Gadsden Business Raid: Internet Scheme? UPDATE

By: Roman Lillie
By: Roman Lillie

8/8/08

Ad Surf Daily has been raided by the Feds.

They say the Quincy Internet company is a scam. But the community is divided.

Business is quiet at ASD, after being raided by the Secret Service on Tuesday. But there are still many people who support the company.

Mary Brandt in Iowa has advertised with ASD since March. I asked" Did you lose any money?"

"No, absolutely not, not unless the government ties it up, and won't honor that it is a true business, which they probably will do," says Brandt.

In fact, Brandt says her $10 investment grew to $1,500 in 5 months.
But not everyone is on board with ASD. Jack Arons in Tallahassee says a friend told him about ASD, but he wasn't impressed.

"if you put a thousand dollars in a week you had 9 thousand dollars and that included your rebates that you got from bringing other people in, you got part of their money back," says Arons

He says that type of return made him suspicious. "He's 21 miles from Tallahassee and he's never had a rally never, no rallies in Tallahassee," adds Arons.

Brandt says she expects owner Andy Bowdoin will be exonerated.
She believes the Feds went in without all the information.
"We all just keep praying that God will see us through this and And and Faye Bowdoin will be vindicated," says Brandt.

At this time no criminal charges have been filed against Andy Bowdoin.

But both the US Attorney and the Florida Attorney General have filed civil lawsuits against ASD and Bowdoin.

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Ad Surf Daily is being sued by Florida's Attorney General and the U-S Attorney in Washington D.C. alleging it's committing massive wire fraud.

And now Florida's Office of Financial Regulation is looking into the Internet company to see if it falls under its jurisdiction. This could mean more trouble for the Quincy based business that was raided by the Secret Service on Tuesday.

Federal agents seized 2 homes and more than fifty million dollars from ASD and owner Andy Bowdoin. The Florida Attorney General's Office says ASD has scammed victims out of thousands of dollars, and in the process made around one hundred million dollars for themselves.

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Sandi Copes, Press Secretary at the Florida Attorney General's Office said, "When you have a company that's claiming to be able to provide huge returns for its investors, but isn't actually generating any revenue and is using new investments to pay off older investors--that's a problem."

The investigation by the Florida Attorney General into Ad Surf Daily has been active since July. On Tuesday afternoon, a search warrant brought Secret Service and Gadsden County Deputies streaming into the business. On Wednesday, a lawsuit was filed by the Florida Attorney General, alleged ASD falsely lured investors on a large scale.

"The company would actually hold conventions and they would invite people to come listen to their business spiel and they would promise them these huge returns on what they invested and they'd rake in millions of dollars really from investors, but they weren't actually generating any kind of income." said Copes.

Attorney General Office says, ASD didn't create an investment base, instead, they say, the cash from fresh investors at the bottom went straight to older investors at the top.

Officials estimate approximately 100 million dollars was made from ASD's conventions in Miami and Tampa over the last several months.

The Florida Attorney General is seeking damages for consumers as well as civil penalties.

ASD's business practice was brought to the attention of authorities through consumer complaints. The lawsuit filed by the Attorney General is not related to a civil suit filed by the U.S. attorney's office Tuesday.

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Florida's Attorney General files suit against Ad Surf Daily. On Tuesday, Secret Service agents raided the Internet ad company and seized 2 homes and more than $50 million bank accounts.

But many folks had a lot of good things to say about the company. A lot of people are very passionate about ASD. (As evidenced by many of the comments posted on this story)

Some believe wholeheartedly that the company is scamming people out of their money and others that believe the company is only trying to help business advertise on the web.

ASD is quiet Wednesday morning, a closed sign is posted on the door... a big change from 24 hours earlier when agents raided the business and home of owner Thomas Andy Bowdoin.

The US attorney's office filed a civil lawsuit against the company on Tuesday, and now, Florida's Attorney General also is filing a civil suit alleging the company is a scam. But not everyone agrees.

"As far as I knew it was a legit business, And I had friends that worked there and they were all shocked that it went under investigation," says Allen Lewis, a Gadsden County resident.

Teasha Burns only worked at ASD for a few days before it was shut down, but she says she's confident the business wasn't doing anything wrong. But she says late last week, talk of the business being a Ponzi scheme started circulating and customers began calling.

"So we had to reassure the customers that it was not and we had a couple of customers that were concerned, then some was not because they had been doing it for a while so," says Burns.

"Once you get a better understanding of how the business is run, then you'll like will know this is not a scheme. The customers are confident, the employees are confident, and I was confident. I didn't think something like this was going to happen," adds Burns.

