The DOJ has mentioned reparations for EmpiresX Ponzi scam investors.
While that isn’t much, I believe it is the first time restitution has been considered in EmpiresX fraud cases.
On the tail end of a September 9th motion seeking alternate victim notification, the DOJ brought up reparations.
This motion is required due to the unusually large number of victims in this case, as well as the difficulty of reaching and identifying all of them in order to grant each victim the normal rights.
The sheer magnitude of EmpiresX is a huge impediment.
There are a huge number of victims in this case, and establishing a comprehensive list of their names would be difficult without some alternative method of victim notification.
By publishing videos and other information on social media, the Defendant, their co-conspirators, and other promoters enticed victims to invest in EmpiresX.
Furthermore, the Defendants were not the only people broadcasting and publishing promotional materials for EmpiresX on worldwide online channels.
They have several people and layers of promoters working for them who helped them swindle victims in this instance.
As a result, without an alternate method of victim notification, it would be extremely difficult for investigators to identify each victim who was deceived in this case.
Instead of contacting EmpiresX victims individually, the DOJ
has developed a website that will guide victims to a case-specific website where all necessary alerts will be issued.
The government will contact possible victims who have been identified and invite them to complete a victim impact statement. Furthermore, the Government intends to contact thousands of other possible victims using email addresses from an EmpiresX investor list submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as part of the SEC’s civil investigation into EmpiresX.
I haven’t visited the DOJ EmpiresX website yet, so I can’t comment.
The DOJ contends that if its application for alternate victim notification is granted;
There is every reason to expect that the proposed VNS (Ozedit: victim notification service?) and notice websites will help to identify victims and provide reparations when finances become available.
Before you inquire, there is no timetable for this. You’re probably looking at a few years, depending on whether the SEC and CFTC pursue concurrent civil regulatory actions.
BehindMLM considers comments requesting money back from scams to be spam.
One especially intriguing component of EmpiresX’s ultimate recovery is how the DOJ, SEC, and CFTC will filter through and validate victim claims.
Furthermore, tracking the scam earnings back to each victim has been difficult.
After receiving payments from investors, EmpiresX laundered this money abroad through a network of bitcoin wallets in order to promote and hide the underlying scam.
As a result, by design, the program has made pinpointing particular victims extremely difficult. Furthermore, many of the servers hosting the data for these wallets are situated outside of the US.
Even if investigators are able to seize this data, reviewing it and identifying additional victims will take a significant amount of time and resources.
Realistically, whatever restitution is eventually available is likely to be years away.
I anticipate that the DOJ’s motion will be approved this week. Following that, EmpiresX investors (victims and net-winners) will be notified.
Awakend & Zenith – Crook Review Part 3
Mickey Burns, a BehindMLM reader, contacted me earlier today to let me know.
This blog’s content is fantastic, and it has really aided me throughout the years.
She also criticized our coverage of Awakend’s prelaunch, notably their leptin supplement Zenith.
Oz, the white paper is available on the internet. Even a cursory Google search will reveal how the hormone Leptin functions.
This encouraged me to visit Awakend’s new website (which didn’t exist at the time I covered the company’s prelaunch) and download a copy of their “whitepaper” (tell me you’re a crypto bro without telling me you’re a crypto bro).
You’ll see in the opening paragraph of the whitepaper report that it’s a 2008 study released in 2009. In other words, the research was carried out fourteen years before Zenith existed.
The next thing you’ll notice is that “Zenith” has been edited in, thus doctoring the published paper.
This renders it ineffective.
What was the original study’s purpose, as published? Is Zenith based on the same formula? Are the researchers okay with having their study doctored?
I’m not well-versed in academic process, but I can’t image doctoring published articles going over well. I know I’d be upset if someone took a published research with my name on it and changed it.
Awakend should publish the original study and include an update showing Zenith employs the exact same formula as examined in 2008.
Looking at the document’s attributes, we can see that it was last modified on August 12th, 2022 by Ashlee Headlee.
Ashlee Headlee James manages Awakend’s exclusive business Facebook community. Her precise function inside the organization has not been revealed.
