About Kevin Thompson

Kevin is a MLM attorney, entrepreneur, and agent of change. He’s co-founder of Thompson Burton, PLLC. With a deep understanding of the changing legal landscape in the MLM industry, Kevin helps entrepreneurs launch their businesses on solid legal footing.

SUBMIT YOUR CLAIM FORM!

keep-calm-and-please-hurry-upThis is likely going to be our last post / email blast regarding Zeek Rewards. It has been a little over a year since the company was shut down by the SEC. I know the company’s demise resulted in a lot of frustration, anger and pain. I’ve talked with people that literally lost their entire life savings. I’ve even talked with people that walked away with six figures in earnings and blew it all on frivolous expenses, stressing over ways to pay it back. Bottom line: it was bad for a lot of people.

But for those of you that lost money, there’s an opportunity to get most of it back. SUBMIT YOUR CLAIM! The receiver is charged with doling out the funds to the net losers in a fair and equitable fashion. He’s not able to do it unless you submit your claim. The deadline for the submissions is September 5. In his most recent letter sent two weeks ago, Ken Bell said,

If you have not completed and fully submitted a claim through the Receiver’s online Claim Portal or through alternative means expressly authorized by me in writing prior to 11:59pm prevailing Eastern Time on September 5, 2013, your claim will not be counted and you will not receive a distribution on account of any amounts that Zeekrewards may owe you.

The official website for the claims process is: http://www.zeekrewardsreceivership.com/. There’s a “FILE A CLAIM” button right in the middle of the site. Push it. Since it’s in electronic format, the submission process could not be any simpler. This firm actually considered helping participants file their claims. But the online portal is so simple, there’s just not much for us to do. Please submit your claims before the deadline. According to the receiver, hundreds of thousands of participants have not filed their claims. And when you submit your claims, try to follow the instructions as closely as possible. If you miscalculate your investments in Zeek, it may result in serious delays and / or a rejection of the claim.

Promises Made / Promises Kept

When we first created this site, we made four commitments: (1) we were going to provide the information for free; (2) we were never going to use your email address for anything other than posts from this site; (3) we were going to make it easy for you to stay informed; and (4) we were going to help with the claims process. The 4th commitment is a moot point. The online claim portal is simple. We’ve honored the other three. I want to send a special thanks to all of the contributors on this site: Walt Burton, my law partner; Jordan Maglich, Ponzi Tracker; Phillip Young, bankruptcy attorney and receivership specialist; and Len Clements, MLM consultant.

If you want to stay informed on what’s happening in the MLM industry, please provide your email address below. I’d love for us to stay in touch. If you’re getting this message via email, please click the link to subscribe to my newsletter.


Sincerely,

+Kevin Thompson

Ken Bell’s most recent update can be found below. If you’re reading this in your email inbox, it can be found here.

Fraud Alert: Banners Brokers / Profit Clicking “Claim Form”

There’s an online form on the internet about Banners Brokers claiming to be from Thompson Burton PLLC (our law firm). DO NOT FILL OUT THIS FORM. It’s fraudulent. We did not create this form, or anything like it. We are not representing Banners Brokers or Profit Clicking participants. The image of the form can be found below. The form is requiring highly sensitive information, such as your usernames and passwords for Payza and Solid Trust Pay accounts. It’s also asking for credit card information. If you filled out the form, we strongly suggest you change your passwords and cancel your credit cards immediately. If you have information about the person behind this form, please provide it to us here.

Banners_Broker_Return_Cash__

Panel Discussion re. Zeek – Google Hangout

The panel discussion regarding Zeek Rewards last week was a huge success. Surprisingly, there were hardly any glitches with the technology. We got over an hour of solid content locked down in the video below. It was a great discussion with multiple lawyers and professionals familiar with the Zeek Rewards case. As many of you know, the Receiver sent out approximately 1,200 subpoenas recently requesting information from many of the “net winners.” This batch of subpoenas re-ignited a host of questions from both the winners and losers affiliated with Zeek. It’s my strong professional opinion that the needs between the winners and losers are unique and at odds with one another. The “net losers” want the receiver to recover as much money as possible so as to maximize the payout to the victims. In order to make the cash pot larger, the receiver is compelled to recover funds from the people that earned more from Zeek than they “invested” / spent into the program. In other words, the net losers want / need clawback litigation to occur. On the other hand, the people that earned more money than what they invested / spent, they’ll likely want to hold onto the cash. They’re going to argue that they earned the money, spent the money, etc. Both sides have unique issues. With lawyers positioned on both sides of the issue, we compiled a panel to answer the following questions:

Can the receiver pursue Zeek participants that reside overseas?
When does it make economic sense for a receiver to sue a net winner?
If a receiver gets a judgment against a net winner, what can he do with it?
What does the claims process look like for the net losers?
When can people expect a distribution of cash?
If an affiliate paid taxes on the income, how do they get the tax money back?
And we address a host of other question.

