Tag Archive: Complaint

Good News on Google Scams – Consumers Get Money From FTC

Google Treasure Chest Pay Back to Innocent, Duped, Scammed Consumers

FTC Issues Cheques for Google Scams

FTC Issues Cheques for People Duped by Google Scams

It was over three years ago that I first came across a scam, centred around Pacific Webworks (PWW), mainly under the Google Treasure Chest and Google Money Tree monikers.  As I delved deeper, along with other folks, we came across the true scale of the scam.  Our researches then took us into similar scams run by Jesse Willms, all using the same modus operandi of:

  • negative option marketing
  • illegal cash withdrawals from bank accounts
  • a myriad network of affiliates
  • fake or holding addresses, many in foreign countries outside the normal laws, that opened and closed rapidly allowing consumers no come-back
  • illegal medical or wealth claims
  • offshore banking, now known following the recent banking scandals to be heavily centred around the City of London

We always recommended that consumers issue a credit card charge-back against PWW and Willms.  This is the only way to stop the withdrawals and to counter the “businesses” operations at source.   And it worked!

Yesterday, the USA’s FTC issued a statement as well as money in the form of cheques to all consumers known to have been defrauded by PWW and others in the Google Treasure Chest/Money Tree scam.  Their statement is here: FTC Returns More than $2 Million to Buyers of the “Google Money Tree” Work-at-Home Scam.  They say,

Under a settlement agreement with the FTC, the defendants are banned from selling products through “negative option” transactions, in which the seller interprets consumers’ silence or inaction as permission to charge them, and are also prohibited from making misleading or unsupported claims while marketing or selling any product or service. The settlement also required the defendants to surrender cash and other assets, and these are now being used by the FTC to refund consumers who bought the “Google Money Tree,” “Google Pro,” or “Google Treasure Chest” products.

They also include instructions for people who haven’t yet claimed – so if you were conned into getting rich with Google or similar, contact them now and get at least part of your money back!  This is what they said,

The checks will be mailed by an administrator working for the FTC. Consumers who made purchases from “Google Money Tree,” “Google Pro,” or “Google Treasure Chest” will receive approximately $24.50.  Consumers who have questions, or who have not yet filed a complaint with the FTC and wish to do so, should call the Redress Administrator, Gilardi & Co. LLC, toll free, at 1-877-226-2847. Consumers seeking general information about the FTC’s redress program may visit the FTC’s refunds website.  The FTC never requires consumers to pay money or provide information before redress checks can be cashed.

Checks will be mailed on September 11, 2012, and must be cashed on or before November 12, 2012.

So get on in there folks!


Crime Pays, But Not Always – added on 18 Sep 2012

Here’s a reminder of how crime does not pay – the Pacific Webworks share price!

PWW 5yr share history

PWW 5yr share history

Since the successive hits on PWW following our and others’ investigations their share price has languished at around a penny for about half the past year!  Their meteoric rise, right as the depression started to hit, was entirely due to conning vulnerable people in desperate times.

  1. Then folks like me started shouting!
  2. Then Google took note and sued them.
  3. Then the FTC laid charges.
  4. Then they were found to have funny-looking accounts and changed their accountants and management.
  5. Now they’ve had to pay out to the very people who were conned.

So as I just said,

Get on in there folks!


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Victory! Or is it Victory? Jesse Willms Surrenders All to FTC Onslaught.

Jesse Willms Folds Following Consumer-Led Pressure on FTC and Other Law Agencies

Seal of the United States Federal Trade Commis...Willms et al to Pay $359,291,898

Jesse Willms, (the Canadian who set the legal dogs, financed by his scamduggery, onto me, for telling the truth about him on this website), has finally caved in to the FTC charges.  This is the full FTC judgement.

This is a  victory of sorts for the millions who have been scammed by him over the last few years.  However, what has actually happened has been a kind of plea bargaining, much favoured in the US. (Here’s his home-town take on it.)

