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July 29, 2016 / 23 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘company’

SEC Shuts Down $600 Million Alleged Online Ponzi, But Apparent Israeli Offshoot Still Functional

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday announced fraud charges and an emergency asset freeze to halt a $600 million Ponzi scheme on the verge of collapse. The emergency action assures that victims can recoup more of their money and potentially avoid devastating losses.

The SEC alleges that online marketer Paul Burks of Lexington, N.C. and his company Rex Venture Group have raised money from more than one million Internet customers nationwide and overseas through the website ZeekRewards.com, which they began in January 2011.

Users who go into the zeekrewards.com website this morning, receive this message: “Zeek Rewards is currently unavailable. More information will be available shortly on this website.”

Not so with zeekinhebrew.blogspot.co.il, which appears to be the Israeli offshoot of the same outfit, and continues to function and lure in unsuspecting get-rich-quick seekers in Israel.

The home page is a Q & A that includes these paragraphs:

How much should you invest after joining ZeekRewards?

To profit from ZeekRewards, you must enter once a day and publish one of the ZeekRewards ads, it takes from one to two minutes a day. In addition, you can invest money in the website and increase your daily interest rate.

How soon see revenues in ZeekRewards?

Once you have registered on the site, you need to post an ad of your choice every day (from a pool of ZeekRewards ads) and paste your ad in one of the free sites that serve ads online (a full list is on the ZeekRewards website).

After you posted an ad, you receive a confirmation which you send to ZeekRewards.

Once you submitted the certificate at ZeekRewards, you have 24 hours during which you are entitled to earn money.

Within 24 hours you can see the revenues (relative to the amount you spent on the site). The gains come by check to your home once you choose [to collect].

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in Charlotte, N.C., customers were offered several ways to earn money through the ZeekRewards program, two of which involved purchasing securities in the form of investment contracts. These securities offerings were not registered with the SEC as required under the federal securities laws.

The SEC alleges that investors were collectively promised up to 50 percent of the company’s daily net profits through a profit sharing system in which they accumulate rewards points that they can use for cash payouts. However, the website fraudulently conveyed the false impression that the company was extremely profitable when, in fact, the payouts to investors bore no relation to the company’s net profits. Most of ZeekRewards’ total revenues and the “net profits” paid to investors have been comprised of funds received from new investors in classic Ponzi scheme fashion.

“The obligations to investors drastically exceed the company’s cash on hand, which is why we need to step in quickly, salvage whatever funds remain and ensure an orderly and fair payout to investors,” said Stephen Cohen, an Associate Director in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “ZeekRewards misused the power of the Internet and lured investors by making them believe they were getting an opportunity to cash in on the next big thing. In reality, their cash was just going to the earlier investor.”

The SEC’s complaint alleges that the scheme is teetering on collapse with investor funds at risk of dissipation without its emergency enforcement action. Last month, ZeekRewards brought in approximately $162 million while total investor cash payouts were approximately $160 million. If customers continue to increasingly elect to receive cash payouts rather than reinvesting their money to reach higher levels of rewards points, ZeekRewards’ cash outflows would eventually exceed its total revenue.

According to the SEC, Burks has agreed to settle the SEC’s charges against him without admitting or denying the allegations, and agreed to cooperate with a court-appointed receiver.

According to the SEC’s complaint, ZeekRewards has paid out nearly $375 million to investors to date and holds approximately $225 million in investor funds in 15 foreign and domestic financial institutions. Those funds will be frozen under the emergency asset freeze granted by the court at the SEC’s request. Meanwhile, Burks has personally siphoned several million dollars of investors’ funds while operating Rex Venture and ZeekRewards, and he distributed at least $1 million to family members. Burks has agreed to relinquish his interest in the company and its assets plus pay a $4 million penalty. Additionally, the court has appointed a receiver to collect, marshal, manage and distribute remaining assets for return to harmed investors.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Brian M. Privor and Alfred C. Tierney in the SEC’s Enforcement Division in Washington D.C. The SEC acknowledges the assistance of the Quebec Autorite des Marches Financiers and the Ontario Securities Commission.

Yori Yanover

Rabbis Protest Mobile App of the ‘Protocols’

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

A European rabbinical group is protesting a mobile app of the notorious anti-Semitic text “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Brussels-based Conference of European Rabbis, said in a statement Tuesday that he would contact Apple to urge that the company remove the app. JTA’s calls to Apple were not immediately answered.

The app, which was released earlier this year, is available only in Arabic and is attributed to the software developer Ahmed Elserety.

It costs $1.08 to download and is accompanied by a compact description of the “Protocols” stating that “according to many historians, these writings are a hoax.” The text describes a supposed Jewish plot to control the world.

The app notes a 1921 investigation by the Times of London and a series of French articles describing how the fraud was perpetrated.

Still, Goldschmidt said, it is unacceptable to have such an app on the market.

Goldschmidt believes it is “the first mobile version of the famous anti-Semitic work,” which was first published in Russia in the early 20th century.

