Ah, finally. It looks like they are starting to go after the paid people who pontificate and speciously sanitize these online schemes; couldn’t happen to a more deserving ass-hat. He is described as a “consultant” in the press release; I would have chosen a different descriptor.
ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE RECEIVER – February 2, 2017
As I previously announced, I continue to pursue Final Judgments requiring each member of the Net Winner Class of those who won at least $1000 in ZeekRewards to repay their net winnings to the Receivership for distribution to victims of the scheme. On January 27, 2017, United States District Judge Graham Mullen entered an Order on Process for Determining the Amount of Final Judgments Against Net Winner Class Members, which sets forth the process for determining the amount of the net winnings received by each member of the Net Winner Class. That amount plus prejudgment interest will then become the amount of the Final Judgment to be entered against the net winner. I intend to pursue collection of these judgments vigorously, and expect the ultimate amount collected, while uncertain, will be a substantial sum.
The Court’s Order, which describes the process in detail, may be viewed by following this link. The first step in the process – notifying each Net Winner of the amount of their net winnings – is expected to begin next week. After notification, each Net Winner is required to provide a response stating whether he or she accepts or disagrees with that amount within 60 days of the notification using a website Net Winnings Determination Response Portal. More information and links to the Response Portal will be sent to the Net Winner Class members in the notification email. If a Net Winner does not receive their notification by February 13, 2017 then he or she should email email@example.com to receive instructions on how to obtain the notification.
Throughout the Receivership, the Receiver has expressed a willingness to consider voluntary final settlements with ZeekRewards’ Net Winners to efficiently resolve the claims against them. Hundreds of settlements have been negotiated with Net Winners and approved by the Court. If a Net Winner wants to discuss a settlement of the Receiver’s claims prior to Final Judgment being entered, please communicate with the Receiver at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the case entitled “Bell v Disner, et al”, we have the Judge’s Order on a Motion to set up a process for determining Final Judgments against Zeek “Net Winners”. Here are a few highlights, there are 25 sections within the Order:
- The amount of net winnings shall be calculated in the same manner as the Final Judgments entered against the named Net Winners in this action. “Specifically, Net Winnings shall be calculated as total cash paid-out by RVG less outside cash (excluding reinvested funds generated as part of the ZeekRewards Program) used to purchase VIP bids, retail bids, and subscriptions (VIP bids + Retail bids + Subscriptions)”
- On or before January 31, 2017, the Receiver shall notify each Net Winner Class member of the amount of their ZeekRewards Net Winnings as reflected in the available books and records of the RVG Receivership.
- The Receiver shall notify each member of the Net Winner Class of the amount of their Net Winnings by email to the email address provided by the net winner in connection with any account included in determining the amount of Net Winnings as well as any other email address that has been provided by the net winner following the appointment of the Receiver. The Receiver shall also post a link on the Receivership website that allows class members to receive notification of the amount of their Net Winnings. In the event that the notice cannot be delivered to any email address provided by the Net Winner, the Receiver shall send a letter to the last known physical address of the Net Winner informing the Net Winner of the proceedings and the availability of the amount of his or her Net Winnings on the Receivership website.
- Class Counsel for the Net Winner Class shall (i) post a notice on the Net Winner Class website describing the process set forth herein and (ii) communicate to the Net Winner Class the availability from the Receiver of the Net Winnings amount for each class member.
- On or before March 31, 2017 (or at least 60 days following the initial email transmittal of the Net Winning amounts to class members if the Receiver’s email notice occurs after January 31, 2017), each class member shall, if they choose to do so, respond to the calculation of their Net Winnings from the RVG records.
- Final Judgment shall be entered against any Net Winner Class member who does not respond to the Receiver’s calculation of their Net Winnings on or before the response deadline in the amount of their Net Winnings as calculated by the Receiver plus prejudgment interest, calculated at the North Carolina statutory rate of 8% per annum from August 17, 2012, which is on or after the date of the last fraudulent transfer payment to each Defendant, to November 29, 2016, the date of the Summary Judgment Order in this action.