Rotten Bad Smell

Hunstville 0, Willms 1

Instead of being stripped completely of his ill-gotten gains and being chucked in the slammer for a few years, he has reached a settlement whereby no admission of guilt has been made!

This is exactly what I suggested would happen, because the self-proclaimed philanthropist Jesse will do anything, absolutely anything, to stay in business.

To me this isn’t true victory.

The Return of Fu Manchu

He’s not been punished by the law which explains the lingering smell I have, possibly due to his key lawyers having previously worked at the FTC.  Maybe it is the old boy network?  Whatever.

The millions (yes, millions the FTC say) of people scammed may be temporarily amazed at the $359-million judgement, but seeing as how the original complaint was for over $450m they’ll soon realise that he’s got off with $100m!  However it’s worded, Willms has weaselled out of any admission of guilt, which means he’s still in business.

What cunning plans could now be afoot, with $100m to back them up, they’ll wonder?  It’s like The Return of Fu Manchu.

Almost 4 Million Questions

jessewillms.com-2012-02-24-12h-20m-30s

Willms’ Blog Release – notice how he promotes the $25k ‘gift’, but not his $359m settlement?

Like me, the millions scammed by him will be questioning how he isn’t, right now, being butt-plugged in Huntsville, instead of having 7 days to calmly surrender his bank accounts to prove that he can stump up the $359m negotiated, meanwhile making gratuitous comments about better business practices in future whilst still singing the praises of his $1000 philanthropic gestures.

  • True, Willms et al have to hand over all their money and have promised as much under sufferance of perjury.
  • True, they all have to notify the FTC of their whereabouts for the next 20 years and all their business proceeds.  They have to keep compliance records for 5 years.
  • True, Willms must tell the FTC his jobs, phone numbers, businesses in which he’s involved etc
  • True, Willms et al have 180 days to hand over all details of all their businesses and contacts within those businesses.
  • True, Willms for the next five years must give a copy of the FTC order (the pdf attached) to each person he does business with and that they have 30 days to sign and return it to the FTC.

True for all of that, but, Willms can still do business and who knows if any of his victims will get recompensed.  A lot of the order’s wording is to ensure that the US & Canadian Inland Revenue get their taxes from Willms et al for the last three years.  What about the little people?

This article guesses that victims won’t see any of the cash.  My guess is that only those people that actually complained to the FTC will get cash, which is why it’s so important to complain, as I’ve suggested for years.

The Return of Fu Manchu

This article thinks that he’s had to hand over everything (though I can’t see how they justify that, given what we know about business secrecy in Nicosia, Cyprus), yet it also points out that the bans that Willms has had to acquiesce to only apply to the USA!  That is, there’s nothing at all saying Willms can’t set up anywhere else, like Korea say, and hammer the world from there!

MSNBC opinionate that Jesse Willms will need to look for a new line of work…..

I, of course, beg to differ, because:

  • He settled with Microsoft, yet carried on trading as usual.
  • He settled with Symantech, yet carried on trading as usual.
  • He settled with Oprah Winfrey, yet carried on trading as usual.
  • He settled with Dr Oz, yet carried on trading as usual.
  • He settled with Google yet carried on trading as usual.
  • Now he has settled with the FTC. I’d be amazed (yet obviously pleased) if he changed the patterns of a lifetime. Only time will tell.

On top of this, Willms himself states on his blog entry (see screenshot above);

We are working to resolve issues relating to past marketing practices for products that our company no longer sells. Through this process, we have taken steps to assure(sic) that our business practices are in full compliance with the law. We are excited by the opportunity to continue giving customers access to a variety of products and services at significant savings. – n.b.  the emphasis is mine.

…..which looks to me that it’s more web business, not a change in business type.

It’s a victory, but not the one the whole world wants.  It all leaves a bad, lingering, smell…..