In the Hangout, we had the following participants

+Kevin Thompson, (MLM lawyer)
Jordan Maglich (Ponzi Tracker)
Len Clements (Market Wave)
Troy Dooly (MLM Help Desk)
Walt Burton (Commercial Real Estate attorney)
Phillip Young (Corporate Litigator / Bankruptcy Lawyer)

The information is free of charge. We hope you find the video informative. Also, as a reminder, if you’d like to unsubscribe to these updates, there’s an “Unsubscribe” button on the bottom of this email.


If you’re not able to play the video in your inbox, click here.

Google Hangout with Contributors

As many of you know, the Receiver in the Zeek case sent out well over 1,000 subpoenas to the “net winners” pursuant to the Zeek Rewards liquidation plan. In case you’re like most people and you’re not sure what a subpoena is, it’s a document from a court that compels someone to produce evidence (documents, verbal testimony, etc) pursuant to a lawsuit. In this case, the Receiver is asking for a lot of information from the “net winners.” Specifically, he’s asking about their involvement with Zeek, how much money they made from Zeek, personal financial standing, and he’s also asking about large purchases made over the past couple of years i.e. cars, boats, homes, etc. As we mentioned in the past, the Receiver is responsible for making the pot of cash as large as possible to ensure the victims get a fair amount of the proceeds. Along those lines, the Receiver is obligated to pursue funds from the net winners. As Phillip Young said in his article about the Liquidation Plan, “The receiver clearly considers any positive returns on a Zeek investment to be a fraudulent transfer, and his pleading indicates that he plans to immediately pursue the return of those funds.”

Since the subpoenas have recently been sent out, we now have a better idea of the Receiver’s plans before he issues distributions to the victims. The Contributors on this site along with Troy Dooly will be conducting a live Google Hangout to answer some of the common questions about this process. We’ll be conducting the hangout on Thursday, November 15th at 5:00 CST. The current roster of contributors is:

myself, (MLM lawyer)
Jordan Maglich (Ponzi Tracker)
Len Clements (Market Wave)
Troy Dooly (MLM Help Desk)
Walt Burton (Commercial Real Estate attorney)
Phillip Young (Corporate Litigator / Bankruptcy Lawyer)

We’ll be covering questions that are important for both the net winners and the net losers. The Hangout will be streamed live on this page AND on my personal website at www.themlmattorney.com. I’ll embed the video player on these pages. Again, the Hangout will be on Thursday, November 15th at 5:00 CST.

In the meantime, please include any of your questions in the comment section below. I’m not promising that we’ll answer all of them, but it’ll help us all get a general sense of the information you need. NOTE: disparaging comments will be deleted. +Kevin Thompson

Receiver’s Zeek Liquidation Plan

Update from Thompson Burton

One of our contributors, Phillip Young, has provided great insights about the Receiver’s recent communications. Soon, approximately 1,200 subpoenas will be sent to the “net winners” in Zeek Rewards. These subpoenas will request information about their involvement in the program and likely contain a demand for a return of the gains. In our opinion, there’s a conflict if a firm represents both the net winners (people that made more than what they spent / invested) and the net losers (people that made less). The conflict exists because the net losers want the cash pot to be as large as possible for purposes of the distribution i.e. they need the net winners to pay into the pot. On the other hand, the net winners want to maintain their funds. This is normal in this sort of matter.

Phillip Young has served as a Receiver on several occasions and he’s uniquely positioned to help the “net winners” served with a subpoena negotiate a settlement and/or fight against the clawback actions. As for our firm, Thompson Burton, we made the decision months ago to focus on helping the net losers recover their funds by way of the claims process. When the Receiver publishes a claim form for the Zeek participants, which should be soon, we’ll offer the valet service to help with the recovery process.

One final update: we made a commitment on day 1 to maintain your information in the strictest of confidence. If you completed a form and provided your information to us, the information has never been shared with anyone, including with any of the other contributors. The information is being used solely to assess the damages and build a subscription list for this site only. +Kevin Thompson

Receiver’s Zeek Liquidation Plan

On October 8, the Zeek receiver filed what he called a “Preliminary Liquidation Plan.” In reality, it was more like an analysis of the company and a status update rather than a liquidation plan. Nevertheless, there were several interesting tidbits buried in the 26-page pleading:

• There were approximately 2.2 million users in the ZeekRewards system, 1 million of which paid money into the program.