The Attorney General's office says it has received around 30 complaints from people saying they were taken advantage of by

Officials at Florida's Attorney general's Office say over the past several months, ASD hosted large conventions in Miami and Tampa. They say, those conventions brought in approximately 100 million dollars.

No criminal charges filed against ASD or Andy Bowdoin. Both the US Attorney and Florida's Attorney General have filed civil lawsuits against the company and the owners.

The Florida Attorney General's Office says people who feel they have been scammed by ASD should call is 1-866-966-7226 in Florida and 850-414-3990 for people who are out of state.
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8/6/08
Press Release From Florida Attorney General's Office:

QUINCY, FL COMPANY SUED FOR MASSIVE PYRAMID SCHEME
~ Multilevel marketing scheme bilked victims out of thousands of dollars ~

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today filed a lawsuit today (Wednesday) against Quincy company AdSurfDaily accusing the company and its owners of operating a huge pyramid scheme. The Attorney General’s lawsuit is seeking civil damages for the victims and an injunction against the company, its president, Andy Bowdoin Jr., and its employees to prohibit them from engaging in future deceptive marketing. The lawsuit comes on the heels of a raid conducted by the U.S. Secret Service on the company’s headquarters. The federal authorities also froze $53 million in bank accounts held by the company.

The lawsuit filed today by the Attorney General alleges that AdSurfDaily – also known as ASD – operated a pyramid scheme, a multilevel marketing operation which depends on new investments to keep the scheme running. The lawsuit claims there were insufficient funds from any legitimate enterprise to support the profits ASD promised to pay. Instead, ASD depended upon new victims to turn over cash in order to make promised payments to those who had earlier given money. The Attorney General believes many of the victims of AdSurfDaily were Floridians who were scammed into handing over thousands of dollars to Bowdoin with promises of big profits that were rarely, if ever, provided.

Over the last several months, ASD hosted large conventions in Miami and Tampa where attendees were encouraged to pay thousands of dollars for internet advertising that would allegedly bring them huge paybacks. Consumers were allegedly promised that they would make as much as 150 percent on their investments. According to the Attorney General’s investigators, the company made approximately $100 million from the Miami and Tampa conventions. The Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Division has been actively investigating this company since late July.

According to the lawsuit, the pyramid scheme promoted by ASD is a
violation of Section 849.091, Florida Statutes, and a per se violation of
the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act found in Part II of
Chapter 501, Florida Statutes. The Attorney General seeks actual damages for consumers as well as civil penalties. The lawsuit is not connected with the criminal investigation being conducted by federal authorities.

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Secret Service agents raid an Internet advertising business in Quincy.

Federal agents spent hours going through the computers and files at Ad Surf Daily (ASD) on Calhoun Street on Tuesday.

The US Attorney's Office in Washington DC filed a civil complaint in U.S. District Court alleging Thomas Bowdoin the owner of ASD, was operating a massive wire fraud scheme based in Quincy. And on Tuesday, agents went into the business to gather information.

Employees sat outside of ASD as Secret Service agents and deputies from the Gadsden County Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant.
The building used to be a flower shop, but since it switched to ASD, some residents say they wondered what was going on inside.

"They just said that it's not a flower place anymore and they just left it at that... and I was like okay but they didn't say nothing that was going on in there, they didn't say nothing, just kept it concealed and left it like that," says Kimberly Forbes a Quincy resident.

"They just stood and stared at us and tried to give us another question and stuff," adds Ruby Nealy, a Quincy resident.

Just last month, the Gadsden County Chamber of Commerce issued a press release....it says the owners (Thomas) Andy and Faye Bowdoin made $40 million in sales in the last 6 months and had more than 75 thousand members worldwide.

Although some in the neighborhood didn't know what the business was doing, many in the cyber community did. Some say it's a great way for business owners to market their business.

But as agents were going through the business in Quincy, other agents were continuing their investigation at the Bowdoin's Lake Talquin home, where several items were removed from the house.

While I was outside of ASD, I met a couple of people who said they've done business with ASD. They said they didn't believe they were doing anything wrong.

Thomas Andy Bowdoin declined our request for an interview. At this time the Bowdoins haven't been charged with anything. But early Tuesday, deputies sent employees home and they say the business will be closed indefinitely.

ASD's website indicates that the US Attorney's Office in DC is not allowing them to move any funds to or from company accounts at this time.

Officials from the US Attorney's Office say they believe this business was a "Ponzi scheme that he masked as an advertising company." They say Ponzi scheme are ones that "rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul."

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Investigators are executing a search warrant today for documents and computers at AdSurf Daily... an internet marketing company.

Sources close to the investigation say Ad Surf Daily made more than 100 million dollars in just a few months.

Investigators are still on the scene at the business located at 13 South Calhoun Street in Quincy.

We'll have more information as it becomes available.


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