Thursday, February 16, 2006

Charis Johnson cuts off all communication - Refuses to Speak with Reporters


Charis Johnson, owner and operator of the now crashed 12DailyPro auto-surf program, has now stopped all communication to any reporters or outside parties, and is only speaking through her lawyers - who cannot say anything either.

In a very telling report by ABC4, reporter Brent Hunsaker, attempted to track down Charis Johnson at all the addresses and phone numbers that were available for her. The address for her lawyer turned out to be a UPS Store, and her apartment is now empty (which local Charlotte reports at WCNC also found out). He finally tracked her down at her brand new house and found her husband, who also refused to talk to them. She then screamed at the reporter over the phone and is now asking her members to flood the station with calls.

In another development, Charis has stated on 12DP's message board that she spoke to Jeff Johnson, the original member who started out trying to track down the owner of StormPay. However, Jeff broke away from ABC4, because he claims that they removed large portions of the interview that he had with the owner of StormPay, Steve Grisky. Unfortunately, Charis has closed off the 12DP forum to new registrations, so we cannot determine what questions Jeff asked and what answers he received (at least not yet). Charis is now surrounded by her loyal followers who praise her and constantly quote from the Bible in an effort to console her, yet never questioning her means and motives.

However, now due to the large amount of media attention on both StormPay and 12DailyPro, it is most likely that we will never have a straight forward answer as to what happened to the money and a long time before anyone ever sees any of it. Both parties will probably have to submit all information about the funds through their attorneys and this will result in lawsuits, which will further reduce the amount of information being released to the public.

It is now also clear that the FBI is involved in actively investigating 12DailyPro and has issued a press release asking anyone who has had dealings with the company to call and report it to them to determine if federal laws have been broken. In the best scenario, hopefully 12DP can shut down and issue refunds to all members who had money in their accounts. In a worst case scenario, we can expect that this may drag on for years in the courts while people spend more on lawyers than they had spent investing in the company initially. If Charis Johnson does not have the liquid assets to refund investors of their money, we can probably expect law enforcement or the courts will seize her assets and distribute them amongst investors, at least as long as they determine investors were not breaking laws by recruiting people to sign up under them.

UPDATE: In another shocking development, Jeff Johnson, the sole member who went out in search of answers from SP and 12DP goes on the record with ABC4 saying that he did not make the post in the 12DailyPro forum saying they removed and edited portions of the broadcast. However, he could not comment on what he discussed with Charis and what they might have discussed. However, from the comments made by him in the interview, he appears to be not very happy with the results. This continues to shed more light on the lies and deception continuing to be posted by Charis and the other members of her message board. You can watch the video below.

ABC4 Interviews Jeff Johnson




Stay posted here for the latest ongoings at 12DP and SP...

Watch the latest report from ABC4:



Watch the report from Charlotte ABC news affiliate WCNC:



Thanks to Xinfinitum for the cartoon shown at top.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Gregg Valentino: "I'm an idiot"

UPDATE 8/5/2010: Gregg Valentino responded to this post in a recent interview you can listen to exclusively on my blog here The Gregg Valentino Interview: I never took Synthol!


Gregg Valentino, the bodybuilding world's favorite jackass, decided that he needed to go on TLC and make even more of a jackass of himself. In a show fittingly titled "The Man Whose Arms Exploded" we take a ride through the Synthol man's world of steroids, drug dealing, and a home made how to video on how to suck the puss out of your own idiotically induced abscess.

In another poorly made shocumentary on steroids, The Learning Channel decides to ask the stupidest person to ever lift a weight what happens when you decide to go on a steroid/Synthol binge.