 Affected Businesses

Apart from Willms, Sechrist and others, the business entities that we’ve come across in our investigations here, are all in the judgement.  It writes that “Corporate Defendants” means:

  • 1021018 Alberta Ltd, also d..b.a. Just Think Media, Credit Report America, Wulongsource, and Wuyi Source;
  • 1016363 Alberta Ltd also d.b.a. eDirect Software;
  • 1524948 Alberta Ltd, also d.b.a. Terra Marketing Group, Swipe.Bids.com, and SwipeAuctions.com;
  • Circle Media Bids Limited, also d.b.a. SwipeBids.com SwipeAuctions.com, and SellofAuctions.com;
  • Coastwest Holdings Limited;
  • Farend Services Ltd;
  • JDW Media, LLC;
  • Net Soft Media, LLC, also d.b.a. SwipeBids.com;
  • Sphere Media, LLC, also d.b,a SwipeBids.com and SwipeAuctions.com;

I’ve listed these so that they appear in search engines and so that people realise the lengths of obfuscation that Willms has used in his activities.

Office Politics

I say Willms, because he is recognised in the judgement as the prime mover in the scams.  He has been pinched for hundreds of millions – the others have been collared for a few tens of thousands at most each, some, for nothing, because (how embarrassing is that for them?), they have nothing – yes really!

  • How annoying for the two Gravers that their payments are about the same as young Jesse Wilms’ fish tank!  ($30,000 in 2010 he paid for it)
  • I wonder how the Children’s Hospital Boston and the Gulf Coast Restoration Fund both realise that they’ve got less from philanthropic Jesse than he’s spent on his fish tank?  ($25k each)  I wonder how they feel now, knowing that this money was stolen from ordinary consumers, people like themselves?
  • Or how do Canadian veterans feel about Willms plugging his $1k donation to the poppy fund, while spending $5000 on a pool table?

How galling for Sechrist, Callister, and Milne.  They can pay nothing, Willms can pay $359m!  If they’re still working for him I bet that that’s fun in the office!

This is a local copy of the full FTC Judgement Against Wills et al  I suggest everyone read it – it’s riveting.

 

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From Google Treasure Chest to Sun Tan Scam in Nevis on the BBC?

From Google Treasure Chest to Ubertan Sun Tan Scam in Nevis on the BBC?

A.  yes it’s true!

Ubertan On BBC

Ubertan On BBC

An article on the BBC website today highlighted the dangers of a tanning products called Ubertan.  On reading it, and following up with a simple Google search, the way it is portrayed in forums immediately set off warning bells because of its similarity to other scams I’ve seen.

Ubertan

Ubertan Search

Ubertan Search

A simple Google search showed that warnings about Ubertan have been going on for some time.  This website warned way back in April 2011 and here we have a Mens’s Health forum being shilled by Ubertanners with a post starting in Jan 2011…  The first even shows that the Ubertan website changed it’s copy when folks started complaining.

The Ubertan website is currently ‘live’ however, it is showing no content!  At all!  The Google cache is interesting though (more on that later)…

WHOIS Ubertan

Ubertan WHOIS

Ubertan WHOIS

Who is Ubertan indeed?  !!

WarningBell

Warning Bell

What we see is that “Manufacturers Direct” owns several domains and one Vernon Veira is the contact on the dual island nation of Kitts-Nevis.

10 Solomons Arcade
Charlestown,  00000
KN
+1.3057484919

This is when the warning bells started ringing….

Doing The Charlestown in Nevis

It’s two years ago that I started looking at the now seriously-discredited Google Treasure Chest scam (see http://strangelyperfect.tv/3099/google-treasure-chest-its-a-scam-and-a-half/).  the amount of information I had, meant I had to post over several different postings, and it was during these later investigations that a Post Office address (P.O. Box) came up on Nevis.  In Charlestown.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember exactly what address it was.  But it’s easily found here a comment from @NotKevin.  I think it’s the first time we saw the address, although it has since popped up many times when checking out folks that would be preferred to be known as “online marketeers” but we like to call scammers.  This is on the posting,

This is the address.

