The Department of Justice announced that it has begun to return approximately $55 million in forfeited funds to victims of the AdSurfDaily Ponzi scheme that generated more than $110 million from thousands of victims worldwide. AdSurfDaily was a massive Ponzi cheme that presented itself as an online advertising company, promising investors exorbitant returns in exchange for spending time on certain websites. The funds are being returned to investors through a process known as "remission," and is the result of civil forfeiture judgments being pursued against nearly $80 million contained in bank accounts seized after the fraud was uncovered.
The DOj indicted Thomas A. Bowdoin Jr., 76, in December 2010, charging him with five counts of wire fraud, one count of securities fraud, and one count of unlawful sale of unregistered securities in connection with the scheme. Bowdoin allegedly operated the scheme from September 2006 to August 2008, soliciting investments exceeding $100 million by promising extensive returns in exchange for spending small amounts of time daily on certain websites. Annual returns were advertised that exceeded 100%, in addition to commissions for new member referrals. In total, more than $31 million of investor funds were used to pay interest and principal redemptions to investors. Bowdoin has pled not guilty to all of the charges, and is currently awaiting trial.
The DOJ and Secret Service established the website www.adsurfdailyremission.com for victims of the scheme, and there provided forms for victims to submit documented proof of their losses. Investors had faced a claims deadline of January 19, 2011 to submit claims. According to the website, the U.S. Government seized approximately $79 million from several bank accounts associated with the scheme, and legal efforts to obtain civil forfeiture judgments against the money remain ongoing. Approximately 8,400 victims stand to receive some form of payout as a result of the remission process.
A copy of the indictment against Bowdoin is here.