"I had tons of you know, needles, you know, syringes - needles, you know, the whole bit. And I'm over there reusing needles, dropping the damn thing on the floor, blowing it off, and wiping it off, and then ya stick that in ya and ya get infections, ya know. And that's what happened, you know, I got an infection [...] I had a hematoma in my arm and I'm draining the blood" -- Gregg Valentino

Gee, I wonder why a person would get an infection that way? At no time during the documentary do we hear Gregg admit to his rampant use of Synthol and whatever other chemicals or implants he put into his arms. Synthol is a catch-all term for a type of oil that people or companies make into a sterile solution that users inject into areas to cause it to expand. It's generally made from easily available MCT oil that's (hopefully) sterilized and cooked down and then sold as a very expensive muscle rubbing oil that people then take and inject into their bodies. Most people consider this to be stupid. Even steroid users consider using Synthol "cheating" and almost no one admits to using it. The effects generally wear off after the oil permeates throughout the body and the user has to continue to reinject it to expand that muscle. Most everyone has know that Valentino used Synthol when they take the first look at his arms. His attempts to look completely freakish with his grotesque biceps and red contact lenses garnered him some legitimate attention in bodybuilding and fitness magazines, where he wrote mostly incoherent articles in all capital letters.

So, mostly for shock value, we see Gregg's home made video of him draining blood and puss out of his abscessed bicep and the viewer is lead to believe that this is what does and will most likely end up happening to most steroid users. This is the equivalent of having a show about the dangers of cars and then showing the results of putting a mentally retarded child behind the wheel of a Corvette. But what's the truth compared to ratings? Obviously not much.

"You're sitting in a jail cell saying how the f-- did I get here?" -- Gregg Valentino


Probably had something to do with the fact you were selling massive amounts of drugs, dating a drug addicted street prostitute, and then going online and in magazines bragging about how much money you're making selling steroids and how stupid you look after abusing them. The more interesting question would be to ask what exactly Valentino put in his arms to get them that big?


Some of the other bizarre parts of this documentary are the quotes by Steve Michalik, who seems to have a limited knowledge of steroids, as most bodybuilders in the late 70s and early 80s did. Apparently he had liver failure caused by steroids, which would only occur if he was using massive amounts of oral methylated steroids for long periods of time. He gets on his soapbox about how terrible steroids are, and the entire culture of having medicine that helps people get rid of ailments. He mentions later having a stroke, so we can only assume that he has had some loss in his brain function. It's unfortunate to see a former pro bodybuilder in such poor condition, mentally and physically.

Mick Hart's health also seems to be failing, and his son seems quite a bit out of shape himself. Mick put his son Chris, on a cycle of Dianabol and Winstrol and then sold the guide online for profit. Hopefully Mick Hart won't drop dead one day and then turn into the next bodybuilding martyr who couldn't realize his own health was failing and refused to admit the causes, like Dan Duchaine - another major drug experimenter. He apparently has had a heart attack, in addition to his previous GHB addiction which caused him quite a bit of problems.

Overall, for TLC, I'd say it was a pretty poor show if someone wanted to get an overall idea of steroids and bodybuilding.

The Most Hated Man in Bodybuilding - An Interview with Greg Valentino

Gregg has also come out with his own vitamin supplement called Jekyll & Hyde. It won't give you arms like he has. However, his ability to sell out hasn't stopped there. He is also selling EsikClean Posing Oil on his website. This is the outrageously overpriced Synthol which created his freakish arms and was responsible for his arms exploding.

An update to this post has been published!  Check out the new interview The Gregg Valentino Interview: I never took Synthol!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

StormPay Scandal Highlights Need for More Regulation Online

In the days since my last post about 12DailyPro, more attention has seemed to point more to StormPay as the company with the problems. So far, the admin of 12DP has been more forthcoming with members about what's been going on with the site and kept an open communication channel with them - something SP has failed to do. Their site has also been inaccessible for most of the time, something they attribute to DoS attacks. However, repeated phone calls by journalists (myself included) have gone unanswered and unreturned. The lack of any type of response from SP about the ongoing issues is of grave concern to many account holders of SP who have started contacting their banks, the news media, consumer advocacy groups and even law enforcement to try and remedy their situation. Just yesterday, a man from Utah flew to Tennessee with a crew from ABC4 to contact StormPay on his own. They spoke with the president of the company, Steve Grisky, who refused to let the interview be filmed because he has been receiving death threats. The internet community has been divided on which side is telling the truth in the matter of who has who's money and who is to blame. StormPay claims that they have not gone into any members bank accounts to withdrawal money, although they refused to explain who or which government agency was behind the initial investigation. This answer has still left many people with a bad taste in their mouth wondering who they can trust.