Awakend’s website has no information about the company’s ownership or executives. Compensation paperwork is also missing, as recruiting is presently the company’s only priority.
The full Awakend evaluation of BehindMLM is pending the introduction of the company’s pay plan.
Awakend has updated the doctored study with a blanked out version of the original as of August 27th, 2022.
The following remark appears to have been added to the supplied 2008 research in reaction to this article;
The 2008 research referred to Trisynex, as stated in the comments below.
Roger Catarino sells Trisynex through First Fruits Business Ministry LLC.
The claim by Awakend to have “exclusive worldwide rights” is dubious because Trisynex-containing products exist and have been accessible for some time.
At the time of this update, Awakend had not addressed the availability of Trisynex in competitor products.
1st September 2022 – Update Because of the uncertainty surrounding Awakend’s assertions that Zenith is an exclusively licensed recipe, formulator Vietal Nutrition issued a statement.
Unfortunately, this has simply generated additional suspicions about Zenith’s exclusivity.
9th September 2022 – Update First Fruits Business Ministry has issued a stop and desist letter to Awakend about its Zenith marketing claims.
TriPharma (dba Vietal Nutrition) has achieved the appointment of a Receiver as of September 14, 2022.
FFBM will be placed under the control of the Receiver. The funds generated will be used to pay TriPharma’s 2013 judgment against FFBM.
Awakend has also deleted the previously supplied Trisynex research from its website, unless I’m mistaken.
SEC & Forsage – Crook Review
The SEC has moved to provide alternate service to three of Forsage’s four founders.
Vladimir “Lado” Okhotnikov, Lola Ferrari, and Sergey Maslakov all live in other countries.
Okhotnikov, Vladimir “Lado”
According to the SEC;
Okhotnikov is a Russian citizen who is thought to be living in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia. He is the operation’s public face, hosting many of its YouTube videos and participating in interviews with key promoters.
Okhotnikov engages with Forsage investors and promoters on a daily basis via Forsage and, more recently, Meta Force social media, YouTube, and Telegram.
Okhotnikov also has personal social media profiles via which he communicates, including Instagram, Facebook, VK, Telegram, and Twitter. He also has his own personal website.
Okhotnikov has stated on his Instagram profile that he is “constantly traveling,” and he appears to have visited Indonesia, Dubai, and Peru in the last two years.
During the inquiry, the Commission received a copy of Okhotnikov’s passport, which indicated him to be a Russian citizen but had no residence.
Despite attempts by Commission employees, the Commission is unsure of Okhotnikov’s present address.
He did, however, imply that he was in Georgia in both his August 19 and August 22 Instagram postings, and he reposted those same images on Facebook.
Similarly, he indicated that he was in Georgia in an interview he conducted on August 8, 2022, following the filing of the Commission’s Complaint in this situation.
According to the SEC;
Maslakov is said to live in either Gelendzhik or Moscow, Russia. He has mostly appeared in Forsage Russian-language commercial films.
Foris DAX, the parent company of crypto exchange Crypto.com, provided the SEC with Maslakov’s email address and “last known whereabouts.”
Maslakov’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, according to the account information obtained by Crypto.com.
The records also show that Maslakov visited his account from an IP address in Moscow, Russia, during 2021.
Maslakov’s present physical address and whether he is still in Russia are unknown to the Commission.
Furthermore, despite Internet searches, subpoenas, and voluntary inquiries to third parties, the Commission was unable to locate his actual address.
We suspect he is in Russia since he cites Russia as his location on his Facebook and VK profiles, and he accessed his Crypto.com account from a Russian IP address.
According to the SEC;
Ferrari, whose true identity is unknown but who goes by the name “Lola Ferrari,” is said to be a Russian national living in Bali, Indonesia.
She refers to herself as Forsage’s “goddess” and has starred in several of its advertising films.
The Commission’s officials established that Ferrari’s principal social media account is her Instagram profile during the inquiry.
Ferrari advertises Forsage on this website. She has also uploaded photos and videos that indicate she is in Bali, Indonesia.