New Online Systems Ltd.
P.O. Box 642, Main Street
Charlestown, Nevis, West Indies

Google Cache

Ubertan Google Cache

Ubertan Google Cache

Ubertan may be silent, but the Google Cache is active and shows this address down at the bottom of the first cached page:

Ubertan.com +44 161 408 5816
Subertan Ltd 642 Main Street, Charlestown, Nevis

 

Uber morphs into Suber, and because the Post Office on Charlestown is one of the few buildings on Main  Street, Charlestown; a whole host of P.O. Boxes exist inside.

P.O. Box 642 means 642 Main Street!

Who are these people using 642?  I don’t know.

What I do know is that the domains listed by @NotKevin, although not exactly the same,  bear a shocking similarity to those domains used by people like Jesse Willms (say) before he decided to turn into a saint-like activist and Pacific WebWorks (say) before they got their pants sued off them.  This is what @NotKevin said:

That West Indies address is also linked with porn:
http://www.highdefriches.com/contact.php
http://www.eshspt.com/
(another Co Durham address on that one too!)
“health products”:
http://hiltonhg.com/
Colon cleansing:
http://www.colocleansemax.com/contact-us.php
Acai:
http://acaidetoxmaxx.com/
and Govt Grants:
http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/government-grants-avaliable-cd-c116063.html

Now compare and contrast those domains and businesses with the very large list to be found here on WebCops – the plethora of time-limited similarly-named domains means tracking them is an onerous task, well beyond my spare time.

However, yet again, we have seen the same address appear when dealing with dodgy ego-massaging products.

Phoenix-Like TryUbertan

Ubertan may be dead, but it doesn’t take long to find son-of-Ubertan when looking at the decidedly un-Caribbean telephone number for Ubertan.

+44 161 408 5816 is actually a Manchester, UK number!!

TryUbertan Contact Page

TryUbertan Contact Page

A quick search pulls out…..

Beginnings

Now I know they’re trying to hide!!!

TryUbertan.net on the T&C page now shows the address of Ubertan to be:

Ubertan Sunless Tanning System
c/o Toocoo Media Inc.
39555 Orchard Hill Place
Suite 600
Novi, Michigan
48375

Although it’s supposed to be available from ” high end salons in the U.K, France, Germany, Spain and North America” from their FAQ page, these stores will be doing so ILLEGALLY!  The UK government has officially banned it (as per the UK news item) and is EXPLICITLY ISSUING DANGER WARNINGS about its usage!

Still, TryUbertan (WHOIS is Pennsylvania USA) don’t care.  They’ll just grab the cash and morph into something else.

TooCoo Media CEO

TooCoo Media CEO

The decidedly minimalist website of Toocoo Media Inc, http://www.toocoomedia.com, throws up some interesting conundrums, if that really is their mailing address.  There are two LinkedIn links:

  • http://www.linkedin.com/company/toocoo-media-inc.
  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/jumanok

The latter is for the CEO, a Peter B. Lee whose 3 website links at the bottom of his profile point to the totally and bizarrely un-related websites of:

  • http://www.viafoura.com/
  • https://www.netiq.com/products/migrate/ which then redirects to novell.com as Novell has bought them out
  • http://www.oracle.com/index.html

Mr Lee, who claims to be Canadian from the LinkedIn profile, also has a poetry blog on blogger assuming the same quite distinct user name is being re-used, which is for invited guests only!!!  See The Poetry of Peter B. Lee with the url of http://jumanok.blogspot.com/  I’ve highlighted his key username as it matches the LinkedIn profile.  I don’t think that this Peter Lee (interestingly, a place name in County Durham of all places!) is the same who’s name is used in some recent versions of the classic 419 scam.  Try these examples for a start:

To add to the surreal mix that I’m uncovering, there are also two videos on YouTube uploaded by a “jumanok”!!  One of half a minute looks very much like Mr Lee, doing  some testing thing in Nov 2008 here:

