Brothers Edward and Brian Krassenstein owned the MoneyMakerGroup and TalkGold internet forums.
Easily the two largest publicly accessible Ponzi promotion platforms on the internet, both MoneyMakerGroup and TalkGold were pulled offline last month without explanation.
Today BehindMLM can exclusively reveal the Krassenstein brothers are facing multiple wire fraud charges in relation to the operation of both forums.
The MoneyMakerGroup and TalkGold forums went offline within minutes on or around August 22nd.
On August 21st the DOJ filed an asset forfeiture case that reveals the government’s case against the Krassenstein brothers.
Since at least 2003, Brian and Edward Krassenstein … have owned and operated websites devoted to the promotion of fraudulent HYIPs.
In particular, the Krassenstein-run sites “talkgold.com” and “moneymakergroup.com” are discussion forums in which HYIP operators advertise and promote their fraud schemes to potential victims.
“HYIP” stands for “high yield investment program” and is synonymous with Ponzi fraud.
The DOJ define a HYIP as
a form of investment fraud similar to a Ponzi scheme, pyramid scheme, or multi-level marketing scheme.
BehindMLM has reviewed hundreds of such illegal scams promoted on MoneyMakerGroup and TalkGold over the years.
Over the 13 years of these site’s existence, they have generated tens of thousands of complaints by victims of fraudulent HYIPs.
Based on this fact, along with other facts … there is reasonable cause to believe that the Krassensteins would have known that the HYIPs being promoted on their sites were fraudulent.
The DOJ also believe the Krassenstein brothers “partnered” with operators of the scams promoted on MoneyMakerGroup and TalkGold, which in turn makes them liable for wire fraud.
Brian and Edward Krassenstein have derived substantial revenues from their HYIP-related websites.
This revenue primarily takes the form of “advertising fees” paid by HYIP operators in exchange for promotion on the sites.
These payments from HYIP operators to the Krassensteins are the proceeds of wire fraud.
Given the duration and depth of the Krassensteins’ involvement in the world of HYIPs, there is reasonable cause to believe that the Krassensteins would have known that these funds were criminally derived.
The DOJ allege the Krassenstein brothers operate the “admin” account on both TalkGold and MoneyMakerGroup.
Through the TalkGold admin account, the Krassenstein brothers are accused of making “roughly 19,000 posts”.
The DOJ allege this shows the Krassenstein brothers were “highly active in the day-to-day operation of the” forums.
Not only that, but the Krassenstein brothers also operated multiple “HYIP monitor” sites.
These are sites that monitor whether a scam is still paying or not. Those that use them primarily rely on reports to gauge whether listed scams are or are about to collapse.
On one such monitoring site run by the Krassensteins, Web-Life, the Krassensteins claimed
We monitor programs based on investments that we have in programs, inside info that we receive from Web Life members, admin updates and general opinion from around all the HYIP forums.
If you believe that a program is not rated correctly or is listed as paying and in your opinion is not, please PM edward [Edward Krassenstein] on the forum and advise of the details and if necessary the rating will be promptly changed.
Through Web-Life, the Krassenstein brothers claimed they ran “the ONLY safelist for HYIP”.
The Krassensteins’ various HYIP-related websites overlapped extensively in their functionality.
For example talkgold.com and moneymakergroup.com served substantially identical functions, and goldrater.com and web-life.org served substantially identicial functions.
To the casual visitor, it would have appeared that these sites were being operated independently from one another.
The Krassensteins’ network of apparently unrelated HYIP sites promoted the appearance of a thriving HYIP “industry” with numerous independent players.
In reality, however, the apparent community of HYIP sites was the product of a concerted effort by the Krassensteins, designed to ensure a continuous supply of new HYIP fraud victims and the continued enrichment of Brian Krassenstein, Edward Krassenstein and their coconsipirators.
The DOJ claim that, based on their heavy involvement in the HYIP industry, Brian and Edward ‘would have known that virtually, if not all, HYIPs are fraud schemes and not legitimate investment vehicles.
The asset forfeiture the DOJ’s case against the Krassenstein brothers is revealed in, pertains to a Cape Coral property purchased by the Krassensteins in July, 2009.
This is the same Fort Myers property that was raided by deputies, federal investigators and Homeland Security last year.
The Krassensteins tried to sell off the property in November, however authorities seized the $524,390 sale amount.
the DOJ claim the sale proceeds were traceable to the Krassensteins’ HYIP wire fraud activities.
Because the property was purchased with wire fraud proceeds, the property, and the proceeds obtained from the sale of the property are subject to civil forfeiture.
Unfortunately as at the time of publication the DOJ’s case is not publicly available, which means I can’t directly track it.
I suspect this is because it was filed and is still currently under seal.
What we do know is that Edward and Brian Krassenstein consented to forfeiture of their Fort Myers home, meaning they’re likely cooperating with authorities.
Whether that will extend to a plea deal however remains to be seen.
Looking at the bigger picture, the shut down of the Krassensteins’ online Ponzi promotion empire is a major coup for US authorities.
As I write this no sizable competitors have risen in place of either forum, although it is arguable that MoneyMakerGroup and TalkGold were in decline prior to the shut down.
Much of HYIP promotion, at least as far as the MLM underbelly scamming BehindMLM tracks, takes place these days on social media.
Private Facebook and WhatsApp groups are the weapon of choice for today’s MLM underbelly scammers.
If left unchecked, who knows, maybe Facebook could be facing its own HYIP wire fraud lawsuit at some point in the future.
Another point to consider is the wealth of knowledge cooperation from the Krassenstein brothers provides authorities.
Having been knee-deep in financial fraud’s inncer circles for years, what and who the Krassensteins know could spurn any number of related lawsuits against operators of illegal schemes.
Ditto the payment processors the Krassensteins worked with and used to receive wire fraud tainted funds. Liberty Reserve, Perfect Money, AlertPay and Payza are all referenced in the DOJ’s forfeiture complaint.
The paper-trail alone for the thousands of scams promoted on MoneyMakerGroup and TalkGold alone could keep investigators busy for years.
Realistically the Krassenstein brothers are probably facing a long prison stint. For their part though they don’t seem to fazed at this point.
On September 27th Brian Krassenstein uploaded a video to his YouTube channel promoting an upcoming book launch for “How the People Trumped Ronald Plump”.
Whereas details of the DOJ’s case against the Krassensteins are presented in summary format in the forfeiture complaint, eventually the wire fraud case will be made public.
At that point we’ll be able to provide you with a clearer picture of what the Krassenstein brothers are facing. Stay tuned…