Despite several efforts, the Commission has no knowledge of Ferrari’s present address or if she is still in Indonesia.
With Maslakov in Russia and Lola Ferrari in Indonesia, Hague Convention service is no longer available.
Although Georgia is a signatory, because the SEC does not know Okhotnikov’s address, service under the Hague Convention is also ruled out.
As an alternative, the SEC is offering Maslakov service via email. Service on Okhotnikov and Ferrari will be carried out through social media.
The Commission intends to serve Okhotnikov and Ferrari by direct messages to their Instagram accounts, as well as Okhotnikov via direct messages to his Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Okhotnikov is still active on Facebook, where he posts about his life in Georgia:
Okhotnikov was last seen in Borjomi, a vacation town in central Georgia, according to a Facebook post from August 25th.
He’s also active on Meta Force’s YouTube channel, where he posts bizarre conspiracy theories and justifications for why investor cash and withdrawals are still frozen.
Lola Ferrari has made her Instagram account private since being accused by the SEC.
In support of their request, the SEC claims Okhotnikov is “indisputably” aware of the complaint.
Okhotnikov reacted directly to the claims in the Complaint via a video message aired online after the Commission filed action.
Following that, he gave an eighteen-minute interview on his Meta Force YouTube channel in which he denied the charges in the Commission’s complaint.
Authorizing service on a defendant via social media is especially acceptable when the defendant is clearly aware of the situation.
the case against him
Okhotnikov is already aware of the litigation against him, making such alternative service much more necessary.
Ferrari’s decision to make her Instagram page private implies she is aware of the litigation.
On September 2nd, the court granted the SEC’s motion for alternate service. The SEC verified service against Maslakov through email later that day.
Mikail Sergeev is Forsage’s fourth co-founder. Sergeev, according to the SEC, also resides in Moscow, Russia.
I’m not clear why Sergeev was omitted from the SEC’s motion, but I presume it was due to an inability to validate his personal information (email etc.).
The SEC has confirmed alternate service on Lola Ferrari and Lado Okhotnikov on September 9th and 13th, respectively.
Both defendants have till September 26th to respond.
Okhotnikov hasn’t posted anything on social media since August 27th. Since September 1st, there have been no MetaForce updates.
Dot Dot Smile – Crook Review Part 2
Dot Dot Smile has declared bankruptcy, two and a half months after discontinuing its MLM opportunity and going wholesale.
On September 3rd, Dot Dot Smile filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in California.
According to the statement, Dot Dot Smile has $4.4 million in assets and $5.6 million in debt.
The following companies are Dot Dot Smile’s major creditors:
Gary Thompson – $200,000 (apparently a family loan)
CloudFund LLC (debt management firm) – $325,000
Mirror Fashion Company $1.5 million in Hong Kong
$600,000 for Nano (no details supplied).
Network Ventures LLC (contract violation) – $353,846
Nothing MLM-related shows on Dot Dot Smile’s file, at least not outside of the corporate side of things.
According to a BerhindMLM reader, as of July 31st, 2022,
Since May, no one has been paid. Thousands of dollars are owing to certain persons. They fired everyone on their team.
The cynic in me finds it difficult to perceive Dot Dot Smile’s bankruptcy as anything other than premeditated.
Nicole and Jeff Thompson (right) of the company presumably knew bankruptcy was imminent and reasoned that they needed to sell the MLM firm before filing.
Without the MLM possibility, there was definitely no intention of ever continuing Dot Dot Smile.
I might be wrong, but Dot Dot Smile suddenly being $5.6 million in debt in three months does not seem realistic.
I’m not sure how any of this works legally. Even if everything is legal, it reflects poorly on the Thompsons in terms of openness and Dot Dot Smile’s distributors.
Dot Dot Smile’s State of Financial Affairs report is expected on September 19th. A creditors’ meeting has been arranged for October 12th.
Nicole Thompson, the daughter of co-founders DeAnne and Mark Stidham, is connected to Dot Dot Smile.
It is unknown whether Dot Dot Smile’s bankruptcy filing has had or will have any influence on LuLaRoe’s business operations.
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