Aug 20, 2012 01:32 PM EDT
The number of 'victims' in the Zeek Rewards pyramid and Ponzi scheme is reportedly over one million, which will make it the largest Ponzi scheme in history, based on the number of victims.
Zeek Rewards was launched in only January of last year but it was shut down by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last week due to an alleged $600 million online Ponzi scheme. The company allegedly raised money through the Zeek Rewards website from over one million customers.
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It also ran Zeeklercom, which operated as a penny auction site in which users bid for goods within a timed auction.
SEC.gov says that "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."
SEC's Stephen Cohen said: "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. 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."
According to the Wall Street Journal, the SEC alleges online marketer Paul Burks and his company Rex Venture Group, raised the cash through the sites. He allegedly agreed to settle the charges made by SEC without admitting the allegations and paying a $4 million penalty.
Zeek had its main office at 803 W. Center St. in Lexington, but was reportedly shut down at 4p.m. on August 16. Both Zeek sites, ZeekRewards.com and Zeekler.com were offline by 9 p.m.
The following day, the sites displayed the message, "Zeek Rewards is currently unavailable. More information will be available shortly on this website."
News that Zeek Rewards is part of a ponzi scheme have left investors, or "affiliates" confused and angry. "Boy do we feel like idiots," said one investor, according to Fox8.
According to Fox 8, the company was receiving heat by the North Carolina Attorney General Roy A. Cooper's office "due to dozens of complaints and inquiries filed since February of this year."
ZeekRewardsNews.com stated that more than 200,000 affiliates make use of Zeek Rewards and it auction services. They also noted that an event scheduled for Aug. 22, "Red Carpet Wednesday," has been cancelled.
A source told The-Dispatch that Zeek headquarters closed so that the company can focus on answering pressuring inquiries by the Attorney General's office that administerd a subpoena on the company, suspecting that an individual or the organization may have information in connection with an ongoing investigation.
Viewers first became suspicious of problems within Zeek when the company posted on their news site on Aug. 13 that any training, recruiting or leadership calls for the company will be called off for the next few days.
A user on the site change.org posted a petition this week calling for Attorney General Cooper to "keep Zeek open for business." The disclaimer for the document stated that "ZeekRewards.com and Zeekler.com has helped and maybe saved lives financially. Zeek is a truly great penny auction and program."
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