This is a screenshot in case it’s pulled:

Jumanok YouTube

Jumanok YouTube

This is Jumanok from LinkedIn:

Jumanok LinkedIn LargePic

Jumanok LinkedIn LargePic

And here is “Crystal” telling us how her life state has improved after seeing something on OPRAH (down below she says) – except there’s nothing below!!  It appears to be a video plug for something intended to include Oprah in the spiel, except it never happened as there’s nowt to see.  This was uploaded in May, 2009.  The termination of Oprah-related plans may or may not have had something to do with the legal action, taken in May 2009, by Oprah, and reported here on her website;

http://www.oprah.com/health/The-Truth-About-Oprah-Dr-Oz-Acai-Resveratrol-and-Colon-Cleanse

Of course, Oprah sued and won damages against a host of scammers, one of which was Jesse Willms.

Conclusion

  • Time and again we come across scams that are based on a business with a very flakey base (here it’s a banned tanning product with government issued health warnings).  Usually, they are about improving one’s body or finances via unproven “new” medicines or foodstuffs, or get-rich-quick schemes.
  • Time and again we find a myriad of international contact phone numbers & addresses, for businesses that are very minor and specialist yet feel the need to spread themselves to the far corners of the globe.  Q. Why?  A.  Avoidance of easy scrutiny.
  • Time and again, we trace these businesses via LinkedIn (a bit like Jonathon Eborn, say) and other social networks high and wide.  They all start off appearing very legitimate.   As an aside, the Eborn results show a consulting website of http://www.jonathanebornconsulting.com/ and another of http://www.jonathandeborn.com/ which have both been hacked and defaced!  Made my day that!
  • Many businesses have a very public website, of minimalist design and content.  It’s very hard to discern exactly what they’re doing.  Compare these “online marketeers” to the website of Ford or Esso, say?  Now can you tell the difference?

Finally, (and very importantly for your health).  Don’t shove dodgy untested stuff of unknown provender up your nose.  Simple eh?

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Trading Planet Ltd – running again after legal closedown!

Not Kevin post on February 14th, 2011
Posted in Internet Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Trading Planet Opinion

A Trading Planet Opinion

From various complaints online it seems that Trading Planet Ltd and other companies may be back in business (under new names).

Also found this very interesting 4 page thread which has investigated these companies and the links between them in some depth.
http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r24610419-Credit-Card-Fraud-Unauthorized-Charge-for-39.71-from-the-UK

On page 4 is a post from 6th January 2011 which says:
“Even though the scam started in July 2010, it is still going strong with a flurry of recent fraudulent charges. Same routine, same shell site, same bank runaround yet it goes on.

Here’s just one discussion with recent complaints:

http://whocallsme.com/Phone-Number.aspx/8883890108/5

I filed a complaint at the fbi.gov site, I know others did too, yet nothing has happened. I wrote John Leyden with the Register about how prevalent this is and hope he chimes in since it involves organized crime using UK addresses.”
http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r24610419-Credit-Card-Fraud-Unauthorized-Charge-for-39.71-from-the-UK~start=60

The recent complaints refer to unauthorised charges from Lafincs Consett (County Durham) – so it seems the County Durham UK Ltd companies are up and running again under new names? eg:
Catchy Cash Ltd. 85 Durham Road Blackhill Consett County Durham DH8 8RR Companies House Registration Number: 7006949

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Is There Really a SwipeAuctions to SellOffAuctions Link?

Introduction

I’ve been reading this post on Penny Auction Watch:

http://www.pennyauctionwatch.com/2010/11/have-you-bid-on-selloffauctions-com-reviews/

..and can agree with Amanda that many of the search results are “very interesting“, as she says.

The claims from “anonymous” and others really should be chucked out for believability because they are unsubstantiated.  But there still lie many interesting things.  Things like the Google screen-shots which demonstrate links over long periods of time between a clutch of business entities, most of which include substantial volumes of complaints and dissatisfaction summarised by the word “scam”.