StormPay, along with PayPal and a host of other online payment processors are a new breed of systems designed to move money. PayPal was, of course, designed for use with eBay auctions in mind and was eventually purchased by eBay to act as their main payment system. Many people now use these systems as they would conventional payments such as cash or checks, just in a virtual settings. In an online setting, the only thing between your cash that the person at the other end if the payment processor. Unfortunately, these cybercash couriers are not regulated and are not subject to standard laws that banks would, leaving them open to abuse in many forms. Just recently, e-Gold was accused in an article in BusinessWeek of having the potential for terrorists to launder money due to the fact that it is virtually anonymous to move money between accounts, and there is no ability to cancel a transfer once you've sent money, leaving it open to hackers and scammers to rip account holders off like no other payment system in existence. These online payment processors can also freeze users accounts with no notice and hold funds indefinitely for whatever reason they deem to be appropriate.

Online payment processors, unlike banks, are not regulated by any government body, such as the FDIC, and thus are not protected from fraud, theft, or other problems that can occur. All banks that are insured by the FDIC have $100,000 insurance coverage on each account. It is subject to strict regulations and is meant to benefit customers and keep the banking system stable. However, in a global economy where money needs to be transferred instantly to all different parts of the world, new types of payment systems have popped up all over the place. Because of the lack of regulation, almost anyone can start one. All you need is a merchant account to process credit cards and withdrawal money from checking accounts. From there companies can make large amounts of money charging fees for transferring money between users accounts. Even the largest payment processor online, PayPal, has its share of critics. It's regular accounts are regulated by affiliated FDIC banks, but the Monkey Market accounts are not. At one point, PayPal had insurance backing in the event of theft and other problems, however I am not sure if this is still in place. I will try and determine if this is still true (if anyone knows, feel free to post in the comments). None the less, they are not regulated as strictly as banks, and many users have complained about their PayPal accounts being closed without warning and large sums of money being frozen with little or no recourse. Right now, the same thing is going on with StormPay customers, and they aren't happy about it. In a press release by the BBB, they state that over 18,000 inquiries worldwide have been made to them regarding StormPay and it's financial status and they are asking law enforcement to get involved.

No wonder, considering the huge revenue streams generated by Auto-surf HYIPs and their need to send and receive payments from customers. According to a recent posting by an HYIP, AlienTrust, it indicates that it could well be a multimillion dollar "industry".

"We will pursue legal action against StormPay Inc. for not only the 6.9 Million dollars you [StormPay] have stolen from us, but potential lost revenue for the future, and punitive damages as well."

If AlienTrust, a relatively new company, already has accumulated $6.9 million in profits as they claim, then a company a few years older such as 12DailyPro could theoretically be worth billions. StormPay was known to have a lax policy on MLM companies (at least until recently) and was used by many of them for the purpose of transferring money between accounts. However, StormPay is now claiming that outside investigations by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies into the practices of 12DailyPro and other auto-surfs caused them to freeze their accounts and begin to issue refunds to members who paid through SP for upgrades into 12DP.

In a recent series of articles, The Leaf Chronicle in Clarksville, Tennessee, has provided some details into the ongoings of 12DailyPro and StormPay. This is one of the few news mediums outside of Utah's ABC4 who has covered the story, most likely because StormPay is located in the town. However, in the last few days, larger news outlets like The Wall Street Journal and CNN have picked up the story. Most of the daily updates have come from the Chronicle and ABC4 who have more of a vested interest in the story.