“Although the Protocols of the Elders of Zion can and should be available for academics to study in its proper context, to disseminate such hateful invective as a mobile app is dangerous and inexcusable,” he said, warning that it could be “used by anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists and their fellow travelers to pursue their
racist agenda.”

JTA

Why Your Best 20th Birthday Present is a Pension

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

When you are in your early twenties, it seems as if you will always be young. At this point in your life, you may have completed your university studies and now you are out there in the work world, or perhaps you are still studying towards a further qualification. You may be newly married at this point, or still waiting to find the Right Spouse before tying the knot. Whatever you are doing, retirement may be the furthest thought on your mind.

However, retirement will not stay on the horizon forever. Before you know it, the years pass, and you will hopefully find yourself established in life with a career and family. You have a definite professional path, and you are working hard to put food on the table and make sure that you, your spouse, and children have everything you need. The only studies that you are thinking about now are your children’s tuition fees. And this is how it goes, as the years pass. The nature of your needs and goals will change through life – until the time comes to retire and enjoy the fruits of your labors.

For this reason, it is important not to let the years run by without planning for the future. No matter how old you are, whether you are 20 or 55, you need to make sure that you have a pension plan and to put some of your money aside into savings and investments. Since there is no guarantee that your company’s pension plan or the government’s pension plan will be enough to cover your retirement needs, it’s important to have a personal savings plan which could make up the (potentially large) shortfall. No one wants to end up dependent on the goodwill of their children, who may well be supporting their own families by this time.

Of course, every family has its own situation, levels of risk, and specific needs and goals, which is why you need to find the pension plan that is the best for you, whether it’s an IRA, 401(K), or any of the other options that exist out there. There are many different factors to consider. For further ideas on how to plan for retirement, read http://profileperspectives.com/dont-let-retirement-creep-up-on-you/.

Planning for retirement now, while you are young, can make all the difference to your future.

Doug Goldstein, CFP®

Overregulation: The Problem We Can’t Outproduce

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2012/08/13/overregulation-the-problem-we-cant-outproduce-with-some-words-from-reagan/

In the period between 1950 and about 2005, Americans continuously sustained a hefty downpayment on our federal, state, and local governments’ spiraling debt, by upping our productivity, our economic output, and the scope of opportunity for everyone.

Overregulation and implied state ownership of what we produce has been a problem for us since Woodrow Wilson’s terms in office.  But until the last half-decade, the American people shouldered and outproduced greater and greater burdens of regulation and/or taxation, costly credit and inflation, and victim politics and litigation.  Operating in the conditions of relative economic and political freedom – more than most of the world, if not more than in our own past – the American people were a productivity engine unmatched in the history of man.  Spend more?  We’ll produce more.  Tax receipts will skyrocket.  If our governments can’t pay their bills, it won’t be because the American people aren’t producing.

The burdens have now caught up with us, however.  Tax rates, while they have gone up and down in the last 30 years, have hovered around a mean established in the 1980s.  Top rates have not skyrocketed as they did at some points in America’s past.   Yet the American productivity engine is faltering.  Unemployment remains high at over 8%, and America’s labor force participation rate has dropped to its lowest level since 1981 (which was in the trough of a major recession).

Credit is harder to get, but people don’t want that much of it anyway.  Consumers aren’t spending.  Housing values have plunged into an abyss, with no end in sight.  (A home virtually identical to mine was listed last week for about half what I paid for mine in December 2002.  Six months ago it would have been listed at about 65% of my original purchase price.)  In the current heat wave in the Southwest, California power companies that announced “flex alerts,” during which customers are asked to use less power, have been surprised that usage was well below what they thought it would be.  People can’t afford to pay for air conditioning as they once would have – and many homes are still standing empty after three, four, or five years.  Similar low demand has hit the US Northeast.  (This means, incidentally, that the power companies aren’t getting the revenue they were expecting.  Down the road, that isn’t going to be a good thing.)

It’s easy to say that people don’t want to work.  It’s also cheap and easy to talk about “fatcat” business owners who don’t want to hire people, or who are just being rich while the rest of us are miserable.

But most new jobs – about 70% — have always been created by small businesses in America, and those small businesses are being steamrolled by regulation.  Regulation is having a serious impact even on big business, and all its costs are passed on to the customer.  “Business” doesn’t pay for anything; you pay for it all.  If you don’t, the business isn’t viable, and you don’t have those big, clean grocery stores with thousands of products, or gas stations charging competitive prices on every corner.  Either you pay all the costs of regulation, or the product isn’t available.

One particular American president was closely attuned to the costs of regulation, and you won’t be surprised that it was Ronald Reagan.  Several times in the late 1970s, he spoke about this problem in his radio spots.  The points he made then resonate as if they were made at 10:00 this morning.

One 2 March 1977, Reagan talked about “Added Inflation” caused by government regulation*:

To inflation and taxes let us add another cost to all of us which is the indirect inflation brought about by excessive regulation and government statutes.