This linkage is there in the internet record, no matter how much business entities chop and change their identity, on-line or off-line.

Blog Posting

Of particular interest is Amanda’s mention of a SellOffAuctions blog.  I remember this when it started, but it’s no longer extant although this huge web comment stream gives a description of its genesis.  However, a quick Google search on the first line of the text pulls out the two blogs in Amanda’s narrative.

BlogSimilaritySearch

Blog Similarity Search

 

TerraMarketing’s output is in this shot below, but the SellOffAuctions blog is now unavailable:

Spam The Wrong Way To Market Your Business

Spam The Wrong Way To Market Your Business

Yet the SellOffAuctions basic blog contents at start-up show up clearly in the Google cache of the web-page:

SellOffAuctions Blog

SellOffAuctions Blog – webcache

…and the original “Why Free Isn’t Better?” post from the old blog  is here on yet another Willms blog:

JesseWillmsMarketing

JesseWillmsMarketing

What Does this Mean?

Well the thread at PAW makes plain that a high degree of website copying has been going on.  A guy claiming to be from SellOffAuctions makes this point as an excuse to speed up the site set-up.  Others have pointed out that if this is the case and there has been no collusion with SwipeAuctions, then the brief happy Willms’ outfit would have a very good case for copyright infringement.

Bid Auction Software

Bid Auction Software – a Google Search

One extra spanner in the works that may block any suing is that on-line templates exist for the express purpose of setting up “Bid Auction” type websites!  So of course they’d be similar! (That is a screendump of a Google search for Bid Auction software on the right!)  This does not explain the similarity in the blog postings mentioned below, though.

Another extra spanner that might possibly confuse people over intra-website or intra-business linkages is the addition of the SellOffAuction.com domain (n.b. no trailing s).  This was pointed out here.

It Is Very Interesting

It’s also very interesting that two blog posts from the Willms’ website stable found their way into the Google cache of a direct competitors blog, is it not?  We now know that the blog was pulled, but in its entirety?  Maybe after all, there was copying and the blog was simply pulled as being past its purpose.  This happens all the time, not least with Willms’ myriad of blogs such as described here.

The WHOIS records for all websites above follow the usual patterns with the notable introduction of “Internet Holdings” into the mix (what happened to TerraMarketting?) and also the movement of some Willms domains to the Ashton Manning registrant noted a while back:

One Last Twist!

SellOffAuctions.Net

There is of course potentially, a plethora of SellOffAuction domains.  the dot net one, is one and a full screenshot is on the left complete with a the biggest footer of exclusion clauses that I’ve ever seen!.  Here’s what the top of the page looks like:

You’ll see that it contains a video, the very same video used by SwipeAuctions.com on their website and affiliate promotions.  Also, it’s on selloffauctions.com too!

Even more interestingly, all the links supposedly go to SellOffAuctions.com if you look carefully – except they don’t!!  They actually point to:

http://selloffauctions.net/auctions

…which then redirects to:

https://www.vigrxplus.com/?a=InterMark&t=2656

This is a site to flogging big knob stuff, a whois puts them as follows below with 45 similar big knob sites listed here.

Registrant:

Leading Edge Marketing Inc.

c/o DM Contact Management Ltd.

Suite 100 – 645 Tyee Road

Victoria, British Columbia V9A 6X5

CA

250-383-8267×452

Fax:250-383-0896

Leading Edge Marketing’s T&C contain the USA phone number  1-866-621-6886 which throw up a few complaints mainly from folks who don’t like porn.  Personally, I can take it or leave it.  I just don’t like thieving scammy bastards.

In this case, it’s an affiliate fuck up either by design or accident.

Conclusion.

That’s about it.  I can’t find direct linkages for now.  There’s too much supposition and too little actual proof.  Sechrists pop up and go.  Blogs pop up and go.  Websites pop up and go.  So for now, that’s it.  Inconclusive is my take on any connection.

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