As for individual accounts, the BBB is asking individuals who are having problems with StormPay to please contact their office at (615) 242-4222. Users from the talkgold forum have stated that they have contacted the Memphis Tennessee branch of the FBI and asked other individuals who have had money removed from their accounts or trouble dealing with the company to call them at (901) 747-4300 as well as the local Clarksville, TN police and speak to an employee named 'Trish' 1-888-245-7621, then 8, then 3 (I cannot verify this information currently). The CEO of StormPay is Steve Girsky, who is apparently a lawyer. Members are also asking for people to call in to complain to the TN State Bar Association at 1-800-486-5714. There has also been mention of a class action lawsuit pending against SP for all of these alleged infractions.

But, with all the speculation aside, it is hard to determine what to do and who to contact if your money is missing or you are concerned about the balance in your account.

RipOffReport has the following advice:

HERE IS WHAT RIP-OFF REPORT SUGGESTS YOU DO:

Go to your bank within 60 days of the charge, or as soon as you know about the charge, don't delay, and tell them that there has been fraudulent activity within your account. Explain that you wish to file a dispute, and demand that they assist you in accordance with Federal Regulation E.

According to the majority of victims interviewed by Rip-off Report, those who immediately called their banks to dispute the charges did not get very far. Many victims got the following responses from their banks: "we could not do anything for you" or "you waited too long; it has been more than 60 days".

If the bank is says that you have waited too long, explain to them how you called their 800 number as soon as the charges were found, and were told by the bank that nothing could be done. Remind the bank that they failed to assist you properly at the 800 #, and instead, provided you with an inadequate explanation of your right to dispute. Tell the bank that it's their fault time has expired, and since they gave you the wrong info to begin with, they will just have to deal with it, take the loss and reverse the charges.

Tell them the truth; this was unauthorized and your account was NOT to be charged! Keep emphasizing how you never authorized anything! Direct them to the hundreds of victims reports that were filed on Rip-off Report.com. And if you're at the bank, walk them over to their computer and make them go to this site! If you are on the phone with them, tell them you will wait while they access this site! Either way, be persistent!

DO NOT TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER!


Let them know nicely, that you were advised to Report them (the Bank) and this situation to the Banking Commission in your state. Since each state has a different name for the agency/controller over banks, find that name before you call or get to the bank so you can throw it in their face. The more knowledgeable you appear to be, the further you will get.

And just continue to demand the Federal Regulation E form! The bank CAN, MUST and WILL reverse the charge! But, you must be persistent; ask to speak to the supervisor or the area manager for all the branches in the state.

Let the bank personnel know you are meeting with the media later in the day, that you would much rather they do the right thing (as most other banks have) by looking at the complaints and immediately reversing the charge(s) to your account; no matter how long ago it was. Be sure to call the Media if necessary so you are telling the truth.

If you have to, be loud (but nice) in front of other customers. If you are just calling by phone, the above tactics should still work. The bank can easily fax or mail to you the Federal Regulation E dispute form.

CHARGES TO YOUR CREDIT CARD


If the charge was to your credit card (not debit card, check card, or checking account), contact the credit card company as soon as possible to request a dispute form. Consumers usually have a little longer to dispute fraudulent credit card charges (up to 6 months), but it is better to act right away. In this type of situation, credit card disputes are usually successful since fraudulent companies often won't contest the disputed charge. In rare cases, credit card companies will review disputes, but refuse to reverse the charges. If this occurs, complain to a manager and let them know you will be filing a report here.

Remember? Don't let them get away with it! Make sure they make the Rip-off Report .. The more Reports filed on a Company or individual, the more likely it is that the authorities, media and attorneys will want to take action.

And good luck? Let us know how you do!

ED Magedson ? Founder, Rip-off Report.com & Author of www.ripoffrevenge.com
EDitor@RipoffReport.com
badbusinessbureau.com
www.ripoffreport.com

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