• The receiver has recovered $293.7 million in cash for the Zeek receivership estate, plus he has seized two commercial properties in North Carolina which Zeek owned free-an-clear. The value of this real estate is unknown.

• The receiver indicates that there is at least one foreign bank account holding an unknown amount that has not been seized.

• The receiver has disbursed approximately $56,000 for ordinary operating expenses (such as payroll, utilities, taxes, etc.) and he anticipates distributing another $922,000 for operating expenses incurred by Zeek prior to the receivership. This does not include the expenses of the receiver or his legal counsel, which will be very significant.

• Since the receivership began, the receiver has attempted to deposit over 60,000 payments from Zeek investors, totaling approximately $100 million. Almost 20% of those attempted deposits were dishonored by the banks, primarily because the check makers issued a stop payment on them. The receiver reports in his update that, with court authority, he is re-presenting these checks for payment and expects all banks to honor those checks.

• The receiver made clear in his update that he will aggressively pursue legal claims against third parties, including officers, employees, participants, professionals and others who benefitted from this ponzi scheme.

• The receiver goes into some detail about his pursuit of clawback claims, against “net winners” (i.e. those Zeek participants who received more in returns than they paid into Zeek). It is clear that these clawback claims are receiving much immediate attention. (For a more complete discussion of the clawback claims, see “What does this mean for net winners” below).
The receiver’s recent update gives us some idea as to the size of the receivership, assures us that there should be assets available for distribution to creditors, and allows us a glimpse into what the receiver views as his most pressing duties. As far as what this update means, it means different things to different classes of Zeek participants.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR NET WINNERS?

A “net winner” is someone who received more money from Zeek in returns than he/she originally invested. For example, if you invested $10,000 into Zeek and received distributions of $12,000, you are a net winner on your investment. The receiver’s “Preliminary Liquidation Plan” is all bad news for the net winner. The receiver clearly considers any positive returns on a Zeek investment to be a fraudulent transfer, and his pleading indicates that he plans to immediately pursue the return of those funds. In fact, as of the writing of this article, we believe that over 1200 demands have been sent out to net winners, with accompanying subpoenas. If you are a net winner, you should expect to receive a demand letter from the receiver with a threat of litigation. While I have not seen the demand letter, it is likely that the receiver is demanding the immediate return of all or a substantial portion of the “return on investment” received by a net winner. Having represented receivers and bankruptcy trustees frequently, it is my experience that a receiver will begin with a very aggressive demand accompanied by a threat of litigation in hopes that he can scare a large portion of potential defendants into an immediate settlement. Often, the receiver will negotiate down from that aggressive demand. If you receive a demand letter from the trustee, you should carefully consider your options. Should you immediately pay the trustee’s demand and avoid future litigation expenses, or should you refuse and hope to negotiate a more favorable settlement as the process unfolds? These are options you should discuss with your legal counsel, especially if you receive a demand for a significant sum of money.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR NET LOSERS?

A “net loser,” as I will use that term in this article, means someone who invested more money into Zeek than he/she received in return. For example, if you invested $10,000 into Zeek but only received distributions of $5,000 in return, you are a net loser on your investment. The receiver’s “Preliminary Liquidation Plan” provides good news / bad news for the net loser. First the bad news: If you sent a payment to Zeek which you later attempted to freeze or stop payment, chances are that your bank is going to honor that check. The receiver asked for (and was granted) approval from the court to force banks to honor dishonored checks, as many of us anticipated. If you attempted to stop an uncashed check, you should contact your bank to determine whether it has been, or will be, honored.

Now for the good news: it seems very likely that there will be significant assets available for distribution to Zeek creditors, including net losers. There is no indication that creditors will be paid in full, but the receiver has already collected nearly $300 million before what seems to be rather aggressive litigation (which could result in more assets). While the claim process has yet to be established by the receiver, net losers should begin collecting bank records, credit card records, Zeek statements, and any other documents that will assist them in proving the amount of loss they have suffered as a result of Zeek investments. After all, it will be the creditor’s duty to prove the losses he/she has suffered. If a net loser’s losses are significant, he/she might want to consider retaining legal counsel to assist in preparing the proof of claim and its supporting documentation. The receiver has offered little guidance on how or when he plans to conduct the claims process.

Letter from the Receiver

What is a Receivership?

Receivership statutes are very complex and are often misunderstood, even by experienced attorneys. A receivership is similar to a bankruptcy proceeding, but with a few important differences. First, unlike bankruptcies, receiverships can be filed in either state court or federal court. In a receivership, the person appointed to take control of the assets (the “receiver”) is generally bound by the powers and restrictions contained in the court’s receivership order. In Zeek’s case, the receiver is Ken Bell.

