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Why did the government get involved in Ad Surf Daily, Golden Panda, Ad CashGenerator, and La Fuente Dinero?
In summer 2008, the United States Secret Service learned about Ad Surf Daily and related entities that were using the internet to operate fraudulent “Ponzi” or “pyramid” schemes. Such fraud schemes induce persons to contribute money by promising very high rates of return on the investment. The scams may initially meet their promises by paying earlier contributors with money received from those who contribute later. Because no legitimate business is being conducted to generate the returns promised, however, the schemes must eventually collapse, leaving the participants with little or no return.
Why is the U.S. Secret Service involved?
The United States Secret Service is a federal law enforcement agency. In addition to protecting the President and other officials, its agents investigate counterfeiting, various kinds of fraud, and other crimes involving money and currency. Ad Surf Daily first came to the attention of Secret Service agents working on a special task force in Florida, where much of the Ad Surf Daily and related schemes were based.
What is a forfeiture case?
A forfeiture case is a lawsuit brought by the United States government asking a federal judge to declare that assets obtained through criminal acts belong to the government. A number of federal statutes authorize forfeiture of funds and property that are the proceeds of federal crimes.
How much money has the government recovered from Ad Surf Daily and related schemes?
A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has declared forfeited to the United States about $14 million of funds associated with the schemes. Additional funds and property from the schemes have been seized, but those assets are subject to pending litigation and have not been declared forfeited.
How did the government recover money from Ad Surf Daily and related operations?
After the U.S. Secret Service agents and other law enforcement officers began investigating Ad Surf Daily, La Fuente Dinero, and related schemes, the United States Attorney in Washington, D.C., applied for and obtained warrants from the court to seize funds located in various bank accounts controlled by the operators of the schemes. Secret Service agents seized this money, as well as property obtained with such funds, such as automobiles, a boat, jet skis, and computer equipment.
Will the forfeited funds be distributed to people who were defrauded in these schemes?
Yes. Money that has been declared forfeited will be returned to victims of the schemes through a process called “remission.” Remission occurs when forfeited assets are returned to the victims of a crime underlying a forfeiture. The remission process is governed by the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 28, Part 9 (2009). When forfeiture is ordered by a federal court, authority to grant remission rests with the United States Attorney General. This authority has been delegated to the Chief of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section (AFMLS), which is located in the Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice. AFMLS will manage the remission process, and other agencies involved in the case, including the U.S. Secret Service, as well as the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, will have a role in the remission process.
How long will it take to distribute the forfeited money to victims?
Because of the large number of victims of the schemes (estimated to be many thousands or more), it may take up to one year or more for the government to review all of the anticipated claims and begin distributing the forfeited money to the victims. This is the normal amount of time necessary to process remission claims in cases of this size.
Why will the claims process take so long?
Federal regulations require that each claim for remission be reviewed by the Department of Justice and the federal investigative agency that seized the money. Because of the anticipated large number of claims, the Department of Justice is making arrangements with a private claims administrator to assist in reviewing the claims and distributing the money.
Will victims recover their full losses?
Because the total value of the seized assets is less than the estimated member losses, it is unlikely that members will receive full compensation for their losses. Accordingly, each member will receive a pro-rata share of the forfeited money based upon his or her loss amount. The exact amount of each person’s recovery will not be known until the claims review process is completed.
What are the next steps in the process?
Within the next few months, former members of Ad Surf Daily, Golden Panda, Ad Cash Generator, and La Fuente Dinero will receive a claim form asking them questions about how much money they paid into the schemes and received back. This claim form must be completed, signed under penalty of perjury, and returned to the government. The form must be completed even if the claimant previously submitted an electronic “Information Submission Form” through the website of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia.
Where can I get more information and keep up to date?
A telephone line has been established that provides a recorded message with basic information about the status of these cases. This number is 202-616-2420 . The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia will update this message on a regular basis. The written information on this website will also be updated as new developments arise in the forfeiture cases and the remission process.
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