, John McCann, Deena Bernstein, and Amy Gwiazda of the SEC’s Boston Regional Office. The SEC’s litigation will be led by Ms. Bernstein.

The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Massachusetts Securities Division of the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office, which previously filed its own action against Wings Network and other parties, as well as the Comissão do Mercado de Valores Mobiliários of Portugal and the Procuradoria-Geral da República of Portugal.

SEC Complaint

http://www.sec.gov/litigation/litreleases/2015/lr23209.htm

BehindMLM: TelexFree Creditors Named in Bankruptcy Case…..

Once again, OZ from BehindMLM.com has done his usual extraordinary job and has revealed some new information in the TelexFree Bankruptcy case.  The link to it is below.

 


TelexFree financial schedules filed (creditors named)

telexfree-logoAs part of the bankruptcy proceedings initiated by TelexFree’s owners, the company was required to file Schedules of Assets and Liabilities.

Owing the bankruptcy proceedings being initiated in order to dissolve Ponzi ROI liabilities and head off a civil and criminal investigation into the company, these schedules were never filed.

Receiving absolutely no assistance from TelexFree’s owners and due to complications arising from data seized by various agencies investigating the scam, it’s taken some time for the court-appointed Receiver to finally put together an accurate list of TelexFree’s creditors.

Here, for the first time, we get to see a list of not only affiliates who TelexFree owed money too, but also the third-party businesses who got involved with the scam and should have known better.

[Continue reading…]

m4s0n501

Achieve Community: Kristine Johnson, Can You Say Criminal Investigation??

achieve-community-logoDefendant Kristine Johnson has filed two interesting Motions yesterday, one a Joint Motion requesting the authority to transfer funds, and the second a Joint Motion to Seal further filings so that Defendants Troy Barnes and Work With Troy Barnes, Inc. do not have access to them. It seems there may be trouble in paradise.

One very interesting revelation in the Transfer of Funds motion is this:

2. Contemporaneously with the civil proceedings in this case, Ms. Johnson is a target of a federal criminal investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina.

This Motion goes on to say that these “criminal authorities” had approached Ms. Johnson’s attorneys regarding the voluntary transfer of over $800,000 associated to both the ongoing criminal and civil investigations.  Because these funds “derive directly or indirectly from any investor”, and are located in Hong Kong. Due to the Preliminary Injunction, Ms. Johnson cannot execute a voluntary transfer without violating the Preliminary Injunction.

Hence the Joint Motion from Ms. Johnson and the SEC to relax the injunction on a one time basis

to permit the funds transfer from the “ipayDNA.info” account, to which she has access, to a pre-arranged bank account located in the United States, such that authorities will be able to freeze and potentially seize the funds as part of their on-going criminal investigation.

Ms. Johnson shall not execute the transfer of funds from the ipayDNA account until such account has been established, and she has received the express written permission of undersigned counsel for the Securities and Exchange Commission to transfer the funds.

The second filing is this:

Because of the nature of the proceedings referenced in the parties Joint Motion for Authority, the parties’ interests, as well as that of other entities not party to the motion, at this time substantially outweighs the public’s interest in open proceedings. If not sealed, it is possible that the relief sought by the parties’ Joint Motion could be stymied by adverse interests.

Defendant Kristine Johnson and the SEC respectfully request that the Joint Motion and any subsequent order be restricted only to the filing parties – Defendant Johnson and the SEC – and the Court. Specifically, the parties request that Defendants Troy Barnes and Work With Troy Barnes, Inc., not have access.

These two filings are on the Files Website, Doc 28 and 29.

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