IF I AM OWED MONEY BY A COMPANY IN RECEIVERSHIP, IS IT JUST GONE?

Not necessarily. While each receivership is different, many receiverships return money (called a “distribution”) to its creditors. If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’re a “creditor” looking for answers regarding your piece of pie. Some receiverships result in a 100% distribution; others result in little or no distribution. A receiver is charged with protecting all receivership assets, liquidating those assets, evaluating all claims filed by the receivership’s creditors, and making a distribution to all legitimate creditors. The receiver is also charge with pursuing assets from some of the “winners” in the scheme i.e. investors that pulled out significant gains. This is known as “Clawback Litigation.” The receiver may also file suit against third-party vendors that profited by supporting the scheme. The receiver ordinarily files periodic reports with the court, updating it on the value of the receivership’s assets and the amount of money spent by the receiver in carrying out his or her duties. A distribution is normally made near the conclusion of the receivership matter, which can be months or even years into the proceeding. In this case, we expect this to be a very long and complicated matter.

IF I AM A CREDITOR OF A RECEIVERSHIP, WHAT CAN I DO TO PROTECT MYSELF?

First, try to stay well-informed. Carefully read any notice or update that you receive from the court or the receiver. If other information is readily available, keep yourself updated on the status of the receivership case. Most importantly, it is vital that you complete a proof of claim form within the timeframe established by the receiver. If you are a creditor of a receivership, you should receive a claim form and instructions in the mail once the claim process has been approved by the court. It is critical that you carefully and accurately provide all of the information requested (including supporting documentation) and return it within the time allotted by the receiver. If you fail to submit a claim, if you submit incorrect or incomplete claim forms, or if you fail to submit the claim form in a timely manner, the receiver may refuse to allow your claim and you may miss out on a distribution.

Zeek Recovery, update 1

On Sunday, our law firm first published a form to solicit information from anyone negatively impacted by Zeek Rewards and seeking answers.  In response, over the last 5 days, you and over 15,000 other individuals submitted personal information to us regarding the details of your investment.  The stories are heartbreaking.  While some of you were aware of the risk, it appears that the vast majority of you were simply trusting friends and peers who introduced you to Zeek as an investment opportunity.  Some of you cashed in your 401(k)s, some of you invested college tuition money, and others invested their life savings in search of investment returns.

Many of you are personally devastated.  “Ok, now what?”

Before assembling this list of Zeek participants, we thought our role in this process would be to “get involved” by charging a small fee to each of you for legal representation.  After much consideration and debate, the answer has become crystal clear.  You’ve been through enough and probably don’t want to spend anymore of your hard earned money at this point.

During the last few days, we’ve consulted numerous professionals, including a renowned class action attorney, a ponzi scheme specialist, and a bankruptcy and receivership attorney, regarding development of a strategy to seek recovery of your investment in Zeek Rewards.  At this point, the consensus is that there is no clear legal course of action that will yield a more favorable result for you than cooperating with the receiver.  We will continue to monitor the receiver’s actions closely and will notify you immediately if we think a different course of action is needed.

With this in mind, we’ve created the Zeek Recovery site, which can be a trusted resource to assist you during your journey through the receivership process.  As part of this endeavor, we’ve assembled a roster of professionals, all agreeing to provide information free of charge on the site, as follows:

Our Commitments

  • We’re never going to charge for the information on this site.  Based on what you’ve endured, it’s just not fair.  We’re going to provide the information, free of charge, no strings attached;
  • We’re never going to provide your information to anyone, ever.  The information that you submitted on the form and continue to submit will remain strictly confidential.  Our firm, Thompson Burton, has possession of the list, and we’re not going to provide it to anyone without your permission;
  • We’re going to make it easy for you to stay informed.  All updates will be sent via email, unless you unsubscribe from this list.  We will provide you with consistent updates on Zeek, including information about the claims process, interpreting messages from the receiver, explaining court filings, important deadlines, etc.  While the receiver has published a website, it will likely only include court filings and occasional updates.  We intend to dive deeper and help you make sense of it all with interesting articles and useful information.  The receiver’s website can be found here; and
  • We’re going to provide resources to help you complete the Proof of Claim Forms.  This is the most important document in the process.  If there are any discrepancies between the receiver’s data and what you report, it gives the receiver an opportunity to reject your claim and you may not get paid.  If you would like assistance with this part of the process, you can retain us for a small fee to assist you on an individual basis.

We are humbled by your responses to our online form, and we sincerely appreciate the trust that you have placed in us.  We’re deeply sorry for the struggles many of you are enduring, and we hope to shed some positive light during this time.