He went on:

… in 1974 the Federal Register needed 45,422 pages to list all the new U.S. Government decrees and regulations that year…

Those regulations add to the cost of doing business in a variety of fields and many ways which means they add to the cost of the things we buy.  For example Congressman Bill Armstrong of Colorado estimates, “Restrictive rate policies of the Interstate Commerce Commission add $5 billion per year in excess freight rates passed on to the consumer.”

Reagan cited other specific costs of regulation in this radio spot.  On 8 November 1977, he did a spot on the travails of the Greyhound bus company, which had had some very unfortunate encounters with federal regulators:

Greyhound happens to have the best safety record in the transportation business. …

J. E. Dyer

Amsterdam Tram Employees Deny Making Fun of Anne Frank

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

Two employees of an Amsterdam tram company are denying making anti-Semitic comments about Anne Frank as their vehicle approached her former house.

An unidentified member of the Amsterdam Jewish community reported hearing the conductor of Line 17 say on Monday as the tram neared the Anne Frank House, “The Jews have to make a living somehow,” Ronnie Eisenman, chair of the Jewish Community of Amsterdam, told JTA.

He complained on Wednesday about the alleged comments to the GVB municipal transport company.

The conductor had reportedly been answering the driver, who had allegedly asked, “What are all these people doing here? That woman died a long time ago.”

The home of Anne Frank, the teenage Jewish diarist murdered during the Holocaust, drew more than one million visitors last year.

GVB announced on Friday that both employees denied having made the statements. Two days earlier, in a written announcement, GVB distanced itself from anti-Semitic statements and said the company would research the complaint.

Eisenman said that the witness, a man in his fifties, had said the statements were “very clearly heard on the intercom system.” The witness heard the conversation after the tram doors closed at the Westermark tram stop near the Anne Frank House, Eisenman said.

The witness did not see the driver and the conductor, but knew one was a man and the other a woman.

“The fact that the employees deny that such a conversation ever took place does not add to their version’s credibility,” Eisenman said.

GVB said it would invite the witness to further discuss the details of the incident.

JTA

El Al Dithers on Honoring Cheap Fares

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

An El Al spokesperson said the airline had not decided whether or not to honor round-trip tickets to Israel that were offered erroneously for prices as low as $330.

On Wednesday afternoon, the airline issued the following statement via Twitter: “Thanks for your patience. Details/decisions re incorrect fares that were briefly sold on Monday are not finalized. We will update tomorrow.”

The announcement came two days after El Al codeshare flights from several U.S. cities to Israel went on sale for bargain-basement prices due to an error by a subcontractor handling El Al’s winter promotional fares. The round-trip tickets ranging from $330 to $460, including all taxes and fees, were for travel between November and March and included layovers in Europe.

On Monday, El Al said via Twitter that it would honor the tickets, which reportedly numbered in the thousands.

“An outside company posted incorrect fares on travel websites, so all tickets sold will indeed be honored,” the company wrote at around 6 p.m., once the inexpensive prices were no longer available.

But on Tuesday, the airline appeared to backtrack, suggesting in a comment to The New York Jewish Week and later in emails to JTA that El Al had not decided conclusively whether or not to honor the purchases.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said it found out about the incident late Tuesday. A department spokesman, Bill Mosley, told JTA that “We’re looking into it.“

JTA

Hearing on Motion to Dismiss Set in Hebrew National Class-Action Suit

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

A hearing on a motion to dismiss a consumer fraud case against the company that produces Hebrew National products has been scheduled for Nov. 30 in a federal court.

The hearing will be held at the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

ConAgra Foods Inc., which owns the Hebrew National brand, on July 26 filed the motion to dismiss a class-action suit that alleges that Hebrew National’s iconic hot dogs and other meats do not comport with the brand’s claim to be kosher “as defined by the most stringent Jews who follow Orthodox Jewish law.” The ConAgra motion states that the case should be dismissed because, among other reasons, kosher is “exclusively a matter of Jewish religious doctrine.” It also states that under the First Amendment, “federal courts may not adjudicate disputes that turn on religious teachings, doctrine and practice.”

The suit, which was filed May 18 in a Minnesota state court, accuses ConAgra of consumer fraud. ConAgra has rejected the claims.

Triangle-K, the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based supervising agency that certifies Hebrew National products as kosher, and AER, which provides the kosher slaughtering services at Hebrew National facilities in the Midwest, including in Minnesota, also rejected the allegations. Neither is named in the suit.

The suit is seeking monetary damages equal to the total amount of monies that consumers in the class paid for Hebrew National meat products.

Zimmerman Reed, an Arizona-based law firm with offices in Minnesota, solicited consumers through its website. The firm advertised a free case review for anyone who purchased Hebrew National hot dogs in the past two years or had information about the preparation of the products.

JTA

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/hearing-on-motion-to-dismiss-set-in-hebrew-national-class-action-suit/2012/08/02/

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