New twist on Zeek
The Zeek Rewards pyramid scheme is now spurring what may be a new online con trying to reach the same audience of people taken in the first time, as well as potentially new victims.
Zeek Rewards, which was based from a nondescript, small office in Lexington, is estimated to have bilked upward of 1 million people worldwide. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission shut down Zeek Rewards in August and seized its assets, terming it a $600 million Ponzi scheme on the verge of collapse.
A receiver in the case, attorney Kenneth Bell of Charlotte, is trying to recover assets from Zeek Rewards, which for more than a year billed itself as an online multilevel marketing business and auction site. But the SEC calls Zeek Rewards a classic pyramid scheme in which money from later investors was paid as alleged gains to earlier investors.
Recently, a group supposedly out of Spain sent a bulk email enticing people who were involved with Zeek Rewards to take part in a new venture. The online organizers of what’s called AdsProfitRewards touts themselves in an email as having “its headquarters located in Spain, far from any U.S. laws.”
AdsProfitRewards makes claims similar to Zeek Rewards, such as participants making profits through online auctions and marketing.
“For you who knew Zeek Rewards, the dream (and profits daily) are back. For you who did not know ... your chance to GOLD,” claims the email.
A representative with the N.C. Attorney General’s Office, which investigated Zeek Rewards along with the SEC, warns people to avoid pitches that mimic the style of Zeek Rewards.
“We would encourage consumers to be highly skeptical of this,” said Noelle Talley, public information officer with the Attorney General’s Office in Raleigh.
The profit-sharing pool and the percentage daily return on investment mentioned in the AdsProfitRewards email pitch were both red flags with Zeek Rewards that raised concerns with the SEC, Talley told The High Point Enterprise.
“It certainly appears that this is targeting former Zeek participants, which is very common when a scheme gets shut down,” she said.
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The U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina out of Charlotte began accepting claims in mid-May for victims of the Zeek Rewards pyramid scheme. The claims for recovery of money lost in the scam can be submitted through Sept. 5. To file a claim, follow the instructions at the website www.zeekrewardsreceivership.com — the receiver overseeing the case says claims must be submitted online except in rare exceptions.