I have uploaded the complete Order here.
Zeek Receiver, Kenneth Bell, has filed a Motion to Enter and Order for determining the amount of Final Judgment against the “Winner Class” members. The Court had entered an Order granting a Summary Judgment and Partial Summary Judgment against the Net Winner Class on November 29, 2016. The Court found that the Net Winner Class received “fraudulent tranfers” that must be repaid to the Receiver.
The only issue now remaining before the Court with respect to the Net Winner Class is how to fairly and efficiently determine the amount of the Final Judgment (ZeekRewards net winnings plus pre-judgment interest) to be paid by each of the over 9000 members of the class.
Attached to the Motion is an Exhibit containing the proposed process
that will give each class member individual notice of the amount of his or her “net winnings” according to RVG’s records, an opportunity to respond to that amount with evidence of a different amount and access to a fair and expedient process to resolve any cases in which the Receiver and Net Winner cannot agree on the amount of the Final Judgment. Counsel for the Receiver has conferred with Counsel for the Net Winner Class, and Counsel for the Net Winner Class has stated that the Net Winner Class has no objection to the Receiver’s proposed process.
Part of the proposal is notification “on or before January 31, 2017” of the amount of “Net Winnings” as indicated in RVG’s records and the records of the Receivership.
The amount of net winnings shall be calculated by the Receiver (through his expert witness) in the same manner as the Final Judgments entered against the named Net Winners in this action.
ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE RECEIVER – January 12, 2017
I am pleased to announce that we will be making a third partial interim distribution to all Affiliates who hold Allowed Claims on March 15, 2017. When made, combined with the first and second partial interim distributions and the amounts paid by ZeekRewards to such Affiliates before it was shut down, the third partial interim distribution will have returned to victims with Allowed Claims a total of at least 75% of their losses using the rising tide method.
If you previously have received payment from the Receivership, or receive a payment for the first time during the January 31 distribution, you will be issued another payment on March 15, 2017. If you had recovered more than 60% from ZeekRewards prior to its shutdown, but less than 75%, you will receive a distribution as part of the third partial interim distribution.
The funds used to make the third partial interim distribution will be taken from the reserves that I previously held for those Affiliates whose claims were disallowed and forfeited pursuant to the Court’s November 16, 2017 Order that required these claimants to provide their Release and OFAC certification by December 31, 2016. Their failure to do so has permitted me to release these reserves and to pay the third partial interim distribution to Affiliates that hold Allowed Claims.
Finally, we do not have authority to accept new claims and are not considering further requests to amend previously allowed claims. The time to file claims or to amend claims has passed.
I am confident that we will make a further distribution in the future. I ask you for your patience, and thank you for your continuing support.
THIS MATTER comes before the Court on the Receiver’s Motion to Enter Judgment and to Confirm Judgments as Final.
For good cause shown, the Motion is hereby GRANTED and the Final Judgments requested shall be entered as filed.
So far, three (3) Final Judgments have been entered today:
- Final Judgment is hereby entered against Defendants David Kettner, Mary Kettner, Kettner & Associates, LLC and Desert Oasis International Marketing, LLC (The Kettner Defendants) jointly and severally, in the amount of $1,259,114.65 which is comprised of $937,529.27 in net winnings from the ZeekRewards scheme and $321,585.38 in prejudgment interest
- Final Judgment is hereby entered against Defendants T. Lemont Silver, Sr., Karen Silver, and Global Internet Formula, Inc., (The Silver Defendants) jointly and severally, in the amount of $3,141,668.09, which is comprised of $2,339,267.35 in net winnings from the ZeekRewards scheme and $802,400.74 in prejudgment interest
- Final Judgment is hereby entered against Defendant Durant Brockett in the amount of $2,312,129.25, which is comprised of $1,721,597.67 in net winnings from the ZeekRewards scheme and $590,531.58 in prejudgment interest
In case filed by the Zeek Receiver, Kenneth Bell, the receivership filed civil suit against what were called “Net Winners” in the Zeek scam which garnered $1000 or more from the scheme. The list of Defendants included a large number of serial promoters of this type of pyramid/Ponzi scheme such as:
Todd Disner, Trudy Gilmond, Jerry Napier, Daren Miller, Rhonda Gates, David Sorrells, Aaron and Shara Andrews, T. Lemont Silver, Karen Silver, Michael Van Leeuwen, Duran Brockett, David and Mary Kettner and a “Defendant Class of Net Winners”.
