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Sunday, April 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Massive Internet Ponzi Scheme Alleged

TALLAHASSEE (CN) - Bank of America helped three men promote an Internet Ponzi scheme that took "tens of millions of dollars" from people, according to a federal RICO class action. Defendant AdSurfDaily claimed it could "drive traffic" to investors' Web sites, earning them "significant rebates and returns on fees paid to ASD," the class claims.

"The RICO defendants devised, perpetrated and/or operated an illegal Internet-based marketing scheme that obtained tens of millions of dollars from plaintiff and class members throughout the United States who paid money to AdSurfDaily, AdSurfDaily Cash Generator, Golden Panda Ad Builder, and La Fuente Dinero (collectively referred to hereinafter as 'ASD') for so-called 'ad packages' that conferred members in ASD's program," the complaint states.

It continues: "According to lawsuits recently filed by federal and state law enforcement authorities that have temporarily halted ASD's operations, ASD is nothing more than an online pyramid scheme or multi-level marketing operation (commonly referred to as a 'Ponzi' scheme) and not a legitimate business enterprise. The funds to pay the promised large returns to existing members are generated only through the addition of new members. It is estimated that over 100,000 individuals and businesses have been victimized by this illegal scheme. Although the scheme operates primarily over the internet, significant money has been raised at ASD rallies in Miami, Chicago, Tampa, and at other locations throughout the United States were tens of millions of dollars were collected from thousands of rally attendees."

Thomas Anderson Bowdoin Jr. is accused of masterminding the scheme, as founder, CEO and president of AdSurfDaily, and owner of Golden Panda Ad Builder. Bowdoin lives in Quincy, Fla.

Also sued are Clarence Busby, of Acworth, Ga., CEO and president of Golden Panda Ad Builder, and Robert Garner, a Greensboro, N.C., attorney and alleged director of AdSurfDaily and "identified in ASD materials as ASD's outside counsel," according to the complaint.

Bank of America "played an integral role in ASD's operations and success," the complaint states. "While other financial institutions and payment processors refused to facilitate ASD's fraud, Bank of America not only conducted business with ASD and the RICO defendants, but it also substantially assisted the expansion of the ASD scheme. For example, Bank of America has: (a) facilitated the deposit of millions of dollars to ASD and the RICO defendants; (2) approved and enable one or more of the RICO defendants to maintain at least ten accounts at Bank of America where thousands of checks from ASD members, totaling millions of dollars, were deposited ... (4) provided training to ASD employees regarding automated clearinghouse tasks ... [and] provided the ASD with an air of legitimacy that launched ASD and thereafter fueled the rapid growth of the RICO defendants' scheme to defraud.

"An investigation by any disinterested financial institution would have set off alarm bells given: (1) the criminal history of both Bowdoin and Busby relating to investment fraud; (2) Bowdoin's history of multiple failed and questionable business ventures; and (3) the lack of legitimate business operations capable of generating tens of millions of dollars that were deposited in the RICO defendants' Bank of America accounts in a relatively brief period of time. At least one other financial institution has closed an account held by Bowdoin or a family member after its investigation revealed that Bowdoin appeared to be operating a Ponzi scheme. Also, Visa has often refused its cardholders' use of Visa cards to pay for ASD ad packages because Visa characterized these purchases as 'suspicious.' Similarly, the popular PayPal system could not be used to purchase ad packages from ASD."

Lead plaintiff Natures Discount demands disgorgement and treble damages. It is represented by William Wright of West Palm Beach.

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