Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Security and Exchange Commission Issue Ad Scam Ponzi Warning

*added 8th November - another warning has been issued specific to Traffic Monsoon

The Securities and Exchange Commission have issued a Press Release today about 'Paid to Click' Ad Scams.
It's basis is 'Fort Ad Pays', but also broadly covers all Ad (Pack) based  scams such as Traffic Monsoon and My Advertising Pays.
Lets hope this is the start of a major crack down on all these evil scams.

Press Release

SEC Warns Investors About Paid-to-Click Scams

Agency Obtains Court Order to Stop “Ad Packs” Ponzi Scheme


Washington D.C., Nov. 7, 2017—

The Securities and Exchange Commission is warning investors to beware online “paid-to-click” scams that promise an easy payday by merely purchasing a membership or an advertising product up front and then clicking on a certain number of online ads each day.

The SEC’s investor alert explains that these online advertising programs may have little to no revenues besides membership fees or sales of “ad packs” and may be nothing more than a Ponzi scheme. The SEC filed an enforcement case that was unsealed last week in federal court in Florida, alleging that roughly 99 percent of the purported “profits” paid to earlier investors came directly from the buy-in fees collected from newer investors. Meanwhile, according to the SEC’s complaint, the alleged perpetrator siphoned several million dollars out of investor funds to purchase a luxury home, automobiles, and private plane charters while also using the money to fund his other businesses.

According to the SEC’s investor alert, online advertising programs also can target those with something to advertise, promising to display a company’s ads on their network or guaranteeing traffic to a website by simply paying a membership fee or buying ad packs.

“Be skeptical if you are offered high returns for buying advertising products or clicking on online ads,” said Lori Schock, Director of the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy. “Some paid-to-click programs are actually Ponzi schemes.”

According to the SEC’s complaint filed against Miami-based Pedro Fort Berbel and his company Fort Marketing Group, they operated fraudulent internet advertising businesses under such names as Fort Ad Pays, The Business Shop, and MLM Shop. They allegedly solicited investors through online posts and videos claiming they could share in the companies’ profits and earn investment returns as high as 120 percent by purchasing an ad pack for as little as a dollar and clicking on four banner ads per day. The SEC alleges that Berbel and Fort Marketing Group raised more than $38 million from at least 150,000 investors.

“As alleged in our complaint, these companies had no viable source of revenue besides income from investor membership fees and the sale of ad packs, so this boiled down to an ad packs Ponzi scheme in which the promised investment returns to earlier investors were not possible without using funds from new investors,” said Eric I. Bustillo, Director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office.

The SEC’s complaint charges Berbel and Fort Marketing Group with violating Sections 5(a), 5(c), and 17(a) of the Securities Act and Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act. They’re also charged with selling investments that are not registered with the SEC as required under the federal securities laws. The SEC encourages investors to check the backgrounds of people selling them investments. A quick search on the SEC’s website shows that Berbel and Fort Marketing Group are not registered to sell investments.

The SEC obtained a court-ordered asset freeze against Berbel and his companies.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Sajjad Matin, Cecilia Danger, and Margaret Vizzi of the Miami Regional Office and supervised by Jessica Weissman. The SEC's litigation will be led by Wilfredo Fernandez and Andrew Schiff. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, Bureau of Financial Investigations. The investor alert was prepared by M. Owen Donley III and Holly Pal in the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy.'

* The following day, this alert was issued with reference to Traffic Monsoon:

