12DailyPro: Overview of an Autosurf Program-turned-Scam
June 17, 2007
In mid-2005, Charis Johnson began operating 12DailyPro (www.12dailypro.com). 12DailyPro or 12DP, as investors called it, was an an autosurf program wherein investors were promised 12% return on their invested funds every day for twelve days. In order to receive the daily earnings, members were to run a program on their computer that would automatically view certain websites and thereby purportedly generate advertising revenue.
Ms. Johnson was extremely successful in attracting investors and raised approximately $500 million in less than nine months. Investors’ money was handled not by 12DP itself but by third party Internet payment processors such as Stormpay, EMO, and e-gold.
When investors decided they wanted to “upgrade,” or purchase investment units, they opened accounts with those payment processors. Initially, investors used e-gold (www.e-gold.com), then later StormPay (www.stormpay.com), and finally EMO (www.emocorp.com). Investors could transfer money into their e-gold, StormPay, or EMO account by using their credit cards, electronic transfers or money orders. The payment processor would take a commission of the total transfer of monies.
Under the rules posted on the website, 12DP investors were limited to purchasing $6,000 in “upgrades” or investment units. An investor that met the autosurf requirements and invested $6,000, would accrue $720 (12% of their investment) per day for 12 days. They could then choose to withdraw $8,640 at the end of the cycle, a profit of $2,640.
The investors could also earn fees by referring new investors to 12DP. If an investor chose to withdraw its funds, 12DP would direct the online payment processor to transfer money out of the 12DP account into the investor’s account.
Based on the information obtained by the Receiver to date, it appears that all of these earnings were paid with funds received from other or later investors, reminiscent of a Ponzi scheme. The Receiver has not identified any significant revenue generating activity other than investments made by new and existing investors.
In February 2006, 12DP had approximately 175,000 investors with aggregate account balances of between $50 and $60 million. The majority of 12DP investors were using StormPay to process payments at that time.
In the beginning of February, StormPay froze 12DP investor accounts and aggregated all account balances into the 12DP account. This $50 million figure, however, was an account balance reflected on StormPay’s records, it was not matched dollar-for-dollar by liquid assets within the control of StormPay. StormPay did not, as a practice, maintain liquid assets at all times in an amount equal to the account balance of its customers. Because 12DP investors could not access their accounts at StormPay, they quickly turned to exercising self-help in the form of initiating chargebacks with the credit card companies and returns of electronic bank transfers.
The Receiver took control of the Receivership Entities on March 2, 2006. As described in detail in the First Report, the Receiver secured the premises of 12DP, made arrangements to enforce the injunction and asset freeze, and began his investigation.
- From the Second Interim Report of Thomas Lennon, Court-appointed Receiver for 12DailyPro