Several of the individuals above were involved in ASD and other scams prior to promoting Zeek and bilking thousands of people on the false hopes of becoming rich with little or no effort. The majority of these defendants have already received judgments which resulted in them having to return monies to the receivership to be distributed to the victims.
The problem with scams like Zeek is the money was actually made from recruiting others, not from sales of products of services. Sadly, a new one pops up almost every day.
On March 26, 2014, the Court approved the Receiver’s Motion for an “Order Approving Distribution Procedures and Certain Other Related Relief” (Doc 199) and issued that order. In it, the Court specified the manner that the Receiver had the authority to settle claims, establish claims procedures and also appointed a “special master”, retired Judge Frank W. Bullock, Jr., to oversee any objections by claimants, and a method to appeal the determination of the Special Master.
On November 3, 2016, the Receiver filed a Motion to Disallow claims that were not filed properly by the deadline of December 31, 2016. Today, Judge Mullen granted that motion:
THIS MATTER is before the Court upon the Receiver’s Motion to Affirm the Disallowance of Claims and Forfeit of Distributions on account of such Claims for the failure by Affiliates to submit an OFAC Certification and Required Release pursuant to the Order Approving Distribution Procedures and Certain Other Related Relief (Doc. No. 199) (the “Motion”). The Court, having considered the Motion, the proceedings that have occurred in this Case, and the relevant case law, and after due deliberation and sufficient cause having been shown, Grants the Motion in all respects.
IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that pursuant to Paragraph 37 of the Order, the Receiver may deem any claim of a Subject Affiliate that has failed to submit the Required Information by11:59 p.m., Eastern time, on December 31, 2016, as disallowed and the distribution to be made on account of any such claim as forfeited.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Receiver shall release any amounts held in reserve on account of a disallowed claim to the general pool of assets from which distributions will be made to holders’ of Allowed Claims.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Receiver may make limited exceptions to the disallowance of a claim and the forfeiture of the distributions on account of such claim for cause, in his sole discretion, at any time prior to making a final Distribution, but only in the event that such Subject Affiliate also provides the Required Information.
Signed: November 10, 2016
ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE RECEIVER – October 5, 2016
More than 41,000 claimants have a claim recognized by the ZeekRewards Receivership, but have failed to electronically submit an OFAC certification and release. The ZeekRewards Receivership cannot pay a claimant with a recognized claim unless the claimant submits an OFAC certification and release. Failure to submit an OFAC certification and release may result in these claims being forfeited.
The Receiver anticipates filing a motion to obtain confirmation from the Court that, subject to certain limited exceptions, any claimant that has not electronically submitted its OFAC certification and release by December 31, 2016 will be deemed to forfeit his/her claim in the ZeekRewards Receivership. Once approved by the Court, the funds held in reserve for the forfeited claims will be released from the reserve for payments to claimants with allowed claims in this case.
The Receiver has and will continue to contact all claimants that hold one of these more than 41,000 claims regarding the forfeiture of their claim.
ZeekRewards’ Former Chief Operating Officer And Former Senior Technology Officer Sentenced In Federal Court
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn, Jr., sentenced Dawn Wright Olivares, 48, and Daniel C. Olivares, 34, both of Clarksville, Ark., to 90 and 24 months in prison, respectively, for their involvement in an $850 million Internet Ponzi scheme that promised victims a bogus return on investments, announced Jill Westmoreland Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
The two Arkansas residents were associated with the Lexington, N.C. based Rex Venture Group, LLC (RVG), which owned and operated Zeekler and ZeekRewards. In addition to the prison term imposed, Judge Cogburn also ordered each defendant to serve three years under court supervision. The restitution amount will be set at a later date.