*The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy is warning investors about investment scams conducted through online paid-to-click (PTC) programs.
Getting paid to click on online ads may sound like an easy way to make money, but can also result in losing money. Online paid-to-click (PTC) programs often promise investors a share of the program’s profits in exchange for paying an upfront fee or buying products. For example, a PTC program may claim you can share in its profits if you buy “ad packs” or other advertising products. These PTC programs might promise you advertising services such as displaying your ads on their network or guaranteeing traffic to your website if you become a member or buy their ad packs. They might even promise to share their profits with investors who have nothing to advertise – simply buy the ad pack and share in the profits.
Before you purchase a membership or any advertising product from a PTC program, be aware that some PTC programs may be scams. For example, some PTC programs may be Ponzi schemes, where money from new investors is used to pay fake “profits” to earlier investors. Don’t let your guard down just because a PTC program claims it is not an investment scheme. Look out for these red flags:
  • Easy money. Be skeptical if you are offered high returns in exchange for merely purchasing products or for trivial tasks such as clicking on a certain number of online ads each day. Any investment opportunity that sounds too good to be true probably is.
  • Required upfront payments. Be wary if you are asked to pay money upfront to participate in a PTC program, even if it’s supposedly for a membership plan or product purchase. Why would a company require you to pay a membership fee or to buy a product, for the “opportunity” to click on ads?
  • No revenue from genuine products or services. Ask to see documents, such as financial statements audited by a certified public accountant (CPA), showing that the PTC program generates real revenue from selling products or services. If the PTC program has no revenue from customers other than its own members, any returns you receive are likely from other investors’ buy-in fees.
  • Virtual address. Verify that the business address listed for the PTC program is legitimate. For example, enter the address into an online search engine and be skeptical if the results suggest it is not a valid address or that the PTC program does not have legitimate operations at the location.
  • Withdrawal problems. If you have trouble withdrawing your money or are required to reinvest your profits, it may be because there is not enough money coming in from new investors to cover earlier investors’ withdrawal requests.
In two recent enforcement matters, the SEC charged companies for conducting Ponzi schemes through purported online advertising programs:
  • In SEC v. Traffic Monsoon, the SEC brought an enforcement action against a purported online advertising company and its operator for conducting a Ponzi scheme. The operator allegedly solicited investors through the company’s website and YouTube videos to purchase advertising products called “AdPacks.” According to the SEC’s complaint, each AdPack provided advertising benefits to the investor (20 clicks to the investor’s banner ad and 1,000 visitors to the investor’s website) and the ability to share in the company’s profits. The SEC alleged that more than 162,000 investors purchased approximately $207 million in AdPacks. More than 99% of the money that the company distributed to investors allegedly came from investors purchasing new AdPacks.
  • In SEC v. Pedro Fort Berbel, et al., the SEC charged a company and its principal officer with operating a Ponzi scheme through its purported online advertising businesses, MLM Shop, The Business Shop, and Fort Ad Pays. The defendants allegedly solicited investors through online posts and videos (in languages including English, Spanish, and French) on the defendants’ websites. In its complaint, the SEC alleged that these posts and videos claimed that investors could share in the businesses’ profits. The businesses allegedly required investors to purchase a plan or an advertising product. According to the SEC’s complaint, one of the businesses offered potential returns of 120% in exchange for purchasing an “Ad Pack” for as little as one dollar and clicking on four banner ads each day (or alternatively, investors could purchase a plan that did not require any action). The defendants allegedly raised $38 million from investors and kept at least $7 million for themselves to pay for a Florida private home, automobile expenses, and private plane charters, and to fund other businesses. Roughly 99% of the money generated by the defendants’ businesses allegedly came from other investors’ payments.
Additional Resources
View document in SPANISH – translated version,
available at
View document in FRENCH – translated version,
available at
Check out the background, including registration or license status, of anyone recommending or selling an investment, using the search tool on
Report possible securities fraud to the SEC. Ask a question or report a problem concerning your investments, your investment account or a financial professional.
Visit, the SEC’s website for individual investors.
Receive Investor Alerts and Bulletins from the Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (“OIEA”) by email or RSS feed. Follow OIEA on Twitter @SEC_Investor_Ed. Like OIEA on Facebook at

The Office of Investor Education and Advocacy has provided this information as a service to investors.  It is neither a legal interpretation nor a statement of SEC policy.  If you have questions concerning the meaning or application of a particular law or rule, please consult with an attorney who specializes in securities law.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Crypto Currency SCAMS

Over the last few months, many people have contacted me to say they've joined various companies trading in various Crypto Currencies, and they've lost every penny. 

One minute the currency rises, the next minute, its gone. Traded away. 

And were not talking peanuts here, were talking thousands of pounds. 

No Refund. No Chargeback. No Legal protection. GONE.

The Ad Pack Scams that sprung up over the last few years are quickly being replaced with Crypto Currency Scams instead. 
And be in no doubt - they are all SCAMS. 

Whether they're trading in Crypto Currencies or selling you a 'new' Crypto currency,
the outcome is the same:
A tiny proportion of people will make money, but most people will eventually lose it.

Each one will have a variation of these terms:

'All trading involves risk. 
Only risk capital you're prepared to lose. 
Past performance does not guarantee future results...' 

...which is basically a scammers  'get out of jail' free card. 

If it seems too good to be true - it IS too good to be true.