While most Internet ponzi scams are perpetrated by domestic scammers on fellow Americans (Ad Surf Daily, Zeek Rewards...) there are increasing amount of scams that are being perpetrated by Americans (or have Americans involved at the top) aimed at victims in foreign countries, and that makes international prosecution and asset recovery difficult.

Recently, the name "TelexFree" was in the news a lot in Brazil. TelexFree claimed to be a VOIP provider in Brazil even though it has no such license from Anatel, the Brazilian telecom authority. What it really is is a pyramid / ponzi hybrid scheme that claims to pay money daily... if you "buy units" from them first, and post one ad per day. It was shut down by a court order back in January 2013, and for the next 11 months it has lost 16 different motions and judgments in court at various levels of the Brazilian justice system. While TelexFree is primarily marketed at Brazilians and has a Brazilian office, it was marketed to Brazilians as a US company, having what is believed to be a virtual office in Massachusetts and American head of the company. Apparently, Brazilians believe that American governments are omnipotent and no scams can operate here, which is quite far from the truth. Indeed, TelexFree US has hired a prominent US MLM Attorney as its consultant and have recently registered for FCC license to operate long distance. However, there is no way to know if TelexFree US is going legit, or plans to continue its Ponzi scheme albeit across borders... by actually running it out of the US, instead of through its Brazilian office, now shut.

In a different case, a suspect Ponzi scheme called WCM777 that was once ran out of a small US office in Southern California, was kicked out of the US (they called it a reorganization for compliance) and went to Hong Kong in September 2013. It was only revealed recently on 15-NOV-2013 that it was selling "unregistered securities" in the state of Massachusetts and had agreed to stop doing so. WCM777 previously claimed to offer cloud services and claimed to be powered by technology from Siemens, even though Siemens released an official statement denying such a link. When WCM777 reached Colombia, the Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos made an unprecedented move and ordered the Chief of National police to start investigating WCM777... via Twitter. Two weeks later, WCM777 is formally outlawed, along with 30+ other scams, in Colombia. Peru may be starting its own investigation as WCM777 is promoted through a church there.


The most egregious recent case of Internet scam perpetrated by a US company in a foreign territory would go to Interush, a company based in Irvine, California, though it has branches in multiple Asian territories including Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. People were told that if they subscribe to Interush's IRIS Internet comm suite at 12000 HKD a year, they will accumulate virtual stock option points, which can be redeemed real stock options later, with a chance of earning 1 million HKD over 3 years if the IPO was successful. It was touted as the the next wave for people who never got rich on eBay, Google, Baidu, and Twitter. This was once heavily marketed in China, but China soon outlawed it as "pyramid selling". However, due to general ignorance and severe lack of news coverage, plus successful PR campaign where Interush generated headlines through its sponsorship of WTCC drivers in Hong Kong as well as large donations to charity organizations for various disaster relief efforts, Interush managed to keep itself clean, until November 2013, when the end of October "bonus period" (50% bonus "points" for enrollees in October) brought a rush of Mainland Chinese to Hong Kong. It was reported that 400 people were camped out overnight on Oct 30th hoping to get a chance on Oct 31st to sign up at the Hong Kong train station. That means just on that ONE DAY the company took in almost 5 million HKD.

That huge amount of money and people lining up brought out the newspaper coverage and closer scrutiny by the HKPD. 7 days later, a raid by HKPD arrested 5 people, who all bailed out quickly. Though somehow most reports neglected to mention the company name. It took searching a dozen different versions of the news to find the company name and its US origin. And this was NEVER picked up by Western media except on a few scambuster blogs. Though the language barrier may be to blame.

All in all, a new breed of international scammers, hoping to use the American "prestige" to cheat foreigners are thriving on the lack of international investigation and enforcement, and the jurisdictional issues of cross-border prosecution. It is up to the prospective victims, i.e. you and me, to exercise our own due diligence