Michael Rolin, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Charlotte Field Division and Thomas J. Holloman III, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) join U.S. Attorney Rose in making today’s announcement.
According to filed court documents and today’s sentencing hearings, from January 2010 through August 2012, Dawn Wright Olivares, her step-son, Daniel Olivares, and Paul Burks, the owner of RVG, conspired with each other and engaged in Ponzi scheme that raised more than $850 million through a sham internet-based penny auction company named “Zeekler” and its purported advertising division “ZeekRewards” (collectively “Zeek”). According to court records, the conspirators induced more than 900,000 victims – including over 1,500 victims in the Charlotte area – to invest in their fraudulent scheme, by falsely representing that Zeekler was generating massive retail profits from its penny auctions, and that the public could share in such profits through investment in ZeekRewards. Court documents indicate that, at one point, the conspirators claimed that investors would be guaranteed a 125% return on their investment.
Court records show that the co-conspirators represented that victim-investors in ZeekRewards could participate in the Retail Profit Pool (RPP), which supposedly allowed victims collectively to share 50% of Zeek’s daily net profits. The co-conspirators did not keep books and records needed to calculate such daily figures. Instead, Burks simply made up the daily “profit” numbers. Contrary to the conspirators’ claims, the true revenue from the scheme did not come from the penny auction’s “massive profits.” Instead, approximately 98% of all incoming funds came from victim-investors, which were then used to make Ponzi-style payments to earlier victim investors.
In addition to promising massive returns on investments, the conspirators used a number of ways to promote Zeek to current and potential investors. For example, the conspirators hosted weekly conference calls and leadership calls, where participants could call in and listen to Burks, Dawn Wright Olivares and others make false representations intended to encourage victim-investors to continue to invest money and to recruit others to invest in Zeek. Burks and Dawn Wright Olivares also organized and attended “Red Carpet Events,” where victim investors came to hear details of the scheme in person. During these events, Burks and his conspirators made false representations about the massive retail profits generated by Zeek. They also used electronic and print media, including websites, emails and journals, to make false and misleading statements about the success of Zeekler to recruit victim investors.
As the Ponzi scheme grew in size and scope it became unsustainable and it eventually began to unravel as the outstanding liability resulting from the bogus 125% return on investment continued to rise beyond control. By August 2012, the conspirators fraudulently represented to the collective victims that their investments were worth nearly $3 billion, but had no accurate books and records to even determine how much cash on hand was available to pay such liability. Contrary to representations made to victim investors, at that time, the conspirators had only $340 million available to pay out investors.
According to court records, Dawn Wright Olivares was closely involved in the strategic operations and ultimately served as the Chief Operations Officer of Zeek. Dawn Wright Olivares also owned 95% of Wandering Phoenix, LLC, a company that she used, among other things, to receive payments from Zeek and RVG. During the course of the conspiracy, Dawn Wright Olivares and Wandering Phoenix received approximately $7.2 million in victim funds.
Daniel Olivares was RVG’s senior technology officer and was responsible for, among other things, database design, management and operations for Zeek. During the course of the conspiracy, Daniel Olivares personally enriched himself with victim funds totaling approximately $3.1 million. Other unnamed co-conspirators also personally enriched themselves with millions of dollars of victim funds.
Dawn Wright Olivares and Dan Olivares previously pleaded guilty to one count of investment fraud conspiracy. Dawn Wright Olivares also pleaded guilty to one count of tax fraud conspiracy.
In July 2016, a federal jury convicted Paul Burks of wire and mail fraud conspiracy, wire and mail fraud, and tax fraud conspiracy, following a three-week trial. Burks is currently awaiting sentencing.
In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney Rose thanked the U.S. Secret Service and IRS-CI for investigating the case, and the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, Division of Enforcement for its assistance with the investigation.
The prosecution is handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Jenny Grus Sugar and Corey Ellis of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.
Additional information and updated court filings about this and related cases filings can be accessed at the district’s website: http://www.justice.gov/usao/ncw/ncwvwa.html.